Francistown or Nyangabgwe is the second largest city in Botswana, with a population of about 85,363, and often described as the "Capital of the North". It is located in eastern Botswana, about 400 kilometres (250 mi) 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. The City of Francistown is an administrative district, separated from North-East District. It is administered by Francistown City Council.
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.
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; the Botswana Metal Refinery was being built in 2008 near the city. However, the project was halted due to high costs.
Francistown media includes Botswana's The Voice newspaper.
Demographics and health
Ever since the founding of Francistown as a gold mining and railway centre in the nineteenth century, the city's population has consistently shown a steady increase. Francistown is Botswana's second largest city with 22.7% of the country's urban population in 1991. The growth of Selebi-Phikwe, Orapa and Jwaneng since 1971, together with the very rapid growth of Gaborone, has reduced Francistown's share of the total urban population from a figure of 34.7% in 1971. In the same period (1971-1991), the country's urban population grew by 427.2% from 54 411 to a population of 287 063. 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.
Culture and tourism
Francistown is home to the Supa Ngwao Museum, with exhibits related to the area's history and heritage. The museum, which receives most of its funds from the government, is currently going through refurbishment as of October 2011. A new nature reserve, Tachila, has been established 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from central Francistown on an old Tati Company Farm, Lady Mary. The nature reserve is expected to be a tourism turn-over for the already flourishing city which its variety of wild animals.
Accommodation and Lifestyle
Francistown is home to several hotels and lodges like Cresta Thapama Hotel, Cresta Marang Hotel, Adansonia Hotel, Tati River Lodge which can provide stopover accommodation for tourist traveling through the city. With these are a variety of guest houses like Francistown Guest House, also known as Emoyo Villa. Emoyo Villa is located in the serene neighbourhood of Tati River South Molapo, in Molapo Estates. It is, as many know it, the heart and soul of the city. There are several high class restaurants and eateries like Spur's, KFC, Barcelos, Debonairs Pizza, Milky Lane and many more. These provide a variety of cuisine for the different taste buds of the city's visitors as well as inhabitants. Clubs like Francistown Rugby Club host different weekend events that are eye-catching to any age group. There are also several night clubs in the city that cater for the city's night revelers like Lizard Entertainment.
The city is the home to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Desert, which is the seat of the Apostolic Vicariate of Francistown. There is a mosque a few meters from the city center in the quiet Town Center Residencies that serves the Muslim population. Other worship venues in the city include the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), Christ Embassy and many others. With these choices, visitors and inhabitants are offered a variety of worship places.
The Francistown Teacher Training College became one of the campuses of the University of Botswana in 1973. There are currently two senior secondary schools in Francistown, being Mater Spei College, partly ran by the Roman Catholic Church and Francistown Senior Secondary School, opened in 1978 and currently enrolling 1200 students. Located in the history-rich township of Aerodrome, it is one of the largest institutions in the city.
The Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education officially opened by President Ian Khama on 10 October 2008. The college was built in order to accommodate 1,500 learners on technical and vocational courses and teacher-training programs. The college buildings are situated amongst a 4-hectare (9.9-acre) area in the suburbs of Gerald Estates. It also hosts the Institute of Health Sciences, which is located near the Nyangabwe Referral Hospital.
Transport and Infrastructure
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 the capital city Gaborone and Lobatse in the south. Surfaced roads link the city to Ramokgwebana in the north, and to Kazungula as well as Kasane via Nata.
The city is served by Francistown Airport, a domestic airport with two runways located around 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the city. In 2003, it had a total passenger throughput of 29,223. Another airport, Francistown International Airport was opened on the 9th of September 2011 after being built at a tune of P596 million, officially opened by Minister of Transport, Frank Ramsden. With a terminal building designated for traffic forecast of up to 2025, it has a larger capacity and has replaced the old airport, which is now used by the Botswana Defense Force's Air Arm.
Malls and Plazas
Blue Jacket Shopping Centre (Shoprite Complex)
Blue Jacket Square (Supreme Furnishers Complex)
The Village Mall (Diggers Inn)
Galo Shopping Centre
Golden Valley Mall (Marang Superspar Complex)
Nswazwi Shopping Centre
There are several football clubs that are based in Francistown. These include TAFIC Sporting Club, TASC FC, ECCO City Greens FC, [Great North Tigers (GNT)] and others. All the above have played in the country's highest league, Botswana Premier League, sponsored currently by BeMobile. GNT was recently promoted to the Premier League while TAFIC play in the lower division. Francistown Stadium is still under construction and will be complete soon. The stadium will be the largest in the northern part of Botswana with capacity of 27,000 and will be home ground to some of these teams. Other stadiums in the city include the Francistown City Council's Area S stadium.
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