Gaborone is the capital and largest city of Botswana. Its agglomeration is home to 421,907 inhabitants.
Gaborone is situated between Kgale and Oodi Hills, on the Notwane River in the southeastern corner of Botswana, and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the South African border.
Many languages are spoken there, Setswana (Tswana) being the main language. English, iKalanga, and the native language of the Kgalagadi, are also spoken.
Because the city had no tribal affiliation and was close to fresh water, the city was planned to be the capital in the mid-1960s when the Bechuanaland Protectorate became an independent nation. The centre of the city is a long strip of commercial businesses, called the Mall, with a semicircle-shaped area of government offices to the west of the Mall. The city is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, and this has created problems with housing and illegal settlements. The city has also dealt with conflicts spilling into the country from Zimbabwe and South Africa during the 1980s.
|POPULATION :||City: 231,626 / Metro: 421,907|
|TIME ZONE :||Central Africa Time (UTC+2) Summer: (UTC+2)|
|LANGUAGE :||Setswana 78.2%, Kalanga 7.9%, Sekgalagadi 2.8%, English 2.1% (official), other 9%|
|RELIGION :||Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4%, unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6%|
|AREA :||169 km2 (65 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||1,014 m (3,327 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||24°39′29″S 25°54′44″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.70% |
• Female: 50.30%
|ETHNIC :||Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white 7%|
|AREA CODE :||31|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+267 31|
From a dusty one horse town in the 1960s Gaborone is now a substantial city of 400,000. Generally it is a clean, safe and functioning city that is spreading ever further outwards in to a suburban sprawl that today measures about 15km from east to west.
There is a definite city centre based around the train station and the government enclave of Khama Crescent. However numerous shopping malls are dotted all over the city diluting the prominence of the downtown area.
In the centre of the city lies the Mall, the financial and tourism centre of Gaborone. The Mall houses numerous banks and shopping centres. At the eastern end of the Mall, one can find the Civic Centre along with the Pula Arch that commemorates Botswana's independence. The Botswana Stock Exchange, National Museum and Art Gallery, and the main campus of the University of Botswana also lie near the Mall. To the west of the Mall is the Government Enclave. This area contains the governmental buildings such as the National Assembly of Botswana and Ntlo ya Dikgosi buildings. The National Archives building is also found here.
Evidence shows that there have been inhabitants along the Notwane River for centuries. In more recent history, Kgosi Gaborone left the Magaliesberg to settle in the area around 1880.
In 1965, the capital of the Bechuanaland Protectorate moved from Mafeking to Gaberones. When Botswana gained its independence, Lobatse was the first choice as the nation's capital. However, Lobatse was deemed too limited, and instead, a new capital city would be created next to Gaberones. The city was chosen because of its proximity to a fresh water source, its proximity to the railway to Pretoria, its central location among the central tribes, and its lack of association with those surrounding tribes.
On 30 September 1966, Bechuanaland became the eleventh British dependency in Africa to become independent. The first mayor of Gaborone was Reverend Derek Jones. The old Gaberones became a suburb of the new Gaborone, and is now known as "the Village".
In the mid-1980s, South Africa attacked Botswana and conducted raids on Gaborone and other border towns. The Raid on Gaborone resulted in twelve deaths.
After the 1994 General Elections, riots started in Gaborone because of high unemployment and other issues.
Gaborone has a hot semi-arid climate. Most of the year, Gaborone is very sunny. The summers are usually hot. The nights are cool.
Usually, the summers with little rainfall are warmer than summers with regular rainfall. If there is a drought, the hottest temperatures of the year are usually in January or February. If there is normal rainfall, the hottest temperatures are usually in October, right before the rain starts. During the winter, days are still warm, and the nights are cold.
There are on average seventy-four days per year with temperatures above 32 °C (90 °F). There are on average 196 days per year with temperatures above 26 °C (79 °F). There are on average fifty-one days per year with temperatures below 7 °C (45 °F). There is on average one day per year with temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F).
Gaborone is situated at 24°39′29″S 25°54′44″E between Kgale and Oodi Hills, on the Notwane River in the southeastern corner of Botswana, and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the South African border. The city lies at an elevation of 1,010 metres (3,310 ft) above sea level. Gaborone is surrounded by the following cities: Ramotswa to the southeast, Mogoditshane to the northwest, and Mochudi to the east, and Tlokweng across the river.
Gaborone is the center of the national economy. The headquarters of important financial institutions such as the Bank of Botswana, Bank Gaborone, BancABC, and the Botswana Stock Exchange are centrally located, as well as the headquarters for Air Botswana, Consumer Watchdog, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, and Debswana, the joint diamond mining venture between De Beers and the Botswana government.
Several international companies have invested in the city: Hyundai, IBM, Daewoo, Volvo, Owens-Corning, and Siemens. Orapa House, owned by Debswana, is where the diamonds mined from Debswana are sorted and valued.
The unemployment rate in Gaborone is 11.7%.
Gaborone's nomenclature confuses most new arrivals. Different parts of town are called Blocks, Extensions, Phases etc. and there can be multiple names for the same place. Below is a rough guide:
The Extensions - to the east of the railway line radiating out from the Government Enclave. Extensions 9 and 11 are probably the wealthiest parts of Gaborone. Extension 15, out near Riverwalk Mall is known as 'the Village'
Gabs West - the inner blocks to the west of the railway line, inside the Western Bypass. Gabs West is sub-divided into Phases 1, 2, 4 and industrial.
The Blocks - to the west of the railway line, outside the Western Bypass. The blocks number 5 - 10 running south to north (although Block 9 is an outlier being the southernmost of the blocks, and there is a Block 3 directly north of the downtown area). Some maps (inc Google Maps) label the Blocks as high numbered Extensions (e.g. Block 8 is made up of Extensions 35 & 36) but everyone will refer to an area by its Block number.
The Central Business District refers to a patch of undeveloped land slap in the centre of the city that is only now (2012) being developed in to overly modern hotels and offices (inc the new Lansmore hotel)
Phakalane a new-build suburb 12km north of the centre of Gaborone - based around a golf estate - on the east side of the A1 Francistown road. South-west of Phakalane is the still to be developed Glen Valley
Gaborone North - a developing suburb out towards the airport to the west of Phakalane.
Broadhurst is an older suburb to the northeast of the centre. On the southern edge of Broadhurst are Partial and Maru-a-Pula
Tlokweng a poorer suburb to the east of the Notwane river, home to several nice guesthouses.
There are internet cafes all over the city, in practically every shopping centre. Many cafes have memberships of 5-20 hours which provide cheaper rates. Network speeds are moderate to good. Many cafes also offer photocopying services.