Botswana

Botswana Quick Facts:

Capital: Gaborone

Independence: 30 September 1966

Size:

581 730 square kilometers (224 607 square miles), nearly 17% of which is protected wildlife area.

Climate:

The climate is semi-arid, with the rainy season being from October until April. Rainfall in the south averages 15 cm, and 38-51 cm in the east The winter starts in May. Temperatures can range between 27 degrees celsius and 38° celsius.

Peoples of Botswana

July 2009 Estimated Population: 1,990,876

Tswana people From Wikipedia

  • Tswana (Tswana: Motswana, plural Batswana) is the name of a Southern African people. The Tswana language belongs to the Bantu group of the Niger-Congo languages. Ethnic Tswana make up a majority of the population of Botswana, however, the term “Batswana” is sometimes used simply to mean citizens of Botswana, and can include Khoisan people, Whites and Coloureds.  In the nineteenth century, a common spelling and pronunciation of Batswana was Bechuana. Europeans therefore referred to the area inhabited by the Tswana as Bechuanaland. In the Tswana language, however, Botswana is the correct name for the place of Tswana.

Bushmen From Wikipedia

  • The indigenous people of southern Africa, whose territory spans most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, are variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Basarwa, Kung, or Khwe. In Botswana, Bushmen make up less than 3% of the total population. These people were traditionally hunter-gatherers, part of the Khoisan group and are related to the traditionally pastoral Khoikhoi. Starting in the 1950s, through the 1990s, they switched to farming as a result of government-mandated modernization programs as well as the increased risks of a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the face of technological development.

Herero From Wikipedia

  • The Herero is actually a term like “Nguni” – a group of tribes. The various tribes forming the Herero group and speaking a common language are the Himba (also known as the Ovahimba), Herero, Tijimba and Mbanderu. Currently there are about 107,000 Herero living in Namibia, southern Angola and Botswana. Unfortunately little is known of their origin. It is believed that they were descendants of the large groups of people, who migrated southward from Central Africa during the 16th century. The majority live in Namibia, with the remainder living in Botswana and Angola. Most are employed as workers on large farms or earn their living as merchants or tradesmen in the cities. There is also a growing number of professionals.

History:

The semi-nomadic San people were Botswana’s earliest inhabitants. Bantu-speaking tribes from the north moved into the area before the first millennium, and European missionaries arrived in mid-19th century. In 1885, to counter Boer expansion from South Africa and Ndebele incursions from the north led by Mzilikazi, Botswana came under British protection.

By 1895, Rhodes’ British South Africa Company hoped to annex Botswana, prompting three Batswana chiefs to persuade Queen Victoria to keep their land under British control. The British administered the Bechuanaland Protectorate until 1966 when it granted the Batswana full independence under the leadership of Sir Seretse Khama. Diamonds were discovered in 1967, which brought rapid growth to Botswana. Today, the country boasts healthy foreign reserves and is considered one of Africa’s economic success stories.

Government:

Botswana is a multi party democracy, governed since independence by the Botswana Democratic, Party. Since the retirement of Sir Ketumile Masire. Mr Festus Mogae is president of the Republic. Ten other parties are recognized, the strongest of which is the Botswana National Front. Elections are held every five years.

Exports:

Diamonds, vehicles, copper/nickel, beef, textiles.

Economic growth has mainly been through the mining of diamonds, copper-nickel, and soda-ash. However, beef is also a major income source, as is tourism.

Additional things to know before you go:

Language:

The official language is English and the national language is Setswana.

Currency:

Pula and Thebe (one Pula = 100 Thebe).

Banks:

Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Gaborone – Barclays Bank Hours: Mon-Fri 09h00-18h00; Sat 09h30-18h30; Sun closed. Regular banking hours: Mon-Fri 09h00-15h30; Sat 08h30-11h00.

Currency Control:

Import – There are no restrictions on foreign currency notes brought into the country as long as they are declared. Export – Travellers can carry up to P10 000, or the equivalent in foreign currency, out of the country without declaring it.

Visas and Passports:

All visitors must have a passport valid for at least six months, and the means to leave the country, ie., an outgoing ticket and sufficient funds. Some nationals of Commonwealth countries require visas to enter Botswana. Citizens of European Community countries, Scandinavia, USA and South Africa do not require visas.

Visitors will be given a one-month visa at the border. Extensions may be granted at any immigration office in Botswana, but visitors will not be allowed to stay more than 90 days without a residence permit application waiver.

Duty-Free Allowance:

The following goods, declared on arrival, are duty free: Two litres wine; one litre spirits and other alcoholic beverages; 400 cigarettes; 50 cigars; 250 gm cigarette and pipe tobacco; 50 ml perfume; 250 ml toilet water. All goods acquired outside Botswana must be declared when you enter the country.

Goods brought into the country, acquired within the Common Customs Area – comprising Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland – are free from customs duties, but may be subject to sales tax and additional duties.

Departure Tax:

International P25 Local P10.

Credit Cards:

Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club are accepted on a limited basis. Most hotels and lodges accept major foreign currency or travellers cheques, but the surcharges may be high. It is advisable to change money at the airport or major towns and villages as bank facilities may be limited in the remote villages.

Climate

Botswana’s climate is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 or 15 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so that a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground but is lost to evaporation and transpiration.

Pula‘, one of the most frequently heard words in Botswana, is not only the name of Botswana’s currency, but also the Setswana word for rain. So much of what takes place in Botswana relies on this essential, frequently scarce commodity.

Seasons

The summer season begins in November and ends in March. It usually brings very high temperatures. However, summer is also the rainy season, and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down considerably, although only usually for a short period of time.

The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas, especially in the southwest.

The in-between periods – April/early May and September/October – still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter.

Rainfall

The rainy season is in the summer, with October and April being transitional months. January and February are generally regarded as the peak months. The mean annual rainfall varies from a maximum of over 650mm in the extreme northeast area of the Chobe District to a minimum of less than 250mm in the extreme southwest part of Kgalagadi District (see the map for districts). Almost all rainfall occurs during the summer months while the winter period accounts for less than 10 percent of the annual rainfall. Generally, rainfall decreases in amount and increases in variability the further west and south you go.

Temperatures

Summer days are hot, especially in the weeks that precede the coming of the cooling rains, and shade temperatures rise to the 38°C mark and higher, reaching a blistering 44°C on rare occasions. Winters are clear-skied and bone-dry, the air seductively warm during the daylight hours but, because there is no cloud cover, cold at night and in the early mornings. Sometimes bitterly so – frost is common and small quantities of water can freeze.

Humidity

In summer during the morning period humidity ranges from 60 to 80% and drops to between 30 and 40% in the afternoon. In winter humidity is considerably less and can vary between 40 and 70% during the morning and fall to between 20 and 30% in the afternoon.

For tourists, the best visiting months are from April through to October – in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife of the great spaces gather around what water there is – the natural waterholes and the borehole-fed dams – and are at their most visible.

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