Facts About Culture, Geography, and History of Botswana
Botswana became independent on the 30th of September 1966. It has an estimated population of 2, 250, 260 as of 2016. From politics to wildlife, Botswana has some interesting fun facts that will have you wanting to pay a visit to this country. We have listed twelve of those facts and we’d like you to comment on any more we may have left out.
12. Longest running multi-party democracy in Africa
Botswana has the longest running multi-party democracy in Africa and low institutionalized corruption. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has been in power since 1966 with Seretse Khama ruling as president until 1980.
Quett Masire took over the presidency after serving as vice president in the previous terms. Festus Mogae succeeded Masire served until 2008 and the son of the first president, Ian Khama, currently serves as president continuing the undiluted running of the Botswana Democratic Party.
11. Majority of the people are of Setswana ethinicity
The Tswana or Setswana people comprise the country’s largest ethnic group, accounting for 79% of the population. The Tswana group belong to the Bantu speaking family with eight major tribes having their own chief. The chiefs all have a seat in the council of chiefs who serves as an advisory body to the Botswana Parliament.
10. Pula is the currency of Botswana, it means ‘rain’
The currency of Botswana is the Pula, which in Setswana means rain. The name was fitting at that time because rain was scarce in Botswana and so seen as a valuable blessing just as money is. It was first introduced as the national currency in August 1976. It it can be subdivided into 100 thebe.
9. Trophy hunting is illegal
Trophy hunting is illegal in Botswana and has been since January 2014. Trophy hunting targets large animals for their horns, size, skin to be displayed as “trophies”. In a bid to preserve the animal population, the President banned trophy hunting. This worthy action has inspired some airlines to stop transporting these trophy animals.
8. An astounding 38% of the country is reserved for national parks
About 38% of the country is set aside for national parks, reserves, and wildlife management areas. Conservation is taken very seriously here and tourism provides major revenue for the country. There are five conservation and national parks specifically consisting of four-game reserves and one nature reserves. There are many more amusement parks and attractions, making the 38% worth it.
7. Foreigners are called “lekgoa” which means spat out by the sea
As a foreigner visiting Botswana, locals may call you “lekgoa”. In English, this directly translates to ‘spat out by the sea’. It is usually used for a white person, mainly expatriates who are believed to have crossed seas to get to Botswana. It is a term also used in township and villages of South Africa
6. Highest concentration of wild elephants in all of Africa
Botswana has the highest concentration of wild elephants in Africa, with most of them living in Chobe National Park and the Linyanti region. Over 50,000 elephants can be found in Botswana. The male African Elephant favors the Savute area which is where they live out their lives in all seasons. The wild African Elephants are also Safari-friendly and are the highlights of any Safari in Botswana.
5. Home to the Kalahari Desert
Botswana is home to the Kalahari Desert, which takes up about 80% of the entire country. The 900,000 sq km expanse of semi-arid sandy Savannah has its name derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi. This literally translates as ”the water-less place”. The desert is home to many animals ranging from Meerkats, Flamingos, and Leopards to African wild dogs.
It is argued that The Kalahari desert is not a true desert, but more of a fossil desert. This is because it gets a considerable amount of rainfall more than any other desert in the world. It receives 5-10 inches annually. It is the sixth largest desert with sand and it supports over four hundred species of plant life. This is mainly due to its ability to retain water a little longer than normal.
4. One of the world’s fastest growing economies
Botswana has achieved one of the world’s most rapidly increasing economies since liberation in 1966, transforming itself from originally being one of the poorest. It is now a middle-income country with a consistently increasing growth rate per capita income.
Reinvesting their resource income is one of the secrets to the Botswana economy. Tourism attracts thousands annually and natural deposits of gemstones and precious metals like diamond, uranium, copper, and gold have attracted a lot of international corporations to Botswana. All this helps to ensure the economy grows quickly.
3. Recognition of gay rights since 2014
Gay rights groups attained legal recognition by Botswana’s government in 2014, a massive step towards the attainment of equal human rights in the country. The group is the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) and they were given the right to register and campaign for changes to anti-gay legislation.
Prior to this, any LGBT activities were illegal and such groups were hidden like in most African countries. Even after the legalization, much of society still frowns on such sexual orientations or any homosexual sexual acts.
2. A beautiful country with untouched lands
The country is unique in its vastly untouched lands bursting with thriving African species. Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It has a large areas of land that is vacant and left to evolve as nature intends. With civilization confined to some parts of the country alone, breathtaking sunsets and star-filled skies leave a beautiful sight to behold.
1. Diamond revenue pays for the primary education for every child in Botswana
Diamond revenue pays for the primary education for every child in Botswana until the age of 13. This counts for fifty percent of the government’s value. Annually, $3.2 billion worth of diamonds are produced from the Orapa mine.
This makes it the largest producer of diamond in the world in terms of value and carats quantity. This has provided the platform for the free education program which has been ongoing for the past two decades. As a result, 93.1% of school-aged children between 7 and 13 years have benefitted from this diamond generated opportunity.