Botswana is a country located in the southern part of the African continent. For the most part, Botswana has a flat landscape and is about 80% covered by the Kalahari desert. Mostly unknown to tourists visiting Africa, but nonetheless Botswana has a lot to offer its visitors.
Over the years I have had the chance to visit Botswana many times and every time I enjoy being there to visit its natural wonders and amazing wildlife. For me it is an intriguing country, filled with old traditions and mysteries, stunning national parks, friendly people and a great diversity of wildlife.
In order to give an introduction to the country, I have listed some random and interesting facts about Botswana that might be new to you or to give you a better insight into the country itself.
13 Facts most people don’t know about Botswana
- Botswana is home to the worlds biggest concentration of African elephants, of which the highest concentration is to be found in Chobe National Park. Especially during the dry season large herds of Elephants make their way to the river banks of the Chobe river.
- Around 38% of the country’s surface is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, which is one of the higher ranks compared to most other countries.
- The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. It’s a beautiful oasis in the Kalahari desert, whose waters start flowing from the highlands of Angola all the way over the sands of the Kalahari desert. The Delta gives life to many forms of life which seems to be unexpected in the middle of a desert. The Okavango Delta became the 1000th inscribed site on the World Heritage List of Unesco in 2014. More info about the Okavango Delta
- The Makgadigadi pans is one of the largest salt pan areas in the world, stretching over an area of 12.000 km2. The climate in the area is harsh, very hot and with little rain. When it rains, the pan can change into a blue lake attracting many animals including flamingos.
- Botswana is not the cheapest tourist destination to travel to. However, their policy is “High quality, low impact”. So when going there, you will not find yourself amidst hundreds of other tourists and can still enjoy a feeling of exclusivity.
- English is the official language of the country, it is taught at schools, and is widely spoken in all urban centres. Even in rural areas, many local villagers (especially younger ones who have received schooling) will be able to converse in English. However, Setswana is the national language and the most spoken language throughout the country.
- The currency used is called Pula and is divided into Thebe. In Setswana (the local language) this means rain and shield.
- The Border between Botswana and Zambia is only 150 meters which makes it the shortest border in the world. You cross between the 2 countries via the Kazungula ferry.
- In the North Western part of the country, Botswana borders with 3 other countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. A point where 4 countries meet is called a quadripoint. However, since the border between Zambia and Botswana is not met by a land border but is separated by the Zambezi river, it is believed that there are 2 separate trijunctions (point where 3 countries meet) about 150 meters apart. This might be the only place in the world where you can pick up cellular signal from 4 countries in one place.
- Before its independence in 1966 Botswana was a British protectorate and was one of the poorest and least developed countries in Africa. One year after gaining independence, a huge diamond mine was discovered in Orapa. At the moment, Botswana is one of the most prosperous countries in Africa.
- Botswana is the worlds biggest diamond producing country in terms of value and the second biggest in terms of production. They produce about 17,7% of the total world production of diamonds. Diamonds count for nearly half of the governments value. Furthermore, diamond revenues enables every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13.
- Botswana has the richest diamond mine by value in the world. The Jwaneng Diamond Mine is located in the Southern part of Botswana. The meaning of Jwaneng is “place of small stones”’.
- The current president, Ian Khama, is the son of Botswana’s first president after independence, Sir Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams, who is of British origin. He was born in 1953 in England while his parents were in exile in the UK due to their interracial marriage.