Official name: Republic of Botswana
Area: 600,370 square kilometers (231,802 square miles)
Highest point on mainland : Tsodilo Hills (1,489 meters/4,884 feet)
Lowest point on land: Junction of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers (513 meters/ 1,683 feet)
Hemispheres : Southern and Eastern
Time zone: 2:00 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 1,110 kilometers (690 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest; 960 kilometers (597 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest
Land boundaries : 4,013 kilometers (2,488 miles) total boundary length; Zimbabwe, 813 kilometers (504 miles); South Africa, 1,840 kilometers (1,141 miles); Namibia, 1,360 kilometers (843 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
Botswana is a landlocked country (does not have access to the sea) located in southern Africa. It is bordered by Zimbabwe to the northeast, South Africa to the south and southeast, and Namibia to the north and west. Botswana covers an area of 600,370 square kilometers (231,802 square miles), or slightly less than the state of Texas.
Botswana claims no territories or dependencies.
Most of the country has a subtropical climate, while the higher altitudes have cooler temperatures. Winter days are warm with cool nights, although the desert is commonly covered in heavy frost. Temperatures range from 33°C (91°F) in January to 22°C (72°F) in July. The August seasonal winds that blow from the west carry sand and dust across the landscape, often contributing to droughts. Normal rainfall averages 45 centimeters (18 inches) throughout most of the country except for the Kalahari Desert, in the south, which receives less than 25 centimeters (10 inches), and the wet northern plateau regions, which receive about 69 centimeters (27 inches) annually.
|S EASON||M ONTHS||A VERAGE T EMPERATURE : °C ELSIUS (°F AHRENHEIT )|
|Summer||December to February||22 to 40°C (72 to 104 °F)|
|Winter||April to October||33°C (91°F)|
Botswana is a vast tableland with a mean altitude of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). A gently undulating plateau, running northward from the South African border near Lobatse to the Zimbabwe border, forms a watershed between the two main natural divisions of Botswana. The fertile land to the south and east of this plateau is hilly bush country and grassland, or veld. To the west of the plateau, stretching over the border into Namibia, is the Kalahari Desert. In the north lies the area known as Ngami-land, which is dominated by the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
Botswana is a landlocked nation.
Temporary lakes form in the Okavango Swamps and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans during seasons of heavy rainfall. Lakes Ngami and Xau are more permanent, but they also rely on the floodwaters that rush down the high plateaus.
There are few permanent rivers in Botswana, and its temporary rivers never reach the sea. One of the permanent waterways, the Chobe River in the north, is a major tributary of the Zambezi River. The Zambezi itself forms a short section of Botswana's border. The Limpopo River, a major waterway in the east, marks the border with South Africa. The Okavango River enters the country in the northwest and ends in the Okavango Swamps. The Boteti River flows south from these swamps into Lake Xau.
The Kalahari Desert lies in the western portion of the country. It is a large, dry sandy basin that covers about 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 square miles). The Kalahari reaches from the Orange River in South Africa north to Angola, west to Namibia, and east to Zimbabwe.
In the heart of the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango River spreads out into a seasonally flooded wetland covering some 16,835 square kilometers (6,500 square miles), or roughly the size of Massachusetts. It comprises swamps, channels, lagoons, and flood plains.
There are no mountains in this elevated but relatively flat country. Botswana's highest elevations are found in the Tsodilo Hills, which are granite cliffs on the northwest fringe of the Kalahari Desert. The hills form a fortress-like ridge 20 kilometers (12 miles) in length and have long been considered sacred by the native people. At their highest point, the cliffs reach 1,489 meters (4,884 feet) above sea level.
There are a number of caves in Botswana, some of which contain fossils as many as 3 million years old, notably in the area around Lake Ngami. In the southeast, south of Gaborone, lie the Lobatse Caves.
All of Botswana is located on a broad tableland with an average altitude of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). A vast plateau, rising to about 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level, divides the country into two distinct topographical regions. This plateau extends from the southeastern part of the country to the border with Zimbabwe.
There are no notable man-made features affecting the geography of Botswana.
The Okavango Delta, one of the world's largest wetlands, provides a unique ecosystem and habitat for an astounding abundance of African wildlife, including mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
Alverson, Marianne. Under African Sun . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Augustinus, Paul. Botswana: A Brush with the Wild . Randburg, South Africa: Acorn Books, 1987.
Picard, Louis A., ed. Politics and Rural Development in South Africa: The Evolution of Modern Botswana . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.