Quick Facts: North Eastern Botswana
- Selibe Phikwe
Introducing North Eastern Botswana
Being one of the oldest towns in Botswana and the site of southern Africa's first gold rush, Francistown, is a typical frontier town. Francistown is home to about 92,500 people and is strategically placed as the gateway to the north, with all the main roads to Gaborone, Zimbabwe, Maun and Kazungula passing through it.
Evidence of human habitation goes back for 80,000 years. In the 1820s, the Ndebele stormed through before coming to rest near Bulawayo, bringing their influences and taxation to the Kalanga territory of north-eastern Botswana. The first European to visit Nyangabgwe (the nearest village to present-day Francistown) was missionary Robert Moffat. He was followed by Karl Mauch, who discovered gold along the Tati River in 1867, followed soon thereafter with more deposits in the Francistown area itself. Francistown in Botswana was the region in which southern Africa's first gold was discovered.
Many prospectors and adventurers alike rushed to this area of Botswana to stake their claim of fame and fortune, many coming from as far as Australia and America. With the rapid influx of people, Daniel Francis, after who Francistown was named, organised the establishment of the town. The mining town of Selebi-Phikwe is located 88km southwest of Francistown in Botswana.
Selebi-Phikwe has grown into the third-largest urban centre in Botswana. With the completion of the tarred road from the Martin's Drift border post, Selebi-Phikwe is now a convenient stop-over between Johannesburg and Botswana's northern tourist attractions. Originally there were two small towns called Selebi and Phikwe, which were home to a large undiscovered deposit of copper and nickel. When the mineral wealth of the area was discovered in the 1960s a mine was built in the woodland between the places with the combined name of Selebi-Phikwe.