Gaborone was named for Chief Gaborone who led his tribe from the Magaliesberg around 1880. The region was placed under British protectorate status in 1885 and remained so until Botswana gained independence in 1966. Gaborone, a post-colonial city, was planned in its location on state land allowing easier manipulation of the land near a water source. The first Master Plan was created by the Public Works Department in 1963, calling for a segregated town. The plan focused on the town functioning as a complete unit and on separating vehicles from pedestrian traffic.
Construction began in 1964 and by February of 1965 the first phase of the government buildings was complete. In a country with a $20 million Gross Domestic Product, the city cost $18 million in its first year. By 1966, three years after the start of the initiative, basic infrastructure was in place. The city was designed in the shape of a brandy glass, the large top part as the state seat and the thin stem as the economic engine. In this spatial design an economically segregated city was shaped. When the city was complete, it wanted to be compared to Brasilia and Chandigarh but lacked the utopian features that the others contained.
The Wilson-Womersley Master Plan was initiated in 1971 to extend the city northward attempting to eliminate economic segregation by mixing various cost housing areas so that school districts and centers contained varying categories of housing. The Broadhurst II Plan of 1979 focused on site and service development. Rural to urban migration contributed to 70% of the population increase in the 1980s. With these population increases came the Gaborone West Structure Plan, an expansion of Gaborone to the West over the Railway Line.
The Greater Gaborone Plan was established in 1994 and extends to the present. With a continuous slowing of population growth, the city expects all the empty State land to be inhabited by 2014. While the city was planned for 20,000 inhabitants, it has now reached 191,000, the vast population increase leading to the city’s encroachment on tribal land. With stunning wildlife, the tourist economy is largely made up of safaris. The city now has four large shopping malls, a cultural center, and two golf courses.