Botswana on the world map. Map of Botswana with cities
Map of Botswana with cities. Where Botswana is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Botswana - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Botswana Fact File
Official name Republic of Botswana
Form of government Republic with two legislative bodies (House of Chiefs and National Assembly)
Area 600,370 sq km (231,803 sq miles)
Region Southern Africa
Time zone GMT + 2 hours
Projected population 2015 1,694,000
Population density 2.7 per sq km (6.9 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 35.3
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 64.7
Official language English
Other languages Setswana and other indigenous languages
Literacy rate 69.8%
Religions Indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 50%
The Round House, one of the Great Ruins in Zimbabwe built by Bantu peoples (left). Zimbabwean dancers in masks and traditional dress (left page bottom left). Lions and vultures around a kill in Chobe National Park in northern Botswana (left page bottom right).
Ethnic groups Tswana 94%, Khoikhoin 2.5%, Ndebele 1.3%, other 2.2%
Economy Services 51 %, mining and agriculture 49%
GNP per capita US$ 7,800
Climate Semiarid to arid, with warm winters and hot summers
Highest point Tsodilo Hill 1,489 m (4,885 ft) Map reference Pages 370-71
Alarge, dry, landlocked tableland, Botswana is bordered on the south by South Africa, a country with which it has strong historical and economic links. To the west is Namibia (the border touches on Zambia in the north near
Nowhere on earth is there anything to equal the variety of African wildlife, much of which can still be seen in a natural setting. There are ninety species of hoofed mammal alone, including a tremendous variety of antelope, from the giant eland to the swift impala. Africa is home to the world's fastest animal, the cheetah, and also the world's largest land animal, the African elephant. In the giraffe it has the tallest animal in the world, while Africa's chimpanzees and gorillas represent families of primates closer to Homo sapiens than any others.
The future welfare of African wildlife is a matter of major international concern. Today, many animals only survive in the many national parks throughout the continent, the oldest and best-known being Kruger National Park in South Africa. Kenya's parks include the 20,000 sq km (8,000 sq mile) expanse of Tsavo, one of the biggest. Tanzania's Serengeti National Park has unrivaled herds of antelope, and the migratory movements of wildebeest amid lions, leopards and other predators—not to mention crocodiles in the rivers—provide a glimpse of life on the grasslands of east Africa as it has been for thousands of years.
Only one large African mammal is known to have become extinct in historical times: this is an antelope called the blaubok. However, there were so few white rhinoceros at the end of the nineteenth century that they were thought to be extinct. Then a few were discovered in the South African province of Natal, and as a result of careful protection in South African national parks their numbers had grown to 6,375 by 1994. Outside South Africa very few white rhinoceros have survived: there may be no more than eighty in Kenya. A number of other animals are endangered, including the critically endangered mountain gorillas found only in small regions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Victoria Falls) and to the northeast lies a 600 km (370 mile) frontier with Zimbabwe. Originally peopled by the nomadic San, also known as Bushmen, Botswana's more fertile eastern parts later became settled by Bantu Tswana. In the nineteenth century, after gold had been discovered near the Tati River, the area became the focus of a colonial dispute between the British and the Boers of neighboring Transvaal (now Gauteng) in South Africa. Britain established the British Bechuanaland Protectorate in 1885. This name and status within the British Empire was retained until independence in 1966, when Bechuanaland became Botswana.
Geographically a part of the Southern African Plateau, more than half of Botswana consists of the Kalahari Desert. Substantial parts of the remainder of the country consist of saltpans and swamps. There is little surface water except in the north and east, in the basins of the Okavan-go, Chobe, and Limpopo Rivers. Variations in climate and a limited rainfall enable a certain amount of scrub and thornbush to grow in the Kalahari. The dominant vegetation in Botswana.
In the early twentieth century professional hunters from Europe and America depleted great numbers of animals such as lion, rhinoceros, and buffalo. Today, the main threat comes from Africans themselves. Pastoral people kill wildlife because antelope compete for grassland with their cattle. Many mountain gorillas died during the civil wars in Rwanda in the 1990s. Most killing in Kenya and Tanzania is done by poachers seeking decorative skins, ivory, and rhino horn. Although the killings are illegal, there is a great demand for these items on the international market and they fetch very high prices, especially when one considers the poverty that reigns in these countries. A 2 kg (4 lb) rhino horn sells for up to US$ 122,000 in Asia, where in powdered form it is valued as an aphrodisiac. It is estimated that in the last two decades 40,000 rhinos have been killed for their horns.
The management of wild animal populations is not easy. After policies designed to ensure the survival of elephants were followed in Tsavo National Park, herds grew until there are now too many elephants for the land to support. This is damaging the habitat of other native species.
is savanna grassland, which provides sufficient grazing for about 100,000 widely scattered Bantu cattle herders to make a living.
At the time of independence, cattle were almost the country's only export, and Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world. Since that time the economy has been transformed by the development of mining. Both copper and nickel are exported but the main earner has been diamonds, providing as much as eighty percent of export revenue. Tourism is also important as the seventeen percent of Botswana's land area that is given over to national parks and game reserves attracts numerous visitors. A large proportion of the population still live as subsistence farmers raising cattle and growing crops such as maize, sorghum, vegetables, and fruit. Difficulties include an unemployment rate of twenty percent, overgrazing, and desertification. Botswana also suffers from having the world's highest rate of AIDS/HIV infections: forty percent of the population. The disease, however, is fought with the most progressive and comprehensive programs.