Geography and Landscape


Botswana is located in southern Africa north of South Africa. Botswana is bordered to the south and southeast by South Africa, to the northeast by Zambia, to the east by Zimbabwe and to the north and west by Namibia.

Botswana Satellite ImagePhoto:Public domain

The area of Botswana is almost 600,000 square kilometers.


Botswana Landschap Photo:Winfried Bruenken Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

Much of the country is made up of the Kalahari Desert and the remains of a former desert. The landscape is very varied, ranging from the huge oasis called Okavango Delta to plains in the east and rocky concentrations in Tsodilo. A single river still meanders through the land. The best known are the Chobe River in the northwest and the Okavango River.

Climate and Weather

Botswana SunrisePhoto:Joachim Huber Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Botswana has a desert-like climate. The winter (May to July) is cold and dry. Especially at night and early in the morning the temperatures drop considerably. In the summer (September to April) it is hot. Then Botswana has a lot of rain and thunderstorms. Both the days and the nights are very hot, above forty degrees. The best time to travel is just before the rainy season, so in the months of June to August.

Plants and Animals


Welwitschia Botswana Photo:Franzfoto Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The natural distribution of vegetation in Botswana is strongly related to the pattern of rainfall. Most of the land consists of savannas: Shrubs (southwest) and trees and grass savannas (others) grow there

Small parts of Botswana are forested. Acacias and mopanes are the most common tree species. Real forests can only be found in the north, along the banks of the Chobe River.

Common shrubs and trees are: acacia, almond, monkey bread, euphorbia, palm, teak and welwitschia.


Lions Botswana Photo:fortherock Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Botswana is known for its great diversity of animals. Most African game species can be found there, along with other animal species that are native to the country. Compared to the rest of Africa, Botswana has remained well protected from poachers. According to statistics, the country has 164 mammal species, 157 reptile species, eighty fish, 550 bird species, and countless insects.

Well-known animal species are: monkey, antelope, giraffe, lion, rhino, hippo, elephant and panther.


Botswana Map 1887 Photo:John George Bartholomew in het publieke domein

Botswana was inhabited by the Khoi and San peoples for thousands of years before Christ. In the north-west, traces of about 17,000 years B.C. A few centuries later, Bantu speakers also settled in this area. Around 1200-1400 a number of powerful Sotho dynasties spread from the Transvaal. These Tswana (Central Sotho) dynasties strengthened around the 16th century and organized themselves into states around the 19th century. During the 17th and 18th centuries, present-day Botswana was inhabited by a predominantly Setswana-speaking population. Europeans also reached this region from the beginning of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, Khama III (aka Khama the Great) was the foremost and most important indigenous leader with a powerful army. Persistent threat from the Afrikaners of South Africa, reinforced by the discovery of gold in Botswana, prompted Khama III to seek protection from the British. Although Khama III continued to exert enormous influence on the area and its incorporation into South Africa succeeded, the country, then called Bechuanaland, became a British protectorate from 1885.

Statue Seretse Khama BotswanaPhoto:Shosholoza Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In 1962, the Bechuanaland Democratic Party (BDP) was founded by a grandson of Khama III, Seretse Khama. Already in the elections prior to independence, in 1965, the BDP won the most votes and a year later Seretse Khama became the first president of the independent republic of Botswana. The BDP has always been the ruling party in Botswana. After his death in July 1980, Khama was succeeded by his Vice President Quett Ketumile Masire (later Sir Ketumile Masire). Masire, co-founder of the BDP, remained president until April 1998 and was succeeded by then Vice President Festus Mogae, who was re-elected as president after elections in 2004. In April 2008, Seretse Khama Ian Khama is elected president. Festus Mogae will be awarded a $ 5 million prize in October 2008 for good African policy. In April 2009, Botswana decided to halve diamond production due to stagnating prices. In October 2009, the ruling BDP wins elections and Khama starts a new five-year term as president. In January 2012, the three main opposition parties met in hopes of bringing about the fall of the government. The conversations did not have the desired result. In November 2013, the diamond wholesaler De Beers decided to move the sale of rough diamonds to Botswana. Khama is re-elected for a second term in October 2014.

Mokgweetsie Masisi, President of BotswanaPhoto:UNCTAD Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Mokgweetie Masisi is elected president and new leader of the BDP in 2018. He wins by a wide margin in the October 2019 elections.


Bushmen BotswanaPhoto:Mopane Game Safaris CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

2,214,858 million people live in Botswana (2017). The population density is very low and amounts to 4 inhabitants per square kilometer.

All of the above figures can change quickly and significantly in connection with the AIDS epidemic.

Population composition:


English Language CardPhoto:Kobolen Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

English is the official language of Botswana. But more than 90% of the population speaks a Bantu language as their first language. The most widely spoken Bantu languages are Setswana (over 70% of the population), Kalanga, Kgalagadi, Shona, Mbukushu and Ndebele. In addition, almost 2% of the population speaks Tschwa, which is a Khoe language.


The majority of the people of Botswana adhere to the Christian faith. Often in combination with indigenous religions. Some indigenous religious and medical practices, notably respect for patriarchal ancestors, have been assimilated into the Christian faith in Botswana. There is also a small minority of Muslims and Hindus. The constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government generally respects this right in practice.


State structure

Botswana ParliamentPhoto:Iulus Ascanius in the public domain

Botswana is a parliamentary democracy. Since independence in 1966, legislative power has rested with the Parliament, which consists of the National Assembly (57 elected members), president, chairman, attorney general and four deputies of the president. The National Assembly is elected for a term of five years by free elections. Executive power rests with the president who is elected by the National Assembly. Amendments require a two-thirds majority in parliament to be adopted as law. Very drastic changes, such as changes in the length of the parliamentary term, are decided by referendum. A referendum took place for the first time in October 1997, with the result that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 years.


Botswana Administrative DivisionPhoto:Amitchell125 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The political situation in Botswana can be called stable and democratic. Botswana's domestic political scene has also remained essentially unchanged over the past year, with a strong ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) party. The opposition is divided among the "Botswana National Front", the "Botswana Congress Party", the "Botswana Alliance Movement" and the "Botswana People's Party".

National priorities of the government are economic diversification, promotion of foreign investment, promotion of exports, combating the HIV / AIDS pandemic, ailing agriculture and tourism and conservation. The creation of new jobs and reform of the public administration are also important concerns.

For the current political situation see chapter history.


Botswana Export Photo:R Haussmann,Cesar Hidalgo, et. al CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Before independence in 1966, Botswana was one of the poorest 20 countries in the world. The discovery and development of diamonds in particular from the early 1970s onwards led to enormous economic growth. In the 1980s, Botswana's economic growth was one of the highest in the world at about 10 percent per year. In the mid-1990s, diamond exports, along with exports of copper and other minerals, made up 72.5% of total export earnings. The share of agriculture in GDP decreased drastically, although a relatively large percentage of the labor force still finds employment in this sector. Economic growth has led to the improvement of infrastructure and development of the industrial sector and social services. However, the one-sided nature of economic developments also makes Botswana vulnerable. In order not to depend on the mining sector alone, the IMF is pushing for economic diversification.

Unemployment continues to be a problem, partly due to returning miners from South Africa. Inflation is also not yet under control.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Botswana Okavanga Delta Photo:Justin Hall Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Botswana has a varied landscape, although the majority of the country consists of the Kalahari Desert. The safari opportunities in Botswana are endless and the country's wildlife density is very high.

The Okavango Delta, the largest inland river delta in the world, consists of a labyrinth of thousands of large and small rivers, creeks and islands, and can therefore mainly be visited with a traditional 'mokoro', a wooden canoe. The small Moremi Game Reserve is a highly sought after safari destination due to the wide variety of animals, especially about 500 bird species, and mopane forests. The Tsodilo Hills in the Kalahari Desert are one of the holiest sites of the Bushmen, where about 4000 ancient rock paintings depicting dances, animals and hunting scenes are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second largest game park in the world.

Chobe National park Botswana Photo:Gorgo in the public domain

Most safaris are organized from the town of Maun to the national parks and reserves. Those looking for wildlife will find what they want in the Chobe National Park (1200 km2), the most visited park in Botswana where, in addition to about 460 bird species, almost all the large mammals of southern Africa are found, except for the rhinoceros. Among other things, large herds of elephants (approx. 120,000) migrate to the Chobe River.

The enormous Makgadikgadi salt pans, the largest in the world, are a paradise for animal lovers in both the dry and wet periods, where the second largest zebra migration takes place in Africa. Other nature reserves are the Nata Bird Sanctuary (birds), the Nxai Pan National Park (including sand dunes and large herds of springbok, giraffes and zebras), the Linyati Wetlands (including elephants and wild dogs), the watery private reserve Kwando Concession (including herds of elephants and buffaloes), the Selinda Concession (including many wild dogs), the Khutse Game Reserve, Khama Rhino Sanctuary (rhinoceroses), Savute Game Reserve, Northern Tuli Game Reserve (including lions, elephants, leopards, cheetahs) and the Mashatu Game Reserve, where even a mountain bike safari is possible.

Botswana Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Photo:Amada44 Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a relatively new game park, with large herds of wildebeest and other antelopes, and includes the former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (South Africa) and Gemsbok National Park (Botswana). Mokolodi Game Reserve is an educational private game reserve where white rhinos still live and a successful breeding program of this rare animal has been set up.

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Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated October 2021
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