Country Profiles:
Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast  near Kazungula. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. Botswana extends from the Chobe River (which drains through the Zambezi to the Indian Ocean) in the north to the Molopo River (part of the Orange River system, which flows into the Atlantic) in the south. To the east it is bordered by the Limpopo River and its tributaries, the Ngotwane (Notwani), Marico (Madikwe), and Shashe. On the north of the country lies one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons the Okavango Delta, ranked to be among the world largest inland deltas. The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. More correctly an alluvial fan, the delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometers of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the harsh Kalahari Desert. Based on how the delta operates, the Okavango Delta is in flood between July and September  – this natural phenomenon draws a large range of wildlife to the waters, which in turn attracts predators towards the high concentration of plains game from the dry hinterland. Okavango Delta is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014, making it a major tourist hot spot.

UNESCO Heritage site in Botswana includes:

1. Okavango Delta

Botswana is a very large, swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired, and does not flow into any sea or ocean. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014, making it a major tourist hot spot.

Botswana is one of the most stable countries on the continent and also has the longest continuous multi-party democracy.

It is relatively free of corruption and has a good human rights record, according to the BBC. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent on September 30th 1966. Prior to gaining independence, Botswana was considered one of the poorest and least-developed states in the world. Since its independence the Republic of Botswana has gained international stature as a peaceful and increasingly prosperous democratic state. Upon gaining independence, Seretse Khama,  served as the country’s first president until 1980; Seretse Khama Ian Khama – the son of Sir Seretse Khama, the 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, according to the BBC. Critics describe president Ian Khama as authoritarian while supporters say he is decisive and efficient. The capital of Botswana, Gaborone (until 1969 spelled Gaberones—i.e., Gaborone’s town), is  named after the tribal chief who had his capital at the site during the colonial period).

Known to be the largest producer of diamonds in the world, Botswana is truly a great example for the continent as it thrives in both its economic and political sectors. The diamond trade has transformed Botswana into a middle-income nation. There are seven diamond mines in the country. The two important ones are Orapa and Jwaneng, two of the most prolific diamond mines in the world. Botswana’s resources produce the full range of diamonds, in all sizes, colors and clarities. Most of Botswana’s diamond production is gem quality, nicely-shaped dodecahedral stones in medium and high colors, and often with a greenish skin. Other natural resources includes Nickel and copper have been mined at Selebi-Phikwe near the Motloutse River since 1974, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Coal is mined for power generation. Also, salt and soda ash are notable resources.

Botswana is sparsely populated with the dominant ethnic identity being Tswana, comprising of two-thirds of the population. The country is named after this dominant ethnic group, the Tswana (“Bechuana” in older variant orthography). “Tswana ethnic dominance (“Tswanadom”) in Botswana can be dated to the eight Tswana states, which ruled most of the area in the 19th century. Under British colonial rule, the populations of these states were given the official status of “tribes,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The other main ethnic identity besides Tswana, are the Khalagari, Basarwa and Kalanga. The official language is English, however, several other languages are also spoken in the country, including Kalanga, Sekgalagadi, Herero, Mbukushu, and Yei.

As the third least densely populated country in on the continent, Botswana is a haven for nature  and safari enthusiasts and protects some of the largest areas of wilderness. Safari-based tourism is  tightly controlled and often upmarket and serves as an important source of income for the country.

Cuisine in Botswana shares plenty of culinary aspects found in other South African cuisines, yet, Botswana cuisine is still quite unique. Botswana cuisine is often referred to as ‘Setswana food,’ named after the predominant language spoken in Botswana.. The national dish of Botswana is called Seswaa. This consists of a meat stew served over thick polenta or pap. Bogobe (also called “Slap-Pap” – stiff cornmeal porridge). Marinated Grilled Beefsteak, Botswana Style. Vetkoek with Mince (2 recipes in 1, vetkoek is a pastry, in this recipe it is filled with curried minced meat).

Botswana culture is best expressed in music and dance. There is a cordial existence of traditional folklore and modern music in the local music industry. Indigenous Botswana music is predominantly vocal accompanied by a clapping of hands to produce a muffled rhythmic sound at heart-beat pace; but it has been modernized by introducing modern beat and increased its tempo. Traditional folklore uses string instruments like segaba, segankure and setinkane. Renowned local artists like George Swabi and Kwata-E-Shele use the string instruments to produce unbelievably sweet sounding melodies.

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