Interested in learning a few fun facts about Botswana?
Whether you’re traveling to Botswana in the near future or just curious to know more about this beautiful country in Southern Africa, this article is for you.
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Botswana facts:
1. Botswana is located right in the center of Southern Africa. It is landlocked, bordering Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, and South Africa. About 70% of its land is made up of a large part of the Kalahari Desert.
2. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Ranking 48th on the list of countries from largest to smallest, Botswana is pretty large, with a land area of 224,610 mi2 (581,730 km2), somewhat similar to the size of France. However, with just over 2.3 million people (just a bit more than Slovenia!), the population density is quite low.
3. Botswana is Africa’s oldest continuous democracy. Since the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, it has continued holding general elections. According to Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, University of Birmingham, it “continue[s] to combine respect for political rights with prudent economic policies.” It also can boast the lowest perceived corruption ranking in Africa, according to Transparency International.
4. Before becoming Botswana, it was known as Bechuanaland. Specifically the Bechuanaland Protectorate, it was established in 1885 by the United Kingdom. Bechuanaland meant “land of the Tswana,” as the Tswana people, an ethnic group from Southern Africa, make up almost 90% of the population of Botswana. Bechaunaland became independent from Britain on September 30, 1966, which is when it adopted the name “Botswana.”
5. Botswana and Zambia have one of the world’s shortest borders between countries. Between its borders with Namibia to its north and Zimbabwe to its northeast, Botswana and Zambia connect with a border that is less than 500 ft (152 m) long. Kazungula, the small border town where they meet, also connects with Zimbabwe and Namibia, though not quite so perfectly that they form a quadripoint. The Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River connects Zambia and Botswana in this town.
6. The currency of Botswana is the pula, which means “rain.” That gives the phrase “make it rain” a whole new meaning! Actually, though, they named the currency pula because rain is quite hard to come by in Botswana. Just like getting some much-needed rain is a blessing, getting some money is also a blessing. The Botswana people chose the name, along with the sub-unit thebe (1/100 of a pula, thebe means “shield”).
7. Botswana has a real rags-to-riches story. Back in the 1960s, the per capita GDP was just $70 (USD), making it one of the poorest countries in the world. Now, it is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a GDP (PPP) of over $18,000 (USD) per capita as of 2018. This is one of the highest in Africa, and higher than even nations such as Brazil ($14,951, 2018) and China ($15,376, 2018).
8. You call the people of Botswana as Botswana. Botswana is the demonym (name to describe people or things of a place) for the people of Botswana, but only when used in the plural. If you want the singular demonym for someone from Botswana, that would be Motswana.
9. Botswana has the largest population of elephants in the world. The largest concentration of African elephants can be found in Chobe National Park, located in northern Botswana. If you want to see elephants in the wild, Botswana is your best bet, but you’ll also certainly come across antelopes, wildebeests, zebras, flamingos, rhinos, buffalo, giraffes, lions, cheetah, hyenas, impalas, and more!
10. Botswana currently is home to 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tsodilo is a cultural world heritage site, hosting one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world. The other is the Okavango Delta, a natural world heritage site, added to the list for its unique environment characteristics and because it’s home to some of the world’s most endangered animal species.
11. Botswana has two official languages: English and Setswana. English is used throughout the country as it was once a British protectorate. Setswana is the native language (Bantu language) of the Tswana people who make up most of the country.
12. Gaborone is the capital and largest city of Botswana. With more than 230,000 inhabitants, Gaborone is home to about 10% of the entire population of Botswana. It is located in the southeastern corner of the country, only about 9 miles (15 km) from Botswana’s border with South Africa.
13. Unfortunately, Botswana has the 3rd highest prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS in the world. Around 21% of the adult population in Botswana are infected with HIV/AIDS, which comes out to about 360,000 people (as of 2016). Not one of the fun facts about Botswana, but an important fact about the country nonetheless.
Well, that’s all our Botswana facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Botswana we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!