As early as the seventh century, parts of Botswana were populated by thriving agricultural communities. In the 14th century, the powerful Tswana dynasties took control, originating in the region to the east – today South Africa's Gauteng Province. A further series of migrations followed the break-up of the main Tswana kingdoms, the Hurutshe and the Kwena, from the late 17th century. These migrants were firmly established in the southern part of Botswana, and, by the 18th century, had established a powerful military state controlling hunting, cattle-breeding and copper mining. The 19th century brought another period of upheaval, as peoples from the north, dislocated by slavery and the collapse of their local economies, moved to new territory. British colonialists and Boer settlers fought for control of Botswana; the local rulers allied themselves with the British against the Boers, and Botswana was eventually brought under British protectorate control in 1890, remaining so until independence in 1966. Popular Seretse Khama became the country's first president – a position he held until his death in 1980. Today, Botswana’s key domestic priority is to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Botswana's infection rate, estimated at 20 per cent of the total population, is among the world's highest.
Christianity, Roman Catholic and indigenous beliefs. There are numerous small Zionist and Apostolic churches in rural villages, as well as United Reformed (Congregational and Methodist), Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican churches, and predominantly expatriate Muslim, Quaker, Hindu and Bahai congregations in major towns.
As most people in Botswana follow their traditional pattern of life, visitors should be sensitive to customs which will inevitably be unfamiliar to them. Outside urban areas and safari destinations, people may well not be used to visitors. Casual clothing is acceptable and, in urban centres, normal courtesies should be observed.
Photography: Airports, official residences and defence establishments should not be photographed. Permission should be obtained to photograph local people.
Language in Botswana
English is the official language. Setswana is the national language, with minorities speaking Kalanga and Sekgalagadi.