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Related subjects: Africa; Cities

Background Information

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Satellite image of Francistown and surrounding area.
Francistown is located in Botswana
Map of Botswana showing Francistown
Coordinates: 21°10′S 27°30′E
Country Botswana
District North-East
 • Mayor Ignatius Moswaane
Elevation 1,001 m (3,284 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 113,315

Francistown is the second largest city in Botswana, with a population of about 113,315 (urban area - census 2001), and often described as the "Capital of the North". It is located in eastern Botswana, about 400 kilometres north-northeast from the capital, Gaborone. Francistown is located at the confluence of the Tati and Inchwe rivers, and near the Shashe River ( tributary to the Limpopo) and 90 kilometres from the international border with Zimbabwe. Francistown was the centre of southern Africa's first gold rush, and is still surrounded by old and abandoned mines.


Although evidence of habitation by humans goes back around 10,000 years, written evidence is more recent. The Ndebele came through the area in the 1830s on their way to Bulawayo, bringing their culture and influence to the Kalanga area of north-eastern Botswana. Reportedly, Nyangabgwe was the nearest village to Francistown to have been visited by Europeans, when it was visited by Robert Moffat. Moffat was followed in 1867 by a gold prospector, Karl Mauch who found gold along the Tati River.

The present town was founded in 1897, as a settlement near the Monarch mine and named after Daniel Francis, an English prospector who acquired prospecting licences in the region in 1869. Francis was a director of the Tati Concessions Company, who owned all the land in the settlement. The centre of the new town was formed when the company sold off 300 lots in August of that year. The Monarch mine was not the only mine in operation at that time, and it was widely believed that Francistown would grow rapidly.

In the beginning, the town comprised one street east of, and parallel to the railway line. This street featured a several companies, including a hotel, retail and wholesale shops and three banks. Behind these were the houses of the few white settlers. Segregated areas were made for mixed race and black people in the satellite township and between the railway and the river respectively.

After Botswana gained its independence in 1966, Francistown was no longer segregated.

In 1997 the town became a city, being the second largest city of the country.


Francistown is located on Botswana's main air and road transport routes; mining and agriculture are important. Principal mining companies include Tati Nickel, owned by Norilsk Nickel, which has operations at the Selkirk Mine and Phoenix Mine, producing principally cobalt, copper and nickel. The Dumela Industrial Complex, an industrial park, is an important employer; as of 2008 the Botswana Metal Refinery is under construction near the city and is to be operated in conjunction with Tati. Francistown media includes Botswana's The Voice newspaper.

Demographics and health

The Bakalanga, the second largest ethnic group in Botswana are traditionally centred around the town and the surrounding area. Recently, the city has seen a large influx of illegal immigrants from neighbouring Zimbabwe. Incidence of HIV in Francistown has been estimated to be as high as 40 percent.


Francistown is home to the Supa Ngwao Museum, with exhibits related to the area's history and heritage.A new nature reserve, Tachila, has been established 5 km from central francistown on an old Tati Company Farm, Lady Mary. Construction of a lodge and accommodation is underway as of 2008. The city is the home of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Desert, which is the seat of the Apostolic Vicariate of Francistown.


The Francistown Teacher Training College became one of the campuses of the University of Botswana in 1973. Francistown Senior Secondary School opened in 1978 and currently enrolls 1200 students. There are two private schools; John Mackenzie Secondary and Primary School and Clifton Primary School. The Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education officially opened by Lt Gen. S K Khama on the 10th October 2008. The college was built in order to accommodate 1,500 learners on technical and vocational courses and teacher-training programmes. In all vocational departments state of the art teaching and learning facilities are available to ensure the latest in technical training. The college buildings are situated amongst an extensively landscaped 4 hectare plot.


The city is a major transport hub. A railway line links the city with Harare in Zimbabwe via Bulawayo. The same line links Francistown with Gaborone in the south. Surfaced roads link the city to Lobatse in the south, and Ramokgwebana in the north, and to Kazungula via Nata.

The city is served by Francistown Airport, a domestic airport with 2 runways located around 2 km (1 mi.) from the city. In 2003, it had a total passenger throughput of 29,223. Currently, another airport is under construction. It has a larger capacity and is expected to replace the current airport.

Malls and Plazas

  • Francistown/New Mall
  • Blue Jacket Shopping Centre (Shoprite Complex)
  • Blue Jacket Square (Supreme Furnishers Complex)
  • Barclays Plaza
  • Nzano Centre
  • The Village Mall (Diggers Inn)
  • Galo Shopping Centre
  • Golden Valley Mall (Marang Superspar Complex)
  • Nswazwi Shopping Centre
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