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Botswana Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Botswana
Botswana has quite a diverse culture, with many different tribal influences coexisting with European influences, which were brought to the country more recently. The tribal (or ethnic) groups within Botswana (Tswana, Kalanga, Basarwa and Kgalagadi) have different languages, traditional dances and clothing, and live a vastly different lifestyle to city-dwellers. Overall though, good manners will go a long way in Botswana, as formal greetings, respect for others and politeness are valued by most in society. Travellers will find most locals to be kind and welcoming, with offers of hospitality commonplace.
Geography and Environment of Botswana
Landlocked Botswana sits in Southern Africa and is bordered by Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Most of Botswana is relatively flat, although some mountainous areas can be found. Botswana’s topography is an interesting mix of desert, wetland and tableland, with the Kalahari Desert accounting for up to 80% of the country. Most of Botswana’s population choose to live in the eastern part of the country due to the central and southwest regions being dominated by the Kalahari Desert. Much of Botswana's north and west is taken up by the expansive Okavango Delta, which comprises more than 16,000 sq km of channels and islands.
History and Government of Botswana
The land of Botswana and surrounding regions have been inhabited by tribal groups for thousands of years, with tribes migrating into the area, from the lands now known as Zambia and Congo, sometime around 200-500 AD.
In 1885, the region came under British influence and became known as the Bechuanaland Protectorate, mainly as a tactic to avoid being overrun by the Boers who were campaigning in the region. This status continued for decades, until increasing nationalism in the 1950s led to an internal push for independence.
Although never officially colonised, Botswana was granted independence from Britain on September 30th, 1966. Diamonds were discovered in the country in 1967, which provided a steady stream of revenue that continues to this day. Unlike many other African nations, Botswana enjoys peace, prosperity and a relatively high standard of living. Equal rights and freedom of speech are granted to all under the constitution, the economy is stable due to the growth of the mining and tourism industries, and literacy rates are improving rapidly.
Botswana at a glance
- Gaborone (population 138,000)
- 2 million
- English, Setswana
- (GMT+02:00) Windhoek
- Type D (Old British 3-pin), Type G (Irish/British 3-pin), Type M (see D)
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