BOTSWANAN Facts & Figures

Size: 224,610 square miles

Population: 2,029,307

Capital: Gaborone

Currency: Pula

Weather / Climate:

Botswana's climate is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 or 15 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so that a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground but is lost to evaporation and transpiration. 'Pula', one of the most frequently heard words in Botswana, is not only the name of Botswana's currency, but also the Setswana word for rain. So much of what takes place in Botswana relies on this essential, frequently scarce commodity.

The summer season begins in November and ends in March. It usually brings very high temperatures. However, summer is also the rainy season, and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down considerably, although only usually for a short period of time. The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas, especially in the south-west. The in-between periods - April/early May and September/October - still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter.

The rainy season is in the summer, with October and April being transitional months. January and February are generally regarded as the peak months. The mean annual rainfall varies from a maximum of over 650mm in the extreme north-east area of the Chobe District to a minimum of less than 250mm in the extreme south-west part of Kgalagadi District. Almost all rainfall occurs during the summer months while the winter period accounts for less than 10 percent of the annual rainfall. Generally, rainfall decreases in amount and increases in variability the further west and south you go.

Summer days are hot, especially in the weeks that precede the coming of the cooling rains, and shade temperatures rise to the 38°C mark and higher, reaching a blistering 44°C on rare occasions. Winters are clear-skied and bone-dry, the air seductively warm during the daylight hours but, because there is no cloud cover, cold at night and in the early mornings. Sometimes bitterly so - frost is common and small quantities of water can freeze.

In summer during the morning period humidity ranges from 60 to 80% and drops to between 30 and 40% in the afternoon. In winter humidity is considerably less and can vary between 40 and 70% during the morning and fall to between 20 and 30% in the afternoon. For tourists, the best visiting months are from April through to October - in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife of the great spaces gather around what water there is - the natural waterholes and the borehole-fed dams - and are at their most visible.


BOTSWANAN languages

The official language of Botswana is English although Setswana is widely spoken across the country. In Setswana prefixes are more important than they are in many other languages. These prefixes include "Bo", which refers to the country, "Ba", which refers to the people, "Mo", which is one person, and "Se" which is the language. For example, the main tribe of Botswana is the Tswana people, hence the name Botswana for its country. The people as a whole are Batswana, one person is a Motswana, and the language they speak is Setswana.

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Besides referring to the language of the dominant people groups in Botswana, Setswana is the adjective used to describe the rich cultural traditions of the Batswana-whether construed as members of the Tswana ethnic groups or of all citizens of Botswana. The Scottish writer, Alexander McCall Smith, has written a number of popular novels (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series) about Botswana that entertain as well as inform the reader about the culture and customs of Botswana.


Tswana music is mostly vocal and performed without drums; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Tswana folk music has instruments such as Setinkane, Segankure/Segaba, and for the last few decades, the guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music.

In the northern part of Botswana, women in the villages of Etsha and Gumare are noted for their skill at crafting baskets from Mokola Palm and local dyes. The baskets are generally woven into three types: large, lidded baskets used for storage, large, open baskets for carrying objects on the head or for winnowing threshed grain, and smaller plates for winnowing pounded grain. The artistry of these baskets is being steadily enhanced through color use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for commercial use.

Other notable artistic communities include Thamaga Pottery and Oodi Weavers, both located in the southeastern part of Botswana.

The oldest paintings from both Botswana and South Africa depict hunting, animal and human figures, and were made by the Khoisan (Kung San/Bushmen) over twenty thousand years ago within the Kalahari desert.

In addition to these more traditional arts there are a number of extremely talented artists who use modern means to express themselves. There are a few galleries around Botswana that display paintings and sculptures. Some pieces are inspired by the beautiful Botswana landscapes and others by the people themselves.

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Botswana's main ethnic groups are Batswana, BaKalanga, Bushmen or AbaThwa also known as Basarwa. Other tribes are Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi. Other groups of ethnicities in Botswana include whites and Indians, both groups being roughly equally small in number. Botswana's Indian population is made up of many Indian-Africans of several generations, from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa, and so on, as well as first generation Indian immigrants. The white population is native to Botswana or from other parts of Africa including Zimbabwe and South Africa. The white population speaks either English or Afrikaans and makes up roughly 3% of the population.Since 2000, because of deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, the number of Zimbabweans in Botswana has risen into the tens of thousands.

Fewer than 10,000 Bushmen are still living the traditional hunter-gatherer style of life. Since the mid-1990s the central government of Botswana has been trying to move San out of their lands.The UN's top official on indigenous rights, Prof. James Anaya, has condemned Botswana's persecution of the Bushmen in a report released in February 2010.

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The markets of Botswana are filled with a large variety of foods. Some are grown locally using irrigation and some are imported from neighbouring countries.

A large number of high quality beef is raised in Botswana. Lamb, mutton and chicken and other meats are also plentiful. Beef is the most popular meat, followed by goat meat. River fish are also available.

Sorghum and maize are the main crops grown in Botswana. Wheat and rice and other kinds of cereals not grown locally are imported. Lots of different kinds of beans are grown, including cow peas, ditloo and letlhodi. Peanuts (groundnuts) are also grown. Many vegetables are grown, such as spinach, carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and lettuce. There are some vegetables that grow in the wild that are available seasonally. Dried bean leaves are a popular Setswana food.

Lots of fruits are grown, including marula (at left). Water melons, believed to have come originally from Botswana, are plentiful in season. Another kind of melon, called lerotse or lekatane is also grown. There are some kinds of wild melon found in sandy desert areas which are an important food and a source of water for the people who live in those areas.

Many soft drinks and alcohol drinks are made in factories in Botswana. These include Fanta and Coca-Cola. Local brands are Castle and Lion beers. Milk is fermented to make madila (sour milk) which is eaten on its own or added to porridge. A favourite non alcoholic homemade drink is ginger beer.

Some popular dishes:

Seswaa or Chotlho is a very popular traditional meat dish made for most special occasions. It is usually cooked by men in a three-legged iron pot, simmered until soft, with only salt and water. Another popular dish is Serobe: the intestines and some inside parts of goat, sheep or cow are cooked until soft. If the animal is sheep or goat, the trotters are included.

Traditionally grown chicken (free range) is considered to be better flavoured than commercially grown chickens. By cooking a traditionally grown chicken for a guest, a host shows special hospitality. Cooking chicken in a three-legged iron pot on an open fire gives it the best flavour.

Oxtail is another favourite meat dish.

Porridge (bogobe) is made by putting sorghum, maize or millet flour into boiling water, stirring into a soft paste, and then cooking it slowly. Sometimes the sorghum or maize is fermented, and milk and sugar added. This dish is called ting. Without the milk and sugar, ting is sometimes eaten with meat or vegetables as lunch or dinner. Another way of making bogobe is to to add sour milk and a cooking melon (lerotse). This dish is called tophi by the Kalanga tribe.

Because many vegetables are seasonal, they are often dried or salted so they can be used later. There are many different ways of cooking dried vegetables.

Bread flour is not part of the basic diet, but has been imported for some years into Botswana, so there are various bread recipes that have become part of the national food. The most common are dumplings (matemekwane), flat cakes (diphaphatha) and fat cakes (magwinya). For these, the flour is made into dough which is cooked in different ways such as boiling with meat, cooking in hot oil or in hot coals.

Popular foods in remote areas include morama, a huge underground tuber, and an edible fungus. Mopane worm, a grub that looks a bit like a caterpillar, is cooked in hot ashes, or boiled, or dried and fried.

From wikipedia

Places to go in BOTSWANA

For shopper, woodcarvings, handcrafted jewellery, textiles and attractive basketry are recommended. The Okavango Delta villages of Etsha and Shorobe are particularly famous for Ngamiland-style baskets. Modern Bushman art and ostrich-eggshell jewellery can be browsed and purchased at D'Kar, 40km (25 miles) north of Ghanzi. There also occasional exhibitions at the National Museum in Gaborone.

Most people get up early in the morning, and even in the capital, Gaborone, nightlife is not very extensive. It's limited to a few bars and restaurants, a cinema and a cultural centre which stages theatrical productions. Some bars host live music sessions at weekends. Despite its steady tourist traffic, Maun is even sleepier, with just a handful of restaurants, a small cinema and a clutch of places to grab a cold beer.

Venture into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Remote and virtually unexplored, it's a refuge both for animals and the country's few remaining Bushmen. Experience a sundowner. Sip a cool drink and enjoy a glorious sunset at the end of a satisfying afternoon game drive.

Go on a walking safari - not for the faint-hearted but an exhilarating experience. In the hands of an experienced guide, you'll see nature in close-up, and may, if you're lucky, get thrillingly close to wild animals.

Steer clear of charging buffalo in Chobe National Park, and marvel at hippos, while watching out for crocodiles, along the Chobe River.

Spot antelopes in the Gaborone Game Reserve and the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, and giraffes striding through the Khutse Game Reserve. Be dazzled by flamingoes on the Makgadikgadi Plains.

Grimace at rare brown hyenas in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, a bi-national Peace Park created on ancient animal migration routes between Botswana and South Africa.

See the Okavango Delta, an extremely beautiful region of vast grass flats, low tree-covered ridges and narrow, shallow waterways opening into lagoons which fill with water during the annual flood. Float along on a mokoro, a traditional Okavango Delta canoe, expertly poled by a local guide who stands in the stern. Originally made from hollowed-out wood, but now just as likely to be fibreglass, they offer an unforgettable perspective.

Admire Botswana's remaining rhinos, carefully protected from poachers, at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Serowe.

Climb on the back of an elephant for a safari trek to remember. As well as learning all about elephants, you may see zebras, giraffes, gazelles and other animals - with no distracting vehicle noise.

Roar across the Makgadikgadi Plains on a quad bike, revelling in the wide-open vistas. Mountain bike through the bush of the Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block, stopping to watch passing elephants. Take off from Maun by helicopter or light aircraft to get a bird's eye view (and take some amazing photographs) of the Okavango. Experience Botswana's culture in Serowe, a village with historic royal cemetery; or visit Lobatse with its Livingstone Memorial and the Botswana High Court.

Visit the Tsodilo Hills, considered a sacred site by the Bushmen; known to have been inhabited for at least 100,000 years, these isolated hills are decorated with thousands of rock paintings.

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Doing business in BOTSWANA

Political System and Governance Record

Botswanais a multi party democracy with three arms of government, the executive, legislature and the judiciary. General elections are held every 5 years. Each of the elections since independence has been freely and fairly contested and has been held on schedule. The president of Botswana is indirectly elected: The presidential candidate from the political party that wins the majority of the 57 seats in the National Assembly is sworn in as president.

With its proven record of good economic governance, Botswana is consistently ranked by international organizations as among the freest economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Botswana is ranked the most transparent country in Africa by Transparency International. The World Economic Forum report ranked Botswana 60th on the Global Competitiveness Index of 2009/10, making it the second highest ranking country in sub-Saharan Africa, performing well on institutions and macro economy but needing to in improve areas such as health and education.

The recently released Mo Ibrahim Foundation index ranked Botswana third on the continent in terms of good governance. In February 2010, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded Botswana’s investment grade credit rating from “A” to “A-”. The downgrading was due to Botswana’s decision to set out plans to boost public spending until March 2012.

The Economy

Botswanahas enjoyed one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world since independence, although it has slowed gently since the 1990s and recently experienced a sharp contraction due to the global economic slowdown. Economic growth averaged 9% per year from 1967-2006, but slowed down during 2007 and 2008 to only 3% before contracting by an estimated 4%-5% in 2009.

The Bank of Botswana’s target inflation rate is 3-6% although it has rarely been within the target since the Pula devaluation in May 2005. However, inflation maintained a downward trend during most of 2009 and ended the year at 5.8 percent. Bank of Botswana 2010 Report indicates that domestic inflation is projected to rise in the short time but should revert to within the bank’s inflation objective range of 3-6 % on a sustainable basis from the first quarter of 2011.

Minerals, especially diamonds, have remained the mainstay of Botswana’s economy. Mining contributes about 40% of Botswana’s GDP and accounts for about 75% of Botswana’s export earnings. As part of Botswana's drive to diversify and increase local value added within the mining sector, De Beers opened the Diamond Trading Centre Botswana (DTCB) in 2008 to shift sorting, cutting, polishing, aggregating, and marketing to Gaborone from London. In 2009, the DeBeers group postponed moving its worldwide diamond aggregation from London to Botswana. However, the DTCB is currently responsible for sorting all stones mined in Botswana before they are sent for aggregation in London.

Tourism is an increasingly important industry in Botswana, accounting for approximately 11% of GDP. One of the world's unique ecosystems, the Okavango Delta, is located in Botswana.

Investment Incentives in Botswana

Botswana investor friendly policies include the absence of exchange control regulations, a tax system that provides up to as little as 15 percent corporate tax and up to a maximum of 25 percent income tax. Other positive factors for investors include duty free and quota free access to the EU market, duty free access to markets to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland as well as preferential access to markets to 14 Southern African Countries. Botswana has a record of harmonious industrial relations, which aim to protect the interests of both workers and employers.

Government Economic and Development Strategies

In order to ensure that the economic diversification drive is successful, government has formulated the ‘Botswana Excellence Strategy’ which serves as a framework for the country to achieve high income status.Principles outlined in the Excellence Strategy, which comprises a range of actions and instruments needed to achieve economic diversification and sustainable growth, include: creating an enabling framework; mindset change; economic openness; and citizen empowerment through excellence. The strategy also encompasses the six Hub projects that have the potential to boost diversification by promoting sustainable new economic activities. These hubs are the Diamond Hub, Innovation Hub, Health Hub, Agriculture Hub, Transport Hub and the Education Hub.

Financial Regulation

Though Botswana has abolished foreign exchange controls, the country continues to monitor the movement of money in and out of the country, in order to collect statistics and monitor capital flows. The Government has legitimised offshore capital investments and allows foreign investors and individuals and Botswana incorporated companies to open foreign currency accounts in specified currencies. The designated currencies are US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Euro and South African Rand.

Bank of Botswana (BoB) is responsible for management of the country’s foreign exchange reserves and regulation and supervision of financial institutions operating in Botswana

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) overseas share dealings, listings, mergers, takeovers, etc.

Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) is the official body responsible for all issues related to standardization and quality assurance at national level.

Botswana Revenue Services (BURS) performs tax assessment and collection functions on behalf of the Government and take appropriate measures to counteract tax evasions.

Imports and Tariffs

Southern African Customs Union

Because of history and geography, Botswana has long had deep ties to the economy of South Africa. The Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), comprised of Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa, dates from 1910, and is the world's oldest customs union. Under this arrangement, South Africa collects levies from customs, sales, and excise duties for all five members, sharing out proceeds based on each country's portion of imports.

European Union Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA)

Botswanaand its smaller counterparts Lesotho and Swaziland have signed but not yet implemented Interim Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union.  Negotiations for a full EPA are ongoing.  The key benefit of the Interim and Full EPA is tariff free access to EU markets for Botswana beef producers, something Botswana currently enjoys under a temporary arrangement

Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement

Botswana and the UK signed a Double Taxation Avoidance (DTA) agreement in 2005.  The DTA came into  effect in the UK from 1 April 2007 for corporation tax and from 6 April 2007 for income tax and capital gains tax. In Botswana it became effective from 1 July 2007.

Priority sectors for Botswana’s Investment Agency: Beef and Beef Products;Glass Products, Information Technology,Jewellery,Tourism,Education,Pharmaceuticals

Botswana’s Main Imports : Food Beverages, fuels, chemicals and rubber products, wood and paper products, textiles and footwear, metal and metal products, machinery and electrical equipment, vehicles and transport equipment.


Botswana’s road, rail and air transport is well developed. A network of bituminised roads extend along the eastern and more populated side of the country. The remote western areas are characterised by vast distances between settlements and low population densities. These have been made considerably more accessible since the completion of the Trans- Kalahari Highway. The Trans- Kalahari links the capitals of Botswana and Namibia and serves as a strategic link in the Maputo Walvis Bay Economic Corridor. The route length of railways in Botswana consists of 641km of main line linking Botswana with South Africa and Zimbabwe. There are three branch lines covering 250km, one carrying coal from Morupule to Palapye, another carrying copper nickel from Selebi Phikwe to Serule and the third of 175 km carrying salt and soda ash from Sua Pan to Francistown.

Botswana has a well developed civil aviation infrastructure and airport facilities. The national airline, Air Botswana operates a limited number of routes domestically and internationally. South African, Kenyan and Zambian Airways also offer services to Botswana. Charter companies operate a variety of services in different parts of the country. Air Botswana carries limited cargo on scheduled flights and also operates dedicated cargo services between Gaborone and Johannesburg.

Botswana has three dry ports, with container terminals located in Gaborone, Francistown and Selebi Phikwe offering fully computerised, containerised door to door delivery.  These facilities can handle 3m, 6m and 12m containers.

The Government of Botswana has leased a Dry Port at Walvis Bay, Namibia to facilitate its imports and exports. The Dry Port is envisages to deal with logistics corridor with Walvis Bay on the West coast and Botswana on the East. The Dry Port at Walvis Bay and the industry in Gaborone will become the origin- destination terminals of the corridor.

Government Procurement and Tenders

Botswana has adopted a system of producing Development Plans. National Development Plans guide the overall development of the country. They contain Government strategies planned to be undertaken over the Plan period. Programmes and projects to be implemented to achieve such strategies are also included in the Plan. The Plan also contains estimates of revenue expected over the entire period as well as expenditure and manpower growth projections. The current National Development Plan is the tenth in the series of NDPs

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