Botswana is a land-locked country in the heart of southern Africa. Peaceful throughout its pre- and post-colonial history, Botswana is roughly the size of France (or Texas) and has just 1.8m people, most of whom live in the south-east. With a multi-party democracy and a booming commodity-based economy, Botswana enjoys the good fortune of being a large country with a low population of peace-loving people, and being adjacent to the regional economic powerhouse, South Africa (although with none of that country’s vexed history). Democracy is a deep social tradition rather than a colonial construct, and the country is benignly – if a little unimaginatively – governed by an entrenched elite.
Botswana also enjoys immense natural resources of aesthetic value, being a country of stunning beauty. Much of the country is desert, but this term is misleading. The country is well vegetated, with forests, scrubland and grasslands of infinite variety, texture, colour and hue, changing, of course, with the seasons. What is lacking is surface water, which has forced mutations in form and lifestyle on every living creature – and Botswana is a veritable fount of life. Wildlife of every description and size is to be found all over the country, but most notably in the central and northern parts. 17% of the land area is protected, and a number of game parks and reserves accommodate visitors – indeed, Botswana is one of Africa’s most renowned wildlife refuges.
Several rivers dominate the landscape in the far north of the country, and form the traditional hub of tourism interest. chief among these are the Okavango River, which gives rise to the world-famous Okavango Delta, and the Chobe River, which is an off-shoot of the Zambezi system and attracts vast herds of game during the dry, winter months.
The summers are warm to hot, October to March, and the winters mildly cold to warm, April to September. What little rain falls does so during the summer.