50 Interesting Facts About Botswana

Last updated on October 29th, 2022

36. Greeting in Botswana consists of shaking hands and saying, “Dumela Rra” (if meeting a man) or “Dumela Mma” (if meeting a woman). It is considered polite to greet people, even if they are strangers.

37. Greeting is slightly different in northern parts of Botswana. If meeting an elderly who is seated, it is customary to offer both hands while kneeling down. If they are standing, simply offer both hands while making a small bow.

38. Once a friendship has developed between two people, they may greet each other casually. It is not uncommon to find friends or close acquaintances holding hands while talking. This is especially true among men. In fact, African leaders Nelson Mandela and former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe were actually photographed holding hands. For Batswana, holding hands is an expression of trust, closeness, and friendship.

Zebras In The Wild
Zebras in the wild. Interesting facts about Botswana. Photo © mantaphoto/istock

39. The Burchell’s Zebra is Botswana’s national animal. Two of these zebras appear on the country’s Coat of Arms. The Burchell Zebra was chosen due to its neutrality as a tribal symbol and also for its black and white stripes – colors that are found on the country’s flag.

40. Botswana’s landscape is mostly flat. One of its high point is the Tsodilo Hills, which have an elevation of 4,511 feet. Considered the spiritual home of the Bantu and San people, the Hills also house ancient rock art and are also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

41. Botswana’s economy is thriving, thanks in large part to precious stones. Thanks to excellent revenue from diamonds, the country can afford to offer free education to children until they turn 13.

42. Botswana beverages include madila, which is fermented milk and a type of beer called Bojalwa ja Setswana (beer of Botswana), which is made using fermented sorghum seeds.

43. The country also produces famous drinks from international brands such as Coca-Cola and Fanta.

Mopane worms are a popular food in Namibian and Sub-Saharan African cuisine.
Mopane worms are a popular food in Namibian and Sub-Saharan African cuisine. Interesting facts about Botswana. Photo © Stefano Barzellotti/istock

44. Botswana’s cuisine includes some exotic dishes. One such is a dish made of mopane worms. These worms are the larvae of the emperor butterfly, which are endemic in the region. The worms may be boiled, fried, dried, or roasted in hot ashes.

45. Originally, tribes practiced their own religion, which revolved around a supreme being called Modimo. Practitioners also used rites in celebration of their religion, with ceremonies that include initiation rites for males and females, and rainmaking rites called the gofethla pula.

46. About half of Botswana’s population are Christians, with many practicing independent Christianity and Protestantism. About 1/3 adhere to traditional beliefs.

47. Cattle plays an important role in the culture of Botswana, particularly the Batswana tribe. Cattle is considered an indicator of status and wealth – the wealthier the person, the more cattle he owns.

Kori bustard flying. for facts about Botswana
Kori bustard flying. Interesting facts about Botswana. Photo © Leopardinatree/istock

48. The kori bustard or kgori holds the honor of being the national bird of Botswana. Due to its size, it is the heaviest flying bird in Africa.

49. The national dish of Botswana is the Seswaa, a type of meat stew. Meat (usually beef or goat) on the bone is cooked in water and salt until it is soft enough to be pounded until tender. It is then served with cornmeal or pap. The dish is so well-loved that it is served on special occasions, such as weddings and funerals. 

50. Although the term “Batswana” refers to the members of the Tswana tribe, it is also now used to refer to the people of Botswana in general. The singular form of the term is “Motswana”.

Botswana – quick facts and statistics

Independence30 September 1966 (from the UK)
Capital CityGaborone
24°39.5′S 25°54.5′E
Largest CityGaborone
Areatotal: 581,730 sq km

land: 566,730 sq km

water: 15,000 sq km

Note: area is slightly smaller than Texas; almost four times the size of Illinois
BordersNamibia , South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Population2,350,667 (July 2021 est.)
Official LanguageSetswana
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Literacy rate total population: 86.5%
DemonymBatswana (plural)
Motswana (singular)
Government typeUnitary dominant-party parliamentary republic with an executive presidency
PresidentMokgweetsi Masisi
Vice PresidentsSlumber Tsogwane
National symbolszebra
National Anthem"Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe" [Northern Ndebele language] "Simudzai Mureza WeZimbabwe" [Shona] (Blessed Be the Land of Zimbabwe)
National holidayIndependence Day (Botswana Day), 30 September (1966)
CurrencyPula (BWP)
Agricultural land45.8% (est. 2018)
Natural resourcescoal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals
National colorsblue, white, black
Lowest pointjunction of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers 513 m
Mean elevation1,013 m
Climatesemiarid; warm winters and hot summers
Terrainpredominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest
Birth rate20.6 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)
Death rate9.12 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)
Sex ratio0.93 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth65.24 years (2021)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Industriesmining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, diamonds, clay, numerous metallic and nonmetallic ores), steel; wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, beverages
Exports$6.16 billion (2019 est.)
diamonds, insulated wiring, gold, beef, carbonates (2019)
Imports$7.44 billion (2019 est.)
diamonds, refined petroleum, cars, delivery trucks, electricity (2019)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$16,000
note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)
Time ZoneUTC+2 (Central Africa Time)
Internet country code.bw
Calling Code+267
Drives on theLeft
Table last updatedFebruary 19, 2022