A visit to Botswana is like a walk on the wild side; it is incredibly rich in unique African wildlife, wilderness and culture. With the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta or the “Jewel of the Kalahari,” the wildlife in Botswana is protected and unparalleled by some other African countries. It is a great place for safaris, and they even offer tourists the option to stay in camping grounds and eat the local gamey food to get the full experience. It is the place to discover the breathtaking beauty and diversity of the African wilderness and get in touch with nature more deeply than ever before.
Important and Interesting Facts about Botswana
- Botswana is a wealthy country by African standards. It contains extensive mineral resources such as the Jwaneng Diamond Mine, the richest in the world, which was found when termites pushed specks of diamond to the surface.
- The Okavango Delta is known as the jewel in the Kalahari, a semi-arid sandy expanse which covers 85% of the country. Fed by annual floodwater from Okavango river delta, the largest inland delta in the world. The vast delta supports a wide array of African wildlife from hippos to elephants. Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest make an annual migration to find food and water. None of the water in the Okavango Delta reaches the sea – the large majority of it is either evaporated or transpired, with a remaining 2% estimated to discharge into Lake Ngami.
- Tsodilo Hills consist of a quartzite outcrop just 40 kilometers west of the main road, standing like a beacon in the otherwise flat surrounding Kalahari sandveld. Besides its cultural heritage, Tsodilo also has immense natural beauty, with the trees, birds and incredible vistas all creating a very special atmosphere. Tsodilo is now a national monument and Botswana’s first World Heritage Site.
- Botswana is dominated by The Kalahari Desert, a large arid and semi-arid area that stretches across seven countries and is a sand-filled basin. The name means “thirstland”. The Kalahari Desert covers two-thirds of Botswana.
- There is only one place on earth where four countries meet. Botswana is one of the “Four Corners of Africa” together with Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. All these meet midstream in the Zambezi River at Kazungula, which means “little sausage tree”. A large brown pole at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers indicates the point where the Four Corners of Africa touch.
- Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, is home to Mma Precious Ramotswe, a famous fictional character. She is the first female private detective in Botswana and the heroine of the series of novels written by Alexander McCall Smith.
- World’s largest salt pans is the Makgadikadi Pans of Botswana are the largest salt pans in the world with an area of about 12 000 sq km.
- The border between Botswana and Zambia is, at 700 meters, known as the shortest border between two fully independent countries. It is a riverine border sandwiched between the Zambia-Namibia and Zambia-Zimbabwe borders, all of which run through the middle of the Zambezi River.
- The Limpopo River was made famous as the ‘great, gray greasy’ river of Kipling’s story and journals of early explorers and adventurers recount tales of the river that accesses three countries, forming the border between Botswana and South Africa and then South Africa and Zimbabwe.
- Kubu Island was once submerged under the waters of a lake. Today, this rock island rises out from a white sea of salt. Whilst there are other rock islands in the Makgadikgadi region, this is by far the best known. Visitors can look out for ancient stone cairns, fossilized bird droppings and Stone Age artifacts. Three traditional taboos surround the islands: no hunting of wild animals, no collection of wild fruits and no removal of the island’s rocks.
- This group of trees is also known as the ‘Seven Sisters’. A popular stop-off on many visitors’ itineraries, the trees were made famous by Thomas Baines, who painted them in 1862. The seven gigantic trees dominate an island on the edge of Kudiakam Pan, on the southern side of the Nxai Pan National Park, and are particularly unusual in their appearance, since it is extremely rare that African baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) grow so closely together in natural clusters.
- Kgale Hill is an unmissable landmark situated on the western side of Gaborone. Visitors who take the time to hike to the top will be well rewarded with magnificent views of the city and the Gaborone Dam. Hikers may also get to spot one of the black eagles which is said to nest in the Hill’s cliffs.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Botswana
- Botswana is the best country for comparing meerkats. No other country has so many of them.
- Botswana is a haven for endangered species of mammal and bird such as cheetah, brown hyena, Kori bustard, and Pel’s fishing owl.
- According to a report in 2007 there are more African elephants in Botswana than anywhere else. The number of elephants in Botswana was given as 133,829, with Tanzania in second place on 108,816 elephants.
- Botswana is the world’s third-biggest diamond producer, behind Russia and Canada.
- The word “lekgoa,” which the Batswana often use to refer to foreigners, was originally translatable to “spat out by the sea.”
- Tricky, this – Setswana is the language, Botswana is the country, Batswana is the people as a whole (although it also refers to an individual tribe), and Motswana is an individual!
- The big 5 animals of Botswana are the lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and buffalo.
- The Tsodilo Thick-toed Gecko is a small, nocturnal gecko with brown and yellow stripes and is very unique to Tsodilo Hills. Apart from Kudu, Steenbok and Duiker, which have the ability to live in waterless areas, there is not much game in this area.
- Another exceptionally hard African wood, the name says it all. Leadwood is seldom seen for sale, and is reported to be protected in South Africa–a very elusive timber and is said to be the heaviest kid of wood in the world.
- For many people the Baobab tree symbolizes Africa. It is also known as the ‘upside down tree’ because its branches stay bald most of the year. These trees can grow more than a thousand years old. The Bushmen say that every centimeter of the trunk’s circumference represents one year.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Botswana
- Botswana won its first Olympic medal at London 2012 when Nijel Amos won silver in the 800 meters. Amantle Montsho won the women’s 400 meters at the 2011 world championships.
- The earliest inhabitants of the region were the San, who were followed by the Tswana. About half the country today is ethnic Tswana. The term for the country’s people,Batswana, refers to national rather than ethnic origin.
- The kgotla system is entrenched in Setswana culture and is based on a system of democracy and free speech where every person in attendance has the right to speak their mind.
- The coat of arms of Botswana is based on a shield supported by two zebras. One zebra is also holding an elephant’s tusk, the other a stalk of millet.
- People known colloquially to the west as Bushmen have lived in Botswana for thousands of years. Herders and agriculturalists from a Bantu tradition appeared more than two-thousand years ago. Tswana polities under Tswana chiefs moved into Botswana from the south and east in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some responding to the rise of the Zulu state and European encroachments.
- In 1885 the British declared the area the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and in a famous visit to Britain in 1895, three of the Tswana kings petitioned to remain under the British instead of being governed by the British South Africa Company. British administration in the twentieth century strengthened the role of the Tswana chiefs and the dominance of Tswana laws and customs over the country.
- The inhabitants of Botswana call themselves ‘Batswana’, of which the singular is ‘Motswana’.
- The national dish is Seswaa, a stew of boiled meat, maize meal and greens.
- They do different styles of art depending on their mood. Bushman artists have also more recently begun to achieve success with their very distinctive style of painting. Bright and full of human and animal images, the pieces mostly depict the deep connections their lifestyles have to nature.
- The Matsieng Footprints can be found between Gaborone and Francistown in the south of Botswana. The legend goes that they belong to a giant called Matsieng, who is said to have emerged from a hole in the ground, along with his animals and people. Several footprints can be found spread over vast distances, captured for ever in the ancient sandstone rock. The largest measures some 340 mm / 13 inches long. Thought to be between 3,000 to 10,000 years old, the footprints are actually more likely to have been created by the Basarwa people who used to inhabit the area.