Botswana is a country located in the southern part of the African continent. For the most part, Botswana has a flat landscape and is about 80% covered by the Kalahari desert. Mostly unknown to tourists visiting Africa, but nonetheless Botswana has a lot to offer its visitors.
Over the years I have had the chance to visit Botswana many times and every time I enjoy being there to visit its natural wonders and amazing wildlife. For me it is an intriguing country, filled with old traditions and mysteries, stunning national parks, friendly people and a great diversity of wildlife. In order to give an introduction to the country and to give more information about Botswana, I have listed some random and interesting Botswana facts that might be new to you or to give you a better insight into the country itself. So, what is Botswana known for?
Updated version February 2020.
25 Interesting facts about Botswana
- Gaborone is the capital city of Botswana. Gaborone, or ‘Gabs’ as local residents mostly call it, became the capital city after Botswana gained independence. The city was named after Chief Kgosi Gaborone.
- The current president is Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, since 2018. He became the fifth president of Botswana since independence, following Ian Khama and is a member of the Botswana Democratic Party.
- The population of Botswana is just over 2 million inhabitants and has a land surface of 581.730 km2 (or 224.620 mi), giving the country a population density of only around 4 people/km2.
- The 5 largest cities of Botswana by population are Gaborone, Francistown, Molepolole, Selebi-Phikwe and Maun.
- The wildlife of Botswana is very diverse and abundant. The country is home to over 150 different species of mammals (including the Big Five animals), over 460 species of birds and more than 200 species of reptiles and amphibians.
- Botswana is home to the worlds biggest concentration of African elephants, of which the highest concentration is to be found in Chobe National Park. Especially during the dry season large herds of Elephants make their way to the river banks of the Chobe river. Did you know that the African elephant can live up to 80 years?
- Around 38% of the country’s surface is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, which is one of the higher ranks compared to most other countries.
- Botswana is a mainly flat country with its highest point situated in the Tsodilo Hills at 1489 metres.
- The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. It’s a beautiful oasis in the Kalahari desert, whose waters start flowing from the highlands of Angola all the way over the sands of the Kalahari desert. The Delta gives life to many forms of life which seems to be unexpected in the middle of a desert. The Okavango Delta became the 1000th inscribed site on the World Heritage List of Unesco in 2014. Are you looking for a travel destination? Here are 9 reasons to visit the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
- The Makgadigadi pan is one of the largest salt pan areas in the world, stretching over an area of 12.000 km2. The climate in the area is harsh, very hot and with little rain. When it rains, the pan can change into a blue lake attracting many animals including flamingos.
- The music video ‘Wildest Dreams’ of Taylor Swift was filmed in Botswana, on the Makgadigadi Salt Pans.
- Botswana is not the cheapest tourist destination to travel to. However, their policy is “High quality, low impact”. So when going there, you will not find yourself amidst hundreds of other tourists and can still enjoy a feeling of exclusivity. Did you know that Botswana was nominated by Lonely Planet as a top travel destination in 2016? We also think Botswana is a unique travel destinations. Click here to find out our 6 reasons why.
- Some of the more common trees to find in Botswana are the Marula tree, Mopane, Camelthorn, Wild Date Palm, Acacia, as well as the legendary Baobab tree.
- The national animal of Botswana is the Burchell’s Zebra, which is also shown on the Coat of Arms, with the image of a shield supported by 2 zebra.
- The national bird of Botswana is the Kori Bustard. It is the heaviest flying bird native to Africa and mainly found in Botswana and Namibia.
- The national dish of Botswana is called Seswaa, which consists out of a meat stew (normally beef or goat) served with maize meal (thick pap or polenta). If you like to try something different, one of the delicacies of African cuisine are the Mopane worms (or Mopane caterpillars). Did you know that Mopane worms contain a very high source of protein?
- English is the official language of the country, it is taught at schools, and is widely spoken in all urban centres. Even in rural areas, many local villagers (especially younger ones who have received schooling) will be able to converse in English. However, Setswana is the national language and the most spoken language throughout the country.
- The currency used is called Pula and is divided into Thebe. In Setswana (the local language) this means rain and shield.
- The Border between Botswana and Zambia is only 150 meters which makes it the shortest border in the world. You cross between the 2 countries via the Kazungula ferry. However, soon the ferry will be a thing from the past. The Kazungula bridge is expected to be opened in 2020 and will connect Zambia and Botswana over the Zambezi river by road and rail and will have a longest span of 129 metres.
- In the North Western part of the country, Botswana borders with 3 other countries; Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. A point where 4 countries meet is called a quadripoint. However, since the border between Zambia and Botswana is not met by a land border but is separated by the Zambezi river, it is believed that there are 2 separate trijunctions (point where 3 countries meet) about 150 meters apart. This might be the only place in the world where you can pick up cellular signal from 4 countries in one place.
- Before its independence in 1966 Botswana was a British protectorate and was one of the poorest and least developed countries in Africa. One year after gaining independence, a huge diamond mine was discovered in Orapa. At the moment, Botswana is one of the most prosperous countries in Africa.
- Botswana is the worlds biggest diamond producing country in terms of value and the second biggest in terms of production. They produce about 17,7% of the total world production of diamonds. Diamonds count for nearly half of the governments value. Furthermore, diamond revenues enables every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.
- Botswana has the richest diamond mine by value in the world. The Jwaneng Diamond Mine is located in the Southern part of Botswana. The meaning of Jwaneng is “place of small stones”’.
- The previous president, Ian Khama, is the son of Botswana’s first president after independence, Sir Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams, who is of British origin. He was born in 1953 in England while his parents were in exile in the UK due to their interracial marriage.
- Botswana is a member of SACU (Southern African Customs Union) together with Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia. This means free exchange of goods between the member countries. Botswana is also part of SADC (Southern African Development Community).
Where is Botswana located?
Botswana is a landlocked country in the southern part of the African continent. It is located to the north of South Africa. Its other neighbouring countries are Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Botswana is a very interesting country to visit. Before travelling to a country I always like to get more information about the country itself. Before I travelled there for the first time I gathered some information on Botswana which helped me to understand the culture and the people. I hope that these Botswana facts might have piqued your interest and hopefully you will add it to your bucket list.
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