Botswana's capital and economic center
1014 metres above sea level lies Gaborone, Botswana’s capital with 230,000 inhabitants. Though 50 years ago, around 1966, things looked very different here: The little village, a railway station to the South African border, only counted 1000 inhabitants.
The village was founded in 1888 already, when a tribal chief named Kgosi Gaborone settled here and named the settlement after himself. Today this historical town centre, which is found at the town’s outskirts, is called Gaborone’s Village. In 1966 the village became the seat of pgovernment, as the Notwane River provided a secure water supply. Soon the tranquil existence of the 1000-soul village came to an abrupt end. In 1967 diamonds were discovered further north, which started a boom attracting many legal and illegal workers.
Originally the planning envisaged a population of 20,000 people for the town, but 40 years later numbers had risen by tenfold that amount. Gaborone became one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
Through the diamond wealth Botswana developed into a welfare state, one of the first in Africa at that time. A few examples are free schooling, subsidies for rents, medical aid, as well as numerous development programs. Gaborone, as the capital, benefited immensely from all these developments, which became economic, social and cultural catalysts.
Traffic wise Gaborone is well-developed; it lies along the railway line connecting Cape Town and Harare and tarred roads connect the most important regions of the country and also lead to South Africa. Ten years ago tourists were still a scarce sight, but today numerous hotel and lodges are profiting from the new touristic boom.