Botswana is a flat and desert country located in the southern part of Africa that discovered it was sitting on a diamond throne. Despite rarely being on the news and not having much buzz, positive or negative, Botswana is a fascinating country slowly building its brand and recognition.
So, what is Botswana famous for?
Seven things Botswana is famous for
#1 Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is possibly the most famous thing about Botswana and one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations. Who hasn’t seen a wildlife TV program about the animals, the flora, and the characteristics of the Delta?
The Okavango Delta is an unexpected natural wonder, an oasis in the extremely arid environment of the Kalahari desert. It’s known for its rich wildlife with vast populations of mammals and birds. The delta covers up to 15,000 square km of the Kalahari Desert, owing its existence to the Okavango River, which flows from Angola across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and drains into the harsh Kalahari Desert.
The water from the Okavango forms a massive network of lakes and canals, creating an inland delta that simply does not flow into any sea or ocean. Roughly 60% is consumed through transpiration by plants, 36% by evaporation, and 2% penetrates the aquifer system; the last 2% flows into Lake Ngami.
This Natural UNESCO heritage site comprises permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains. The peak floods happen during the dry months in Botswana when the delta expands up to three times, attracting animals and creating one of Africa’s most significant concentrations of wildlife. The paradoxical situation of an area with an extensive excess of water in a region chronically short of water.
Naturally, the Okavango delta is in the center of Botswana’s tourism industry, and we will discuss the luxury safari scene later. But in hindsight, visiting the Okavango is one of the best things to do in Botswana.
#2 Kalahari Desert
Botswana is mainly a flat country with an arid landscape where the Kalahari desert covers up to 80% of the territory in an estimated area of more than 900,000 square kilometers.
Kalahari has huge areas covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. In fact, the only permanent river is the Okavango, which leads to the famous and above-mentioned Okavango Delta. The Kalahari is mainly covered by three kinds of surfaces: sand sheets, longitudinal dunes, and vleis (salt pans).
The Kalahari is also home to the most famous tribe in Botswana and one of the most interesting tribes we have ever encountered – the bushman or San people.
#3 San People
The bushman, or san people, have lived in the Kalahari as hunter-gatherers for 20,000 years. Until recently, they were living as they did thousands of years ago, though some have been adapting to modernity in the last decades.
The people lived in huts made of local desert materials (branches and long grass); they would store water using ostrich eggs shells, and to eat, they would hunt wild game using bows and poison arrows or gather edible plants, nuts, and even insects. They have adapted and learned everything they could use in the harsh Kalahari desert.
The San people made it into mass media a few times, but the most famous is clearly the comedy “The gods must be crazy,” where a Kalahari San group’s first encounter with an artifact from the outside world (a Coca-Cola bottle).
#4 Herds of Elephants
If you are a wild animal enthusiast, you know what Botswana is famous for. Elephants! That’s the thing you remember when you think about Botswana. Why? Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa.
Botswana is home to more than 130,000 elephants, making it the best country in the world for seeing African Elephants in the wild. Chobe National Park, in particular, is famous for its vast herds of elephants.
The Chobe River used to be only a part of the ancient elephant migration route, but with the civil war in Angola and the war of liberation in Namibia, the elephants fell victim to mass poaching. While all this happened, Botswana was a stable country, and more importantly, it developed tight protection for the elephants thus, its populations stabilized while the others almost vanished.
#5 Luxury Safaris and Game Reserves
Almost 40% of Botswana is covered with national parks and wildlife reserves, providing large areas for animals to roam and prosper. A country with such diverse and rich wildlife had to develop a critical tourism industry. Thus, Botswana invested in luxury safaris and resorts, becoming famous worldwide for its fly-in safaris and high-end travel.
People from all over the world go to Botswana looking for a refined safari holiday. The well-known luxury safari packages in Botswana allow tourists to have an adventure in the African wilderness but with a touch of style and elegance.
In hindsight, for travelers, Botswana is famous for offering both comfort and style during a truly African adventure.
Botswana is famously tagged as the gem of Africa, and it’s not because of its natural beauty but because it’s the largest producer of diamonds in the world in terms of value. It produces about 18% of the world’s diamond production.
Debswana, a 50/50 joint venture between the government of Botswana and DeBeers (the south African diamond giant), is the company that mines diamonds in Botswana. Debswana explores the Jwaneng Diamond Mine, the richest diamond mine in the world, south of Botswana.
Diamonds are vital for Botswana’s economy, accounting for about half the government’s revenue. But more importantly, diamonds are financing the future of Botswana, as its revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive a free education until they reach 13 years old.
#7 Political stability
We left this topic to the end because it may not be the most famous thing about Botswana, but it probably should! Botswana is an example that African countries can be stable, independent, and prosperous.
Being Africa’s longest-surviving democracy helped the country blossom from one of the poorest in the world when it became independent to an upper-middle-income country with a fast-growing economy. This economy is dominated by diamond mining, but tourism and meat production are also important.
Diamonds obviously fueled this, but Botswana’s ability to manage their good luck is what sets them apart from many of their African neighbors.
Botswana is also the least corrupt country in Africa and the 34th in the world. This obviously sets it apart from other countries in Africa and helps the stability and growth of the economy.
Botswana is famous for its sound economic governance and stability among economists, but it is something other people should be aware of, as the country has set an excellent example to follow others.
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