From a dusty one horse town in the 1960s, Gaborone has now developed into a substantial city of 420,000 inhabitants in the metro area (as of 2011). Generally it is a clean, safe and functioning city that is spreading ever further outwards into a suburban sprawl that today measures about 15 km from east to west.
There is a definite city centre based around the train station and the government enclave of Khama Crescent. However, numerous shopping malls are dotted all over the city, diluting the prominence of the downtown area.
Gaborone’s nomenclature confuses most new arrivals. Different parts of town are called blocks, extensions, phases, etc., and there can be several names for the same place. Below is a rough guide:
- The Extensions – to the east of the railway line radiating out from the Government Enclave. Extensions 9 and 11 are probably the wealthiest parts of Gaborone. Extension 15, out near Riverwalk Mall is known as ‘the Village’
- Gabs West – the inner blocks to the west of the railway line, inside the Western Bypass. Gabs West is sub-divided into Phases 1, 2, 4 and industrial.
- The Blocks – to the west of the railway line, outside the Western Bypass. The blocks number 5 – 10 running south to north (although Block 9 is an outlier being the southernmost of the blocks, and there is a Block 3 directly north of the downtown area). Some maps (including Google Maps) label the Blocks as high numbered Extensions (e.g. Block 8 is made up of Extensions 35 & 36) but everyone will refer to an area by its block number.
- The Central Business District refers to a patch of undeveloped land in the centre of the city that is being developed into overly modern hotels and offices (including the new Lansmore hotel)
- Phakalane a new-build suburb 12 km north of the centre of Gaborone – based around a golf estate – on the east side of the A1 Francistown road. South-west of Phakalane is the still to be developed Glen Valley
- Gaborone North – a developing suburb out towards the airport to the west of Phakalane.
- Broadhurst is an older suburb to the northeast of the centre. On the southern edge of Broadhurst are Partial and Maru-a-Pula
- Tlokweng a poorer suburb to the east of the Notwane river, home to several nice guesthouses.
Knight Frank, a real estate agent with an office near the Shell Garage on the Main Mall, has a useful map of the city.