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Gaborone ( GAB-ə-ROH-nee, HAB-, GAH-bə-ROH-nee, -nay Tswana: [χabʊˈrʊnɛ]) is the capital and largest city of Botswana with a population of 231,626 based on the 2011 census, about 10% of the total population of Botswana. Its agglomeration is home to 421,907 inhabitants at the 2011 census.
Gaborone is the capital and largest city in the African country of Botswana. Formerly known as Gaberones, the name was changed and the town was declared the capital of the country shortly after Botswana won its independence from Great Britain in 1966. Its history, however, extends back much further than 1966.
Though in the last century the location has had no formal tribal affiliation, in 1880 it was settled by Kgosi Gaborone, a Botswana chief of the Batlokwa people. Chosen for its nearness to the Notwane River, he called it Moshaweng. Today the people of Botswana range from clan members of the original Batlokwa tribes as well as expatriates from the developed world. Those from the original Tlokwa people can trace their lineage back to Queen Manthatisi and her son Chief Sekonyela, and tend to speak both English and Setswana.
Gaborone is also the center of commerce in Botswana, with numerous important companies headquartered in the capital as well as most of the nation’s financial institutions. De Beers, one of the world’s largest diamond mining companies, was founded near Gaborone in 1888. Its international headquarters remains based in Gaborone. Today De Beers employs many locals, teaching them important skills of diamond sorting and cutting through partnership with the national government. This venture is called Debswana and ensures that the people as well as the diamond industry benefit from mining enterprises situated in the nation.
One of Botswana’s major features outside of the diamond industry is its natural beauty. Unique flora and fauna abound in numerous reserves such as the area surrounding the Gaborone dam and the Gaborone Game Reserve, which is world famous for its bird watching. Other attractions include Kgale Hill and Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Numerous species inhabit the reserve including impala, ostriches, zebras, wildebeest, springbok, Common Egland, warthogs, and hippos. The critically endangered White Rhino is also here, and—although once nearly extinct—it is being reintroduced back into the reserve population. The Reserve’s climate tends to be hot and semi-arid but its proximity to natural streams allows animals, flora, and humans to flourish. Somarelang Tikologo (Environmental Watch Botswana), one of the largest member-based NGOs in Africa, is also headquarted the ecological park.
During the four-decade-long anti-apartheid struggle in neighboring South Africa, Botswana (and especially Gaborone) suffered violence at the hands of the South African Defense Force which illegally crossed the border to attack the armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation,” abbreviated “MK”), which had set up operations in the country. The largest raid took place in 1985 when South African troops crossed into Botswana and attacked the offices of Umkhonto we Sizwe in Gaborone. Twelve people were killed including women and children. Only five of the dead actually worked for the MK.
Gaborone City is situated between Kgale Hill and Oodi Hill, near the confluence of the Notwane River and Segoditshane River in the south-eastern corner of Botswana, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the South African border. The city is served by the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. It is an administrative district in its own right, but is the capital of the surrounding South-East District. Locals often refer to the city as GC or Motse-Mshate.
The city of Gaborone is named after Chief Gaborone of the Tlokwa tribe, who once controlled land nearby. Because it 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 “Main Mall” with a semicircle-shaped area of government offices to its east. Gaborone 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.
Gaborone is the economic capital as well as the government capital; it is headquarters to numerous companies and the Botswana Stock Exchange. Gaborone is also home to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional economic community established in 1980. Many languages are spoken there, Setswana (Tswana) being the main tongue. English, Kalanga, and Kgalagadi are also spoken.