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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.