About Botswana

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Botswana is located in Southern Africa with a land area about the size of France or Texas. It is surrounded by South Africa in the south, Namibia in the west, and Zimbabwe and Zambia in the north.  Formerly a British colony known as Bechuanaland Protectorate, Botswana became independent in 1966. It has a population of about 1.8 million. Botswana is a stable multiparty democracy, holding elections every 5 years. It is a middle income country that has seen rapid economic growth over the last four decades mainly due to the mining industry. The country exports more diamonds by value than any country in the world. It also exports beef, mainly to the European Union.
 
Tourism, financial services and subsistence farming are other important sectors of the economy. Tourism is a growing sector due to the country’s conservation practices and extensive nature preserves and is an increasingly important industry in Botswana, accounting for almost 12% of GDP. Botswana has some of Africa’s last great wildernesses including the Okavango Swamps and the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango is the largest inland delta system in the world, a bit smaller in size than Israel. The north-eastern region of the Kalahari Basin contains the Makgadikgadi Pans, an extensive network of salt pans and ephemeral lakes. Botswana offers among the best in cultural and wildlife tourism in Africa and is home to 11 national parks and 11 game reserves.
 
There is abundant wildlife that includes various species of birds, lions, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, brown hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, antelope and the world’s largest concentration of African elephants.
 
Botswana is a multi-racial country with numerous ethnic groups speaking 22 languages. English is the official medium of communication and Setswana is the national language.
 

Gaborone: The Community

  • Gaborone is the capital city and the economic hub of the country
  • The University is located in the heart of the city
  • Extensive shopping facilities located nearby.
  • Private hospitals and emergency services available.
  • Safe public drinking water is available.
  • Extensive public transportation system of taxis, combies (minivans), and buses which support travel around the urban area and to all regions of the country.
  • Two wildlife parks within close proximity to the city.
  • Government ministry buildings and Parliament within easy walking distance.
  • Well policed streets and public spaces.
  • Use of English is widespread in all public places.
  • Professional southern African music performances almost every weekend.
 
 

Before You Come

 
Health Requirements
Botswana requires no inoculations except for visitors from yellow fever zones. However, students are encouraged to consult their medical practitioner if they plan to visit the northern parts of the country for advice on malaria. Gaborone is not a malaria area, but it is recommended that students bring the necessary preventative medication with them for traveling to the northern part of the country where malaria is prevalent, particularly during the wet season.
 
Health Insurance
International Students are encouraged to bring their own medical insurance cover as the University of Botswana does not provide this service.
 
Bringing Computers to Botswana
The University of Botswana has an extensive information and communications infrastructure including computer labs, internet and Wi-Fi hotspots (e.g. in the library). Students can bring and use laptops. There are also numerous internet cafes around Gaborone.
 
Phones
There are three mobile phone network providers in Botswana and they each sell pre-paid phone cards. It is best to find alternative ways of communicating with family and friends as international calling rates may be a bit high. Email is cheapest. If you currently own a phone that is unlocked by your service provider that can take sim cards, you may bring it to Botswana with you to avoid having to buy an additional phone.
 
Electricity in Botswana
There are three types of electrical socket and plugs used in Botswana, three pronged round, three pronged rectangular and two pronged round. The voltage is 220. If you need to buy transformers, adapters, or converters do so when you are settled into your living quarters as they tend to be cheaper. Also, you can be sure you have the right type.
 
3 pronged rectangular
 
3 pronged round
 
2 pronged round
 
Occasionally you may experience power outages. It is advisable to bring or be prepared to buy a camping style rechargeable light for your dorm room. In the past, students have also suggested a key ring which has a flashlight or a small flashlight which can be carried in a purse or your pocket.
 
Water
Tap water in Gaborone and other major centres is completely safe to drink. Outside of major centres, it is good to have bottled water to drink. It is not recommended that students drink from streams, rivers or lakes. Also expect occasional water rationing as Gaborone has been experiencing water shortages.
 
Weather
Summer temperatures are relatively high (30-40 degrees Celsius) and therefore cool and light clothing is recommended. The winter can be cold (however no rain) with temperatures close to freezing at night. During the day, winter temperatures become moderate (18-20 degrees Celsius).
 
Dress and Clothing
Youth in Botswana tend to follow fashion trends. It is however advisable to dress conservatively. Certain public institutions like the traditional Tswana Kgotla will not allow women in miniskirts, revealing clothing or pants. It is best to err on the modest side.
 
Currency
Almost all ATM machines in Botswana will accept Visa branded bank cards. There are several machines within the University where students can draw cash. The River Walk shopping centre and other nearby centres (e.g. main mall) have banks, ATMs for most banks in Botswana and a Bureau de Charge for travelers’ cheques or to secure forex. Since bank charges are high when using a foreign bank card, it is advisable to withdraw amounts enough to last at least two weeks a month.

 

Contact Details :
Student Centre Building, Block 139, Office 127