Botswana… an important country in the southern reaches of the African continent, with Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa as neighbors. Botswana has a population of approximately 2,255,000 and its capital is Gaborone.
What Botswana does not have is a coastline, being completely landlocked. The main fulcrums of Botswana’s economy are animal husbandry and diamonds. Around 80 percent of food imports come from South Africa. The main ethnic group is the Tswana, while the most widely spoken language is Setswana, and the nationality of those living here is Batswana.
Botswana could be called one of Africa’s most stable countries. It is also known as being the African country that has had a multi-party democracy for the longest period of time. Per capita income here is around $16,400, which is quite high compared to other African countries. There is no Turkish embassy in Botswana, and perhaps because of this, there are only a handful of Turks who reside here. In fact, Botswana has fewer Turks than most other countries in the world.
The currency of Botswana is called the pula, and its largest denomination is a 200 pula note, on the back of which is an image of a zebra, the national symbol. In case you are interested, $1 is equivalent to 9 pula, while TL 1 is around 4.5 – 5 pula. We found out that the word “pula” means “rain” in the Setswana language.
A street market
We often pass stands where candy, gum and many different kinds of biscuits are sold, and we once asked a vendor how work was going. “There is no money, no work,” he replied, obviously unhappy. He asked us where we were from. We said Turkey, and asked him whether he had heard of the country. He told us he hadn’t, and asked where it was located. Clearly, there’s a lot more Turkey could do to promote itself in places like Botswana.
In the Setswana language, “dumela” means “hello.” You hear this everywhere you go, but interestingly, men and women use it differently. Women say “dumelama,” while men say “dumelara.”
We visited Gaborone’s Craft Center. The most valued handiwork you can find anywhere in Botswana are bowls called “seroto.” They are used frequently in daily life to store corn, wheat and barley. Seroto are made from the stalks of plants and are colored using natural root dyes. For one person to make a seroto takes about a month, and these special items are all decorated differently, with motifs that usually have meaning.
We also learned that in Botswana, white people are often called “lehova,” and people from India are called “lekula.” It is estimated that around 10,000 Muslims live in the country, a number that is comparatively small. However, Muslims play an important role in the country’s economy, particularly in its trade. One reflection of this, perhaps, is that you can see beautiful mosques all over Gaborone.
Botswana may be the land of diamonds, but income distribution here is very uneven, and many live in poverty. In fact, some 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, while unemployment is estimated at around 20 percent.
Capital: Gaborone Ethnic groups: Tswana (or Setswana) 79 percent, Kalanga 11 percent, Basarwa 3 percent, other, including Kgalagadi and white, 7 percent Languages: Setswana 78.2 percent, Kalanga 7.9 percent, Sekgalagadi 2.8 percent, English (official) 2.1 percent, other 8.6 percent, unspecified 0.4 percent (2001 census) Government: Parliamentary republic Chief of state: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA (since April 1, 2008); Vice President Ponatshego KEDIKILWE (since Aug. 2, 2012) Area: 581,730 square kilometers Population: 2,155,784 Gross domestic product (PPP): $34 billion (2013 est.) Religions: Christian 71.6 percent, Badimo 6 percent, other 1.4 percent, unspecified 0.4 percent, none 20.6 percent (2001 census)
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