Made famous recently by a well-known series of books, Botswana yields rich rewards for those whose appetite has been whetted in reading of the nation's fine wildlife and scenery.
The African nation of Botswana is a flourishing, welcoming place to visit, with a fascinating indigenous culture and a wealth of wildlife.
Made famous in the West recently by Alexander McCall Smith's series of best-selling novels about the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, the country is home to just over 1.6 million people.
The Republic of Botswana lies north of South Africa and borders Namibia and Zimbabwe. It is a peaceful nation that has witnessed the fastest growth in per capita income in the world over the past 40 years.
The country is land-locked and enjoys warm weather year round, with particularly hot summers. Covering an area slightly smaller than Texas, its economy is reliant on mining, particularly diamonds, cattle farming and tourism.
Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana is thought to have been inhabited by the nomadic San people for around 30,000 years, followed by the KhoiKhoi (Hottentots) and Bantu groups around 2,000 years ago. European explorers and Christian missionaries arrived in the 1800s and were impressed by the well-organised and peaceful society already in place.
The Boer War saw the country change hands several times and eventually request British protection.
Botswana is now a parliamentary republic and has enjoyed decades of peace since it achieved independence in 1966. The current president Festus Gontebanye Mogae is head of state and the democratic multi-party government and presides over a strong economy, with a low level of foreign debt.
The nation has been hit badly by the Aids epidemic and has seen the average life expectancy plummet below 40 years, but Botswana now has a progressive and comprehensive programme in place and is working hard to combat the spread of the disease.
The Batswana capital Gaborone is little more than a large town that has witnessed rapid growth in recent years and is still in a process of adjustment. Home to the Batswana National Museum and Art Gallery, the city is also home to the country's international airport, with flights from the UK available from South African Airways and British airlines.
One of the major draws for tourists visiting Botswana is the vast array of animal and plant life in its various habitats, including wildebeest, antelopes and exotic birds.
The Makgadikgadi Pans are a favourite with tourists and are two vast salt pans that shimmer in the sun and are home to bird life, baobab trees and Iron Age ruins.
The world's largest inland delta, the Okavango Delta, in the northwest of the country comprises 15,000sq km (5,850 sq miles) of lagoons, islands and channels and is full of wildlife. Visitors to the delta should look out for zebra, elephants, giraffes, hippos and buffalo, amongst the myriad species.
The barren Kalahari Desert covers around 70 per cent of the land surface of Botswana, with the remainder consisting mainly of grasslands and Savannas. Most of the population is concentrated in a narrow corridor to the east and the rest of the country has a very basic road system, with companies offering specialist wildlife tours and safaris of the national parks and game reserves.
English is the official language of Botswana and is widely spoken in addition to the national language Tswana. The weather in Botswana is warm year round, with hot summers and much cooler nights.
Flights are available directly to Gaborone, as well as to neighbouring Namibia and South Africa, and a number of travel companies offer safari and other tours of the country. Accommodation is generally comfortable, with restaurants, shopping and bars largely located in the major population centres of Francistown, Gaborone and Lobatse.