The Bamangwato (more correctly BagammaNgwato, also BaNgwato) can be said to be one of the eight "principal" Tswana chieftaincies of Botswana, and just like any other Tswana chieftaincy in Botswana, constitutes a small percent in the central district even in their capital Serowe. They ruled over majority Bakalanga, (the largest ethnic group in Central District) and others such as the Basarwa, Birwa and Tswapong. Modern Bamangwato formed in the Central District, with its main town and capital (after 1902) at Serowe. Its paramount chief, a hereditary position, occupies one of the fifteen places in Ntlo ya Dikgosi, the national House of Chiefs.
The core patrilineage of the Bamangwato are an 18th-century offshoot of the Bakwena people, but members in the Ngwato kingdom came from many sources, as was the case with all of the major 19th-century African kingdoms. Sir Seretse Khama's paternal forebears, the chiefs of the Ngwato, had built several prior capitals including Shoshong and Phalatswe, also known as Old Palapye. (Before the advent of colonial administration and fixed infrastructure, it was common for a town to move when the local environment degraded.) Khama and the Protectorate administration created the modern borders of the Central District in Botswana.
The Sengwato language caused excitement in linguistic circles in 1998 when it was realized that it contained a unique f-s sound.