10 Interesting Facts About Botswana

10. Worlds Largest Concentration of African Elephants

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Chobe National Park, found in the Chobe District, has the world’s largest concentration of African elephants. The park covers about 11,000 km2 (4,247 sq mi) and contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa, and part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population.[citation needed]The elephant population seems to have solidly built up since 1990, from a few thousand.

Elephants living here are Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of all known elephant populations. They are characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks, perhaps due to calcium deficiency in the soils.

Damage caused by the high numbers of elephants is rife in some areas. In fact,[1] concentration is so high throughout Chobe that culls have been considered, but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected.

At dry season, these elephants sojourn in Chobe River and the Linyanti River areas. At rain season, they make a 200-km migration to the southeast stretch of the park. Their distribution zone however outreaches the park and spreads to northwestern Zimbabwe.

9. Home to One of the Worlds Largest Inland Deltas

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The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Grassland) in Botswana is a very large inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired, and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometers of water spreads over the 6,000-15,000 km2 area. Some flood-waters drain into Lake Ngami.[1] The Moremi Game Reserve, a National Park, is on the eastern side of the Delta. The scale and magnificence of the Okavango Delta helped it secure a position as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, which were officially declared on February 11, 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania.[2]On 22 June 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1000th site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.[3][4]

The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that mostly dried up by the early Holocene. Although the Okavango Delta is widely believed to be the world’s largest inland delta, it is not. In Africa alone there are two larger similar geological features: the Sudd on the Nile in South Sudan, and the Inner Niger Delta in Mali.[5]

8. Home to One of the Worlds Largest Salt Flats

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The Makgadikgadi Pan (Botswana salt flats)(Tswana pronunciation [maqʰadiˈqʰaːdi][needs tone]), a salt pan situated in the middle of the dry savanna of north-eastern Botswana, is one of the largest salt flats in the world. The pan is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi, which once covered an area larger than Switzerland, but dried up several thousand years ago.

Lying southeast of the Okavango Delta and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi is technically not a single pan but many pans with sandy desert in between, the largest being the Sua (Sowa), Nwetwe and Nxai Pans. The largest individual pan is about 1,900 sq mi (4,921.0 km2). In comparison, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is a single salt flat of 4,100 sq mi (10,619.0 km2), rarely has much water, and is generally claimed to be the world’s largest salt pan. A dry salty clay crust most of the year, the pans are seasonally covered with water and grass, and are then a refuge for birds and animals in this very arid part of the world. The climate is hot and dry but with regular annual rains.

The main water source is the Nata River, called Amanzanyama in Zimbabwe, where it rises at Sandown about 37 mi (59.5 km) from Bulawayo. A smaller amount of water is supplied by the Boteti River from the Okavango delta.

These salt pans cover 6,200 sq mi (16,057.9 km2) in the Kalahari Basin and form the bed of the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi, which evaporated many millennia ago. Archaeological recovery in the Makgadikgadi has revealed the presence of prehistoric man through abundant finds of stone tools; some of these tools have been dated sufficiently early to establish their origin as earlier than the era of Homo sapiens.[1] Pastoralists herded grazing livestock here when water was more plentiful earlier in the Holocene.[2]

The lowest place in the basin is Sua Pan with an elevation of 2,920 feet.[3]

7. Kgagodi Crater (3.5 km in diameter)

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Kgagodi is a meteorite crater in Botswana.[1]

It is 3.5 km in diameter and the age is estimated to be less than 180 million years and is probably from the Jurassic. The crater is exposed at the surface.

6. Shortest Land Border Between Two Countries

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The border between Botswana and Zambia is just 150 m near Kazungula.  Kazungula is a small border town in the Southern Province of Zambia, lying on the north bank of the Zambezi River about 70 km west of Livingstone.

This wins the world record for the shortest land border between two countries.  It falls in second place to the worlds shortest border between two countries, which goes to the 85m segment between Morocco and Spain at Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera.

5. Worlds Largest Diamond Mine By Carats and Value

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Botswana’s Orapa mine is the largest diamond mine in the world in terms of value and quantity of carats produced annually.[citation needed] Estimated to produce over 11 million carats in 2013, with an average price of $145/carat, the Orapa mine is estimated to produce over $1.6 billion worth of diamonds in 2013.[37]

In Botswana, the Department of Mines and Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, led by Hon Onkokame Kitso Mokaila in Gaborone, maintains data regarding mining throughout the country. Debswana, the largest diamond mining company operating in Botswana, is 50% owned by the government.[35] The mineral industry provides about 40% of all government revenues.[36] In 2007, significant quantities of uranium were discovered, and mining was projected to begin by 2010. Several international mining corporations have established regional headquarters in Botswana, and prospected for diamonds, gold, uranium, copper, and even oil, many coming back with positive results.

Government announced in early 2009 that they would try to shift their economic dependence on diamonds, over serious concern that diamonds are predicted to dry out in Botswana over the next twenty years.

4. Popular Literature

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Botswana forms the setting for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, a series of popular mystery novels by Alexander McCall Smith. Their protagonist, Precious Ramotswe, lives in Gaborone. The first novel in the series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, appeared in 1998 in the UK (and 2001 in the US). The light-hearted books are appreciated for their human interest and local colour. A BBC Television series adaption of the same name has been shot with a pilot appearing on 23 March 2008 in the United Kingdom, and the full series starting on 15 March 2009.

Norman Rush, who served as a Peace Corps director in Botswana from 1978 to 1983, uses the country as the setting of all of his published books, which generally focus on the expatriate community.

Unity Dow (born 1959) is a judge, human rights activist, and writer from Botswana. She came from a rural background that tended toward traditional values of the African kind. Her mother could not read English, and in most cases decision-making was done by men. She went on to become a lawyer with much of her education being done in the West. Her Western education caused a mixture of respect and suspicion.

As a lawyer she earned acclaim most for her stances on women’s rights. She was the plaintiff in a case that allowed the children of women by foreign nationals to be considered Batswana. The tradition and law before this stated nationality only descended from the father. She later became Botswana’s first female High Court judge.

As a novelist she has had three books. These books often concern the issues concerning the struggle between Western and traditional values. They also involve her interest in gender issues and her nation’s poverty.

Bessie Head is a writer well known in Southern Africa. In 1964 she fled the apartheid regime in South Africa to live in and wrote about Botswana. She lived there from 1964 (when it was still the Bechuanaland Protectorate) until her death at the age of 49 in 1986. She lived in Serowe, and her most famous books, When Rain Clouds Gather, Maru, and A Question of Power are set there.

British author and historian Susan Williams’ book, Colour Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, tells the story of the interracial marriage and resulting struggles of Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Ruth Williams Khama.

A collection of humorous true short stories, “Whatever You Do, Don’t Run” (released in the United Kingdom and South Africa as “Don’t Run, Whatever You Do”), contains many stories from Botswana written by a safari guide, Peter Allison.

In 2008 a mystery novel (“A Carrion Death”) by Michael Stanley introduced Detective David “Kubu” Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. The memorable Kubu lives in Gaborone. The novel is a police procedural which also provides an excellent introduction to today’s Botswana.

3. Kalahari Desert Covers Up To 70% of the Landmass

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The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savanna in southern Africa extending 900,000 square kilometres (350,000 sq mi), covering much of Botswana, parts of Namibia(known as South-West Africa from 1894 to 1990), and regions of South Africa. A semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains, the Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert, such as the Namib Desert to the west. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. The driest areas usually receive 110–200 millimetres (4.3–7.9 in) of rain per year,[1] and the wettest just a little over 500 millimetres (20 in). The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) extending further into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kalahari is home to many migratory birds and animals. Previously havens for wild animals from elephants to giraffes, and for predators such as lions and cheetahs, the riverbeds are now mostly grazing spots, though leopards and cheetahs can still be found. The area is now heavily grazed and cattle fences restrict the movement of wildlife. Among deserts of the Southern Hemisphere, the Kalahari most closely resembles some Australian deserts in its latitude and its mode of formation. The Kalahari Desert came into existence approximately sixty million years ago along with the formation of the African continent.

2. Four Nation Quadripoint…Almost

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While some older sources claimed that a quadripoint existed in Africa,[12] where the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe come together at the confluence of the Cuando (also called Chobe) and Zambezi rivers (approximately 17°47′30″S 25°15′48″E),[13][14][15] it is now generally believed that two separate trijunctions exist perhaps some 100 or 150 meters apart.

In August 2007 the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace a ferry.[16] The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed during various meetings involving heads of state and/or officials from all four states in the 2006–10 period and is clearly shown in the African Development Fund project map[17] (matching the US Department of State Office of the Geographer depiction in Google Earth).

There have been a few international incidents revolving round this particular quadripoint, or near-quadripoint. In 1970, South Africa (which at the time occupied Namibia) informed Botswana that there was no common border between Botswana and Zambia, claiming that a quadripoint existed. As a result, South Africa claimed, the Kazungula Ferry, which links Botswana and Zambia at the quadripoint, was illegal. Botswana firmly rejected both claims. There was actually a confrontation and shots were fired at the ferry;[18] some years later, the Rhodesian Army attacked and sank the ferry, maintaining that it was serving military purposes.

Ian Brownlie, who studied the case, wrote in 1979 that the possibility of a quadripoint could not be definitively ruled out at that time.[1]

However, a true four-country point did formerly exist in Africa (excluding Kazungula) – the only known quadricountry borderpoint (not involving condominial territories) – for a period of 8 months during 1960 and 1961, in southern Lake Chad, at the location of the present CameroonChadNigeria tripoint. Upon the 1 October 1960 independence of Nigeria, that borderpoint became common to the latter three countries and the territory of Northern Cameroons, which was still governed under United Nations mandate by the United Kingdom, until it was finally integrated into Nigeria on 1 June 1961. This particular geographical multipoint, though notional since 1908, if not 1891, and definitely fixed and fully agreed since 1931, remains undemarcated to this day.

1. Progress in the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

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The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 25.4% for adults aged 15–49 in 2009 and 21.9% in 2013,[11]:A8 exceeded by Lesotho and Swaziland in sub-Saharan African nations. This places Botswana at the third highest prevalence in the world, in 2013, while “leading the way in prevention and treatment programs”.[12] In 2003, the government began a comprehensive program involving free or cheap generic antiretroviral drugs as well as an information campaign designed to stop the spread of the virus; in 2013, over 40% of adults in Botswana had access to antiretroviral therapy.[11]:28

The death rate due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes has fallen sharply (57%) from 2005 to 2013.[11]:27 and the number of new infections in children has also fallen.[11]:38 Despite the success in programs to make treatments available to those infected, and to educate the populace in general about how to stop the spread of HIV AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013.[11]:A20

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