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Gaborone (pron. IPA [xɑ.bə'ro.neɪ]), estimated population 208,411 (1 January 2005), is the capital of Botswana. One of Africa's fastest-growing cities, Gaborone lies in the flat valley between Kgale and Oodi hills, on the Notwane River in the south eastern corner of Botswana, and 15 km from the South African border.
Before 1969, the city was known as Gaberones. Gaberones replaced Mafeking as the capital of the Bechuanaland Protectorate in 1965. Mafeking (now Mafikeng) was outside the Bechuanaland Protectorate, in what is now the North West Province of South Africa, an odd arrangement that dated from the early colonial period. When the Protectorate became independent, Botswana needed a capital city within its territory; earlier it had been thought Lobatse might serve as capital but it was decided that it would be too limited, and instead a new capital city would be created adjacent to Gaberones, a small colonial administrative settlement. The original name, Gaberones, is from from Gaborone's Village, following the early practice of referring to African tribal capitals by the name of the chief, in this case Chief Kgosi Gaborone of the BaTlokwa, whose village, now called Tlokweng, was just across a river from the "Government Camp" (colonial government headquarters). "Gabs" is still a common abbreviation for Gaborone, sometimes used in casual speech.
The centre of the city was constructed in three years, including Assembly buildings, government offices, a power station, a hospital, schools, a radio station, a telephone exchange, police stations, a post office, and more than 1,000 houses. The basic infrastructure was in place for Independence Day on 30 September 1966, when Bechuanaland was the eleventh British dependency in Africa to become independent. The first mayor of Gaborone was Rev J. D. Jones, whose town council led the planning and development of the town in preparation for Independence day. The old Gaberones became a suburb of the new Gaborone, and is now known as "the Village".
For many years, Gaborone was the fastest growing city in the world. Even today, it is still considered the fastest growing city in Africa. Every year, the majority of the country's infrastructural budget goes towards improving this city's roads, buildings, and services. Since most of the large buildings are relatively new, the entire downtown area tends towards modernism, built generally with a mix of glass, steel and bricks. The modernist city is surrounded by lower-rise development that has not been subject to the same planning as the city's centre.
The new city has a relatively good water supply, which has facilitated growth. It was originally planned as a relatively small town, and its rapid development has necessitated construction of a larger city dam to provide an adequate water supply. Nearby manganese and asbestos mines have led to industrial expansion.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has its headquarters in Gaborone; the organization was formed in 1980 to increase economic cooperation among its members and reduce dependence on South Africa. The main campus of the University of Botswana is in the city.
Gaborone's airport, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, is Botswana's primary international airport.
- Bruce Bennett, "A note on place names, historical terms, etc.", 
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