English is the official language and is taught in schools.
Setswana (Bantu language) is the national language and is understood by 90% of the population. The sekalanga (Bantu language) is mainly spoken by the Kalanga who live around Francistown. Here are some basic phrases in Setswana that will help you to communicate: Hello (to a male/female): Dumela mma/rra. Hello (to a group): Dumelang. Goodbye (said when staying): Sala sentle. Goodbye (said when leaving): Tsamayo sentle. How are you? (morning/afternoon): O a tsogile / O tlhotse sentle? I'm fine: Ke tlhotse sentle. Please: Tsweetswee. Thank you: Kea Itumela. I would like: Ke Batla. Yes: Ee. No: Nnyaa. What’s your name: Leina the gago ke mang? My name is: Leina ke me.
There are many ethnic groups, including the Batswana - the largest tribe in the country, representing over 80% of the population. The Batswana speak Setswana. The San are the original inhabitants of Southern Africa and retain many of their hunter gatherer traditions. The Bakalanga represent the second largest tribe in the country. The Khoi physically resemble the San but follow a much more sedentary lifestyle. The Ovaherero represent three groups: the Ovahimba, the Mbanderu, and the Herero. The Bakgalagadi are divided into five sub-groups: the Bakgwateng; the Babolaongwe; the Bangologa; the Baphaleng; and the Bashaga.
The official religion is Christianity, but in actuality only 20% are practicing Christians (including the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa) while 80% follow various indigenous beliefs.
30 September: National Day.
1 January: New Year's Day. 1 May: Labor Day. 1 July: Sir Seretse Khama Day. 21 July: President's Day. 25 December: Christmas.
After 80 years of British protectorate, Bechuanaland gained independence in 1965 and became the Republic of Botswana on 6 September 1966.
The Republic of Botswana has been an independent state since 30 September 1966, and it is a parliamentary democracy. The Botswana Parliament is bicameral. The National Assembly has 44 members: 40 elected by popular vote and four appointed by the majority political party. The House of Chiefs is an advisory board of 15 members (eight tribal leaders, four elected deputy chiefs and three appointed by the first 12). The President of the Republic is elected by the National Assembly. He is both the head of state and head of government and appoints the Council of Ministers. The executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the government and Parliament of Botswana. The judiciary system is independent of the executive and legislature.
Tipping is at your discretion, and you have our assurances that any tips will not replace a salary. For safaris in Botswana, we suggest between $10-$15 per person per day for the team of guides,and $5 per person per day for the lodge staff and porters. Also note that from one region to the other, things can vary substantially. If you’re traveling in groups, see the datasheet of your circuit for further details.
At all costs, always avoid handing out items to people on the street – this can encourage begging and confrontations between those in need. If you want to help by providing school supplies, clothing or medicine, it is best to give them directly to the school principal, the village chief or the nearest clinic.
In Botswana, there are all manner of traditional crafts to buy: baskets, pottery, fabrics, carpets, wood carvings, necklaces and bracelets, many of which are made from ostrich egg shells. We always recommend buying from local people and avoid anything leather unless you know for sure its origin, or items made from sea shells as they may have a negative environmental impacts.
The food on offer in Botswana’s lodges wildly varies from place to place. If you want to live like a local and navigate its culinary scene, there are plenty of spaces to nab a table and try traditional dishes: there’s mabele and bogobe (porridge and millet sorghum); and miele pap pap or imported maize porridge.
It is always recommended to drink water in sealed bottles as tap water is undrinkable. This also means that you should refrain from consuming ice or eating salad washed with tap water. The most common drinks are mokolane (palm wine), bojalwa (sorghum beer), the Mageu (pulp corn) and Madila (curd).