Bechuanaland Protectorate

Bechuanaland Protectorate

Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = Bechuanaland Protectorate
common_name = Bechuanaland|
continent = Africa
region = Southern Africa
country = Botswana
era = New Imperialism
status = Protectorate
empire = United Kingdom
government_type = Constitutional monarchy
year_start = 1885
year_end = 1966|
event_start = Protectorate established
date_start = March 31
event_end = Independence
date_end = September 30
event1 = Expanded
date_event1 = 1890|
p1 = United States of Stellaland
flag_p1 = Flag of Stellaland (1883-5).svg
s1 = Botswana
flag_s1 = Flag of Botswana.svg|

public seal

capital = Mafeking (1885-1965)
Gaborone (1965)
national_anthem = God Save the Queen
common_languages = English
religion =
currency = South African Rand (1961-)|
leader1 = Victoria (first)
year_leader1 = 1885-1901
leader2 = Elizabeth II (last)
year_leader2 = 1952-1966
title_leader = Monarch
title_representative = High Commissioner

The Bechuanaland Protectorate (BP) was a protectorate established on March 31, 1885, by the United Kingdom in southern Africa. It became the Republic of Botswana on 30 September 1966.


Bechuanaland meant the country of the Bechuana (now written Batswana or Tswana). The Bechuanaland Protectorate eventually became divided into two. The southern part, south of the Molopo River became the crown colony known as British Bechuanaland, later became part of the Cape Colony and is now in South Africa. This is the area around Mafikeng (then spelled "Mafeking"). The Bechuanaland Protectorate (1904: Area (estimated), 225,000 square miles, population 120,776) formed the northern part; its territory was expanded north in 1890.

In 1882 British Bechuanaland (1904: Area, 51,424 square miles, population 84,210) [] suffered two short term secessions by the Boer states of Stellaland and Goshen, although both were brought back to British control with a few years. In 1891 the South African Customs Union was extended to British Bechuanaland, and in 1895 the country was annexed to the Cape Colony. []

The British government originally expected to turn over administration of the protectorate to Rhodesia or South Africa, but Tswana opposition left the protectorate under British rule until Independence in 1966.

The BP was technically a protectorate rather than a colony. Originally the local Tswana rulers were left in power, and the British administration was limited to a police force to protect Bechuanaland's borders against other European colonial ventures. But on 9 May 1891 the British Government gave the administration of the protectorate to the High Commissioner for South Africa,who started to appoint officials in Bechuanaland, and the "de facto" independence of Bechuanaland ended.

The protectorate was administered from Mafeking, creating a unique situation of the capital of the territory being located outside of it. In 1885, when the protectorate was declared, Bechuanaland was bounded to the north by the latitude of twenty-two degrees south. The northern boundary of the Protectorate was formally extended northward by the British to include Ngamiland, which was dominated by the Tawana state, on 30 June 1890. [] This claim was formally recognized by Germany the following day by Article III of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, which confirmed the western boundary of the British protectorate of Bechuanaland and the German protectorate of South-West Africa and also created the Caprivi strip inherited by modern Namibia: []

In Southwest Africa, Germany's sphere of influence is demarcated thus:

# To the south by the line that commences at the mouth of the Orange River and continues up its northern bank to its intersection point with the 20th degree of east longitude.
# To the east by the line that commences at the aforementioned point and follows the 20th degree of east longitude to its intersection point with the 22nd degree of south latitude. The line then traces this degree of latitude eastward to its intersection with the 21st degree of east longitude, follows this degree of longitude northward to its intersection with the 18th degree of south latitude, runs along this degree of latitude eastward to its intersection with the Chobe River. Here it descends the thalweg of the main channel until it meets the Zambezi, where it ends. It is understood that under this arrangement Germany shall be granted free access from its protectorate to the Zambezi by means of a strip of land not less than twenty English miles wide at any point. Great Britain's sphere of influence is bounded to the west and northwest by the previously described line and includes Lake Ngami.

British officials did not arrive in the Ngamiland region until 1894. []

The Tati Concessions Land Act of 21 January, 1911 transferred new eastern territory to the Protectorate

the limits of which district are as follows, viz.: From the place where the Shashe River rises to its junction with the Tati and Ramokgwebana Rivers, thence along the Ramokgwebana River to where it rises and thence along the watershed of those rivers,
This territory was originally claimed by Matabeleland. In 1887 Samuel Edwards working for Cecil Rhodes obtained a mining concession, and in 1895 the British South Africa Company attempted to acquire the area, but three Tswana chiefs visited London to protest and were successful in fending off the BSAC. This territory forms the modern North-East District of Botswana.

The BP was one of the "High Commission Territories", the others being Basutoland (now Lesotho) and
Swaziland. The official with the authority of a governor was the High Commissioner. This office was first heldby the Governor of the Cape Colony, then by the Governor-General of South Africa, then by British High Commissioners and Ambassadors to South Africa until independence. Consequently, administration was headed in each territory by a Resident Commissioner, who thus had approximately the same functions of a Governor but somewhat less authority.

Postage stamps

Bechuanaland postage stamps were issued from 1888 to 1966. Overprinted stamps were issued until 1932, when the first stamps inscribed "Bechuanaland Protectorate" were issued. In 1962 the South African rand was introduced, necessitating surcharged stamps until new ones were issued.

ee also

*History of Botswana
*Postage stamps and postal history of Stellaland Republic

External links

* [ History of Botswana]
* [ List of colonial officials in the BP]
* [ Bibliography for Botswana History]


*Thomas Tlou and Alec Campbell "History of Botswana"

*Neil Parsons "New History of Southern Africa"

*Fred Morton and Jeff Ramsay (eds) "The birth of Botswana : a history of the Bechuanaland Protectorate from 1910 to 1966."

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