Botswana – Travel Guide
Facts to assist you while travelling to Botswana
Current Botswana population
- 6 million.
- English, Setswana.
- 08:00 – 17:00.
- Saturday – Sunday.
- UTC +2.
- If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.
- Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.
- Mokgweetsi Masisi is the fifth and current president of Botswana. He is associated with the Botswana Democratic Party.
- Botswana is semi-arid due to its short rainy season. However, the relatively high altitude of the country and its continental situation gives it a subtropical climate. The country is remote from moisture-laden air flows for most of the year. The dry season lasts from April to October in the south, and to November in the north, where the average rainfall is higher. The south of the country is most exposed to cold winds during the winter period which lasts from early May to late August. During this time the average temperatures are around 14 °C (57.2 °F). The whole country has hot summers with average temperatures around 26 °C (78.8 °F). Sunshine totals are high all year round although winter is the sunniest period. The whole country is windy and dusty during the dry season.
- Botswana’s main airport is the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, which is located in Gaborone. A sparsely populated, arid country, Botswana has nonetheless managed to incorporate much of its interior into the national economy. An “inner circle” highway connecting all major towns and district capitals is completely paved, and the all-weather TransKalahari Corridor Highway connects the country to Walvis Bay in Namibia.
- The economy of Botswana is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Botswana’s main industries include diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, livestock processing, and textiles. Manufacturing and tourism are another two sectors that also contribute greatly to its economy.
- The Tswana, one of the local ethnicities in Botswana, are known to be friendly people. When receiving visitors from abroad, Tswana people enjoy engaging with foreigners through their traditions. Such interactions usually occur on various occasions, festivals, and celebrations. The Tswana people communicate and share their cultures with foreigners without compromising any of their institutional and cultural integrity.
- Greetings are essential in Botswana culture. They typically will greet someone with a handshake, although this depends on the age and gender of the person and the formality of the situation. Handshakes are customary and often accompanied by a smile. Depending on the situation, the handshake can also be accompanied by a traditional greeting such as “Dumela,” which means “hello” in Botswana. You can also say “Lumela,” which is more formal and means “greet you.’’ In informal settings, you may also ask “Gosobotša?” This means ‘’How are you?’’ It is polite to respond when asked this question, even if the response isn’t always the truth.
- The Pula is the currency of Botswana. It is subdivided into 100 thebe and has the code BWP. The word ‘’Pula’’ literally means “rain” in Setswana and was chosen due to the fact that rain is very scarce in Botswana—home to a large portion of the Kalahari Desert—and therefore it is valuable and a blessing.
- The majority of roads in Botswana are well paved, especially intercity roads or major access routes in and out of the country. Most, if not all, major roads in the town centres are also paved, however, the condition of the roads may change somewhat depending on where you are driving. Some roads may have potholes and others might be gravel roads. The conditions of the roads also change throughout the year and may be worse in the wet season as a result of increased rainfall. The speed limit on majority of the roads is 60km/h in towns and villages, 80km/h on intersections, and 120km outside of urban areas.
- Botswana is undeniably considered a safe country. Just like any other country, however, crime does occur, and visitors are advised to watch over their valuables when travelling. In large crowds it is also best to watch your pockets. Most areas in the country are not well lit, so walking around late at night might be risky. Other than that, Botswana is a friendly nation, and its people are warmly welcoming.
- In the past, most ethnic groups lived pastoral lifestyles in permanent settlements, except for Botswana’s nomadic bushmen. These villages were traditionally located in hilly regions, or around reliable water sources where grazing conditions for animals were best. All of the citizens of Botswana are referred to by the plural for of the word, Batswana, or its singular form, Motswana. The population consists of the Setswana-speaking people and the non-Setswana-speakers. Over 60 percent of the population traces their heritage to one of the Setswana-speaking groups that reside in the country.
- Every major town or city in Botswana has at least one shopping centre or mall. They may also have major supermarkets, clothing stores, liquor stores, furniture, homeware, and electronic shops, in addition to local banks and ATMs.
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Written by Saudika Hendricks
Edited by Eloise Williams