Botswana is surrounded by Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia. Its border with Zambia is only 150 meters long, which is less than two football fields. It is the shortest border between two countries in the world! Botswana gained independence from England in 1966, therefore it the oldest democratic state in all of Africa. It became one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, because a large diamond mine was discovered. Today, Jwaneng, the richest diamond mine, is in Botswana.
Setswana is the national language, yet English is considered the official language. A small number of people speak !Xoo, which consists of five click sounds.
Botswana is rich in diamonds, but the unemployment rate is high. The AIDS/HIV rate is very high, but the country is fighting back with a progressive program. The average life expectancy is roughly 45 years of age. The majority of the population practices either African traditional religion or Christianity.
Gaborone is the capital city and home to 10% of the population. The novel series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall, made Gaborone famous. However, the movie, The Gods Must be Crazy, made the whole country famous.
Botswana’s flag is predominantly blue, and represents harmony, water and rain. Water and rain are very important. In fact, their currency, called the “pula,” means rain. The black and white colour reflects the people of Botswana and paints a picture of racial harmony and peace. President Ian Khama is the son of the first president, Sir Seretse Khama. Although Sir Khama’s marriage to a white British woman caused unrest; today, the nation is politically stable.
The Kalahari Desert covers most of Botswana. National parks and wildlife reserves cover almost half of the country, so wild animals have plenty of space to roam. The Okavango Delta, the jewel in the Kalahari Desert, is the largest inland delta in the world. The Okavango river floods annually. It supports a large variety of African animals, and is home to Africa’s largest population of elephants and meerkats. Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest migrate to the delta every year to find food and water.