INTRODUCTION OF BECHUANALAND
Bechuanaland, British protectorate in south central Africa from 1885 to 1966, when it became the independent nation of Botswana. The region was inhabited mostly by a Bantu-speaking people called the Bechuana, or Batswana. The Batswana chiefs asked for British protection because settlers of Dutch descent called Afrikaners, or Boers, were encroaching on their territory in the south. The Batswana groups remained largely self-governing while under British rule.
Originally the protectorate consisted chiefly of an area that corresponded to the southern part of present-day Botswana, but it was expanded north as far as the Zambezi River in 1891. Although it was outside the protectorate, Mafeking (now Mafikeng) was the capital of Bechuanaland until 1965, when it was replaced by Gaborone. Gaborone remained the capital when Bechuanaland gained independence as Botswana in 1966.