Capital | Gaborone
Population | 1,990,876 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 600,370 sq km
Official language | English
Holidays | Independence Day (Botswana Day), 30 September (1966)
Currency | pulas (BWP)
Time Zone | UTC+2
Best time to visit | April to August (the dry season), for wildlife viewing.
Connecting with the Culture | Travelling by mokoro (traditional canoe) on the Okavango River. Seeing the incredible gallery of ancient San paintings in the remote and mystical Tsodilo Hills. Wildlife spotting in Chobe National Park – take yoru pick of lions, cheetahs, hippos, giraffes, antelopes, zebras and any number of species of birds. Camping with the wild things at Moremi. Keeping a lookout for buried treasure in the Gcwihaba Caverns, with their gargantuan stalagmites and stalactites.
Read | `Bayeyi & Hambukushu: Tales from the Okavango’ (edited by Thomas J. Larson), a compilation of oral poetry and stories from the Okavango Panhandle region; or Alexander McCall Smith’s popular mystery series (and now and HBO original series) `The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’,
Listen | to Nick Nkosanah Ndaba’s `Dawn of Bojazz’ and Rastafarian Ras Baxton’s `Tswana reggae’.
Eat | Mabele (sorghum) or bogobe (porridge made from sorghum), which form the basis of most Botswana meals.
Drink | Bojalwa, a sprouted sorghum beer that’s brewed commercially as Chibuku.
In a word | Dumela (`hello in Tswana)
Characteristics | National parks; poaching; the San people; the Kalahari desert; salt pans.
Surprises | Botswana achieved independence from Britain in 1966 and immediately thereafter discovered three of the worlds richest diamond mines. Beyond the narrow eastern corridor where the majority of the population is concentrated, Botswana is a largely roadless wilderness of savannas, deserts, wetlands and salt pans. Okavango is the world’s largest inland delta; and baobab trees with a circumference of over 30m could be as much as 4000 years old.