Lobatse is a town in South-Eastern Botswana, 70 kilometres south of the capital Gaborone, situated in a valley running north towards Gaborone. Lobatse has a population of 29,700 (Central Statistics Office, 2002). The town is an administrative district, with a Town Council.
The Bakgwaketse people were the first to settle in the area, which was later occupied by the Bangwaketse people in the 18th century. Archaeological remains still exist from these period.
Until independence in 1966, Botswana was the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland, which had the unique problem in that it was the only country in the world where the capital was outside the borders of the country. Mafikeng, South Africa was then the capital, upon independence the new capital was either to be Lobatse or Gaborone. Gaborone was selected as the seat of the government, while Lobatse was selected as the seat of the judicial system.
In 1954 the colonial development co-operation built the Lobatse Abattoir which is now B.M.C (Botswana Meat Commission). Lobatse has the distinction of having the first tarmac road in Botswana, which was laid in 1958. At independence on 30 September 1966, this 5km-long section was the only tarred road in the entire country. This was the road from the Lobatse Station to the High Court which was specially built for the visit of King George vi and Queen Elizabeth of England in 1947.
The High Court of Botswana is situated in Lobatse, as well as the headquarters of the Department of Geological Surveys and the Lobatse Mental Hospital, the only mental institution in Botswana. Several industries are located in Lobatse, the most important of which is the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), as ranching was the center of the Botswana economy before the discovery of diamonds and remains an important part of the culture. FLO-TEK Pipes and Irrigation, is the town's largest private employer.
Coordinates: 25°13'S 25°40'E
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