10 Things You Didn’t Know About Botswana

by Jules on September 30, 2013

Botswana is the most exclusive safari destination in Africa and is teeming with wildlife: climb onboard a traditional mokoro (canoe) and discover elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe and leopard within the savannah and a multitude of fish species within the lagoons.

  • Botswana achieved its independence from the UK on 30 September 1966 and each year on this date the country celebrates.
  • Besides South Africa, Botswana has the best economic stability and education system with Africa, with an 80% literacy rate.
  • The capital city is Gaborone which has a population of 200,000 people. This is where you’ll find the greatest concentration of historical sights, such as the Three Chiefs’ Statues and the National Museum.
  • Alexander McCall Smith’s novels ‘The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ are set in Botswana and the film of the same name, starring Jill Scott and directed by the late Anthony Minghella, was filmed on location as a joint production of the BBC and HBO.
  • Most Botswanans speak the ‘Setswana’ (Tswana) language in addition to English being widely spoken. The local currency is known as the ‘pula’ which comes from the Setswana word for ‘rain’ – ironic as Botswana received very little annual rainfall!
  • Around 80% of the landlocked country is made up of desert, the semi-arid Kalahari Desert to be precise.  This produces hot days and cooler nights, with the rainy season lasting from November to March.
  • The serene Okavango River cuts right through the heart of the Kalahari which creates a unique ecosystem which is vital for the multitude of mammal and bird species that live here. Travellers can opt to get up close with the wildlife on an Okavango River Safari which utilises traditional ‘mokoro’ boats, which closely resembles canoes.
  • If you want see elephants, then head to the Chobe National Park, which is home to around 120,000 of these magnificent beasts.
  • Botswana is one of the chief exporters of diamonds (hence the strong economy) in the world, as well as also exporting copper and nickel.
  • If you want to really immerse yourself in the traditional culture of Botswana, spend some time with the native Basarwa (San Bushmen) who have long called the Kalahari their home. Use a responsible local operator to book a cultural safari and discover the Basarwa’s fight to preserve their traditional way of life.

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