As of 2010, the San population in Botswana numbers about 50,000 to 60,000.
From the 1950s through the 1990s, the San switched to farming because of government-mandated modernisation programs.
The San people (or Saan), also known as Bushmen, are members of various Khoisan-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer people representing the first nation of Southern Africa, whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa.
There is a significant linguistic difference between the northern people living between the Okavango River in Botswana and Etosha National Park in northwestern Namibia, extending up into southern Angola; the central people of most of Namibia and Botswana, extending into Zambia and Zimbabwe; and the southern people in the central Kalahari towards the Molopo River, who are the last remnant of the previously extensive indigenous San of South Africa.
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One broad study of African genetic diversity completed in 2009 found that the San were among the five populations with the highest measured levels of genetic diversity among the 121 distinct African populations sampled.
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The ancestors of the hunter-gatherer San people are considered to have been the first inhabitants of what is now Botswana and South Africa.
The historical presence of the San in Botswana is particularly evident in northern Botswana's Tsodilo Hills region.