Botswana Country Facts

By | January 21, 2024
Capital city Gaborone
Surface 581,730 km²
Population 2,254,000
Road network length 9,783 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Left
License plate code BW

Botswana, formally the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is an inner state in southern Africa. The country has 2.2 million inhabitants and is approximately 15 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Gaborone.


Botswana is located in the interior of southern Africa and is not located by the sea. The country borders Namibia to the west, Zambia for a very short distance to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and South Africa to the south.. The capital Gaborone is located in the south of the country, on the border with South Africa. Botswana measures a maximum of 960 kilometers from east to west and 950 kilometers from north to south. The country is located on a fairly flat plateau, the highest point being the Tsodo Hills at 1,489 meters. Most of Botswana is a desert, the Kalahari Desert, with the exception of a strip in the southeast and in the far north. However, the Kalahari Desert is not a classic sandy desert, the landscape is densely vegetated, a sandy savanna with a lot of undeveloped bushland. The Okavango Delta in the northwest of the country is special.

Botswana is a dry country, with only a short rainy season. Due to its high location, it has a subtropical climate. The average maximum temperature in the capital Gaborone varies from 23°C in winter to 33°C in summer. In winter it can sometimes freeze but snow is extremely exceptional because there is almost never precipitation in winter.


Botswana is a large country but has only 2 million inhabitants, a consequence of which is a very low population density. Botswana is relatively urbanized, the largest city Gaborone has 274,000 inhabitants, Francistown also has 100,000 inhabitants. There are 16 towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants. In addition to a number of more modern cities, Botswana also has a number of large villages with more than 30,000 inhabitants that do not have an urban character, such as Molepolole, Kanye, Mochudi and Serowe. Botswana also has a number of small towns founded entirely for mining, the most important of which is Selebi-Phikwe. Unlike other parts of Africa, the countryside is sparsely populated.

Historically, Francistown was the primary city of the colony of Bechuanaland and later Botswana. Gaborone is a planned capital that was built mainly from the 1960s. At independence, Botswana had about 550,000 inhabitants, mostly living in small rural communities. Francistown had less than 10,000 inhabitants at the time.

The largest ethnic group is the Tswana, after which the country is named. They make up about 80% of the population. The official languages ​​of Botswana are English and Tswana. English is the colonial language and much of the written communication in the country is in English. Tswana is the spoken language but little is written.


Botswana has developed in the second half of the 20th century from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest in Africa, with a nominal GDP per capita of $18,000. The standard of living in the country is one of the highest in Africa. The income has traditionally been mainly from agriculture, especially meat. From 1971, diamonds were mined in Botswana, which provided an additional source of income. Since the 1970s, the economy has grown by approximately 13 percent per year. The country has a stable democratic government, a developed banking sector and a good legal system, which means that there is a lot of investment from abroad. Most investments are in mining, which is also Botswana’s main export product.


Botswana is isolated, the European colonization of southern Africa initially took place in the coastal areas and not in what is today Botswana. In the mid-19th century the first Afrikaners from South Africa arrived in the border region and churches were built in almost all villages. At the end of the 19th century, both the British and Germans set their sights on Botswana, after which the British annexed the area in 1885 to secure South Africa’s access from the north.

This created the protectorate of Bechuanaland. As a British protectorate, Bechuanaland had some degree of self-government. The capital was Mafikeng in South Africa. This meant that the capital of Bechuanaland was in a different territory. In 1896-1897 the railway from South Africa to Rhodesia was built through eastern Bechuanaland, but this railway was used almost exclusively by transit traffic.

Before independence, Bechuanaland was a sparsely developed wilderness. Almost all the population lived in the countryside. The only significant urban center was Francistown, which had a population of 9,500 in 1964. Unlike South Africa and Rhodesia, the area was undeveloped, there were no roads, no cities, no large-scale agriculture, virtually no organized education or health care. Before 1950, only Francistown had a limited form of electricity supply. There was also no telephone network. It was one of the most undeveloped parts of the world.

Botswana became independent from the United Kingdom in 1966. The new capital was Gaborone, which largely still had to be built. Because Botswana was a stable democracy for decades, it was able to develop into a modern country, with less corruption and social unrest than many other African countries. Nor was it involved in the proxy wars of the Cold War during that period. Botswana is often seen as a role model in Africa.


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