Facts & figures
- Full name: The Republic of Botswana
- Population: 2 million (UN, 2012)
- Capital: Gaborone
- Area: 581,730 sq km (224,607 sq miles)
- Major languages: English (official), Setswana
- Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
- Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 51 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Pula = 100 thebe
- Main exports: Diamonds, copper, nickel, beef
- GNI per capita: US $7,470 (World Bank, 2011)
- Internet domain: .bw
- International dialling code: +267
Seretse Khama Ian Khama - the son of Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's first post-independence leader - took over as president in April 2008.
He was the chosen successor of Festus Mogae, who stepped down at the end of his second term, after a decade at the helm.
Visa & travel advice
Batswana Transit visa, is valid for 3 days or less, for transferring through port in Botswana to a third destination.
On-arrival visa for Botswana is granted at a port of entry. This is distinct from not requiring a visa at all, as the visitor should still get the visa before they can in fact seek to pass through immigration.
Student visa for Botswana, which permits its holder to study at an institution of higher education in Botswana.
Batswana temporary worker visa, is for people to work in an organisation in Botswana.
Spousal visa or partner visa, granted to the spouse, civil partner or de facto partner of a resident or Batswana citizen.
Batswana Marriage visa is granted for a extended period prior to civil partnership wedding based on a proven relationship with a citizen or resident of Botswana.
- Best Period
For tourists visiting Botswana on safari, the best months are April through October. During this dry season, animals gather along natural water holes formed during the previous rainy season, making it easier to see a wide variety of animals at once. These winter days are dry, sunny, and warm, but when the sun goes down it can become chilly if not freezing. Visitors should be prepared for both extremes.
Before you travel to Botswana, check to make sure that your immunizations are in order, including shots for tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid, and the H1N1 virus. Check the Center for Disease Control’s travel website for all recommended immunizations. The threat of malaria is high: in addition to taking anti-malarial drugs before, during, and after your trip, try to wear protective clothing and insect repellent; use mosquito netting when sleeping, and, when it’s possible, stay inside with a running air conditioner or electric fan.
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens refer to themselves as Batswana (singular: Motswana). Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has held uninterrupted democratic elections and maintains a strong tradition as a stable representative democracy.
Botswana is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. Despite its political stability and relative socioeconomic prosperity, the country is among the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS epidemic, with around a quarter of the population estimated to be infected.
Botswana is made up of numerous ethnic groups, though the Batswana are the most numerous. Music is an omnipresent part of Botswana culture, and include popular and folk forms. Church choirs are common across the country. Music education is an integral part of the educational system. Children of all ages are taught traditional songs and dances.
- Folk music
Tswana music is mostly vocal and performed without drums; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Tswana folk music has got instruments such as Setinkane, Segankure/Segaba and for the last few decades, a guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music. The guitar was originally played in a manner similar to Segaba but with a better rhythm due to plucking, almost completely replacing the violin-like Segaba until such prodigies of Segaba as Ratsie Setlhako re-popularised Segaba in the 80s with the help of radio. In the absence of instruments a clapping rhythm is used in music with the typical chant and answer manner of singing. The absence of drumming is predominant and is peculiar of an African tribe.
- Kwasa Kwasa
An African version of Rhumba popularised in Central Africa has taken a strong following in Botswana and has produced highly acclaimed musicians such as Frank Lesokwane of Franco and Afro Musica, Jeff Matheatau, Chris Manto 7 and Alfredo Mos and Les Africa sounds. It has a slower Rhythm than the original type and predictably tends to get a rapid rhythm in the middle of the song. It is still not as hectic as its parent Afro Rhumba. Unlike Rhumba, Kwasa Kwasa has a simple leg routine, focusing more on an erotic movement of hips and buttocks.
Some artists have attempted to speed it up and made it more Danceable to breakdance with great success. Artist Vee is one of them and his version is known as Kwaito Kwasa, from a combination of Kwaito music with a Kwasa Kwasa rhythm and guitar.
- Popular music
Like many African countries, much of the popular music there is called jazz, though it has little resemblance to the African American genre of that name. There has been a push in recent years to focus on revitalizing the Botswana music industry instead of purchasing foreign releases. Most popular music in Botswana still comes from South Africa, United States, Europe or elsewhere in Africa. Gumba-gumba is a form of modernized Zulu and Tswana music, mixed with traditional jazz; the word gumba comes from township slang for party.
Botswana literature belongs somewhere in the strong African literary writing circles. African literature is known for its consciousness and didactic writing styles.
In recent times and to date Botswana has seen a remarkable appearance of distinguished writers whose genres range from historical, political and witty story writing.
Prominent amongst these are the South African born Bessie Head who settled in Serowe village, Andrew Sesinyi, Barolong Seboni, Unity Dow, Galesiti Baruti, Caitlin Davies and Moteane Melamu.
- Film industry
Nowadays Botswana has made little or no progress in the film industry. No film has ever entered the film festival circuit be it short or long metrage. No Botswana local has ever won international acclaim. In Gaborone some production have settled, but none have produced an award winning production. Billy Kokorwe and Ken Barlow are the most renowned local documentary producers today. Anno 2000 the TV has found its way in most homes. Wildlife documentaries remain the bulk of the cinematic output, supported by local companies.
- Famous monuments
The Three Dikgosi Monument is a bronze sculpture located in the Central Business District of Gaborone, Botswana. The statues depict three dikgosi (tribal chiefs): Khama III of the Bangwato, Sebele I of the Bakwena, and Bathoen I of the Bangwaketse. Events are held at the monument such as the 2008 Miss Independence Botswana. A study conducted between January and August 2007 shows that the monument is the most visited tourist destination in Gaborone.
Engravings that occur at Kangumene include foot prints (animal and human), handprints, geometric designs (line, grid and oval) and weapons.
- Architecture history
Traditional architecture in Botswana is distinguished from modern architecture in three domains: the use of materials (mud/dung, wooden poles, thatch) that may be manufactured by members of a household; the round house form and/or thatched roofing; and/or the presence of a courtyard known as a lolwapa where much activity takes place. By contrast, modern architecture uses purchased materials (cement and bricks and roofing products) and involves the labor of specialized and commercial craftsmen, is square, and features rooms for specialized activities (bedrooms, kitchens). The traditional Tswana residential area is a compound, often housing several closely related family groups. Into the 1990s, much urban housing was financed and built by the government, and repeated a few basic patterns, including one that retained a courtyard structure, which later became unpopular.