Culture Smart! Botswana: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

One of the many wonders of traveling are the chance encounters, the magical moments of human connection with people who come from a different place, a different culture, and speak a different language. Reading our guides gives you the chance to make the most out of those experiences. So you can be comfortable stepping into the unknown and trying to see a place through the eyes of your hosts.

Landlocked Botswana is a country of contrasts. More than 80% is referred to as a desert – the Kalahari Desert – yet it is not a desert at all. Despite the endless distances of thorn trees and scrub, the red sand of the Kalahari contains substantial woodland and other vegetation and conceals boundless wealth in the form of coal, methane, copper, and diamonds: Botswana is the world’s biggest producer of gemstones.

There are no perennial inland rivers and no lakes, yet there is the Okavango Delta, said to be the largest inland river delta in the world.

In a world where one measure of national wealth is the time for which a country can afford foreign imports out of reserves, Botswana’s time is measured in years. It is also true that the gap between rich and poor is growing ever wider, so the visitor will encounter obvious examples of both wealth and poverty: expensive cars and big houses, excellent roads and modern buildings, yet high unemployment and rural villages with dwellings built traditionally, of natural materials, without sanitation, electricity, or water.

Culturally, the people are overwhelmingly Bantu-speaking, but they are by no means a homogeneous group, except by classification in the broadest ethnic terms. In Botswana there are more than twenty tribes and twenty different, though sometimes related, languages. In the years since independence, the country and its economy have made extraordinary strides, and Botswana is rightly seen as a model of democratic, planned development. But, for all that, traditional values lie close to the surface, often barely concealed beneath a veneer of modernity. This serves to explain the range of responses and behaviour that a visitor might encounter. Many older people are intensely conservative in outlook, while the educated young seem indistinguishable from their peers around the world: enthusiastic, bright, innovative, and utterly modern. All are kindly, welcoming, and above all, forgiving.

Our guide to Botswana introduces you to the lives of the people. It looks at the history that has shaped its society and shows the importance of traditional customs and values. It describes how Batswana live, work, and play, and how to avoid the pitfalls of cultural misunderstanding. You don’t have to wait until you travel there to dive in!

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787022560
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99





Wednesday Wanderlust – 10 Values and Attitudes of West and Southern Africa

Are you vising the West or Southern African regions soon? Check out these 10 values and attitudes straight from our guides.

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1. The significance of greetings is probably the most important rule of etiquette that a visitor should learn and observe. For example if you walk into a house, workplace, meeting, or a past a friend or neighbour on the street without saying hello, it is viewed as a direct insult.

2. You’re not allowed to leave a Ghanaian’s home without a full belly. A good host will arrange beforehand for your favourite food to be prepared but whatever you get, be sure to obey the cook’s order of “Eat all!”

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