Facts about Botswana

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BotswanaFormerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name upon independence in 1966. Four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves. Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.

Geography of Botswana

Southern Africa, north of South Africa
22 00 S, 24 00 E
total: 600,370 sq km
water: 15,000 sq km
land: 585,370 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 4,013 km
border countries: Namibia 1,360 km, South Africa 1,840 km, Zimbabwe 813 km
0 km (landlocked)
semiarid; warm winters and hot summers
predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: junction of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers 513 m
highest point: Tsodilo Hills 1,489 m
Natural resources:
diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts; seasonal August winds blow from the west, carrying sand and dust across the country, which can obscure visibility
Environment - current issues:
overgrazing; desertification; limited fresh water resources
Geography - note:
landlocked; population concentrated in eastern part of the country

Population of Botswana

1,842,323 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 38.3% (male 319,531/female 309,074)
15-64 years: 57.9% (male 460,692/female 488,577)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 23,374/female 38,585)
Median age:
21.2 years
Infant mortality:
53.7 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 50.16 years
male: 51.28 years
female: 49.02 years
Total fertility rate:
2.79 children born/woman
noun: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)
adjective: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)
Ethnic groups:
Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white 7%
indigenous beliefs 85%, Christian 15%
English (official), Setswana
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.8%
male: 76.9%
female: 82.4% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Botswana
former: Bechuanaland
Government type:
parliamentary republic
Administrative divisions:
9 districts and four town councils*; Central, Francistown*, Gaborone*, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Lobatse*, Northwest, Northeast, Selebi-Pikwe*, Southeast, Southern
30 September 1966 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day (Botswana Day), 30 September (1966)
March 1965, effective 30 September 1966
Legal system:
based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law; judicial review limited to matters of interpretation; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA (since 1 April 2008); Vice President Mompati MERAFHE (since 1 April 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA (since 1 April 2008); Vice President Mompati MERAFHE (since 1 April 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president indirectly elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 20 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009); vice president appointed by the president
election results: Festus G. MOGAE elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 52%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Chiefs (a largely advisory 15-member body with 8 permanent members consisting of the chiefs of the principal tribes, and 7 non-permanent members serving 5-year terms, consisting of 4 elected subchiefs and 3 members selected by the other 12 members) and the National Assembly (63 seats, 57 members are directly elected by popular vote, 4 are appointed by the majority party, and 2, the President and Attorney-General, serve as ex-officio members; members serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
High Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrates' Courts (one in each district)


Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966, though growth slowed to 4.7% annually in 2006-07. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of nearly $15,000 in 2007. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP and for 70-80% of export earnings. Tourism, financial services, subsistence farming, and cattle raising are other key sectors. On the downside, the government must deal with high rates of unemployment and poverty. Unemployment officially was 23.8% in 2004, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. HIV/AIDS infection rates are the second highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond mining production overshadows long-term prospects.

$26.04 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.4%
industry: 46.9% (including 36% mining)
services: 50.7%
Population below poverty line:
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
288,400 formal sector employees
revenues: $3.766 billion
expenditures: $3.767 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0%
nuclear: 0%
diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash; livestock processing; textiles
livestock, sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sunflowers, groundnuts
diamonds, copper, nickel, soda ash, meat, textiles
Export partners:
European Free Trade Association (EFTA) 87%, Southern African Customs Union (SACU) 7%, Zimbabwe 4%
foodstuffs, machinery, electrical goods, transport equipment, textiles, fuel and petroleum products, wood and paper products, metal and metal products
Import partners:
Southern African Customs Union (SACU) 74%, EFTA 17%, Zimbabwe 4%
pula (BWP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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