A Timeline of Botswana

A broad timeline of Botswana.

A Timeline of Botswana

San Legacy (circa 17,000 BC - 500 AD)

The San, also known as the Bushmen, were hunter-gatherers who roamed the vast landscapes of what is now Botswana. They left behind an invaluable legacy in the form of rock art, which can be found in places like the Tsodilo Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These paintings provide insights into their spiritual beliefs, daily life, and interactions with the environment.

Bantu Migrations (circa 500 AD - 900 AD)

Around the first millennium AD, Bantu-speaking groups began to migrate into the region. These migrations brought with them new technologies, especially ironworking, which revolutionized agriculture and hunting. The Bantu settlers established early communities, leading to more permanent settlements.

Rise of Chiefdoms (900 AD - 1100 AD)

As Bantu communities grew in number and complexity, social hierarchies began to form. This period saw the emergence of chiefdoms, where local leaders, or chiefs, held sway over territories and communities. These chiefdoms were precursors to the Tswana kingdoms that would dominate the region in later centuries.

Emergence of Tswana Chiefdoms (1100 AD - 1400 AD)

Tswana-speaking groups began to form chiefdoms, emphasizing clan-based governance and cattle herding. Distinct territories were established, laying the foundation for the larger kingdoms that would emerge in subsequent centuries.

Consolidation and Trade (1400 AD - 1600 AD)

The chiefdoms expanded into influential kingdoms, with trade networks connecting them to neighboring regions. Cattle, a symbol of wealth and status, played a central role in societal structures and trade dynamics.

Rise of Dominant Kingdoms (1600 AD - 1800 AD)

Several Tswana kingdoms, including the Ngwaketse in the south, the Kwena around Molepolole, and the Bangwato in the northeast, became dominant forces in the region. Leaders like King Kgosi Kgari of the Ngwaketse and Khama III of the Bangwato later on, played pivotal roles in their kingdoms' prominence.

Challenges and Alliances (1800 AD)

Facing threats from Ndebele raids and Boer encroachments, the Tswana kingdoms formed shifting alliances for protection. The era also saw increased interactions with European missionaries and traders, influencing the region's politics and trade.

British Protection (1885 AD - 1966 AD)

Facing threats from Ndebele raids and Boer encroachments, Khama III, the Bangwato chief, sought British protection. The region became the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland in 1885. While under British rule, Bechuanaland remained largely self-governed by its traditional leaders.

Road to Independence (1960 AD - 1966 AD)

As decolonization swept across Africa, Bechuanaland moved towards self-governance. Seretse Khama, who would become the nation's first president, played a pivotal role in the transition. In 1966, Bechuanaland gained independence and was renamed Botswana.

Post-Independence Era (1966 AD - 2000 AD)

Under the leadership of Seretse Khama and his successors, Botswana transformed from one of the world's poorest countries to a middle-income nation. The discovery and export of diamonds played a significant role in this economic growth. The country maintained a stable democracy, making it unique in a continent often plagued by political upheaval.

21st Century Botswana (2000 AD - Present)

Botswana continues its trajectory of stable governance and economic growth. The nation faces challenges like HIV/AIDS but has made commendable efforts in addressing them. Conservation and sustainable tourism, especially in areas like the Okavango Delta, have become pivotal to Botswana's identity and economy.