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(Iswana; also Chwana), a people occupying the area of the upper basin of the Limpopo River in Botswana and border areas of the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia. Total population, 1.7 million (according to a 1967 estimate).

In terms of language (Setswana), the Bechuana belong to the southeast group of the Bantu language family. Most of the Bechuana adhere to local traditional beliefs, but some are Christians. During the period of European colonization, the best Bechuana lands on the shores of the Limpopo were confiscated, and the Bechuana were resettled by the colonial powers on tribal reservations. The main occupation of the Bechuana is livestock raising (cattle, sheep, and goats); farming is well developed only in the eastern and northern regions of Botswana. A considerable portion of the Bechuana work on Afrikaaner farms and in the ore-mining enterprises of the Republic of South Africa.


Potekhin, I. I. Formirovanie natsional’noi obshchnosti iuzhnoafrikanskikh bantu. Moscow, 1955.
Soga, J. H. The Southeastern Bantu. Johannesburg, 1930.
References in periodicals archive ?
After introductions on the platform and in the street outside, the party of the Bechuana chiefs proceeded in a carriage and a two-horse wagonette to the nearby village of Enderby.
The Bechuana chiefs were handed back by the Establishment to the care of the Dissenters.
From Liverpool, where the mayor in more than one speech bewailed the local history of slave trading and ingratiated himself as a firm favourite of the Bechuana chiefs, they went on to continue the campaign as guests of religious, temperance and municipal bodies in Bradford and Leeds, before returning to London.
Bent, Tent Thousand Men of Africa: The story of the Bechuana Pioneers and Gunners, 1941-46 (HMSO, London, 1952).
Among the Bechuanas," he writes,"I have been obliged to reprove the women for making a hobgoblin of the white man, and telling their children that they would send for him to bite them" (Livingstone, Missionary 310).