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Botswana Facts and Information

Botswana Facts and Information

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Okavango Delta lion, Botswana

Okavango Delta lion, Botswana

Getty Images/Daryl Balfour

Botswana Basic Facts:

Botswana is one of Africa's most exclusive safari destinations. The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Parks are filled with wildlife and not that easy to get to, so you're never dealing with crowds. Botswana is a well-off (thanks to diamonds), politically stable little country and the people enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

Location: Botswana is in Southern Africa, just north of South Africa, it borders Namibia to the west and Zimbabwe to the north east; see map
Area: Botswana covers an area of 600,370 sq km making it just slightly smaller than Texas and slightly larger than France.
Capital City: Gaborone
Population: Just over 1.5 million people live in Botswana.
Language: English (official), Setswana is spoken by most people in Botswana and there are also some indigenous languages.
Religion: Indigenous beliefs 85% and Christian 15%.
Climate: Botswana is almost all desert (80% of the country is covered by the semi-arid Kalahari Desert. The climate reflects the country's geography, with hot days and cool nights throughout the year. The rainy season is from November to March.
When to Go: Wildlife viewing is at its best from May to October, more details on Best time to visit Botswana...
Currency: Pula, click here for currency converter.

Botswana's Main Attractions:

  • Okavango Delta -- The Okavango River cuts through the center of the Kalahari Desert, creating a unique ecosystem that gives life to a huge variety of birds and mammals. The Okavango is a unique safari destination because you can view much of the wildlife from a traditional canoe, a mokoro.

  • Chobe National Park -- Chobe National park lies in Botswana's Okavango Delta and covers four distinct ecosystems. The Savuti marsh in particular offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa year round. Chobe boasts around 120,000 elephants -- you're unlikely to miss them when you enjoy a safari here.

  • Cultural Safari -- The Botswana government has not been kind to the Basarwa (San Bushmen) of the Kalahari region. Book a cultural safari, you'll love it, and you'd help legitimize the Basarwa's right to lead a traditional life style.

  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park -- Salt pans, Kalahari sand dunes, and plenty of wildlife during the rainy season makes this a wonderful park to visit, but it's not easy to get to.
More information about Botswana's top attractions...

Travel to Botswana

Botswana's International Airport: Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (airport code: GBE) is located 9 miles outside of the capital, Gaborone.
Getting to Botswana: International flights include Air Botswana (to/from Harare, Johannesburg, Lusaka, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Windhoek), Air France, Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways and British Airways. You can also take a long-distance bus from several South African towns/cities as well as to and from Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls).
Botswana's Embassies/Visas: Most nationalities do not require a tourist visa to enter Botswana but check with your local Botswana embassy for more information.
Botswana's Tourist Information Office: Tel: 3913111, E-mail: board@botswanatourism.co.bw, Web Site: http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/

Botswana's Economy and Politics

Economy: Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966, though growth fell below 5% in 2007-08. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $13,300 in 2008. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP and for 70-80% of export earnings. Tourism, financial services, subsistence farming, and cattle raising are other key sectors. On the downside, the government must deal with high rates of unemployment and poverty. Unemployment officially was 23.8% in 2004, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. HIV/AIDS infection rates are the second highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond mining production overshadows long-term prospects.

Politics and Brief History: Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name upon independence in 1966. Four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves. Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.

More About Botswana and Sources

Botswana's Top Attractions
The Okavango Delta in Pictures
Best Time to Visit Botswana
The San Bushmen of the Kalahari
Botswana Map and Facts
Botswana's Game Parks
Botswana CIA Factbook
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