Flag Of Botswana: History And Meaning

The flag of Botswana is the most important national symbol of this African country, which it has used since its emancipation from the United Kingdom. It is composed of the light blue color and small black and white stripes.

This symbol became the benchmark for the opposition of the Botswana population to join the Union of South Africa. Due to this, it managed in 1966 to obtain its independence from the protectorate of the United Kingdom.
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Being an independent country, the Republic of Botswana obtained its first and current flag. It is blue in color from the rain and has three stripes: black in its center and two white stripes on its sides. This flag stands out among its peers by not using the Pan-African colors.

Similarly, Botswana has other flags to represent the country’s presidency and the air forces. They left out any resemblance to what had been their previous British colonial flag, the Union Jack. The British imperial symbol was recognized among the population as that of racial discrimination.

Article index

  • one


    • 1.1

      Independent Botswana

    • 1.2

      Union Jack as old Botswana flag

  • two


    • 2.1

      Pan-Africanism on the national flag of Botswana

  • 3

    Other flags

  • 4



Botswana, whose official name is the Republic of Botswana, is a sovereign country located in the south-central part of the African continent. This nation has no outlet by sea.

Its flag was that of the United Kingdom, better known as the Union Jack, it consists of the union of the flags of England and Scotland. In 1801, this insignia was combined with the flag of Saint Patrick (Ireland) and the current flag was obtained.

In 1885, the leaders of the Tswana people were able to offer protection to the people of Bechuanaland so that they could keep their lands. Since then the British rule began. However, despite this South Africa wanted to annex the colony to its territory.

However, this did not materialize due to the opposition of the Botswana population. After this, Bechuanaland gained its independence on September 30, 1966 and was renamed Botswana. During the British protectorate, Bechuanaland used the Union Jack and not a colonial flag.
Flag of Bechuanaland (1885–1966)

Independent Botswana

The new flag was a representative of the differences with South Africa. The southern country still lived under the Apartheid regime, and for that reason they focused on wearing distinctive colors. That is why blue was chosen as the color, and the union of white and black stood out against the racial discrimination and exclusion of South Africa.

After independence, Botswana began to use its own flag. In its construction, various shades of its predominant color have been implemented: blue.

However, at all times the main motto of the nation was taken into account, in which the flag was inspired. This motto is “PULA”, which means “let there be rain”.

Union Jack as old Botswana flag

The Union Jack was formerly used by many British colonies. After the independence of many colonies, some countries continue to use it, although they have adapted the symbols to more represent their nations.

Initially, this flag was used with a blue, red or white flag. It used to be placed on the shield of the combatants who had found or won the territory.

As time went by, more complete and emblematic constructions were made for each neighborhood. In these new flags, elements that represent each territory were added.

In general, the Union Jack was used as the flag of the Bechuanaland protectorate from March 31, 1885. Its use was imposed by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This was the former Botswana, which, unlike many other colonies, did not have its own flag, due to its status as a protectorate.


The flag of the Republic of Botswana is light blue in color and has a black band with white edges. The dimensions of its stripes are 9: 1: 4: 1: 9. This gives a total of 24 centimeters vertically and 36 centimeters horizontally.

Regarding its colors, blue represents water, specifically rain. This is a very important symbol, because it is revered for the permanent droughts on the continent.

For their part, the central black and white bands have two meanings. The first is racial harmony, and the second refers to zebras.

Zebras are considered as the animals of that region, which is why they were included in the national symbols. In addition to finding their colors in the three central lines of the flag, you can see the zebras in the lateral parts of the national shield.

The other meaning of the black and white stripes is that of racial harmony. The flag is intended to show that Botswana is one of the nations that promotes plurality of individuals, regardless of ethnicity.

Pan-Africanism on the national flag of Botswana

The national flag was intended to print the very essence of the country. That is, the flag had to represent each of its inhabitants and the territory itself. For this reason, using the colors green, orange and black was very general.

These colors are precisely those used in the Pan-Africanism movement, as a representation of all African peoples defending a single sovereign state. They also serve as identification for those who defend unity in their culture, politics and other spheres.

However, these colors were not forgotten, but were used in other flags of this nation, in order to be present in recognition of their creator, Marcus Garvey. Specifically, these colors are found on the flag of the Botswana air force.

Other flags

Botswana has three flags. The first of them is the one already mentioned before, the national one. The second is the presidential and the last is the air force. These last two have the same dimensions 24 x 36 centimeters.

The presidential flag is also sky blue in color and exactly, contains a circle in its center surrounded by a black stripe. Its center is white and in it is the coat of arms of Botswana.

Presidential Flag of Botswana

For its part, the flag of the air forces is the same as the national flag, only their colors vary. This flag has exactly the same stripes. Its colors are green and the stripes are white and red.
Botswana Air Force Flag

The choice of this polychrome is due to the fact that politics and social movements were extremely linked to pan-Africanism. As a form of recognition, Botswana decided to give importance to Pan-Africanism with this insignia.


  1. Acemoglu, D. and Johnson, S. and Robinson, J. (2002) A success story in Africa: Botswana . Recovered from papers.ssrn.com.
  2. Arias, E. (2006). Flags of the world. Editorial Gente Nueva: Havana, Cuba.
  3. INC. The World Factbook. (July 12, 2018). Botswana. Flag description. INC. The World Factbook . Recovered from cia.gov.
  4. Dusing, S. (2000) Traditional leadership and democratization in South Africa . Recovered from books.google.co.ve
  5. Paxton J. (1986) Botswana. The Statesman’s Year-Book. The Statesman Yearbook . London. Recovered from link.springer.com.
  6. Smith, W. (2013). Flag of Botswana. Encyclopædia Britannica . Recovered from britannica.com.

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