The old Gaberones became a suburb of the new Gaborone,
and is now known as "the Village". The abbreviation
"Gabs" has survived as the abbreviation for Gaborone
and is sometimes used in speech.
Nearby manganese and asbestos mines have led to industrial
expansion. The Southern African Development Community (SADC)
makes its headquarters in Gaborone; the organization was
formed in 1980 to increase economic cooperation among its
members and reduce dependence on South Africa. Gaborone
is the seat of the University of Botswana.
Often described as Africa's fastest growing city, Botswana's
capital Gaborone is a vibrant and colourful city, which
lies in the flat valley between Kgale and Oodi hills, on
the Notwane River in the south eastern corner of Botswana,
15km from the South African border post at Tlokweng. In
1998 Gaborone had an estimated population of 192,000 inhabitants.
As the capital city, Gaborone is the seat of government
as well as the country's commercial and administrative heart.
The city is named after Kgosi (Chief) Gaborone who led
the Batlokwa tribe into the area in the 1880s. They settled
in Tlokweng, the first urban area you reach when driving
into the city from the South African border post 10km to
the east. In the early 1890s a colonial fort was built in
an area now known as The Village near Tlokweng, and its
ruins can still be seen near the Village Cinema.
As plans developed for Bechuanaland's independence, the
need to establish an administrative town within the boundaries
of the country was recognized. Bechuanaland was the only
territory in the world whose administrative centre, Mafikeng,
lay outside its boundaries. Nine possible sites had been
suggested: Mahalapye, Shashe, Francistown, Serowe, Artesia,
Lobatse, Gaborone, Maun and a point within the Tuli Block.
Gaborone was chosen because of its strategic location,
its proximity to the railway line and Pretoria, its already
established administrative offices, its accessibility to
most of the major tribes, its non-association with any particular
tribe, and, most importantly, its closeness to a major water
Gaborone, one of the fastest growing cities in
In three short years, the new capital emerged from the
African bush. By the time it was completed, it boasted Assembly
buildings, Government office blocks, a power station, a
hospital, schools, a radio station, a telephone exchange,
police stations, a post office, banks, shops, a church,
a hotel, a brewery, a stadium grandstand and more than 1,000
houses. The basic infrastructure was in place for Independence
Day on 30 September 1966, when Bechuanaland became the eleventh
British dependency in Africa to become independent.
Today it is a very different story, and Gaborone is a bustling
modern city, and the seat of power for one of Africa's most
successful economies, which once again is being viewed with
envy by almost all her neighbours. There are numerous busy
shopping malls offering full range of imported and locally
produced goods, excellent restaurants, top international
quality hotels, sports clubs and various night clubs. New
buildings and suburbs sprout like mushrooms wherever there's
a block of land to fit them, resulting in a mix of low-cost
housing, blocks of flats, shopping centres and industrial
Government ministries, the National Assembly, the House
of Chiefs and the Archives are all grouped in the Government
Enclave. The University of Botswana, the National Museum
and Art Gallery, as well as the stadium and a golf course
are also located here.
In late 1998 a couple of private commercial radio stations,
Yarona FM and GabzFM were established in Gaborone, and in
conjunction with the government's RB2 radio station, have
provided a great forum for the expansion and development
of local musical talent, which at last is seeing steady
On the August 30th, 2000 the first national television
service called Botswana Television (BTV) was launched. With
the headquarters in Gaborone, it is the first station in
Africa to fully utilize digital technology. The signal of
BTV is also carried on a PAS7 satellite with a footprint
that covers the majority of the continent.
Botswana International Trade Fair held in the city is an
annual event. Football matches and cultural gatherings are
frequent occurrences at the National Stadium, while music
and drama are performed at a number of venues, including
Maitisong Cultural Centre.
Situated close to the capital, Sir Seretse Khama International
Airport has modern facilities to cater for all wide-body
aircraft and has recently installed state-of-the-art radar
facilities aimed at enhancing the safety of flights in Botswana
Visitors to Gaborone now have an excellent
choice of 'craft' shops to choose from. Botswana Craft,
which specializes in crafts from Botswana, has several outlets
in the city. The Camphill charity shop stocks good handmade
wooden furniture and various other craft items such as local
pottery and weavings. At Oodi weavers, 5km north of Phakalane,
visitors can tour the weaving factory and shop, while in
Broadhurst the Craft Workshop houses a range of very upmarket
craft outlets which is becoming exceptionally popular with
Gaborone's cappuccino drinking set. For day trippers from
Gaborone, just 5 or 6km north of Mochudi on the Francistown
road lies 'Matsieng Footprints', one of Botswana's few 'Creation'
The Main Mall (The Mall)
The Main Mall is the starting point for your journey around
Gaborone. This area was planned in 1963, in a preparation
for the Independence and was to be the town centre, located
between the Railway Station and the Army Garrison. Today
it is the heart of Gaborone with shops, banks, business
offices, as well as walkway with people selling crafts and
other goods. At the eastern end of The Mall is the Civic
Centre that also houses a public reference library. Opposite
the Civic Centre is the Pula Arch, a landmark that commemorates
the Independence of Botswana.
The National Assembly
The National Assembly is at the top of the Main Mall where
it is surrounded by the other tall government buildings.
At the centre of this government enclave is a paved square
with a War Memorial in memory of the 300 Batswana who died
fighting with the Allies against Fascism in the Second World
War, 1939 to 1945. There is also a statue of Sir Seretse
Khama, Botswana's first President.
National Sports Stadium, Golf Club, Cricket Club,
Rugby Club, Tennis Association Courts
Some 2km south of the Main Mall the National Sports Stadium,
the Gaborone Golf Club, the Cricket Club, the Rugby Club
and the Botswana Tennis Association Courts are located.
Tennis Association Courts hosted the international Davis
Cup competition in 1997. There are numerous gymnasiums throughout
the city and the main hotels all have good in-house gym
and health club facilities. A second golf course has also
recently been completed in Phakalane, and offers excellent
club house facilities and a well-designed course set in
landscaped woodland, edged with prime residential properties.
Kgale Hill dominates Gaborone on the western edge of the
city. It offers a pleasant climb with breathtaking views
of the Dam and city. Visitors can choose one of three well-defined
routes up the hill: the steep Rusty's Route up the rocky
face; the longer Transfeldt Trail up the back; and the undulating
walk across the saddle to Cross Kopje. Each takes less than
an hour. There is a resident troop of baboons living on
Kgale and a pair of black eagles consistently nests in the
craggy cliff-face just below the peak. There have also been
reports of early morning sightings of leopard.
St. Claire Lion Park
While lions are the major attraction, the St Claire Lion
Park has a great deal more to offer. Set in open woodland
14km from Gaborone on the Lobatse road, a variety of outdoor
activities are offered for the family, making it a favourite
haunt of the "Gaborone 4x4 Club" and a relaxing
spot for weekend picnics and getaways. An entrance fee is
charged, and facilities include a restaurant, bar, extensive
children's playground, horse trails, motorbike rides, a
vulture restaurant (where Otse's Cape vultures are fed),
three dams, game viewing, picnic sites and the camping grounds.
The park is open every day, but the bar and restaurant are
closed on Mondays. Other attractions include National Museum
and Art Gallery, Gaborone Game Reserve, Mokolodi Game Reserve,
Gaborone Dam, Thamaga Pottery, etc.