The Flag of Botswana: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: November 11, 2022
© Stockphotos RBL/Shutterstock.com
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The flag of Botswana was first flown on September 30, 1966, the day Botswana became an independent nation. Its simple yet powerful design reflects the country’s history, culture, and values. Flags are designed to be symbolic representations of countries or other entities, so there is always much more meaning behind them than meets the eye at first glance. What is the history, meaning, and symbol of the flag of Botswana? Let’s take a closer look!

Where is Botswana?

A Red Pin on Botswana of the World Map
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana, is located in Southern Africa.

©hyotographics/Shutterstock.com

Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana, is located in Southern Africa. It is a landlocked country mostly covered by the Kalahari Desert and bordered by Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

Botswana has a diverse range of cultures, languages, and religions. Much of the population is of Tswana descent and speaks Tswana as their first language. English is also widely spoken and is the language of business and government. There are also small groups of people who speak other Bantu languages, as well as Afrikaans and French.

History and Origin of the Flag of Botswana

Botswana became a British protectorate in 1885 and was known as Bechuanaland. During this time, the only flag used in the country was the Union Jack. Botswana gained full independence within the Commonwealth on September 30, 1966, and took its current name. Since independence, Botswana has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It is often cited as a model of African political and economic stability.

Botswana’s Fauna

Beyond its impressive history and culture, many unique animals and plants make up Botswana’s flora and fauna. Find out more about the animals in Botswana to gain a better understanding of the country.

Symbolism and Meaning of the Flag of Botswana

Botswana’s flag is quite different from its neighboring countries. It comprises three colors: black, white, and light blue. These colors have been associated with Botswana since the country’s independence in 1966.

Light blue is the primary color of Botswana’s flag and represents the sky and water. Water is an essential natural resource in the landlocked desert of Botswana.

The black stripe in the middle of the flag represents the people of Botswana and their unity. Black is a color often used to represent Africa, so it was included to show that Botswana is part of Africa.

White is associated with purity and sincerity, which Botswana wants to extend to all its citizens and visitors.

During the 1960s, the policies of apartheid and racial segregation were still in effect in many countries in South Africa. In contrast, Botswana’s new flag featured a large black stripe in the middle, bordered by smaller white stripes, representing racial equality and cooperation.

In addition, the black and white stripes of Botswana’s flag also represent the country’s national animal, the zebra. Zebras are native to the country and symbolize its natural beauty. They are also a reminder of the country’s commitment to conservation. Zebras are social animals that live in herds and are known for their striped coats. They are essential to the African ecosystem and play a vital role in keeping the grasslands healthy.

The National Coat of Arms of Botswana

Two Botswana coin pot on white isolated background
Botswana adopted a coat of arms after its independence in 1966, as seen on this coin.

©Krzysztof Bubel/Shutterstock.com

Botswana adopted a coat of arms after its independence in 1966, with many of the same colors as its flag. Botswana’s coat of arms features a traditional shield flanked by a zebra on each side. One zebra holds an elephant’s tusk, while the other holds a green sorghum stalk. The elephant’s tusk is reminiscent of Botswana’s past ivory trade and the importance of wildlife preservation in the country. At the same time, sorghum is an essential crop for Botswana’s agriculture.

The shield is divided into three parts: the top features three gears or cogwheels, the middle three waves, and the bottom a bull’s head. The three gears symbolize industry, the three waves represent the importance of water, and the bull’s head represents cattle herding in Botswana. At the bottom of the shield is a blue ribbon with the word “pula,” which is Botswana’s national motto and means good luck and rain.

As you can see, the flag of Botswana and its national symbols are rich in history and meaning. They reflect the country’s core values and people’s pride in upholding them. If you are lucky enough to visit Botswana, look for this beautiful flag flying proudly in many different locations!

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The Featured Image

Botswana 3D waving flag illustration. Texture can be used as background.
The Bostwana Flag represents a sky blue field cut horizontally by a black stripe with a thin white frame
© Stockphotos RBL/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I have been a professional writer for 10 years with a particular focus on nature, wildlife, anthrozoology, and human-animal relationships. My areas of interest include human-animal studies, ecocriticism, vulnerable species, pets, and animal behavior. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in Comparative Studies, focusing on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the outdoors, watching movies, reading, creating art, and caring for my pets. Nothing brings me greater joy than a day spent in the company of animals.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How did Botswana’s flag come to be?

The Botswana flag was officially adopted on September 30, 1966, the day that Botswana gained independence from Great Britain. The flag comprises three horizontal stripes of black, white, and blue.

What do the colors and symbols of the flag of Botswana represent?

The blue represents the sky and the water of the country’s rivers and lakes, while the black represents the people of Botswana. The white stripes stand for peace and purity. The black and white together represent racial equality.

How is the flag of Botswana used today?

The flag of Botswana is used as the national flag and ensign. It is flown on public buildings and institutions and is commonly used by the government and citizens of Botswana. The flag also popularly symbolizes the country’s national identity and pride.

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Sources
  1. Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/topic/flag-of-Botswana
  2. IATP, Available here: https://theiatp.org/2021/08/09/how-did-botswana-become-the-worlds-fastest-growing-economy/