South Africa's discreet northern neighbour, Botswana is undoubtedly the pearl of southern Africa . This quiet, sparsely populated country has avoided civil wars, post-colonial racial tensions and conflicts endured by most of its neighbours. What's more, since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, Botswana has held democratic elections - a rarity on the Africa continent. The result is a peaceful country, where life is generally good and provides a pervading optimism that rubs off on its visitors. From a geographical point of view, it's a land of contrasts where heavy rainfall and drought co-exist. Thanks to the great rivers of North Linyanti and Chobe and the Okavango Delta in the north, the country has an extremely varied plant and animal life, whereas the south houses the arid Kalahari Desert, which stretches as far as the capital, Gaborone. A country with as many contrasts as there are wonders. So, are you ready to discover Botswana ?