Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho languages branch of Zone S (S.30), and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi language and the Lozi language.
Tswana is an official language and lingua franca of Botswana spoken by a little over 2 million of its inhabitants. However, the majority of Tswana speakers are found in South Africa where 3.4 million people speak the language, and where an urbanised variety known as Pretoria Sotho is the principal language of that city. Until 1994, South African Tswana people were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana, one of the few bantustans that actually became reality as planned by the Apartheid regime. Although Tswana language is significantly spoken in South Africa and Botswana, a small number of speakers are also found in Zimbabwe and Namibia, where 29,400 and 12,300 people speak the language, respectively.
The first European to describe the Tswana language was the German traveller H. Lichtenstein, who lived among the Tswana people Batlhaping in 1806, although his work was not published until 1930. He mistakenly regarded Tswana as a dialect of the Xhosa language, and the name he used for the language "Beetjuana" may also have covered the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages.