Barotse, a valley in the interior of S. Africa, inhabited by a tribe of the same name, lying between lat. 15° 20' and 10° 30' S. and lon. 23° and 24° E. It is traversed by the Zambezi river below its confluence with the Leba, and is subject to annual inundations by that river, like the valley of the Nile, to which it bears a close resemblance. The villages are built on mounds, some of which are said to be artificial, and during the inundation the country assumes the appearance of a large lake, with the villages on the mounds like islands, as in Egypt. Barotse is supposed to have once been a lake, and there is a slight tradition of the waters having burst through the low hills on the south. The soil is very fertile, and the natives are able to raise two crops a year; but there are comparatively few trees. Dr. Livingstone thought that the Barotse valley was too rich to raise wheat, and would make the corn run to straw; one species of grass was observed 12 feet high with a stem as thick as a man's thumb. The land is little cultivated, and mostly covered with coarse succulent grasses which afford ample pasturage for large herds of cattle.
On the waters retiring subsequent to the inundation the gases arising from the masses of decaying vegetation are the cause of fevers from which the natives suffer severely. Other diseases are almost unknown except smallpox, which sometimes rages there. The natives, however, appear to be acquainted with inoculation. The river abounds with voracious alligators. The Barotse pray to these animals, and eat them too. They reverence the sun, and believe in a future spiritual existence. The capital of the country is Narile, with 1,000 inhabitants.