In the next while we are going to be focusing on with some posts about this quite unique country and destination. It has so
much to offer us as tourists and is fascinating in its setup, with the legendary Okavango Delta, the Central Kalahari and more. Today we will start off with a brief overview of the country.
The country of , or Bechuanaland as it was known, first came into existence on world maps in 1885. It was at that time that the people of Botswana accepted British sovereignty in order to stop European settlers from simply taking their lands. Life in Botswana changed very little throughout the colonial period, apart from the appearance of missionaries and the relatively slow arrival of westernisation. And then eighty-one years later, in 1966, along with most other British colonies in Africa, Botswana received her independence, but still little changed. Fortunately for the people of Botswana – the Batswana, the colonialist did not attach much worth to their country, seeing her as essentially inhospitable and uneconomic. But had they known about the mineral wealth that lay beneath her sandy surface, the history of this successful African country could have been very different.
The story of modern-day Botswana could well be titled, “From rags to riches”. When Botswana gained independence in 1966 it was one of the world’s 10 poorest nations. And in the first 40 years of independence, Botswana transformed itself into a middle-income country, and is now held up as one of Africa’s major success stories. The two heroes of this tale are Good Fortune and Good Governance, both of which played an equal role in this story of reinvention.
The first bit of fortune that befell the Batswana was that their significant mineral wealth was not discovered until after the colonial era, when it was no longer politically acceptable for foreign powers to simply move in and take their diamonds. This, coupled with sound economic policies and avoiding the international debt trap, has resulted in Botswana being an African leader in many economic indicators.
The second piece of good fortune was that Botswana secured an extremely favourable deal from the European Union for its beef. And to this day, beef is still the 2nd biggest industry in the country.
And the final stroke of luck is the . Without this amazing oasis Botswana would not holds its heady position on the world tourist map. And again this good fortune was combined with good governance, the Botswana leaders realising the potential of this and other conservation areas and prevented them from being destroyed by cattle.
Although had it not been for the tsetse fly and the sleeping sickness it inflicts on both man and cattle the Delta would have been destroyed before the government started to protect it. For centuries people have tried to settle there with their cattle, but the swamps have always been plagued by the bloodsucking tsetse fly.