Identification. Batswana are divided into a number of subgroups or "tribes": Bahurutshe, Bakaa, Bakgatla, Bakwena, Bamalete, Bangwaketse, Bangwato, Barolong (Seleka and Tshidi), Batawana, Batlhaping, Batlharo, and Batlokwa. There are approximately twenty-five totems (sing. seanô or serêtô ), which crosscut "tribal" boundaries.
Location. The Batswana region extends from approximately the Okavango River in the northwest, running southeast to the upper reaches of the Limpopo and southwest to the Kuruman area, northeast of the Orange River. In South Africa the majority of Batswana are in the north, in the region that was British Bechuanaland in colonial times, subsequently included the disconnected blocks that constituted nominally independent Bophuthatswana under the apartheid regime, and is now in the Northwest District. Although many Batswana were forced into the overcrowded homeland of Bophuthatswana after 1960, many others remained throughout South Africa, particularly in the urban areas around Johannesburg, in what is now the province of Guateng. There are also Batswana in Namibia and Zimbabwe. Batswana live in all parts of Botswana but are concentrated most heavily in the eastern part of the country, along a strip running east and west of the rail line that extends from South Africa north into Zimbabwe. This is also the region of Botswana that receives the greatest amount of rainfall and has the best agricultural potential. West of this region is the Kalahari (Kgalagadi) Desert (which is not considered a true desert but has sandy soils and is characterized by a lack of permanent surface water), where Batswana reside along with other ethnic groups, predominantly Bakgalagadi and Basarwa (Bushmen). Agriculture is practiced in the Kalahari but is extremely risky. Livestock (particularly cattle) raising has become widespread in the Kalahari since the 1960s, when numerous boreholes were drilled, and this, along with drought and overhunting, has led to the diminution of game (most of the large mammals of Africa are found in Botswana) in the region. The Central Kalahari and Chobe Game reserves are protected from livestock grazing and are still rich in game. The climate is semiarid subtropical; average daily maximum temperature reaches 33° C in summer and 22° C in winter. Average rainfall ranges from 65 centimeters in the northeast to 25 centimeters in the southwest.
Demography. The population of Botswana is approximately 1.4 million. Ethnic affiliation has not been recorded in the census since 1946; whether ethnic Batswana ("Batswana" can also refer to all citizens of Botswana, regardless of ethnic affiliation) make up the majority in the country remains a contentious issue. Most Batswana live in rural areas, but Botswana has the highest urbanization rate in Africa. There are over 2 million Batswana in South Africa. In Botswana, the population growth rate is 3.5 percent.
Linguistic Affiliation. Setswana is a Bantu language of the western Sotho group. (The prefix "Se f " refers to "language/culture of," "Bo f " refers to "land of," and "Ba f " refers to "people," whereas "Mo f " is the singular.) There are a number of dialects within Setswana, all of which are mutually intelligible. Sekgalagadi (which is spoken by the Bakgalagadi) and the languages of many other neighboring groups are sufficiently similar to Setswana to be classified by some scholars as dialects, although this is debated by others. Setswana and English are official languages of Botswana and Setswana is one of eleven official languages in South Africa. Many Batswana also speak English, Afrikaans, or other Southern African Bantu languages; many adult men speak Fanagalo, the language of the mines.