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Gaborone (Tswana ; or , named after Chief Kgosi Gaborone) is the capital and largest city of Botswanamarker with a population of 186,007 based on the 2001 census. It is the administrative capital of the South-East Districtmarker as well as the sub-district of Gaborone. Locals often refer to the city as Gabs.

Gaborone is situated at between Kgale and Oodi Hills, on the Notwane River in the southeastern corner of Botswana, and from the South African border. The city is served by the Sir Seretse Khama International Airportmarker.


A postage stamp c.1943, the postmark reading "Gaborone's Village"
Derek Jones, the first mayor of Gaborone
Evidence shows that there have been inhabitants along the Notwane River for centuries. In more recent history, Chief Kgosi Gaborone left the Magaliesberg to settle in the area around 1880, and called the settlement Moshawengmarker. The city was then called Gaberones by the early European settlers. Gaberones, derived from Gaborone's Village, was named after Chief Gaborone of the BaTlokwa, whose home village, now called Tlokwengmarker, was across the river from the Government Camp, the name of the colonial government headquarters. The nickname, GC, comes from the name Government Camp. In 1890, Cecil John Rhodesmarker picked Gaberones to house a colonial fort. The fort was where Rhodes planned the Jameson Raid.
In 1965, the capital of the Bechuanaland Protectorate moved from Mafekingmarker to Gaberones. When Botswana gained its independence, Lobatsemarker was selected as the first choice as the nation's first 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 closeness next to the railway to Pretoriamarker, its central location among the central tribes, and its lack of association with those surrounding tribes.

The city was planned under Garden city principles with numerous pedestrian walkways and open spaces. Most of the city was built within three years. Buildings in early Gaborone include Assembly buildings, government offices, a power station, a hospital, schools, a radio station, a telephone exchange, police stations, a post office, and more than 1,000 houses. Because the city was built so quickly, there was a massive influx of labourers who had built illegal settlements on the new city's southern industrial development zone. These settlements were named Naledi. Naledi literally means the star, but could also mean under the open sky or a community that stands out from all others. In 1971, because of the growth of illegal settlements, the Gaborone Town Council and the Ministry of Local Government and Lands surveyed an area called Bontleng, which would contain low-income housing. However, Naledi still grew, and the demand for housing was greater than ever. In 1973, the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) built a "New Naledi" across the road from the "Old Naledi". Residents from Old Naledi would be moved to New Naledi. However, the demand for housing increased yet again; moreover, the residents who relocated to New Nadeli disliked the houses. The problem was solved in 1975 when Sir Seretse Khama, the president of Botswana, rezoned Naledi from an industrial zone to a low-income housing area.

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 raids resulted in fifteen civilian deaths.

After the 1994 General Elections, riots started in Gaborone because of high unemployment and other issues.

Today, Gaborone is growing very rapidly. The city originally planned on 20,000 citizens, but by 1992, the city had 138,000 people. This has led to many squatter settlements on undeveloped land.


Gaborone is situated at between Kgale and Oodi Hills, on the Notwane River in the southeastern corner of Botswana, and from the South African borderGaborone is surrounded by the following cities: Ramotswamarker to the southeast, Mogoditshanemarker to the northwest, and Mochudimarker to the east, and Tlokwengmarker across the river. Most of them are commuter towns for Gaborone. Suburbs in Gaborone include Broadhurst, Gaborone West, The Village, Naledi, and New Canada. Phakalane, an affluent suburb, lies outside the city limits.


Under the Köppen climate classification system, Gaborone is classified as semi-arid (BSh). 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 of 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 . There is on average 196 days per year with temperatures above . There is on average fifty-one days per year with temperatures below . There is on average one day per year with temperatures below . The average dew point peaks around January and February at and hits the lowest levels in July at . The average dew point in a given year is .

Precipitation in Gaborone is sparse and variable. Most of the rainfall in Gaborone falls during the summer months, between October and April. There is on average forty days of thunderstorms per year, most of the happening during the summer months, and four days of fog, usually happening during the winter months.

The highest humidity occurs in June at 90% while the lowest humidity is in September at 28%.

Solar radiation levels range from 14.6 MJ/m² in June to 26.2 MJ/m² in December.

It is windier from August to November at , and it is calmer from May to July at . The average wind speed in a given year is .


The population, based on the 2001 census, is 186,007. There are 91,823 males and 94,184 females in the city. There are 58,476 households in Gaborone. The city of Gaborone is home to 10% of the population of Botswana.

The population growth rate of Gaborone is 3.4%, the highest in the country. This is most likely because the city has a more developed infrastructure, making it more livable. Gaborone is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

The sex ratio of Gaborone is 97.6, meaning that there are 976 men for every 1,000 women.

It is estimated that over one-third of the people living in Gaborone, 38.8%, have AIDS—the highest prevalence in the world. The rate is even higher for people between the ages of 15 and 49 at 44%.

Map of the Diocese of Gaborone
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaborone, which is under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pretoria, is located in the city. The diocese contains the southern half of Botswana, and the bishop for the diocese is Bishop Valentine Tsamma Seane who was consecrated on 25 April 2009. The previous bishop was Boniface Tshosa Setlalekgosi. There is a catholic cathedral called Christ the King Cathedral.

There is a Hindu temple in Gaborone, nicknamed Hindu Hall as well as a gurudwara and a mosque. There are also plans to build a Venkateswara temple in the Gasome village area in Gaborone West for the Telugu population of Botswana. Construction started in May 2001 by the Botswana Hindu Charities Trust. The temple was complete in September 2007. The High Commissioner of India to Botswana, Vishnu Hade, and the President of Botswana at the time, Festus Mogae, visited the temple upon its completion.


Debswana offices in downtown Gaborone
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 located downtown, 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. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has its headquarters in Gaborone; the organization was formed in 1980 to increase economic cooperation among its members and reduce dependence on South Africa.

Orapa House, owned by Debswana through the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company (BDVC), is where the diamonds mined from Debswana are sorted and valued. Orapa House, located at the intersection of Khama Crescent and Nelson Mandela Drive, has a unique style of architecture that allows the perfect amount of indirect sunlight to shine through the windows in order to accurately sort diamonds.

Air Botswana, the national airline of Botswanamarker, is headquartered on the grounds of Sir Seretse Khama International Airportmarker in Gaborone.

Arts and culture

The National Museum and Art Gallery is located just northwest of the Mall along Independence Road. The museum opened in 1968. It holds many things from traditional crafts to works of art by local artists. The museum houses original paintings by Thomas Baines and Lucas Sithole. Exhibits include Artists in Botswana, Children's Art Competition and Thapong International. Outside the museum, there are various forms of transportation such as wagons, sledges, and bakkies (pickup trucks). There is also an exhibit on the Bushmen, the earliest inhabitants of southern Africa. The museum opened a botanical garden called the National Botanical Garden on 2 November 2007. The garden was built to protect Botswana's indigenous plant life, and 90% of its total plant species are native plants from Botswana.

The Maitisong Festival was started in 1987 and is held every year for seven days on either the last week of March or the first week of April. The festival holds outdoor concerts, plays, and movies in various venues around the city.

My African Dream” is a performing-arts competition that is held every year at the Gaborone International Convention Center. The show features many kwaito dancers and musicians.

The book series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, is set in Gaborone. The series is written by Alexander McCall Smith. The books follow Precious Ramotswe, the first female private detective in Botswana, and the mysteries that she solves.


There are several football stadiums located in and around Gaborone. They are SSKB Stadium, Mochudi Stadium, and Botswana National Stadiummarker. There are also many football teams representing Gaborone. They include Botswana Defence Force XI, Gaborone United, Notwane FC, Police XI, and Uniao Flamengo Santos FC; all of them play in the Botswana Premier League. The Botswana national football team play in the National Stadium, but have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup nor the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Botswana Cricket Association, the governing body of cricket in Botswana, is headquartered in Gaborone.

Parks and Recreation


The Main Mall, a pedestrian-only street in downtown Gaborone
  • Main Mall
    • The Main Mall is the heart of Gaborone, housing many shops, banks, and restaurants.
  • Broadhurst Mall (BBS Mall)
    • The Broadhurst Mall is located on Segoditshane Way in Broadhurst. It is one of the newer malls in Gaborone, only about six years old.
  • Game City
    • The Game City Mall is the largest mall in Gaborone. It is located south of Gaborone on the road towards Lobatsemarker.
  • Fairgrounds Mall
    • The Fairgrounds Mall is located on Machel Road close to the fairgrounds.
  • Molapo Crossing Mall
    • The Molapo Crossing Mall is situated in Gaborone West. There have been several controversies surrounding the construction and ownership of the mall.
  • Westgate Mall
  • Mowana Park Shopping Complex
  • Square Mall
    • The Square Mall is one of the newest malls in Gaborone; it opened on 22 November 2008. An office block adjacent to the mall, called The Tower, is to be completed. It is one of the first and one of the only developments in the new CBD.


Satellite picture of Gaborone with the large lake being the Gaborone Dam

Gaborone Dam

The Gaborone Dam is located south of Gaborone along the Gaborone-Lobatse road, and while providing water for the city, it is also starting to be marketed as a recreational area. The northern end of the reservoir is planned to become an entertainment venue called The Waterfront. There is a yacht club, called Gaborone Yacht Club, also on the northern side of the lake. The southern end houses the Kalahari Fishing Club and a new public facility called City Scapes. City Scapes contains parks, playgrounds, and boating facilities. The dam is popular with birdwatchers, windsurfers, and anglers. However, there is no swimming due to crocodiles and parasitic bilharzia.

Gaborone Game Reserve

The Gaborone Game Reserve is a park west of the city on Limpopo Drive. The reserve was built in 1988 and is now the third-busiest in Botswana. Examples of animals in the park are impala, kudu, ostriches, wildebeest, zebras, gemsbok, bushbuck, springbok, duiker, Common Eland, and warthogs. The park is famous for its birdwatching. Birds in the marshy section of the park include snake eagles, boubou, gallinule, kingfishers, and hornbills.

Kgale Hill

Kgale Hill is located a few hundred metres from the city. The hill is nicknamed the Sleeping Giant and is . There are three different paths to reach the top, usually taking two hours.

Mokolodi Nature Reserve

The Mokolodi Nature Reservemarker is a reserve that was created in 1994. It is located south of Gaborone. There are many different species of animals found in the park such as warthogs, steenbok, kudu, zebras, giraffes, Common Eland, ostriches, hippo and rhino. The park helps with wildlife projects in Botswana that include: the reintroduction of the White Rhino and the relocation of “problem” cheetahs. Mokolodi also holds the Education Centre, which teaches children about the conservation projects.

Somarelang Tikologo Ecological Park

Community Playground
Somarelang Tikologo (Environment Watch Botswana) is a member-based environmental NGO housed inside an ecological park at the heart of Gabarone. The aim of the organization is to promote sustainable environmental protection by educating, demonstrating and encouraging best practices in environmental planning, resource conservation and waste management in Botswana. The park was officially opened by the Botswana Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Hon. Onkokame kitso Mokaila on 27 February 2009. The park contains a playground for children to play on throughout the day, a community organic garden, a recycling drop-off center, and a shop where visitors can purchase products made of recycled material..


Entrance to the National Assembly of Botswana in Gaborone
Gaborone is the political center of Botswana. Most government buildings are located west of the Mall in an area called the Government Enclave. The National Assembly of Botswana, the House of Chiefs of Botswana, the National Archives, and the Ministry of Health. Near the entrance of the parliament building, there is a statue of Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's first president.

An International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) was established on 24 July 2001 in Gaborone. The academy would provide training for middle managers for the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).



The city is also home to several embassies and consuls.


Environmental Science Building at the University of Botswana
Gaborone has many primary and secondary schools, both public and private.


The main campus of the University of Botswanamarker, established in 1982, is on the western side of the city.Other universities include the Limkokwing University Of Creative Technology, which also has a campus in Gaborone. The following colleges are located in the city:


There are a few newspapers that are published in Gaborone. These include The Botswana Gazette and The Voice.

The radio station, Yarona FM, is broadcasted from Gaborone; the frequency for the station in Gaborone is 106.6FM. Another small, localised radio station in Gaborone is Gabz FM.

Before 2000, residents of Gaborone used to receive television programming from a repeating transmitter on the top of Kgale Hill from BOP TV in Mafikengmarker. Today, Gaborone Broadcasting Company and Botswana TV provide television programming for Gaborone.


New SADC headquarters building under construction
Gaborone's whirlwind transformation from village to city makes it one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. The growth of Gaborone, especially suburban growth, has caused much of the farmland surrounding the city to be absorbed into the city. Much of the food for Gaborone comes from north of the city with some smaller-scale farms on the southern end .

The city centre was planned to be functionalist, with buildings built in the Modern architecture. The city is surrounded by smaller buildings. Interestingly, the city's central business district (CBD) is still under construction so when one says downtown, they actually mean the Main Mall and Government Enclave areas where tall buildings are usually found.

Gaborone's CBD is home to the new Square Mall, The Tower, the new SADC headquarters, and the Industrial Court, a court specifically for settling trade disputes. Other buildings under construction in the CBD include the Holiday Inn Gaborone, retail space and office space.


The city gets its water from the reservoir formed from the Gaborone Dam on the southeast side of the city, which has facilitated growth. The city of Gaborone was originally constructed as a small town, so the Gaborone Dam needed to be built to provide water for all its citizens..

Health Care

The Botswana Red Cross Society, established in 1968, is headquartered in Gaborone. The Princess Marina Hospital is the main referral hospital in Gaborone and currently houses 500 beds.


The Cancer Association of Botswana is a voluntary non-governmental organization established as a trust in 1998. The Association is a leading service provider in supplementing existing services through provision of cancer prevention and health promotion programmes, facilitating access to health services for cancer patients and offering support and counseling to those affected. Its headquarters is at Diktlhakore Way, Extension 12, Gaborone.



The railway that served the founding purpose of the city remains important, bisecting the city in a north-south direction. Botswana Railways runs a line that goes from Cape Townmarker to Hararemarker via Bulawayomarker. The railway station in Gaborone is located south of the Parliament House in the city's center. The line stops at the following cities in and near Botswana: Ramatlabamamarker on the South African border, Lobatsemarker, Gaborone, Palapyemarker, Serulemarker, Francistownmarker, Ramokgwebana, and Plumtree, Zimbabwemarker. The line became a cargo-only line starting 1 April 2009.


Sir Seretse Khama International Airportmarker (ICAO code: FBSK IATA code: GBE) lies north of the city and has flights to Johannesburgmarker, Hararemarker, Francistownmarker, and Maunmarker with connections to Kasanemarker and Livingstonemarker.

Gaborone gained media attention in October 1999 because of the death of Chris Phatswe. Phatswe was a pilot for Air Botswana who committed suicide by crashing his plane into the runway at Sir Seretse Khama International Airportmarker. Before his death, Phatswe was grounded because he was unable to pass the physical. Also, it was later found that he had AIDS. Although he never stated it, these obstacles may have caused him to choose to kill himself. He crashed his plane into two other planes on the tarmac. This almost crushed Air Botswana as they had only one plane left after the incident. has photos of the aftermath.


HIghways in and around Gaborone include the Trans-Kalahari Highway, A1 Highway, and the Cairo-Cape Town Highway. There are five major roads in Gaborone that go to Lobatsemarker, Kanyemarker, Molepololemarker, Francistownmarker via Mochudimarker, and Tlokwengmarker.

Public Transport

Public transport in the city is generally reliable, when compared with major African cities. Kombis, small vans, and taxis ply the routes within the city while buses serve surrounding villages and other towns in Botswana.

Notable natives and residents

Sister Cities



  1. " Contact Us." Air Botswana. Retrieved on 7 October 2009.
  2. Princess Marina Hospital improvements - VelaVKE
  3. Great Circle Mapper
  4. Great Circle Mapper

External links

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