​Botswana|​Travel Guide

​Travel Guide

The Republic of Botswana

Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966.Botswana safari holidays are very popular with British visitors, with fantastic game viewing in the Okavango Delta, Kalahari, Savute and other regions.Botswana is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west, Zambia to the north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast.

  • Further Botswana Information

    The economy, one of the most successful in Africa, has a fast-growing service sector, world-renowned mining (especially diamonds) industry, tourism, and manufacturing.Recent history When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 out of the main British colonies in the region, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (the “High Commission Territories”) were not included, but provision was made for their later incorporation. However, an undertaking was given to consult their inhabitants, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred, Britain kept delaying, and it never occurred. The election of the National Party government in 1948, which instituted apartheid, and South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961, ended any prospect of incorporation of the territories into South Africa.

    An expansion of British central authority and the evolution of tribal government resulted in the 1920 establishment of two advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans. In June 1964 Britain accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana.

    The seat of government was moved from Mafikeng in South Africa, to newly established Gaborone in 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence on 30 September 1966. Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to the Ngwato chiefship, was elected as the first president, re-elected twice, he died in office in 1980.

    The economy, one of the most successful in Africa, has a fast-growing service sector, world-renowned mining (especially diamonds) industry, tourism, and manufacturing.Recent history When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 out of the main British colonies in the region, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (the “High Commission Territories”) were not included, but provision was made for their later incorporation. However, an undertaking was given to consult their inhabitants, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred, Britain kept delaying, and it never occurred. The election of the National Party government in 1948, which instituted apartheid, and South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961, ended any prospect of incorporation of the territories into South Africa.

    An expansion of British central authority and the evolution of tribal government resulted in the 1920 establishment of two advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans. In June 1964 Britain accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana.

    The seat of government was moved from Mafikeng in South Africa, to newly established Gaborone in 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence on 30 September 1966. Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to the Ngwato chiefship, was elected as the first president, re-elected twice, he died in office in 1980.

    Landscape

    Botswana is predominantly flat, tending toward gently rolling tableland. The Kalahari Desert is located in the southwest of the country. The Limpopo River Basin is the major landform of all of southern Africa, including Botswana. Botswana is the world’s 45th-largest country, it is comparable in size to Madagascar, and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas.

    Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of the land surface of the country. The Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, is in the northwest. The Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan lies in the north.

    Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat, including the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert, grasslands and savannas, the latter where Blue Wildebeest and many antelopes as well as other mammals and birds are found. Northern Botswana has one of the few remaining large populations of the endangered African Wild Dog.

  • Politics and Government

    The President of Botswana is both head of state and head of government in a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Botswana. Since independence the party system has been dominated by the Botswana Democratic Party. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature

    Language

    The official languages of Botswana are English and Setswana.

    Currency

    The pula, is fully convertible and is valued against a basket of currencies heavily weighted toward the South African Rand. The US Dollar is widely accepted.

    Tourism

    Tourism plays a large role in the Botswana economy. A number of national parks and game reserves, with their abundant wildlife and wetlands, are major tourist attractions. The wildlife, including lions, brown hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs and antelope, were described in great detail in the best-selling book “Cry of the Kalahari” by Mark and Delia Owens.

    The main safari destinations for tourism are Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, and Chobe National Park. Botswana is also participating in community based natural resource management projects by trying to involve villagers in tourism. One example is the village of Khwai and its Khwai Development Trust.

    Botswana was the setting for the 1980 movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, although the movie was mostly filmed in South Africa. The seventh season of the Amazing Race visited Botswana.

    Fpr practical advice about travelling to Botswana, look at our Frequently Asked Questions about Botswana page.

    Botswana High Commission in London 

    Tel: 020 7499 0031

    Country information

    Population: 1.9 million (UN, 2008)

    Capital: Gaborone Area: 581,730 sq km (224,607 sq miles)

    Major languages: English (official), Setswana

    Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs

    Monetary unit: 1 Pula = 100 thebe

    Main exports: Diamonds, copper, nickel, beef Internet domain: .bw

    International dialling code: +267

    Voltage: 230V Plug size: South African three pin plug. (pins are round)

    (sources:  Oxford History of the British Empire, Wikipedia, BBC)

Our Botswana safari holidays can be tailored to be as relaxing or as exhilarating as you wish. Let us help you plan your next safari holiday, tailor-made to suit your interests and your budget.