Gaborone is located midway along Botswana’s southeastern border with South Africa. It is a modern city, but as recently as the early 1960s was little more than a village. It was chosen as the site for the newly independent nation’s capital in 1966 because of its readily available water supply and its proximity to the cross-continental railway line.
The city was named after Chief Gaborone who led his tribe into the region in the 1880s.The country’s diamond wealth was uncovered 5 years later, and Botswana went from being one of the poorest nations on earth to being one of Africa’s few success stories. Gaborone’s fortunes changed dramatically as well, the city becoming a major location for foreign investment. A monument to the source of its prosperity is found in the Orapa House. The building has specifically engineered floors to make the best use of daylight, without letting in direct sunlight, in order to assist the process of sorting and grading diamonds.
Gaborone today is a major centre for commercial, shopping, banking and telecommunication facilities. It provides the headquarters for all government departments and private organizations operating within Botswana. There is an international airport on the outskirts of the city, and rail connections to Pretoria and Johannesburg in South Africa, Harare in Zimbabwe, and Windhoek in Namibia.
Places of Interest
The city’s major attraction is The National Museum, located near the centre, which houses a collection of native arts and crafts as well as mounted wildlife. Historical evidence of the capital’s past can be discovered at ‘the Village’ which, amongst other exhibits, allows visitors to examine the remains of a colonial fort. Just outside the city lies the Gaborone game reserve which contains kudu, rhino and zebra.