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Republic of Botswana

CAPITAL: Gaborone

FLAG: The flag of Botswana consists of five horizontal stripes. The top and bottom stripes are light blue and wider than the middle stripe, which is black. The blue stripes are separated from the black by thin white stripes.

ANTHEM: Fatshe La Rona (Blessed Country).

MONETARY UNIT: On 23 August 1976, the pula (p) of 100 thebe replaced the South African rand (r) as Botswana's legal currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 thebe and 1 pula, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pula. p1 = $0.19380 (or $1 = p5.16) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; President's Day, 15 July; Botswana Days, 30 September1 October; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Ascension.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


A landlocked country in southern Africa, Botswana has a total area of 600,370 sq km (231,804 sq mi), extending 1,110 km (690 mi) nnessw and 960 km (597 mi) ewewnw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Botswana is slightly smaller than the state of Texas. It meets Zambia at a point in the n and is bordered on the ne by Zimbabwe, on the se and s by South Africa, and on the w and n by Namibia, with a total land boundary length of 4,013 km (2,493 mi).


The country is a broad tableland with a mean altitude of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). A vast plateau about 1,200 m (4,000 ft) in height, extending from near Kanye north to the Zimbabwean border, divides the country into two distinct topographical regions. The eastern region is hilly bush country and grassland (veld). The Tsodilo Hills in the northwest contain the highest point in the country at about 1,489 m (4,884 ft). To the west lie the Okavango Swamps and the Kalahari Desert. The only sources of year-round surface water are the Chobe River in the north, the Limpopo in the southeast, and the Okavango in the northwest. The Limpopo is the longest river with a length of 1,600 km (1,000 mi). In seasons of heavy rainfall, floodwaters flow into the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Lake Ngami (the largest lake, 1,040 sq km/401 sq mi), and Lake Xau.


Most of the country has a subtropical climate, with cooler temperatures prevailing in the higher altitudes. Winter days are warm and nights are cool, with heavy frost common in the desert. Temperatures range from average maximums of 33°c (91°f) in January and 22°c (72°f) in July to average minimums of 18°c (64°f) in January and 5°c (41°f) in July. In August begin the seasonal winds that blow from the west and carry sand and dust across the country. Rainfall normally averages 45 cm (18 in) but ranges from 69 cm (27 in) in the north to less than 25 cm (10 in) in the Kalahari; drought conditions prevailed in the early and mid-1980s.


Although about 90% of Botswana is covered by some kind of savanna, even the Kalahari Desert contains adequate vegetation to support tens of thousands of wild animals. Common trees are the mopane, camel-thorn, motopi (shepherd's tree), and baobab. Botswana is a natural game reserve for most animals found in southern Africa, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, African buffalo, hyenas, and 22 species of antelope. The duiker (a small, horned antelope), wildebeest (gnu), and springbok (gazelle) are familiar. As of 2002, there were at least 164 species of mammals, 184 species of birds, and over 2,100 species of plants.


Overgrazing due to the rapid expansion of the cattle population is a continuing threat to the vegetation and wildlife of Botswana. There are 5 game reserves, 3 game sanctuaries, and 40 controlled hunting areas. About 18% of the land has been set aside as national parks and game reserves. Natural hazards to the environment include seasonal winds from the west that blow sand and dust across the country.

Botswana has a very limited water supply that is inadequate for its increasing population, and the nation's water shortage is exacerbated by periodic droughts. One major factor in Botswana's water supply problem is that 68% of the country is part of the Kalahari desert. The country has about 3 cu km of renewable water resources, 48% of which is used for farming. Almost all of Botswana's urban dwellers and 90% of its rural people have access to safe water.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 6 types of mammals and 9 species of birds. Endangered species included the black rhinoceros, the African hunting dog, and the African savannah elephant. Burchell's zebra has become extinct.


The population of Botswana in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 1,640,000, which placed it at number 143 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 4% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 39% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be -0.3%. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,583,000. The population density was 3 per sq km (7 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 54% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.54%. The capital city, Gaborone, had a population of 19,000 in that year. Other cities and their populations are Mahalapye, 109,811; Serowe, 153,035; Tutume 123,514; Bobonong, 66,964; Francistown, 87,000; Selebi-Phikwe, 52,300; Maun, 48,057; and Lobatse, 29,700.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Botswana. The UN estimated that 38.5% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy. Life expectancy dropped from 65 years in 1990 to 35 years in 2005.


At least 50,000 Botswanans are working in South Africa at any particular time. In 1991, 21,468 South African residents were listed as born in Botswana. Botswana had some 500 refugees at the end of 1992, about 40% from South Africa. In 1998, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had been planning to phase out its Botswana office by the end of the year. However, in October 1998 the influx of 2,500 asylum seekers from the Caprivi region of Namibia provided them with an urgent new caseload. As of 1999, the repatriation plan to return the Namibian refugees had been temporarily halted, due to a deterioration of the situation in the Caprivi region. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 6.07 per 1,000 population. There were 52,000 migrants living in Botswana in 2000. In 2004 there were 3,800 refugees. The government views the immigration level as too high.


The population, predominantly of Tswana stock (79%), is distributed among eight tribes, Batswana being the largest. The others include Bamangwato, Bakwena, Bangwaketsi, Bakgatla, Barolong, Bamalete, and Batlokwa. The next largest single group of indigenous peoples is the Kalanga, which accounts for about 11% of the population. There are about 3% Basarwa (Bushmen). Kgalagadi and whites account for about 7%.


Though English is the official language, it is only spoken by about 2.1% of the population (2001 census). Setswana is the most widely spoken language, spoken by about 78.2% of the population. About 7.9% of the population speak Kalanga and 2.8% speak Sekgalagadi. Other languages are used by about 8.6% of the population; 0.4% of the population did not specify their native language.


It is estimated that about one-half the population are nominally Christian. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africaformerly the London Missionary Societyare the largest groups. Other congregations include Lutherans, Roman Catholics, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, and other Christian denominations. Most people practice a blend of indigenous beliefs alongside of their Christianity. About 1% of the population is Muslim and about 1% is Hindu. There is a small community of Bahai's.

Freedom of religion is provided for in the constitution and this right is generally respected in practice. Religious groups, like all organizations within the country, must be registered with the state Registrar of Societies, a department of the Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs. Some Christian holidays are celebrated as public holidays.


In 2003, Botswana had 25,233 km (15,694 mi) of roads, of which 8,867 km (5,506 mi) were paved. Bituminous roads have been extended to the Zambian and Zimbabwean borders, thereby reducing Botswana's economic dependence on South Africa. In 2003, there were 52,120 passenger cars and 75,400 commercial vehicles in Botswana.

The main railroad from Cape Town in South Africa to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe runs through Botswana for a distance of 641 km (398 mi), connecting Lobatse, Gaborone, and Francistown. Two branch lines totaling 71 km (44 mi) connect the coal field of Morupule and the copper-nickel complex at Selebi-Phikwe with the main line; these lines are owned by Botswana but operated by National Railways of Zimbabwe. In 1991, a new 165 km (103 mi) spur connecting Sua Pan to Francistown was completed, at a cost of $45 million. Botswana had a total of 888 km (552 mi) of narrow gauge railways in 2004.

In 2004 there were an estimated 85 airports, 10 of which (as of 2005), were paved. The government-owned Air Botswana operates scheduled flights to Francistown, Gaborone, Maun, and Selebi-Phikwe. There is international service to Johannesburg, South Africa; Mbabane, Swaziland; and Harare, Zimbabwe. A new international airport near Gaborone was opened in 1984. Air passengers arriving to and departing from Botswana during 2003 totaled about 183,000.


According to tradition, the founder of the Batswana tribe was a 14th-century chief named Mogale. His great-great-grandson Malope had three sons, Kwena, Ngwaketse, and Ngwato, who became the chiefs of the major tribes that now inhabit Botswana.

The foundations of the modern state lie in the 182070 period, when the Batswana suffered many tribulations at the hands of the Matabele. In 1872, Khama III became chief of the Bamangwato. He was the son of Chief Sekgoma, the only Batswana chief who had succeeded in turning back the Matabele. Up to that time, the Batswana had no permanent contact with europeans, except for the missionaries Robert and Mary Moffat and David Livingstone, who had established missions in the first half of the 19th century. But with increased exploration and the partition of southern Africa among the European powers, hostility developed between the Batswana and the Boer trekkers from the Transvaal. Khama III appealed to the United Kingdom for assistance, and in 1885 the whole of what was then known as Bechuanaland was proclaimed to be under the protection of Queen Victoria. The territory south of the Molopo River was constituted a crown colony called British Bechuanaland, and in 1895 it was incorporated into South Africa. The northern part of the territory, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, remained under the protection of the British crown, the powers of which, beginning in 1891, were exercised by the high commissioner in South Africa. The South African Act of Union of 1909, which created the Union (now Republic) of South Africa, provided for the eventual transfer to South Africa of Bechuanaland and the two other High Commission Territories, Basutoland and Swaziland, despite their requests to the contrary. The provision was dropped in 1961, after the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth.

The first significant political progress was made in 192122 with the creation of European and African advisory councils, added to which was a joint advisory council. In 1961, executive and legislative councils were created. A major step on the road to independence was taken in 1965 with the implementation of Bechuanaland's self-government constitution under Seretse Khama, the former chief-designate of the Bamangwato, who had become prime minister after Bechuanaland's first general elections. Final constitutional talks were held in London in February 1966, and on 30 September 1966, under the leadership of President Khama, the newly named Republic of Botswana came into being.

On 18 October 1969, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), under the leadership of Sir Seretse Khama, was returned to power in the general elections, and he was sworn in for a second term as president on 22 October. Khama was reelected president after the BDP won 27 out of 32 regular elective seats in the National Assembly in national elections held on 26 October 1974. During this first decade of independence, Botswana refused to support the United Nations (UN) sanctions against South Africa because, although officially opposed to apartheid, Botswana recognized its own economic dependence on South Africa. Following the 1969 elections, President Khama banned the import of goods from the white minority regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Tensions were high in the 1970s as Botswana harbored 20,000 refugees from Rhodesia, and Rhodesian forces several times crossed into Botswana on "hot pursuit" raids against guerrillas.

In elections held in October 1979, the BDP won 29 of the 32 elective seats, and Khama was elected to a fourth presidential term. He died in 1980 and was succeeded by Vice President Quett Ketumile Joni Masire, who was elected to a full five-year term on 10 September 1984. Masire was reelected on 7 October 1989 and the BDP won 31 and the BNF 3 of the elected assembly seats.

South Africa repeatedly, but fruitlessly, pressed Botswana to sign a mutual-security agreement, and it accused Botswana of harboring insurgents opposed to the Pretoria regime and allowing them to mount acts of terrorism and sabotage against South Africa, a charge Botswana denied. An attack by South African commandos on 14 June 1985, aimed at South African refugees, killed at least 15 people in Gaborone. Further South African border violations and attacks on targets in Botswana took place during 1986, but such incursions had ended by 1988. In 1992 the two countries established formal diplomatic relations.

Before the 1994 legislative elections, the assembly was expanded to 44 seats, 40 of which would be elected, with the majority party given the right to appoint the remaining 4 seats. The opposition maneuvered before the election, attempting to form a broad coalition to unseat the BDP, which had so dominated the country since independence. Many opposition politicians insisted on electoral reforms, specifically the introduction of absentee balloting (20% of the population were migrant workers) and the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18. On 15 October the elections were held and the BDP won a significant majority of seats in the assembly. The assembly named Masire president on 17 October. In November 1995, amidst worsening economic conditions and civil unrest, the government announced constitutional reforms, which limited the president to two terms, although a stipulation was added that the rule would not apply to the sitting president. The voting age was also lowered to 18, but no action was taken to introduce absentee balloting.

On 1 April 1998, Festus Mogae succeeded Quett Masire after the latter stepped down. Mogae was subsequently elected president in the 16 October 1999 polls with 54.3% of the National Assembly vote. He faced a number of issues such as environmental degradation, the need to diversify the economy, and political power struggles within the ruling party.

The Botswanan general election of 2004 was fought between the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and eight opposition parties. A total of 57 seats in the parliament were contested. The election was won by the BDP which won 51.7 % of popular votes and obtained 44 seats in the new parliament. The largest opposition party, the Botswana National Front (BNF) won 26% of the popular vote and 12 seats. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) won 17% of the popular vote and only 1 seat. Voter turnout in the 2004 general election was 76%. The other five smaller political parties did not win any seats. The BNF accused the country's Independent Election Commission of fundamental errors in its conduct of voter registrations. The leader of BDP, Festus Mogae, was serving his second and last term as President of Botswana. Although the political landscape in Botswana has been dominated by the BDP since independence, the country has a flourishing multiparty constitutional democracy. As of 2004, each of the elections since independence were freely and fairly contested and had been held on schedule.

The escalating HIV/AIDS pandemic has meant that political and economic challenges have taken a back seat. As of 2003, Botswana had one of the highest HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rates in the world. The government's goal was to have no new infections by 2016, and Botswana has been commended for being the first country in Africa to widely distribute antiretroviral drugs through its public health system.


Under the 1965 constitution, as subsequently modified, Botswana is a republic. It is Africa's longest continuous multiparty democracy. The president is the chief of state, chief executive, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He is elected by a simple majority of the National Assembly. The president appoints a cabinet from among the National Assembly members, including the vice president, who also serves as a cabinet minister. The president also has the power to declare war, and he can summon or dissolve the National Assembly at any time. He can veto any bill, but if it is passed again within six months, he must either sign it or dissolve the Assembly.

The bi-cameral parliament consists of a National Assembly and a House of Chiefs. The National Assembly comprises 61 seats57 are directly elected members and 4 are appointed by the majority party. After a no-confidence vote, the Assembly must be dissolved, or the president must resign. The House of Chiefs is largely advisory and consists of the chiefs of the eight principal tribes, four chiefs elected from minority districts, and three others elected by the House. Any proposed bill relating to matters of tribal concern must be referred to the House of Chiefs before the Assembly can pass it. It was chaired by Chief Seepapitso IV as of 1997. All citizens of Botswana aged 18 and over are eligible to vote. Both the President and members of parliament are elected for five-year terms.


Botswana has had multiparty competition since independence, although the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), founded in late 1961 as the Bechuanaland Democratic Party by Seretse Khama, won every election since 1966 to 2004. The BDP gained prominence by advocating a gradual approach to independence through democracy, nonracialism, and a multiparty state. While maintaining opposition to apartheid, the BDP acknowledged Botswana's economic dependence on South Africa and the need to maintain friendly relations. Other parties included the Botswana People's Party (BPP), founded in 1960; the Botswana Independence Party (BIP), founded in 1964 under the leadership of Motsamai Mpho; and the Botswana National Front (BNF), which put up its first candidates in 1969.

In the March 1965 elections, the BDP won 28 of the 31 contested seats, and the BPP took the other 3. Seretse Khama became prime minister and appointed Quett Masire as deputy prime minister. Under the transitional constitutional provisions for the immediate postindependence period, they automatically acceded to the offices of president and vice president, respectively. The members elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1965 continued to hold office in the new National Assembly. The first postindependence elections were held on 18 October 1969; the BDP won 24 seats, the BPP 3 seats, the BNF 3 seats, and the BIP 1 seat (only 31 seats were contested).

In the elections of 26 October 1974, the ruling BDP raised its total of elective seats to 27, while the BNF won 2 seats, the BPP 2, and the BIP 1. In the elections of October 1979, the BDP won 29 seats, the BNF 2, and the BIP 1. In elections held in September 1984, the BDP won 29 seats, the BNF 4, and the BPP 1. The division in the October, 1989 elections was BDP 31 and BNF 3. Since then, the opposition parties, largely concentrated in urban areas, formed a common front and threatened to boycott the 1994 elections unless electoral reforms were enacted. Principal among these demands were that the voting age be lowered from 21 to 18 and absentee balloting be allowed20% of the country's electorate were migrant workers. However, the coalition collapsed before the election and the BNF ran alone, winning 13 of the 40 contested seats, with the BDP taking the rest. The Assembly was enlarged to 44 seats prior to balloting with four seats appointed by the majority.

In the parliamentary elections held on 16 October 1999, the BDP won 33 out of the 40 parliamentary seats. The remaining seats went to the Botswana National Front led by Otswoletse Moupo (6 seats) and the Botswana Congress Party led by Mokgweetsi Kgosipula (1 seat). A number of minor parties formed a coalition, but did not capture any seats. These were the United Action Party led by Ephraim Lepetu Setshwaelo, the Independence Freedom Party (IFP) led by Motsamai Mpho, and the Botswana Progressive Union (BPU) led by D. K. Kwele.

In the parliamentary elections held on 30 October 2004, the BDP led by Festus Mogae, won 51.73% of the popular vote and 44 of the 57 seats contested. BNF led by Motsweletse Moupo won 26.06% of the popular vote and 12 seats; and BCP led by Otlaadisa Koosaletse won 16.62% of the popular vote and only 1 seat. The other 5 smaller political parties that contested did not win any seat but in total won about 5% of the popular vote. These included the Botswana Alliance Movement led by Ephraim Lepetu Setshwaelo (2.84% of the popular vote), Botswana People's Party led by Motlatsi Molapise (1.91% of the popular vote), the New Democratic Front led by Dick Bayford (0.78% of the popular vote) and the Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin (MELS) Movement of Botswana led by Themba Joina (0.03% of the vote).


Local government is carried out by 10 district councils and 5 town councilsGaborone, Francistown, Lobatse, and Selebi-Phikwe. Executive authority in each district is vested in the district commissioner, who is appointed by the central government. The commissioner is assisted by the district council and the district development committee, which are partly appointed and partly elected. Botswana also has traditional village councils, called kgotla, which serve as public forums at which villagers can express opinions.


The 1965 constitution provides for a high court, a court of appeal, and subordinate first-, second-, and third-class courts. The chief justice, appointed by the president, is chairman of the Judicial Services Commission, which advises the president on the appointment of other judges and magistrates. The African Courts Proclamation of 1961 provides for courts with competence in matters of tribal law and custom, presided over by chiefs and headmen. A court of appeals for such cases was created in 1986. The customary courts handle marital and property disputes as well as minor offenses. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches. The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law.


The armed forces personnel of Botswana numbered 9,000 in 2005. The Army consisted of 8,500 members while the remaining 500 were in the Air Wing, which had 31 combat capable aircraft, including 15 fighter aircraft. There were also about 1,500 paramilitary police. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $359 million.


Botswana became a member of the United Nations (UN) on 17 October 1966 and is a member of the ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies. It is a member of the African Union, the ACP Group, and the WTO (1995). It belongs to the Southern African Customs Union (with South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland) and the Preferential Trade Area for East and Southern Africa. Botswana also participates in the African Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, G-77, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which maintains a secretariat at Gaborone. In 2000, the United States and Botswana jointly established the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone. Botswana is part of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Botswana is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Most economists regard Botswana as one of Africa's major success stories. The country's economy was dependent almost entirely on livestock production until the 1970s, when it became an important exporter of diamonds and other minerals. Then, the Botswana Development Corporation, adopting a conservative investment policy, actively sought foreign capital for investments in crop agriculture, tourism, and secondary industries. The rapid growth in diamond production helped Botswana achieve average high economic growth from independence through the early 2000s.

The diamond industry developed in 1971 in cooperation with De Beers Consolidated Mines. Botswana is the one of the world's largest producer of gem diamonds in value terms. It is also the one of the world's most diamond-dependent economy. Diamond production in 2003 stood at over 30 million carats. Botswana also produced copper-nickel matte production, and had significant coal deposits. Botswana had exploitable deposits in platinum, gold, and silver as well. Exploration for petroleum and natural gas deposits has been underway in western Botswana. As of 2003, Botswana was the second-largest mining producer by value (after South Africa, which is the largest mining producer in the world).

In spite of the gains recorded by the mining sector, agriculture employed more than 80% of the labor force in 2004. Provided with inadequate rainfall and poor soil, agriculture supplied only 50% of the country's food needs and accounted for only 4% of GDP in 2003. Commercial farms played a critical role in agricultural and livestock production. Of Botswana's total output of sorghum, maize, millet, beans and pulses, 37% was produced by 100 of the 360 commercial farms. Ownership of the national herd of cattle was highly concentrated: 5% of households owned over 50%.

Botswana had the highest rate of economic growth in the world from 19661997 (averaging at 9.2%), after which it was adversely affected by the Asian financial crisis. Economic growth was 7.7% in 2000, 4.2% in 2004 and 3.3% in 2005; Botswana had an inflation rate of about 7% in 2004 and 8.3% in 2005. Although Botswana had an advanced infrastructure with good roads, communications, and dependable utilities, there was a general lack of technical and managerial skills among its workers. High rates of unemployment estimated at 23.8% in 2004 and severe poverty (estimated at 47% of the population living below the poverty line in 2002) keep the country from fully sharing its economic success with all its citizens. HIV/AIDS rates are among the highest in the world, with 37% of the sexually active population (defined as those between the ages of 15 and 49) being HIV positive in 2003. This high prevalence rate is expected to force a greater percentage of the population into poverty. Botswana was in the process of diversifying its economy in 2005, and was engaged in promoting sustainable development. It was encouraging foreign direct investment in non-mining sectors of the economy, including light manufacturing, tourism, financial services, and pharmaceuticals.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Botswana's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $16.6 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $10,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4.5%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 8.3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.4% of GDP, industry 46.9%, and services 50.7%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $27 million or about $16 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.4% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $30 million or about $17 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.4% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Botswana totaled $2.03 billion or about $1,177 per capita based on a GDP of $7.5 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.0%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 24% of household consumption was spent on food, 12% on fuel, 2% on health care, and 7% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 47% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2004, Botswana had 288,400 people employed in a formal economic sector. As of 2001, a total of 12.3% of the workforce was employed in the agricultural sector, with 25.5% in industry, 61.3% in the services sector, and 0.9% in not defined occupations. As of 2004, unemployment among the workforce stood at 23.8%.

Botswana's unions are concentrated mostly in the mining sector, and to a lesser extent in the country's railway and banking sectors. In 2004, employees in the public sector were granted the right to organize, but as of 2005, this process was still underway. An employment act controls employment contracts, work by women and children, wage guarantees, conditions of work, and paid holidays. The law severely restricts the right to strike. There was a government-set minimum wage of $0.64 per hour in 2005 for most fulltime workers in the private sector, which cannot provide a living wage to a worker and family. However, most jobs in the formal sector of the economy paid in excess of the minimum wage. There is a maximum 48-hour workweek, although 40 hours per week can be found in most private sector jobs. Public sector employees however, had a 48 hour workweek. Although there are minimum safety and health standards, due to lack of resources they are not regularly enforced.


Only about 0.7% of total land area is arable. Crop production is hampered by traditional farming methods, recurrent drought, erosion, and disease. Most of the land under cultivation is in the eastern region. The principal crops for domestic use are sorghum, corn, and millet. Sorghum and corn production in 2004 were 32,000 tons and 10,000 tons, respectively. The sorghum and corn harvests comprise less than 10% of the annual requirement of 250,000 tons. In 2004, Botswana's agricultural imports (primarily cereals) exceeded agricultural exports by $102.5 million. Grain is often imported from South Africa. Smaller quantities of cowpeas, beans, and other pulses are also grown. The 2004 output of all these crops was about 20,000 tons; in addition, 16,000 tons of vegetables and 10,000 tons of fruit were grown.

Agricultural research has been devoted to soil conservation, grazing experiments, and developing and distributing improved strains of grain. The construction of dams and the drilling of boreholes to tap underground water are continuing government programs. In early 1990, the government changed its official agricultural policy to emphasize the production only of those foodstuffs that can be raised economically. The Arable Lands Development Program and the Tribal Grazing Land Policy are government programs designed to help farmers in communal areas.


In 2004, the cattle population was about 1,700,000. Other livestock included 2,250,000 goats; 400,000 sheep; 33,000 horses; 330,000 donkeys; and 4,000,000 poultry. Cattle are valued for wealth and prestige and are used in the payment of bride price, but there is little of the cultural prohibition against selling cattle found in some other parts of Africa. Herds are grazed in the open veld where water and grass are available; the borehole-drilling program is extending the available grazing land. A gradual upgrading of stock quality has been achieved through selective breeding, culling, and controlled grazing. A system of disease-control fences has been installed. A vaccine institute was opened in 1981 to deal with the threat of foot-and-mouth disease. In the mid-1980s, the Botswana Meat Commission's plant at Lobatse was the largest export abattoir in Africa. In 2004, meat production totaled 54,100 tons, with beef accounting for 28,000 tons. Much of Botswana's annual beef production is exported to South Africa and Western Europe. Beef and beef products are Botswana's second-largest export earner (after minerals); about 140,000 cattle were slaughtered in 2004.


Botswana is landlocked, but some fishing for local consumption is carried out by the inhabitants of the Limpopo River Valley and the Okavango region. Landings were estimated at 122 tons in 2003.


About 47% of Botswana's land area is covered with forests and woodlands. The indigenous forests of northeast Ngamiland include the valuable mukwa, mukusi, and mopane woods. Some small-scale exploitation has taken place. Roundwood production was an estimated 755,000 cu m (27 million cu ft) in 2003.


Botswana, home to the world's largest gem diamond mine, is a leading producer of diamonds by value. The diamond sector accounted for 36% of GDP in 2003, around 50% of government revenues, and 81.5% of the country's exports, by value. Nickel, cobalt, and soda ash production also played significant roles in the economy. The minerals industry employed over 13,000 workers, of which about 50% were involved in miming and quarrying in 2003. The northeast contains copper, nickel, and precious metals; the northwest has copper and silver; and the south holds base and precious metals. Other valuable minerals produced included agate, clay, coal, cobalt, gold, salt, sand, silver, soda ash, and construction stone. Major mines were situated in regions with few job opportunities. Diamonds were the most notable area of exploration in 1996, but Botswana's mineral resources were still largely unexplored. Mineral rights (separate from surface rights) were vested in the state. For significant mineral operations, the government usually exercised its legal right to acquire for free an equity interest of 1525%. Royalties are collected on the sales of certain minerals, such as 3% on base metals, 5% on gold, and 10% on diamonds. The 1999 Mines and Minerals Act, designed to promote foreign investment, diversify the economy, and reduce reliance on the diamond industry, continued to vest all mineral rights in the state, but introduced a new "retention license." The government retained an option to acquire up to a 15% interest in new ventures on commercial terms, thus abolishing its previous free equity participation. Favorable geologic environment and mineral investment climate, political stability, and low tax rates should make Botswana a target for foreign mineral investment.

The government maintained an equity position in most of the major mining companies, but the industry was operated, for the most part, on a privately owned free-market basis. In a 5050 joint partnership with De Beers Centenary, the government owned Debswana Diamond, the country's largest mining company.

De Beers Botswana Mining (Debswana) and Botswana Concessions (BCL), both partly owned by the government, developed major mineral fields in the eastern and central regions in the 1970s. Starting in 1981, the Debswana diamond mine at Orapa had to stockpile diamonds to halt the decline in world prices. The world's largest gem diamond mine was opened at Jwaneng in 1982, and processing capacity was increased in 1996 by the addition of a fourth treatment line. Jwaneng, the richest diamond mine in Africa, treated 8.9 million tons of ore and recovered 12.8 million carats in 2003. Reserves and resources in Jwaneng's three main kimberlite pipes were reported to be 287.6 million tons at a grade of 143.6 carats per hundred tons. The Letlhakane Mine recovered 1.061 million carats in 2003. The Orapa Mine recovered 16.3 million carats in 2003. Total reserves and resources at Orapa were reported to be 652.9 million tons at a grade of 49 carats per hundred tons. Debswana completed an expansion at Orapa in 2000 that was designed to double production to 12 million carats per year and treat an additional 8.9 million tons per year of ore. It was expected to allow production from the open pit for 30 years, with the potential of extending the mine life by another 20 or 30 years by shifting to underground mining. The expanded facilities included a completely automated recovery plant (CARP), a 15story building in which only X-ray technology is used to recover diamonds and no human picking or sorting is done. Botswana's diamond output for 2003 was 30.4 million carats, up from 24.635 million carats in 2000.

BCL developed a nickel-copper smelter at Selebi-Phikwe in the 1970s and owns the Phikwe, Selebi, and Selebi North mines. National output for mined copper in 2003 was estimated at 30,400 metric tons; for mined nickel was estimated at 32,740 metric tons; and for smelted cobalt, 283 metric tons. BCL's smelter produced 24,289 metric tons of copper, 27,400 metric tons of nickel. Reserves were reported at 27 million tons for BCL at a grade of 0.86% copper and 0.84% nickel, and for Tati Nickel's Phoenix Mine, at 46 million tons at a grade of 0.32% copper and 0.56% nickel.

A brine mining and treatment facility at Sua Pan produced 309,350 metric tons of soda ash in 2003, up from 233,643 in 1999, and 190,000 metric tons of salt from natural soda ash, down from 233,069 metric tons in 1999. The country produced an estimated 102,000 kg of other precious gemstones, principally agate, in 2003. Gold output totaled 8 kg in 2003, down from 28 kg in 1997.


Most electric power is generated thermally in installations run by the Botswana Power Corp., a public enterprise established in 1970. Electric generating capacity consists of the 132 MW Morupole coal-fired plant and the 60 MW coal-fired plant at Selebi-Phikwe. Total capacity in 2002 stood at 0.132 million kW. Production of electricity in that same year totaled 0.930 billion kWh. Fossil fuels were used exclusively. Consumption of electricity totaled 1.989 billion kWh. Coal production in 2002 consisted entirely of the bituminous type and totaled 992,000 tons. Coal is mined solely at Morupole by Anglo American, mostly for the generation of electricity. The government is considering constructing a coal-fired power plant at the same coal field, which would be designed to export power to South Africa.

Several companies are prospecting for oil, but none had been discovered as of 2002. However, Amoco has studied the possibility of extracting methane from coal beds.


Botswana has a small, but dynamic, manufacturing sector, which contributed approximately 5% to GDP in 2004. Average growth in this sector during the 1990s was 3.8%, and it was seen in the early 2000s as having the most growth potential in the country. The sector has diversified into textiles, beverages, chemicals, metals, plastics, and electrical products. The government parastatal, the Botswana Development Corp., has declined in significance relative to private initiatives, but still is a major promoter of industrial development with interests in brewing, sugar, furniture, clothing, tourism, milling, and concrete. Though promising, industrial development is limited by a small domestic market, weak infrastructure, import dependence, and small skilled labor force. Indeed this sector has seen slow growth since 2000 following the closure of the Hyundai vehicle-assembly plant and the emphasis on manufacturing as the main source of future growth has been questioned.

Local coal supplies the fuel required for Botswana's energy sector. Peak requirements are generally supplied by the South African grid. In 1991, Botswana also linked to the Zambian and Zimbabwean grids. Botswana has no hydroelectric power resources, but solar power has potential as an energy source.

The construction industry was the fastest growing sector of the economy in the 1980s, and rapid urbanization created a need for low-income housing. This sector has decreased in importance, however, as there has been a shortage of building material and supplies. On the other hand, the chemicals industry has expanded; soda ash (for use in steel, glass, paper, and detergent manufacturing industries) is an important commodity, and Botswana Ash is the leading soda ash company operating in the country. The production of copper and nickel has contributed to an increase in the local production of electrical components. The motor industry is growing, with vehicle assembly, tire manufacturing, leather finishing, paint manufacturing, batteries, and the manufacture of spare parts being government priorities and opportunities for foreign investment.

Diamond mining is the engine of growth in Botswana. Diamond mining has fueled much of the economic expansion and in 2005 accounted for more than one-third of GDP and for 80% of export earnings. Mining and livestock production remain the primary economic activities. Botswana has been referred to as the world's largest diamond producer in terms of the quality and grade of its diamonds. The country's growth is heavily dependent upon developments in the diamond industry, which in turn is affected by global economic conditions. The slowdown in the global economy that began in 2001 thus adversely impacted Botswana's diamond industry. Botswana's diamond reserves are estimated to last 30 years at 2003 production rates, and the government emphasizes the need to diversify the economy.


The University of Botswana (founded in 1976), the Botswana Agricultural College (founded in 1967), and Botswana Polytechnic, all located in Gaborone, offer training in science, agriculture, and engineering. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 37% of college and university enrollments. The Geological Survey of Botswana, founded in 1948, publishes mineral resource reports and bulletins.


Small general stores usually carry a variety of items, but food, fuel, and clothing staples make up most of their stock. There are also a few wholesalers, and some traders act as local agents for larger firms. To augment their incomes, other traders operate postal or transport services, restaurants, butcheries, and bakeries. The traders play an important role as middlemen between the local livestock and crop producers and the slaughterhouses, factories, and exporters. There are also a number of South African and US franchises in Botswana, including fast food, supermarkets and department stores. Major US investors include Owens Corning, H.J. Heinz, Coca-Cola, IBM, Xerox, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Such private sector, foreign investments are encouraged by low corporate taxes and no prohibitions of foreign ownership. The government has eliminated all foreign exchange controls.

Business hours are 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday with a 45-minute lunch break, and most retail businesses are also open Saturdays and Sundays until midday.


Botswana's leading trade partners are the European Union (EU), other Southern African Customs Union nations (South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland), and Zimbabwe. The government of Botswana has increased economic integration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), ratifying a Trade Protocol to ease trade barriers, which was scheduled to come into effect eight years from its completion. With recurrent drought and only 5% arable land, Botswana imports much of its food and other basic needs, primarily through South Africa. Indirectly, the United States accounts for a sizeable portion of Botswana's imports (manufactured goods) and exports (diamonds).

Exports fell as a result of the 1997 East Asian financial recession, especially diamond exports, which dropped from $2.1 billion in 1997 to 1.7 billion in 1998. However, between 1999 and 2000 exports rebounded at a rate of 7.7%. By 2004 Botswana's exports were estimated to be $2.94 billion. Imports in 1997 and 1998 were $1.6 billion both years. These had risen to $2.26 billion in 2004. In 2003 diamonds accounted for 82.5% of exports; and copper and nickel, 4.9% with the remainder being exports of beef, soda ash and textiles. Leading imports included foodstuffs; vehicles and transport equipment; textiles; and petroleum products.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 6.6 42.2 -35.6
Netherlands 2.6 0.2 2.4
Portugal 2.4 26.8 -24.4
Belgium 1.0 4.9 -3.9
France-Monaco 0.3 0.6 -0.3
United States 0.2 0.2
Angola 0.1 4.2 -4.1
South Africa 0.1 0.2 -0.1
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -22.8
   Balance on goods -22.9
     Imports -28.0
     Exports 5.1
   Balance on services -0.0
   Balance on income -4.7
   Current transfers 4.9
Capital Account 12.1
Financial Account 3.7
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in São Tomé and Príncipe 3.0
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -0.3
   Other investment liabilities 0.9
Net Errors and Omissions -0.0
Reserves and Related Items 7.0
() data not available or not significant.

Over the years Botswana has maintained a positive and healthy balance of payments.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2004 the purchasing power parity of Botswana's exports was $2.94 billion while imports totaled $2.26 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $680 million. Because of the substantial diamond exports, Botswana always reports healthy trade surpluses. After falling slightly in 2001, diamond exports rose sharply in 2002 due to increased global demand. In 2004 international prices for diamond were raised three times which netted Botswana $2.8 billion in diamond exports, 95% of all export earnings.


Prior to 1976, Botswana belonged to the South African Monetary Area. Its currency, like those of Lesotho and Swaziland, was issued by the South African Reserve Bank. On 23 August 1976, however, the central Bank of Botswana was established, and Botswana began issuing its own currency. The Bank of Botswana has responsibility for administering exchange control delegated for it by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. As of 1999, the major commercial banks were the following: First National Bank of Botswana, Ltd.; Barclays Bank of Botswana, Ltd.; Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana, Ltd.; and Stanbic Bank Botswana Ltd. Total assets of the four banks came to about $14 million in January 1999. Given a high level of reserves, there was little necessity for the Bank of Botswana to raise domestic interest rates to the real levels of South Africa in an attempt to attract portfolio capital.

The policy of the Bank of Botswana in 1999 was to maintain the relative international prices, and hence competitiveness, of non-diamond tradeables against its most important trading partners, notably South Africa. In 1999, the government launched a new loan guarantee scheme to support new, small businesses in non-diamond enterprises by providing partial security for loans.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $402.5 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $1.6 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 14.25%.

In November 1996, the Bank of Botswana relaxed controls that prevented the dual listing of foreign companies on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE). Prior to this, any investment by a Botswanan-based entity in a foreign company was regarded as an external investment covered by the relevant rates and limits. There became free transferability of shares between the BSE and any other stock exchanges listing the shares. Nine companies had dual listed by the end of 1998, and the BSE had recorded a growth rate of 14%. As of December 2004, there were 18 companies listed on the BSE, which had a market capitalization of $2.548 billion.

In 1998, an investment bank was licensed; Investec Bank Botswana was set up to provide merchant banking and investment advisory services. The Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and the National Development Bank (NDB) offer specialized development assistance.


The South African insurance giant, Metropolitan Life, established First Health Medical Administrator in Botswana in mid-September 1996. It launched Metropolitan Life of Botswana in 1997 in a joint venture with the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), and had a 25% stake in the company. In a similar move several years ago, BDC established Botswana Insurance Holdings (BIHL) in conjunction with St. Paul (USA) and African Life. St. Paul Fire and Marine of Minnesota bought out Botswana General Insurance in November 1997.


About half of the government's revenues in 1998 came from the diamond industry with another 20% from returns on foreign reserves. Tourism was becoming increasingly important, accounting for 12% of GDP in 2000. Government spending in 2001 accounted for almost 20% of GDP.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Botswana's central government took in revenues of approximately $3.766 billion and had expenditures of $3.767 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 7.3% of GDP. Total external debt was $556 million.


The basic corporate tax rate in 2005 was 15% (plus a 10% surcharge). For manufacturing companies, approved as such by the Minister of Finance, a reduced rate of 15% (5% company tax and 10% surcharge) applies. A withholding tax of 15% is assessed on the payment of all dividends and on the payment of interest on offshore loans. Taxes on such capital income may be reduced or eliminated in double taxation treaties. In 2005 Botswana had tax treaties with South Africa, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, the Russian Federation and Mauritius. The capital gains rate is 25% and is assessed on 100% of the gains from real estate transactions and on 50% of the gains from transactions in moveable property. Only 75% of the gain from the sale of shares in a company is subject to the tax. However, capital gains from the sale of shares of a company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange are tax-exempt.

The income tax law establishes for individual incomes progressive rates ranging up to 25%, reduced from 30%. A local government tax is paid to the district or town council to finance social and sanitary services.

As of 7 January 2002 a value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 10% replaced Botswana's 10% sales tax which was imposed on fuel, liquor, cigarettes, motor vehicles, computers, domestic electrical appliances, and other consumer and luxury goods.


Botswana belongs to a customs union called the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), with South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Namibia. South Africa levies and collects most of the customs, sales, and excise duties for the five member states, paying a share of the revenues to the other four. In addition, all customs duties are eliminated among the five countries. The SACU implements high protectionist tariffs on countries outside of the club, though, disheartening potential nonmember investors. In 1996, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched a free trade agreement for the elimination of tariff and nontariff trade barriers between its member countries (Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), to be completed by 2010.

South Africa has put in place a value-added tax (VAT) for imports coming into the SACU from outside, but its implementation on Botswana's borders has so far been unsuccessful. Additionally, as a signatory of GATT and a member of the World Trade Organization, Botswana and the rest of the SACU will have to reduce tariffs by 24% over the course of 10 years.


Since independence in 1966, Botswana has been open to foreign investment. With the discovery of diamonds in 1967, this has also meant an economy dependent on diamond mining and, more importantly, the diamond monopoly strictly maintained by the De Beers Company. Highly developed auditing and security systems, developed to preserve the diamond monopoly, helped minimize corruption in Botswana and give its bonds the highest rating in Africa.

From 1966 to 1999, Botswana had the highest average growth rate in the world (9%), a record it still holds, though by 2004 the average had fallen to 3.5%. This did not translate into significant foreign investment outside of the mining sector, however, nor into a solution for chronic high unemployment (officially 21%, but generally thought to be closer to 40%). Moreover, recent controversy about "conflict diamonds" and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana have led to substantial divestment by traditional investors, De Beers of South Africa and Anglo American of the United Kingdom.

The government began actively encouraging foreign investment in the mid-1980s. Government policies offered attractive tax rates (10% on corporate income), including a five-year tax holiday, capital grants on new projects, and duty-free access to the large South African market (source of 80% of foreign direct investment). Botswana also enjoys duty-free access to the European Community for most of its products (source of 15% of foreign direct investment). Its liberal policies allow unrestricted repatriation of earnings and capital. Furthermore, it has a substantial financial assistance policy for foreign investors and has established an export-processing zone in Selebi-Phikwe. Investment law is scrupulously observed by the Botswana bureaucracy and courts. Investment incentives, including cash grants, have been offered to small and medium-scale investors for labor-intensive schemes, particularly outside urban areas. The complete liberalization of exchange controls occurred in February 1999.

In the late 1990s, with the exposure of the link between De Beers' purchases of uncontrolled raw diamonds to maintain its monopoly and socially corrosive brutality in diamond-producing countries, the diamond industry transformed to a system of certified diamonds and a list of "Suppliers of Choice." Although Botswana's diamond mining company, Debswana, continued to be owned 50% by the Botswana government and 50% by De Beers Centenary, the latter, in 2002, became part of the private holding company De Beers SA, 45% owned by the London-based mining conglomerate, Anglo-American, and 45% by the Oppenheimer Group. Botswana's two other major mining companies, Tati Nickel and BCL (copper, nickel, cobalt), had become 85% owned and 50% owned, respectively, by LionOre Mining of Canada, to which Anglo-American had sold its shares.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana, with over 37% of the population 15 to 49 years old estimated to be HIV positive in 2003, affects everything, including foreign investment. Anecdotal evidence suggests it has increased production and training costs for companies and reduced the pool of skilled labor available for foreign investors.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is chiefly in mining, accounting for 81% of FDI in 2001, up from 79% in 2000. The largest investors have been the Anglo-American Corporation, which bought out De Beers, and LionOre of Canada, which bought out Anglo-American interests. AMAX mining is also important. The retail and wholesale trade sector accounted for 7% of FDI inflow in 2001 and finance 6%. The British Commonwealth Development Corp. has invested in a Lobatse slaughterhouse and in three large cattle ranches, two in the northern part of the country and one on the Molopo River in the Kalahari. H. J. Heinz (South Africa) owns 80% of Kgalagadi Soap Industries, with assets of over $5 million. Houston-based brick manufacturer, Interkiln Corp., has a 17.5% interest in the Lobatse Clay Works. Owens-Corning owns 50% of a plant producing fiberglass piping for water transportation, in conjunction with the BDC.

Other areas of investment included specialty agricultural production; construction; and manufacturing of textile, health and beauty, agricultural and construction equipment products. The government seeks investments in infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism, and housing development. It is estimated that total direct foreign investment (FDI) exceeded $1 billion in 1998. The inflow of FDI averaged $98 million 1997 and 1998, but fell to $36.7 million in 1999. For 2000 and 2001, annual FDI inflow averaged about $57 million. FDI inward stock declined in 1995 to $1.1 billion from $1.3 billion in 1990, but made a bold recovery in 2002 to $1.9 billion. The key investor countries in Botswana are South Africa, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. The three accounted for 61%, 25% and 10%, respectively, of total FDI stock in 2000. In 2001, these countries accounted for 60%, 29% and 6% respectively.

Botswana's prudent financial and monetary policies have contributed to continued strong performance on Botswana's stock exchange. In 2002, its index increased 8.5% in dollar terms and the market capitalization of listed stocks reached $1.67 billion, up from $1.27 billion in 2001 and from $295 million in 1992. As of 31 December 2001, US holdings of Botswana securities totaled $23 million, $20 million in equity shares, $2 million in long-term debt, and $1 million in short-term debt.


Botswana has made job creation a top priority of government planning in the past few years. Although employment rates have grown, unemployment is formally estimated at 23.8%, but is closer to 40% in unofficial estimates in 2004.

The government has a long-standing policy of promoting human capital development and health care. All education through the university level is free, but 20% of the population over 15 in 2004 was illiterate. Great importance is placed on the development of rural areas so as to reduce rural-urban migration.

In light of the limited resources, Botswana's government now follows "food security" agricultural policy of promoting only those foodstuffs that can be grown economically.

Botswana's long-term economic prospects are highly dependent on South Africa and its other Southern African neighbors. The government has been a strong proponent of economic integration among the 14 members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The organization's 2000 Trade Protocol called for the elimination of all tariff and nontariff barriers to trade by 2012 among the 11 countries signing the protocol.

Botswana has been rated the least-corrupt country in Africa, according to Transparency International. The country aims to diversify its economy away from minerals, and ecotourism is being promoted. Botswana has been a victim of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the government has taken steps to tackle the virus through prevention programs and the provision of advanced drug therapies to those infected. The Government of Botswana has put in place policies that enhance competitiveness, including a new Foreign Direct Investment Strategy, Competition Policy, Privatization Master Plan, and National Export Development Strategy.


The first universal pension program was inaugurated in Botswana in 1996. It covers all residents aged 65 and older, and is funded completely by the government. It pays a flat-rate monthly pension, which is adjusted periodically according to the cost of living. Many social welfare needs are met through the provisions of tribal custom. Employed persons are covered by work injury laws, with the exclusion of casual workers and family labor. There are no statutory benefits for sickness and maternity. After 60 months of continuous employment, a severance unemployment benefit is available. Destitute residents are provided with a small monthly cash payment and food rations.

Traditional views of male dominance are pervasive in Botswana. Customary law allows men to physically punish their wives for wrongdoing and spousal abuse is common. Sexual harassment, rape, and other violence against women is widespread. Rape is especially serious considering the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Women are accorded the same civil rights as men, but under traditional marriage laws, they require their husbands' consent to buy or sell property, obtain a loan, or sign a contract. There are legal provisions, however, that allow women to marry "out of common property" and thereby retain their legal rights. Polygamy is legal, but is not widely practiced.

While ethnic minorities are not subject to discrimination, some groups remain marginalized and underrepresented in government. Human rights are generally respected in Botswana. However, there are still reports of abusive police tactics, and prison conditions remain poor.


The government stresses primary health care with emphasis on disease prevention and healthy living. As of 2004, there were an estimated 241 nurses, 29 physicians and 2 dentists per 100,000 people.

The major health problems are malnutrition and tuberculosis. As of 2000, 17% of children under five years of age were considered malnourished. Public health teams conduct tuberculosis and malaria control campaigns. In 1999, there were 702 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. In 1995, 70% of the population had access to safe water and 55% of the population had access to sanitation.

Approximately 33% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. As of 1999, immunized children one year of age were as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 90%; and measles, 86%.

The average life expectancy in 2005 was 33.87 years, the second-lowest in the world. The largest change in life expectancy was for females, which dropped from 60 years in 1980 to 33.84 years in 2005. The infant mortality rate in 2005 was 54.58 per 1,000 live births. For every 100,000 live births, 300 women died in pregnancy or childbirth as of 1998.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 37.30 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 350,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 33,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003. The rapid transmission of HIV in Botswana has been due to three main factors: the position of women in society, particularly their lack of power in negotiating sexual relationships; cultural attitudes to fertility; and social migration patterns.


There is no overcrowding in tribal villages, but slums have developed in the larger towns. The Botswana Housing Corp., a public enterprise, concentrates its efforts on the main urban centers, where growth, and therefore demand, is greatest. The 1999 National Policy on Housing has shifted some of the control on housing from government to private hands. Part of this policy includes the Poverty Alleviation and Housing Programme, a pilot program through which those who cannot afford to purchase a home might learn the skills necessary to build their own. This self-help policy is particularly helpful to rural residents.

Housing ranges from flats and bungalows to huts and all other structures intended for human use. Squatter-occupied "improvised" housing units account for about 2% of all housing. Of all housing units, about 30% were acquired through tribal authorities. Nearly 71% of the total land area in Botswana is under tribal control. Sanitation facilities included pit latrines, and flush toilets; however, two-thirds of housing units had no facilities. The water supply is piped or drawn from wells, river beds, rivers, or other sources.


The government aims to achieve universal education. Education is compulsory for students between the ages of 7 and 15. Education at the primary level lasts for seven years, though it is not compulsory. This is followed by three years of junior secondary school and two years of senior secondary school. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 81% of age-eligible students; 79% for boys and 83% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 54% of age-eligible students; 50% for boys and 57% for girls. It is estimated that about 91% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 27:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 16:1. Schooling is conducted in Sestwana for the first four years, and in English for the remaining years. The academic year runs from August to May.

Until 1961, primary schooling was completely financed by tribal treasuries, with some tribes spending up to 70% of their budgets on education. Between 1985 and 1994, the government launched a major program of secondary school construction. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.2% of GDP, or 25.6% of total government expenditures.

The University of Botswana, established on 1 July 1982 by an Act of Parliament, has a faculty of social sciences, education, sciences, agriculture, and humanities. In 2001, there were about 8,000 students enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 78.9%, with 76.1% for males and 81.5% for females.


The Botswana National Library Service was founded in 1967 to provide nationwide public library service and act as the national library. There are 21 branches located throughout the country holding a total of 160,000 volumes; mobile library service is also provided. The main library is located in Gaborone, has 65,000 volumes, and the University of Botswana (1971) has over 250,000. The National Archives, with 20,000 items, are in Gaborone. The Botswana Libraries Consortium was established in 2003 as a cooperative organization of public, private, and academic libraries.

The renovated National Museum and Art Gallery in Gaborone houses a collection of the ethnography and natural history of Botswana, and sub-Saharan African art. There are also ethnographic museums in Kanye and Mochudi and a postal museum in Gaborone. In 1986, the Supa Ngwao Museum Centre in Francistown opened, holding ethnographic and historical installations.


In 2003, there were an estimated 75 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 297 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The government controls the content of nearly all radio and television broadcasts through the Botswana Press Agency (BOPA), which produces the free Daily News newspaper, Radio Botswana and Radio Botswana 2 (which broadcast nationally to most of the country), and Botswana Television (BTV). Radio Botswana broadcasts, in English and Setswana, a variety of news, educational, cultural, and entertainment programs. In 2004, there were two private radio stations, Yarona FM and Gabz FM, broadcasting in 5 of the country's 10 largest towns. The privately-owned Gaborone Broadcasting Company (GBC) is the only other television station in the country; it broadcasts mostly foreign programming. In 2003, there were an estimated 150 radios and 44 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 40.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 35 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There was one secure Internet server in the country in 2004.

There is one daily newspaper in Botswana, the government published Dikgang Tsa Gompieno (or Daily News, circulation 50,000 in 2002) in both English and Setswana. The government also publishes, in a bilingual edition, the monthly magazine Kutlwaro (circulation 24,000). In 2002, 4 independent newspapers were publishing on a weekly basis, with a total circulation of over 50,000. MMegi Wa Digmang, or The Reporter, is published in both Setswana and English with a weekly circulation of 24,000. The major political parties publish monthly journals.

The constitution of Botswana ensures a free press and free speech, and the government is said to highly respect these rights.


There is a chamber of commerce in Gaborone and there are some professional associations. The Botswana Council of Nongovernment Organizations (BOCONGO) serves as an umbrella group to encourage and support nongovernment organizations as recognized partners in national development. Member organizations (which numbered about 67 as of 2002) include the Botswana Christian Council; the Cooperation for Research, Development, and Education; the Botswana Council of Women, and the Environmental Conservation Society.

Educational and cultural organizations include Botswana Society and the Botswana Technology Center. Youth organizations include Junior Achievement, Junior Chamber, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Botswana Christian Council Youth Unit, and the YWCA. Most towns have women's clubs. The Emang Basadi Women's Association is a national organization promoting women's development and legal rights.

There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, UNICEF, and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. The Botswana Center for Human Rights was founded in 1996.


Botswana's well-stocked game reserves are its principal tourist attraction, with both hunting and photographic safaris available. Popular with tourists is the Okavango Delta region, which during the rainy season is a maze of waterways, islands, and lakes; it includes the Moremi Wildlife Refuge; nearby is Chobe National Park. In all, eight national parks and game reserves cover almost 20% of the land area. The Kalahari Desert is another attraction, as are the country's tapestry weavers, potters, and rug makers. The Tsodilo Hills have cave paintings by the ancestors of the Basarwa (Bushmen), the earliest known inhabitants of Botswana. The government's "National Conservation Strategy and Tourism Policy" promotes tourism while protecting wildlife areas. All nationals except citizens of the United States, South Africa, Commonwealth countries, and most Western European countries, need visas for visits up to 90 days. Visitors are required to have a passport, ongoing/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds for the stay. Proof of yellow fever and cholera vaccinations are required of travelers from infected areas. Antimalarial precautions are advisable. As of 2003, there were 3,589 hotel rooms with 6,646 beds. In 2003, about 975,000 visitors arrived in Botswana, more than 865,000 of whom were from other African nations.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Gaborone at $171. In other regions, costs were as low as $155 per day for food and lodging. That year, the average estimated expenditure per tourist in Kasane was $205.


Khama III (18371923), chief of the Bamangwato and a Christian convert, reigned for 48 years. His grandson, Sir Seretse Khama (192180), was Botswana's first president. Quett Ketumile Joni Masire (b.1925) succeeded him in 1980. President Masire resigned in April 1998, and was succeeded by his vice president, Festus Mogae.


Botswana has no territories or colonies.


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Du Toit, P. van der P. (Pierre). State Building and Democracy in Southern Africa: Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Washington, DC.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1995.

Good, Kenneth. The Liberal Model and Africa: Elites against Democracy. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

Hope, Kempe R. AIDS and Development in Africa: A Social Science Perspective. New York: Haworth Press, 1999.

Kamoche, Ken M. (ed.). Managing Human Resources in Africa. New York: Routledge, 2004.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Morton, Fred, Barry Morton, and Jeff Ramsay. Historical Dictionary of Botswana. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Pickford, Peter, and Pickford, Beverly. The Okavango and Chobe of Botswana. London: New Holland, 1999.

Ramsay, Jeff. Historical Dictionary of Botswana. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Rotberg, Robert I. Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa, 19602000. Cambridge, Mass.: World Peace Foundation, 2002.

Thomas, Duncan and Muvandi, Ityai. The Demographic Transition in Southern Africa: Reviewing the Evidence from Botswana and Zimbabwe. Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand, 1995.

Wiseman, John A. Botswana. Oxford, Eng.; Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1992.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Republic of Botswana

Major Cities:
Gaborone, Selebi-Phikwe

Other Cities:
Francistown, Kanye, Lobatse, Mahalapye, Serowe


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated April 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Botswana, which has been independent for more than two decades, is a nonracial, multi-party democracy which serves as a model of harmonious social development in a turbulent region. For most of its years as a republic, it has enjoyed excellent relations with fellow black African nations and with many other countries across the political spectrum. Botswana hosted the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in August 1990. The conference noted that a future democratic South Africa was expected to join the organization and to enhance regional efforts at arresting economic decline.

Tucked into the center of the south African plateau, Botswana was, from 1886 until 1966, the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland. The country was first inhabited by nomadic Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, and later by Bantus. In the north are the ecologically unique Okavango Delta and the world-famous Chobe Game Reserve.



Gaborone is a rapidly expanding city of 182,000, located in southeastern Botswana, 12 miles from the South African border and on the main rail line from Mafeking to Bulawayo. A new city built since independence, Gaborone was selected as the site for the new capital of Botswana in 1962. One key factor influencing the choice was a suitable dam site on the nearby Not-wane River, which offered a potential water supply capable of supporting a city. The administrative headquarters of the then Bechuanaland protectorate was outside the country at Mafeking, South Africa. The first government buildings and houses were ready for occupation in February 1965, and the shift from Mafeking was completed by 1969. The city is named after a 19th century Batlokwa chief from a nearby village, Gaborone-a-Matlapeng.

Gaborone has expanded under the guidance of an existing town plan between two already established areasthe railroad station and Gaborone village. The city is built out from a central pedestrian mall which features shops, a cinema, and the older President Hotel. A newer, larger shopping area is located in Broadhurst, with smaller shopping centers scattered around the residential areas. A modern cinema is located in the village.


Shopping can be time consuming in Gaborone. Local supermarkets carry a wide variety of foods. Unfortunately, they will frequently run out of the most popular items until they receive the next shipment from South Africa. Shoppers find they must visit two or three shops if their list is at all extensive. In addition, beer, wine and liquor are only sold in "bottle stores."

Botswana beef is lean, tender and quite inexpensive compared to the U.S. Pork and lamb are usually available. Chicken is expensive by U.S. standards, as is turkey. Ham slices, lunch meats and sausages are all found locally. Supermarkets sell a variety of frozen, packaged fish.

Dairy products are also widely available, though milk spoils quickly. Long life milk is a solution. With a certain amount of tenacious searching, you can find cream, mozzarella, yogurt, foreign cheeses, even fresh Parmesan cheese.

Basically, anything that is widely available in the U.S. is available in Gaboronefresh and frozen vegetables, baby food, spices, prepared foods, fruit juice, instant cake and bread mixes, even taco sauce. Any imported food item is considerably more expensive than in the U.S., but a South African equivalent may be just as good at half the price.


Bring clothes for all the four seasons. September and October weather is warm and pleasant, so "Spring-like" lightweight attire will suffice. But Gaborone summers are extremely hot (November-February), so bring a plentiful supply of light, cotton shirts and skirts/trousers, shorts, sundresses, etc. Expatriates dress casually when going out shopping or doing errands and both men and women can wear shorts publicly. Gaborone's winter should not be underestimated. Houses are not insulated, do not have central heat, and let a lot of air leak in through doors and windows. Temperatures can drop to freezing at night. Bring moderately-heavy, washable clothing such as sweaters, shawls, lined raincoats, and light parkas. Heavy overcoats are not necessary. Children will need heavy, washable trousers and woolen sweaters for outdoor play during winter.

There is clothing available in Gaborone, but styles are different from what most Americans prefer, and variety is still limited.

Supplies and Services

Supplies: Pharmacies and supermarkets stock a good variety of shampoos, soaps and toiletries, though rarely American brand names. Cosmetics are also widely available, though quite expensive. Prescription and non-prescription medicines may be obtained from local pharmacies, non-prescription at a higher price than in the U.S., but prescription generally cheaper. Tobacco products are widely available and cheaper than in the U.S. Basic sewing notions and a fair selection of cotton and synthetic fabrics are available.

You can find almost anything in BotswanaCD players, televisions, microwaves, tennis rackets, golf clubs, toysbut prices are double, sometimes triple American prices.

Expensive and exclusive household items like bone china and crystal are sometimes difficult to find. Bring supplies of decorative paper napkins, birthday cards, and wrapping paper as the selection is not as wide as the U.S.

It should be noted that whatever is not available is Botswana is generally available in South Africa's major cities. Items made in South Africa are of variable quality and are frequently less expensive than American products. Imported products are often double or triple U.S. prices.

Basic Services: Dressmakers and tailors are available, though not any cheaper than in the U.S. Simple shoe repairs and leather work can be done. Dry-cleaning is available, reasonable and quite safe. Several good hairdressing salons are spread around the city which serve both men and women. Haircuts cost less than $15.

Adequacy and availability of radio and appliance repair varies from fair to poor. Do not bring 60 Hz or U.S. standard appliances expecting to have them converted. Household repair services (plumbing, electrical, plastering) are acceptable. Hardware stores have a good assortment of home repair items and power tools for the do-it-yourselfer.

The quality of auto repair varies. Wheel balancing and alignment and computer diagnostics are available. Skilled mechanics are rare, and although tools and parts may be available, workmanship is often poor, and expensive. Common consumable spares, such as plugs, belts, tires, and filters are readily available for Japanese and European cars, and even most American cars. Counterfeit parts from Taiwan are the norm.

Religious Activities

Gaborone's churches are filled Sunday mornings as worshipers attend Sunday school and religious services. A great number of Christian denominations are represented, including Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Mennonite, Quaker, African Methodist, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, and others. The small Jewish and Mormon communities are not active. The Moslem communities are very active.

Congregations are made up of both Batswana and expatriates. Services are available in both English and Setswana. The interdenominational Trinity Church offers services in English on Sunday evenings led by ministers from various churches.


Dependent Education: All schools in Botswana begin the school year in late January and end in early December. Thirty-day breaks occur in April/May and August/September and a 6-week break from early December to mid-January. Schools require uniforms which may be purchased locally.

The school day begins at 7:30 am for primary schools and ends at 12:30 or 1 pm. Secondary school students attend classes from 7:10 am or 7:15 am until 12:30 or 1 pm, depending on the individual schools. On certain days at Westwood International School, classes are extended until 3 pm for secondary students. Extracurricular programs draw students for supervised activity in the afternoons. Swimming pools offer recreation and swimming lessons. Children also have their pick of soccer, softball, cricket, choir and glee club, working on the school year-book, arts and crafts, or tennis. Students may also participate in gymnastics, cooking classes, stamp club, marimba club or chess club. Since public transportation is not available, parents deliver and pick up their children if they live beyond walking distance from school. Car-pooling is common. Few students ride their bicycles due to the high incidence of traffic accidents.

Gaborone has four private English primary schools; these schools are Broadhurst Primary School, Thorn-hill Primary School, Northside Primary School, and Westwood International School. Schools are designed to accommodate expatriate students and approximately 1/3 of the students are Batswana. There is currently no waiting list for the English language primary schools in Gaborone. Primary school consists of classes ranging from Kindergarten (called Reception) through Grade 7 (called Standard 7). Children are accepted from ages 5 to 12 in primary schools. Broadhurst, Thornhill, and Northside Primary schools operate under the Botswana teaching curriculum, modified to meet the needs of the school's international enrollments. The Botswana system is closely modeled on the British system. The fourth school, Westwood International, was founded by the British and American Embassies and has a curriculum designed to meet the needs of children transferring to or from the U.S., British, or other international school system. Teaching staffs are recruited from Britain, the U.S., and southern African nations.

Gaborone has three secondary schools. The Gaborone Secondary School, a local government operated co-educational school with a student body composed of approximately 10 percent expatriates and the rest Batswana. This school follows the Botswana curriculum designed to prepare students to take the Junior Certificate examination at the equivalent of the American ninth (9th) grade level. About one-third of the students then are allowed to study for a Cambridge O-Level examination which follows 2 more years of study. According to the headmaster, an American student would need at least two years at the school in order to take the J.C. examination.

Maru-a-Pula Secondary School, a private co-educational boarding and day-school, has approximately 550 students coming from nearly 20 countries (the majority are Batswana). The teaching staff is varied and in recent years has included several Americans. Maru-a-Pula offers educational programs from grades 8 to 13 (known as Form 1 to Form 6). The school basically follows a British curriculum. Course work concentrates on preparation for O-Level examinations followed 2 years later by A-levels. It is a heavily exam-oriented curriculum. Students study a blend of subjects including English language and literature, French, history, geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and art. The O-level examination is administered in November at the end of the fourth term (grade 11). A number of students have been admitted to U.S. universities after completing O-levels and producing satisfactory SAT scores.

Maru-a-Pula also offers a 2-year program beyond O-levels, leading to the A-level examination. Here, the student studies the equivalent of a 12th and 13th year, concentrating on 3 subjects from among advanced mathematics, English, history, biology, chemistry, or physics. The A-level examination is given in June and sent to the U.K. for grading, with results available in August. A number of American universities give students advanced placement on the basis of their performance at A-Level. Educational Test Service exams such as the PSAT and SAT may be taken in Southern Africa, but you should come with full particulars about which exam you need.

Although a fairly active sports and recreational program meets in the afternoon for students at Maru-a-Pula, no inter-school athletic competition of the type accustomed to in the U.S. is offered. An active tennis program, however, utilizes the school's two hard courts. Other extracurricular activities are limited and students are normally asked to choose one, rather than being allowed to participate in several.

American students who have attended Maru-a-Pula over the years have had mixed results. Highly motivated students have done well; less talented or less enthusiastic students have not. Maru-a-Pula has a policy of discouraging the admission of academically gifted or handicapped children. No facilities are available for gifted and talented or remedial study. Admission to Form 1 (grade 8) in Maru-a-Pula is decided by an Admissions Committee on the basis of an Entrance Exam which includes a personal interview. All those who have applied by May of the year preceding their proposed entry to the school are tested. Maru-a-Pula has no tied places and admission to Form 1 is based solely on merit. Admission to other years prior to O-level is made by selection from the waiting list of applicants as and when vacancies arise. Entry to A-level is decided on the applicant's performance at O-level or in other exams of a comparable standard.

Some older American children attend Westwood International School. Founded by the American Embassy, the British High Commission, and several local business firms, the school opened in May 1988. Westwood is a combined primary and at present junior secondary school. A private co-educational English medium school, it is located in the south-western part of the city. Its modern campus includes 27 air-conditioned classrooms, a school resource center that houses the library and a computer center, a sports field and swimming pool, and a creative and performing arts hall. Westwood provides an international standard of education. School programs focus on preparing the children to re-enter their home country school systems or a third educational system in another part of the world. Westwood currently has over 500 pupils from ages 5 to 15 in an instructional offering that includes: one year of pre-school (Reception) six years of primary education (Standard 1 through 6), and recently established 3 year Junior Secondary Programs (Years 7, 8 & 9). In January 1996, a study group/pilot group was established as a year-10 program. The core subjects of the curriculum of the Junior Secondary Program include math, English, social studies, biology, general science, information technology, French/Setswana, art, music, physical education, agriculture, drama, and the pursuit of the Westwood Award. The Junior Secondary Program culminates with the preparation of the National Junior Certificate Examination (Year 9).

During the 1995 year, the school council undertook to continue the development of the secondary program by extending it upward through a senior secondary program and finish it with a pre-University program. The program for the preparation for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) will be introduced at the completion of the junior Certificate Year (after Year 9). (The IGCSE is an internationally valid examination administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate). The international Baccalaureate (I.B.) program will follow the IGCSE years: a full 2-year program of preparation of the University (years 12 and 13) will be offered starting January 1999. The headmaster plans on having the first graduating class with the I.B. in the Year 2000. The International Baccalaureate is acclaimed worldwide as one of the best preparations available for university and is accepted by most universities in the world.

Several private Pre-Schools, including one Montessori, provide half-day care for ages 2 1/2 (or potty trained) and up. The curriculum focuses on play rather than academics. These facilities are acceptable but not quite up to U.S. standards.

The cultural environment in Gaborone for teenagers is extremely limited. With virtually no part-time work opportunities, many find they have a lot of free time. Avid readers, self-starters who take an interest in Botswana and the Setswana language, or enthusiastic tennis players or golfers intent on developing their game can be happy. But some American youth find life here dull. Movies and private parties on weekends are popular.

Special Education Opportunities

The University of Botswana is a degree-granting university offering a variety of courses in the arts and sciences. A limited number of foreign nationals are accepted for coursework. With sufficient advance notice, it is possible that some arrangement can be worked out with the university. Syllabi of individual courses should be checked with the U.S. institution where credits would be transferred prior to enrolling in a specific course. Many U.S. institutions, however, do accept work completed at the University of Botswana every year.

Two other local institutions also offer training. The Institute of Development Management (IDM) offers courses in accounting and finance, communications, development management, educational administration, electronic data processing, health services management, retail management, marketing, and public administration. The Botswana Institute of Administration and Commerce (BIAC) offers courses in Accounting and Business Studies, Public Administration and Management Studies, Computer Studies, Language and Communication Skills, and Secretarial Studies, all at both the Certificate and Diploma levels. The Institute also runs seminars and workshops on request covering the above-mentioned subjects. Most students at the Institute come from the Botswana Civil Service. There are a limited number of spaces available for expatriates.

There are several good private business schools in Gaborone which can arrange specially designed courses tailored to one's individual needs. The Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry, and Manpower (Boccim) and the Association of Training and Development Officers (ATDO) are good sources of information on local training and business schools.


Gaborone is a good place for outdoor sports. The sunny weather allows tennis enthusiasts to get plenty of practice at the American court, or the Notwane or Gaborone Club courts. Clubs are easy to join and fees are reasonable (under $100/yr.). The Notwane club is better organized and has social evenings, ladies evenings and junior times. The Gaborone Club is a tennis, rugby, bowls and swim club, so offers more variety and greater breadth of contacts.

An excellent 18 hole golf course with grass fairways and greens is centrally located, five minutes from virtually every residence in town. Club fees include an initiation fee (approximately $400) and then yearly dues (approximately $250). The club charges the same fees whether for Botswana resident or diplomat. The golf club membership is active and well-organized and has competitions for both men and women once a week.

Squash is another popular game in Gaborone. There is a squash club next to the Notwane Tennis Club. The Grand Palm Hotel and Gaborone Sun both have tennis and squash courts, which members of their recreation associations can use. Club membership also offers use of the weight room, sauna and pool at the hotels. There is also a fitness center in a local mall, which many prefer to join as it offers regular exercise classes as well as a large variety of equipment.

A small yacht club is located at the Gaborone Dam, where sailing and windsurfing are available. Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is a problem on the other side of the reservoir, but yacht club members uphold it is safe to swim on their side. Horseback riding is available just outside of town and riding instruction can be arranged. For those who prefer spectator sports, soccer games are held regularly at the National Stadium and on other fields.

The Kalahari Hash House Harriers meet every week and serious marathoners can compete in a full season of events, including an international 72 km ultra-marathon. Two triathlons are held each year.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Hunters, photographers and fishing enthusiasts will enjoy Botswana's rich game and wildlife areas. Over 15 percent of the country is dedicated to national park areas, including immense expanses of wildlife sanctuaries, such as Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. To the northwest, the huge Okavango Delta region receives its annual inflow of water from the Angolan Highlands. Thousands of square miles are the home of waterfowl, exotic varieties of bird life, antelope, lion, elephant, and other wild animals, and the fighting tiger fish, a sportsman's dream. Light aircraft are available to take travelers into this wilderness area, though charters are expensive and so are the camps set up in the bush to accommodate those on safari. There are cheaper ways to do this, though not as luxurious. The hardy and adventurous drive to Maun on the paved roads and hire a local company to drive them into the Delta (sand roads). Done this way, and using one's own camping equipment, seeing the Delta is not quite so prohibitively expensive. Another Game Reserve, Kutse, in the Kalahari about a four hour drive from Gaborone (half on sand roads) is a fascinating experience for those who don't mind fairly primitive camping. You may camp next to the wardens' houses and use their water and toilets, or camp inside the park in glorious isolation. Prospective campers should outfit themselves before leaving the U.S. with sturdy (animal-proof) tents and equipment of good quality. Local and South African camping equipment is very expensive. Four wheel drives are a must inside and en route to Botswana Game Parks.


Gaborone has three movie theaters, which run the range from fairly recent quality films to Kung-fu. Video outlets provide an overnight checkout service. These videos cannot be played on VHS sets, so you will need either a multi-system or a local PAL-1 VCR. Active bridge clubs meet regularly. An enthusiastic musical society presents occasional concerts and sponsors intermediate level chamber music get-togethers. A thriving amateur theater group puts on about four productions a year. The Botswana Society and The Kalahari Conservation Society present lectures, slide presentations, and/or exhibits on a regular basis, at Gaborone's surprisingly good National Museum. A bird club and photographic society are also very active.

The Maitisong Center, opened in 1987 (on the campus of Maru-a-Pula Secondary School) has become the center for cultural activities in Gaborone. They bring in performers from the Southern African region, and occasionally from other areas.

Gaborone supports Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, German, and Italian restaurants and several steak houses.

The Gaborone Sun and Grand Palm offer professional entertainment occasionallycomedy shows, dancing, and floor-shows. The Sun also has a casino and the Grand Palm is currently building a casino, due to open mid-1996. Other venues occasionally sponsor sessions with well-known foreign singers or performers. Johannesburg attracts some of the best names in the business.

Much of the entertainment in Gaborone consists of informal outdoor braais (barbecues) in people's homes. Daytime patio entertaining is possible year round; however, during the winter months (July, August) it may be too cool to sit outside in the evenings.

Social Activities

Among Americans: There is quite a large American population in Gaborone. The American Women's International Association (AWIA) holds regular meetings and activities. About half its members are American. The other nationalities taking part in its activities give it an international flavor.

International Contacts:

Botswana, relations between black and white are not characterized by the tension found in some other countries in southern Africa. People mix freely and easily. Batswana appreciate the contributions being made to the country's development by the international donor community and work side-by-side with expatriates harmoniously and effectively. As English is one of the two official languages, there is no language problem. Fluency in English is generally dependent upon education levels and frequency of opportunity to use the language. The farther one travels from the cities, the less English is spoken.

Several thousand additional expatriates from the U.K., South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Scandinavian countries live and work in Botswana. Some have chosen to become citizens. A number of Americans, many of them ex-Peace Corps volunteers, have chosen to remain in Botswana working in one capacity or another.


Selebi-Phikwe is located in the central eastern area of Botswana. About 250 miles northeast of Gaborone, it is connected by asphalt road and a freight carrying branch railway line to the main Gaborone-Francistown road and railway line 35 miles to the west. Selebi-Phikwe has an airport but there are no scheduled flights.

The region is part of a vast semiarid plateau with a mean elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level. The terrain is essentially flat with scattered small, rocky hills. The vegetation is characteristic of the savanna, with thick brush and hardy trees prevalent.

Selebi-Phikwe, the third largest town in Botswana, has grown since 1967 from an agricultural village to a community of nearly 50,000 people with the development of a larger copper-nickel mining operation (BCL). The expatriate population numbers about 200. The town is laid out around a central park and shopping area, near a modern hotel. A second hotel is located near the edge of town.

Selebi-Phikwe's commercial and shopping center, the mall, provides a variety of shops and services including the post office, two banks, two pharmacies, several hardware, appliance, book, clothing, supermarkets and several shops offering meat and groceries. Surrounding the center are the residential areas. On the outskirts of the town are the mines, the smelter plant, the electrical generating plant, water purifying plant and industrial site.

Located approximately 26 kilometers west of Selebi-Phikwe is a short wave transmitter site and one and one half kilometers farther west is a medium wave transmitter site operated by the USIA's " VOA," Botswana Relay Station. The short wave site has four 100 kilowatt short wave transmitters for long distance broadcasting. The medium wave site has one 500 kilowatt transmitter that broadcasts VOA English programs to listeners in Southern Africa. The international mailing address is Private Bag 38, Selebi-Phikwe; telephone 810-932.


Selebi-Phikwe has nine government primary schools, three private English medium primary schools, four junior secondary schools and one senior secondary school. The English-medium Morula Primary School accepts children ages 5 to 12 or 13 years. Three school terms are held yearly and tuition is 1,590 pula per term plus levy fees of about 1,000 pula for first entry in school. Private secondary schools are not available in Selebi-Phikwe.


The town has two hospitals, a government hospital with 70 beds and four clinics, and a 25 bed private hospital. The latter is operated by the BCL Mining Company. There are several private medical practitioners and a dentist available two days of the week in Selebi-Phikwe. Health conditions in Selebi-Phikwe are generally favorable. The town maintains adequate sanitation procedures and safe tap water. However, because of occasional dust conditions and smoke emissions from the smelter operation, persons with severe respiratory problems may experience difficulty.


Recreational facilities include an 18-hole golf course and two sports and social clubs, which provide facilities for tennis, squash, swimming, field sports, amateur theater, and other activities. A local television association relays South African TV programs to the local community.


FRANCISTOWN , with a population of almost 66,000, is located northeast of the capital near Zimbabwe. It is the second largest city in the country; flights connect it with South Africa and Zambia. Francis-town was the site of the first mine discovery in southern Africa in the 1880s. Reminders of its past are still present in mine dumps, pit heads, and old shafts. Today, it is an administrative and commercial center and the site of the Dumela industrial complex.

Located in southern Botswana 50 miles west of the capital, KANYE is the traditional homeland of the Bangwaketse people. A mission hospital, schools, banks, and an airfield can be found in the city. The population is approximately 26,000.

As Botswana's meat industry center, LOBATSE exports livestock and livestock products to nearby countries. It is located about 45 miles southwest of Gaborone. In fact, the city once was considered for capital status. The town has a tannery, canning factory, and a soap factory. Lobatse is also the seat of the High Court of Botswana and the headquarters of the Department of Geological Survey. The population is estimated to be over 26,000.

MAHALAPYE is situated on a plateau, which makes it ideal for farming. The city is 93 miles northeast of Gaborone. The economy is based on cattle raising and the farming of sorghum, corn, and beans. Its industries include textiles and tool manufacturing. A National Library branch, health center and a meteorological station are found in Mahalapye. The population is roughly 104,000.

Home of the Bamangwato tribe, SEROWE is a traditional city composed of clusters of round, traditional African homes surrounded by extensive compounds and gardens. Located in the central district, this city is 150 miles north of the capital. It has an airfield and a major hospital. The population is roughly 95,000.


Geography and Climate

Botswana occupies the center of the southern African plateau and has an elevation of approximately 3,300 feet. The country is flat, with frequent outcroppings of rocky hills (koppies) in the east. The 224,710 square miles encompass three broad ecological areas: the Northwest, dominated by the Okavango Delta; the East, where most of the population lives, characterized by generally arable land and communications links with neighboring countries; and the Central-to-Southwestern belt, dominated by the grass and thorn bush of the Kalahari Desert.

About the size of Texas, Botswana is a landlocked country bounded by the Republic of South Africa on the south and east, Zimbabwe on the northeast, Zambia (at a point where the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers meet) to the north, and Namibia on the north and west.

The eastern and northern parts of the country receive around 21 inches of rain yearly, but in western areas, rainfall can be as little as 10 inches. The rainfall pattern is erratic; some areas may receive sufficient rains, while others receive none. A succession of dry years produces drought conditions and inflicts misery on the dispersed rural population. November to March is the rainy season.

Temperatures during the hottest month, January, average 91°F (33°C), and 62°F (22°C) during the coldest month, June. During the summer, temperatures may climb into the 100°F levels with slight cooling at night. During winter, temperatures may fall to freezing level at night, but rise to comfortable 70°F levels at mid-day in the constantly sunny weather.

The air is dry virtually all year round (although humidity increases during the rainy season) and dust may prove an irritation to eyes and the upper respiratory tract for some. August is the month of dust storms.


Botswana is the name of the country, the national home of the Tswana people. The names for its people are Motswana (singular) or Batswana (plural). The language is Setswana.

Botswana's population is approximately 1.5 million, 46 percent of which lives in urban areas. At any given time perhaps 50,000 Batswana may be absent working in South Africa. Well over ten thousand expatriates reside in Botswana, many in Gaborone. South African and Indian citizens can be found in large numbers, often dominating certain businesses. Smaller numbers of expatriate British, Africans, Europeans, Canadians, South Asians and Americans are employed by the Botswana Government, international organizations, and private companies. Large numbers of Zimbabwean citizens, many of them in the country illegally, are employed as laborers and domestics.

Most Batswana speak Setswana and are members of eight closely related tribes. Unlike many African countries, tribalism is not a major factor. English and Setswana are the official languages. The literacy rate, approximately 69.8 percent, is high by African standards. More than half the population is at least nominally Christian. A variety of mainline denominations are represented, but many Batswana Christians are affiliated with independent churches.

Botswana's four major incorporated towns, all located along the eastern edge of the country, are Gaborone (182,000), Francistown (66,000), Selebi-Phikwe (50,000), and Lobatse (26,000). Additionally, several important "villages" have large populations, most notably Mochudi in Kgatleng District with approximately 60,000. Other towns with over 20,000 residents are Serowe in the Central District, Kanye in the Southern District, Molepolole in the Kwenange District, and Maun in the Ngamiland District.

Public Institutions

Botswana, the former Bechuana-land Protectorate, received its independence from Great Britain in 1966 and is a democratic, multi-party state. All national elections since the gaining of independence have been freely and fairly contested. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has held a majority in the unicameral National Assembly since independence. There are 40 elected and 4 appointed seats in the National Assembly, although that number is updated with every census (ten years).

Executive power is vested in the President (chief of state and head of government), chosen in a national election for a term not to exceed 5 years. The President selects a Cabinet from among the Members of Parliament, consisting of the Vice President, who acts as government leader in the National Assembly, and an unspecified number of ministers. Voting for members of the National Assembly is based on universal adult suffrage (minimum age 21).

The Constitution also provides for a House of Chiefs that serves as a tribal-based advisory body to the government. Chiefs of the eight principal ethnic groups are ex-officio members of the House with additional members representing other smaller tribes. Since independence, the government has gradually moved toward transferring traditional powers of the chiefs to itself or to local elected bodies. For example, mineral rights in tribal lands are now vested in the national government, and the chiefs no longer control the schools.

Local government is carried out by nine district councils and five town councils. Executive authority is vested in the district commissioner appointed by the central government. The district commissioner is assisted by the members of the district/town councils and development committees, some of whom are appointed and some elected.

Botswana's constitution contains a code of fundamental human rights which is enforced by the courts. Judges, many of whom came from the British Commonwealth judiciary services, are appointed by the President and may be removed only for cause and after a hearing. Cases may be taken to the High Court and then to the court of Appeals if necessary. In a parallel, traditional system, chiefs and headmen preside over local courts constituted according to local customs and enforce traditional tribal laws.

The Botswana civil service, established on the British system, is headed by permanent secretaries of each of the ministries who, along with their civil servants, carry out the daily affairs of their respective ministries.

Arts, Science, and Education

Cultural activities in Gaborone can be limited. Only a handful of internationally recognized performers will visit the country in any given year. Local artistic performances can be rewarding, but the country and city's small population mean that the depth of the artistic community and the frequency of performances are limited.

The indigenous handicrafts industry is best known for its basketry, complemented by unique hide and skin products and an imported weaving tradition. Baskets are made primarily in the far northwest of the country but are available in abundance in Gaborone. The Herero design attractive dolls featuring their own unique, Victorian style of dress. The Basarwa (popularly known as the "Bushmen") produce ostrich eggshell necklaces, thumb pianos, hunting gear and other items.

Traditional culture is not strongly evident in Botswana's urban centers. Setswana, Herero, Basarwa and other tribal cultures can be experienced in rural areas. The capital does offer a museum/art gallery complex which features a good, permanent exhibit on Botswana's history, environment and culture. The National Art gallery occasionally sponsors art exhibits from Botswana and other countries.

The Botswana Society was formed in 1968 to study the cultural, historical, developmental and other aspects of Botswana. The Society sponsors lectures and readings and publishes Botswana Notes and Records, a scholarly journal on Botswana.

The University of Botswana, founded in 1972 as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, but now a separate university, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a number of fields. The university library (with a reported 200,000 volumes) is available to the public along with the National Library (400,000 nationwide), the USIS library (5,000), and the National Archives (7,500).

Commerce and Industry

The economic foundations of modern Botswana were laid when diamonds were discovered and exploited in the 1970's. The largest component of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and government revenues comes from three minesJwaneng, Orapa, and Lethlekane. Diamond mining is carried out by the Debswana Corporation, a joint venture between the Government of Botswana and the DeBeers Corporation of South Africa. A U.S. firm, Lazare Kaplan, operates a diamond cutting and polishing facility in Molepolole.

In 2000, Botswana boasted an average per capita GDP of almost $6600 per person. The country's balance of payments has been consistently positive year after year, with reported surpluses in the last 12 of 13 years. The minerals sectorlargely diamonds but including copper, nickel, soda ash, and coalaccounted for one-third of government revenues and generated approximately three-quarters of export earnings. Beef shipped to the European Union under the Lome Convention and assembled vehicles are the principal non-mineral exports.

Economic growth in Botswana was 6 percent in 2000. The rate is modest in comparison with the double-digit growth rates Botswana achieved in the 1980s.

The government of Botswana has sought to diversify its economy to lessen the dependence on minerals. Through the government's semi-autonomous investment arm, the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), as well as through direct government investments, Botswana has sought to transform diamond wealth into economically productive, job-generating ventures. While the government continues to actively pursue this "social investment" role, it has also sought to privatize a number of profitable enterprises.

Botswana recognizes that the private sector must be the key to renewed, robust growth, and it has created one of the most attractive environments for investment in Africa. Bolstered by the country's substantial foreign currency reserves, the Pula is a markedly stable currency and is fully convertible. The country maintains the most liberal foreign exchange regulations in the region, and repatriation of profits for foreign direct investors is a routine process. The corporate and manufacturing tax rates, 25 and 15 percent respectively, are among the lowest in Africa.

Despite these efforts by government, Botswana continues to face structural economic challenges. Over half of the country's peoplepredominantly rural dwellersare outside of the formal economy. Subsistence agriculture, particularly livestock, forms the basis of family income in the countryside, augmented by government subsidies during and after periods of drought. Unemployment is estimated at 21 percent, and the population is increasing faster than the rate of job creation. Rural poverty remains a serious problem, while overall the country presents some of the worst figures for income disparity in the world.

Bearing in mind these challenges, however, Botswana's success remains striking. The country came to independence in 1966 as one of the poorest countries in the world. The government's immediate and consistent embrace of free enterprise, its prudent fiscal management, and, of course, diamonds, have led it to three decades of phenomenal development. Botswana's good road infrastructure, its modern, reliable (and expensive) telephone system, and dependable electricity supply have all been developed from scratch. An ambitious program of school and clinic building has successfully provided basic health care and education throughout the country.

Commercially, Botswana's membership in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), made up of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland, has traditionally been the most significant barrier to American products. SACU has featured extremely high tariff barriers to agricultural and manufactured goods (well over 100 percent until recently on vehicles). Gradual reductions in those tariff rates, brought about in part by GATT Uruguay Round requirements, are making U.S. goods more competitive.

Statistics on foreign direct investment in Botswana are unavailable, but major U.S. investors include Owens Corning (Owens-Corning Pipe Botswana), H.J. Heinz (Kgalagadi Soap Industries), Lazare Kaplan, Interkiln Corporation of Houston (Lobatse Clay Works), The St. Paul Companies of Minnesota (Botswana Insurance), and Fredkin Adventures (Ker and Downey Botswana). There are various agents, direct distributors, affiliates and franchises representing U.S. goods and services in Botswana: distributors of Apple and Compaq computers and of Caterpillar and Euclid machinery; direct outlets of IBM and Xerox; accounting affiliates such as Coopers and Lybrand and Deloitte and Touche; and franchises such as Avis and Kentucky Fried Chicken.



Taxis, mostly mini-buses, are not plentiful but may be found in Gaborone and Francistown. Although not expensive, taxis accept passengers until they are completely full; so traveling from point to point can be an adventure. An intercity bus system links the major population centers, however, many Americans avoid them because of overcrowding and frequent mechanical breakdowns.


Air Botswana is the country's national airline and handling agent for ground traffic at the three main airports of Gaborone, Francistown, and Maun. From Gaborone an average of two flights depart daily for Johannesburg and three flights weekly for Harare, Zimbabwe. Regular connections are made with other regional population centers, as well as twice weekly direct flights to London (British Airways). Within Botswana, regular flights leave Gaborone for Francistown, Maun and Kasane. Several companies provide charter services into and out of Gaborone; the northern tourist areas can only be reached by charter aircraft, either from Gaborone or Maun.

The main rail line from Cape Town to Bulawayo runs through Botswana for about 400 miles, serving the main towns in the eastern part of the country. This line connects with Pretoria and Johannesburg in South Africa. Trains are slow but comfortable, and rates are moderate compared to those in the U.S. In 1984, the last link in a paved highway connecting South Africa in the south with Zambia at the Kazangula Ferry crossing on the Chobe River in the north was completed. One can travel on paved roads west to Serowe in the central district, to Jwaneng from Lobatse in the south, and from Nata to Maun in the Okavango Delta.

Most find conventional two-wheel-drive cars more than adequate for use in Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Extensive travel off the main north/south highway corridor requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle set up for long-range sand operations. Kalahari sand roads are such that heavy duty cooling systems, long-range fuel tanks, and off-road tires will all be stressed to the maximum. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can be rented locally, but they are extremely expensive.

The accident rate in Botswana is high and rising for several reasons:

  • Rising incomes and the proliferation of low cost auto purchase schemes have created many first-time drivers who lack training and experience.
  • Paved roads have 75 MPH speed limits, heavy traffic, and no shoulders. Most drivers exceed the speed limit on the open road.
  • Cattle tend to wander onto the highways anywhere outside the towns, including the Gaborone airport road, especially at night in cool weather. Night driving out of town is extremely dangerous.
  • Gravel, dirt, and sand roads have their own hazards that are not fully appreciated, even by drivers who drive them regularly. Head-on collisions and roll-overs are common on the outskirts of Gaborone and rural roads.


Telephone and Fax

Botswana joined International Direct Dial in 1987 and telephone service is considered quite good. The country code is 267. Rural areas are gradually being joined to the national system and calls to the U.S. can be made without difficulty. A call or fax to the U.S. costs approximately 6.70 pula ($2.25) per minute.

Radio and TV

Radio Botswana broadcasts in FM, medium-and short-wave, in Setswana mostly, but also some English. The Voice of America operates a medium wave retransmitting facility in Selebi-Phikwe, 250 miles north of Gaborone. VOA programs are retransmitted between 6 and 7:30 am and after 7:30 pm. Reception is generally good in fair weather. Bring a good shortwave receiver to pick up VOA and BBC broadcasts. Radios and all electronic equipment are much more expensive locally than in the U.S.

There is no Government of Botswana television service. Signals from South Africa are retransmitted in UHF from a repeater station on top of Kgale Hill. GBC (Gaborone TV) began broadcasting in 1988, and offers a modest evening schedule of programs and news primarily in English.

All South African channels carry U.S. sitcoms, variety shows, and some other American programs as well as South African, British, Australian, and Canadian programs. Programming is in English, Afrikaans, Setswana, Xhosa and Zulu.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

A wide range of publications, mainly South African, but also U.K. and other European magazines, may be found in local bookshops. Popular American magazines available a week late include Time and Newsweek. Many beautiful but expensive "coffee table" books on Botswana and southern Africa are available. The USIS library subscribes to 60 U.S. periodicals.

Besides the USIS library, a British Council library and a public library at the Town Hall are located in downtown Gaborone. Paperbacks may be purchased at bookstores or at the American Women's International Club thrift shop.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

The Gaborone Private Hospital offers consultant care for most specialty areas and those specialists who are not resident visit on a regular basis. The Private Hospital also has an emergency room which is open 24 hours a day. Medical Rescue International provides ambulance transfers (by land and air) by qualified paramedic staff.

Pharmacies (Drug Stores) are well supplied with prescription medicines; however, persons on long term medication may wish to bring their own products. A variety of over-the-counter medications are available, including some American brands and South African equivalents.

Community Health

Traveler's diarrhea is common and easily treated. Water purification in major towns is up to U.S. standards and water is considered safe to drink. Water is fluorinated in the larger towns only.

Bilharzia and tick bite are seasonal and prevail throughout the country. It is imperative not to swim in the rivers at all (there are plenty of pools around). The end of a long drought has brought the return of Tumbo fly (making it necessary to iron or machine dry all laundry) and malaria. Malaria is present north of Mahalapye and in the Limpopo valley all year round. It is of the chloroquine resistant strain, therefore mefloquine is the recommended drug of choice for prophylaxis. Those who are unable to take mefloquine may take chloroquine and proguinal but see your doctor or nurse for up-to-date advice before travel.

Sleeping sickness carried by the tsetse fly can be a possible health hazard in the northern game parks. Wearing protective clothing at night can help you avoid these bites.

Allergies can be a problem as flowers and grasses are in bloom all year round. Upper respiratory infections and sore throats are caused by the dry dusty atmosphere during the dry season. Adequate humidifying of living areas of residences can reduce this problem considerably. Contact lens wearers can experience irritation in the dry season; it is therefore important for them to bring extra reading glasses with an up-to-date prescription.

AIDS remains a growing problem in the country. An aggressive educational program has been initiated by the Botswana Ministry of Health. Testing for HIV is done at all the hospitals and all blood donors are screened.

Preventive Measures

No vaccinations are required for Botswana; however travelers to other countries on the African Continent are advised to maintain upto-date shots for yellow fever; typhoid; measles; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A (Havrix); hepatitis B (Engerix). All children should have their vaccination program kept upto-date.


Passage, Customs and Duties

Gaborone is most easily reached by air on one of the twice weekly British Airways flights out of London's Heathrow Airport. These routes avoid long layovers at Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg, but each makes one stop en route. The alternative is a non-stop overnight flight from Europe to Johannesburg, and then on to Gaborone (an hour by air from Johannesburg). Multiple daily flights from Johannesburg to Gaborone via Air Botswana and Comm Air are available. Gaborone can also be reached via Air Zimbabwe from Harare three times weekly. There is also a code-shared flight from New York to Johannesburg on South African Airways.

A passport is required. U.S. citizens are permitted stays up to 90 days without a visa. For additional information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana, 1531-1533 New Hampshire Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 244-4990/1, fax (202) 244-4164 or the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Botswana to the United Nations, 103 E. 37th St., New York, NY, telephone (212) 889-2277, fax (212) 725-5061. There are also honorary consuls in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest Botswanan Embassy or Consulate.

Americans living in or visiting Botswana are encouraged to register at the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy Botswana and obtain updated information on travel and security within Botswana. The U.S. Embassy is located in Gaborone on Embassy Drive, Government Enclave. The mailing address is P.O. Box 90, Gaborone, telephone (267) 353-982; fax (267) 356-947, and the after-hours emergency telephone (267) 357-111.


To enter Botswana, all pets and animals need a certificate issued by the Botswana Director of Veterinary Services. Shipment costs can be high as British Airways will not accept pets as baggage and applies a 200 percent surcharge on live animals carried as cargo.

In all cases, a valid rabies vaccination certificate and a certificate no older than 2 weeks from a veterinarian stating that the animal is in good health should also accompany the pet.

If the pet is to transit South Africa, a South African transit permit is required. If possible, the pet should transit directly without an overnight stop; no facilities for animals are provided at the Johannesburg airport.

Animal Travel Agency, a South African firm (PO Box 1478, Rivonia 2128, Transvaal, R.S.A.), can be retained to obtain necessary documents, meet, walk, water, and feed the animal at the airport, or keep it overnight and place it on the next plane.

Firearms and Ammunition

The Government of Botswana strictly controls the importation and local acquisition of firearms. Personally-owned handguns are prohibited by local law.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

The local currency is called the Pula, which means rain. As of January 2001, the exchange rate was P5.5 to the U.S. Dollar. The rate of exchange fluctuates on the open market (the Pula is a hard currency), but has remained fairly stable over the last several years.

Barclays, Standard Chartered, First National (Barclays South Africa) and Stanbic (Standard South Africa) Banks offer modern and dependable banking facilities, including international transfers and travelers checks.

The standard official units of weight, length and capacity are kilogram, meter and liter, respectively.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 2 Public Holiday

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Holy Saturday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 1 Labor Day

May/June Ascension Day*

July (1st Mon) Sir Seretse Khama Day*

July (3rd Mon & Tues) President's Day*

Sept. 30 Botswana Day

Oct.1 Public Holiday

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day



These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Alverson, Hoyt. Mind in the Heart of Darkness: Value and Self-Identity Among the Tswana of Southern Africa. Yale University Press: New Haven, 1978.

Alverson, Marianne. Under African Sun. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Brown, Elizabeth W. Interval in Africa. Canterbury, CT: Protea Publishing, 1989.

Campbell, Alec. Botswana Handbook. Gaborone.

Clark, June V. Starlings Laughing: A Memoir of Africa. New York: Morrow, 1991.

Colclough, Christopher and Steven McCarthy. The Political Economy of Botswana: A Study of Growth and Distribution. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1980.

Duggan, William. The Great Thirst. Delacorte, 1986.

Gould, Dennis E. Botswana. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Guide to Namibia and Botswana. New York: Hunter Publishing, 1991.

Head, Bessie. When the Rain Clouds Gather. Heinnemann Educational Books: London, 1981.

Holm, John, and Patrick Molutsi, eds., Democracy in Botswana. Macmillan Botswana: Gaborone, 1989.

Kuper, Adam. Kalahari Village Politics. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1970.

Lambrecht, Frank L. Where the Mopane Bloom: A Biologist in Ngamiland, Botswana. Wakefield, NH: Longwood Press, 1990.

Lye, William F., and C. Murray. Transformations on the Highveld: The Tswana and Southern Sotho. Barnes & Noble Books: Totowa, NJ, 1980.

Main, Mike, John Fowkes, and Sandra Fowkes. Visitors' Guide to Botswana. Johannesburg: Southern Book Publishers, 1987.

Merriweather, A.M. Desert Doctor. Luterworth Press, 1975.

Parsons, Henderson and Tlou,Seretse Khama: 1921-1980. Macmillan, 1995.

Parsons, Neil. History of Southern Africa. Macmillan, 1982.

Pauw, B.A. Religion in a Tswana Chiefdom. Oxford: London, 1960.

Picard, Louis A. The Evolution of Modern Botswana. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1985.

. The Politics of Development in Botswana: A Model for Success?. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1987.

Rush, Norman. Whites: Stories. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1986.

Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall. The Harmless People. Knopf: New York, 1959.

. Warrior Herdsmen. Knopf:New York, 1965 (for young adults).

van der Post, Laurens. The Heart of the Hunter. Morrow: New York, 1971.

In addition to the above volumes, many articles and features stories have been written recently. These articles may be found by consulting a recent edition of The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature in any library.

Several National Geographic Specials have been produced on Botswana's unique wildlife and habitats. Strongly recommended are films by the Jouberts. In addition, specials have been produced on the Basarwa people of the Kalahari.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Botswana
Region: Africa
Population: 1,576,470
Language(s): English, Setswana
Literacy Rate: 69.8%
Number of Primary Schools: 681
Public Expenditure on Education: 8.6%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 313,693
  Secondary: 111,134
  Higher: 8,850
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 108%
  Secondary: 65%
  Higher: 6%
Teachers: Primary: 12,306
  Secondary: 6,670
  Higher: 765
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 25:1
  Secondary: 18:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 108%
  Secondary: 68%
  Higher: 6%

History & Background

The Republic of Botswana was established in 1966 when Great Britain terminated its status as the colonial protector of Bechuanaland. Botswana is located in southern Africa, north of South Africa. It has a land area of 603,200 square kilometers. A landlocked nation, Botswana is completely dependent upon South Africa for access to ocean ports. Botswana is a member of the British Commonwealth and has a multiparty political system within a republican form of governance. In 1998 its economic growth rate was approximately 7 percent, with mineral resources being its principal exports.

The original inhabitants of Botswana were the Basarwa, more commonly known as the Bushmen. The Basarwa were nomadic hunters and gatherers who adapted well to harsh environments. Totally dependent upon the availability of water and game, the Basarwa were astutely cognizant of their environmental surroundings, and they developed ingenious techniques to extract what meager sustenance the land offered. They had no crops or domesticated animals and few possessions. Everything they owned was portable and necessary for sustaining daily existence. In 2000, approximately 60 percent of the 55,000 remaining Basarwa resided in Western Botswana. Their traditional way of life has been compromised by civilization, causing most to work on farms or cattle ranches; others live in settlements near water holes.

Sixty percent of Botswana's 1.4 million people claim Tswana heritage. The Tswana, a Bantu group, migrated into what is now Southeastern Botswana where environmental conditions were more hospitable to their sedentary way of life. They continued moving south and established village settlements in what is now the Transvaal Region of South Africa. Early in the nineteenth century, Zulu aggression pushed the Tswana towards the Western Kalahari where they regrouped and restructured their society around centralized towns surrounded by satellite villages. The Tswana are divided into eight principal groups governed by hereditary chiefs.

White Afrikaners, descendants of seventeenth century Dutch settlers, began colonizing the fertile lands of the Transvaal Region. British intervention protected the Tswana from Afrikaner domination. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Britain extended its political control over the area from the coastal colony of Cape Town deeper into the higher plateau of the Transvaal region. In 1881 Britain subdued the Afrikaners and granted them independence in exchange for their allegiance to the crown, but opportunistic Afrikaners continued to migrate into traditional Tswana lands and captured the town of Mafikeneg.

Tswana leaders, Chiefs Sechele I and Mosielele, sent emissaries to petition Britain for protection. Britain was concerned because of Mafikeneg's strategic location as a planned rail link connecting mineral rich Zimbabwe with the port city of Cape Town. Therefore, in 1886 Britain established a protectorate over Bechuanaland. In return, the Tswana chiefs granted Cecil Rhodes' British South African Company (BSAC) a narrow strip of land for a railroad corridor that would run through the heart of Tswana settlements. The tribal chiefs reluctantly accepted that the railroad would bring Western technology and Christianity, which would change their traditional way of life.

Their concerns increased when Britain considered granting control over all of Bechuanaland to Rhodes' company in 1895. Tswana chiefs Bathoen Khama III and Sebele, accompanied by sympathetic missionaries, sailed to England to meet with Colonial Minister Joseph Chamberlain. They argued that BSAC would corrupt Tswana society by bringing in alcohol. The London Missionary Society (LMS) and other Christian groups forced the government to relent and maintain its protective status over Tswana lands.

Administration of the protectorate was headquartered in Mafikneg, the South African town in the Transvaal. The British resident commissioner was responsible to a High Commissioner of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland who, in turn, was accountable to the colonial office in London. Three advisory councils were established with the Tswana chiefs and their counselors in one group, white businessmen and farmers in the second, and a joint council of delegates from the other two. The tribes actively participated in the commercial economy evolving in the protectorate. Each chief was granted a tribal reserve with jurisdiction over all black residents with the authority to collect taxes. They retained a 10 percent commission of all monies collected, including the sale of cattle, draft oxen, and grain to Europeans.

The Anglican Church has always been an influential factor in Botswana's politics. This was especially evident during the protectorate period. Not satisfied with the slow rate of progress, the resident commissioner, Sir Charles Ray, tried to compromise the autonomy of the Tswana chiefs by proclaiming them local government officials who were accountable to colonial magistrates. It was feared, in 1923, that such arbitrary action would eventually lead to annexation by South Africa. The Church was a strong advocate for the chiefs; their involvement caused Ray to be removed from his position and the proclamation to be annulled. Botswana remained a British protectorate until independence was granted in 1966.

In 1997, about 27 percent of Botswana's 1.6 million people lived in urban areas. Because of Botswana's harsh environment, population density averages 2.3 persons per square kilometer. The dominant urban centers exist in the east while smaller cities are dispersed in the outlands bordering the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert. Approximately 4,300,000 people live in the eastern rim of the country along the railroad corridor connecting Zimbabwe with South Africa. In the 1800s, before protective status was conferred over the Tswana tribes and the railroad corridor created, the largest and most important towns were located in the east.

Until Botswana was granted independence, the affairs of the protectorate were administered from the South African city of Mafikeng. In 1964, with independence pending, it was decided to create a capital at the village Gaberones. The capital city, renamed Gaborone, was planned to accommodate 20,000 people; however, in 2000 it had almost 250,000 residents and was one of the world's fastest growing cities. Gabrone functions as Botswana's administrative, commercial, and industrial center. Typical of most large cities in developing countries, wealthier neighborhoods exist close to the city's center while shanty communities belonging to the urban poor and recent migrants are located in the outer suburbs.

According to the 1994 census, Botswana's birth rate was 45.6 per 1,000 persons, and the death rate was 11.1 per 1,000 persons. Approximately 40.6 percent of the population was less than 15 years of age, while 4.1 percent was 65 and older. Thus, Botswana's population could double by 2030. The rate of literacy has increased in Botswana. Adult female literacy increased from 44 percent in 1970 to 70 percent in 1998, and adult male literacy increased from 37 percent in 1970 to 67 percent in 1998.

Botswana is the country whose population has been most afflicted with the AIDS virus. A United Nations Development Report estimates that 36 percent of the country's population carry the virus. More conservative estimates place the figure in the high twenties. Botswana is making headway in fighting the disease by providing drugs to pregnant mothers. The United Kingdom Institute of Actuaries is making a detailed projection of what the epidemic may mean for Botswana and identifying the best ways to fund long-term health and social security costs. In 1999, the annual death rate from AIDS was 24,000. In 2000, life expectancy was 40.2 years for women and 39.9 years for the entire population. In 1993, there was 1 hospital bed per 434 persons. In 1994, there was an average of 1 physician for each 4,395 persons.

Diamonds were discovered in 1967, one year after Botswana gained its independence. Rather than lease extraction rights, the government negotiated a partnership with De Beers that gives 75 percent of the profits to Botswana. In 1966 mining contributed only 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); in 1998 it comprised 36 percent of GDP. Mining has been largely responsible for Botswana's rate of economic growth, which averaged 7.3 percent between 1970 and 1995, the highest in the developing world. While mining should remain stable, diamond output is reaching its peak, and further production gains may be limited. Tourism is the second vital component of Botswana's economy, but it could decline in the twenty-first century because of political unrest in neighboring countries.

Economic planners are working to expand the manufacturing sector, but a disappointment occurred in 1999 when an automobile plant, Motor Company of Botswana, closed. Vehicles had been Botswana's second largest export earner and a flagship for industrial development. The Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) was created in 1999 to expand exports by offering foreign companies attractive incentives to establish businesses in the country. Eleven new companies, mostly textile firms from India and Sri Lanka, created 3,000 new jobs, which helped alleviate the severe unemployment problem.

Botswana is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A Trade Protocol went into effect late in 2000. The protocol's goal is to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in the region by 2008. Tariff reduction could become a problem because South Africa and the European Union have their own trade agreements. There is concern that the SADC countries may be flooded with cheaper European imports.

In 2000 Botswana's rate of inflation was more than 10 percent for the first time since 1995. Because the bulk of Botswana's consumer goods are imported from South Africa, increased costs in consumer prices in South Africa have an adverse effect on Botswana. The rising cost of international oil has also generated inflationary pressure. The government is maintaining a tight monetary policy and resisting pressure to deflate its currency. Fiscal policy will focus on improving control over government expenditures while increasing receipts. Proposals have been made to replace a sales tax with a value added tax and to charge user fees for health services and education.

Fiscal discipline has enabled Botswana's independent central bank to accumulate substantial foreign exchange reserves and maintain a disciplined monetary policy. In 2000 Botswana was one of only five African states classified by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country. The key challenges faced by government and economic planners are the high levels of poverty and unemployment and the rapid increase in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Botswana is a unitary republic with a national legislature, the National Assembly, elected by universal suffrage. The national government consists of the president who is selected by the assembly, his appointed vice-president, and cabinet officials. The Minister of Education is a member of the cabinet. There is also a House of Chiefs consisting of 15 hereditary leaders that advise on tribal matters separate from the assembly.

A multi-party system emerged soon after Botswana gained independence. The ruling party is the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The president in 2001, Festus Mogae, has been successful in calming factional politics within his party. Botswana's next national election is scheduled for October 2004. Mogae has confirmed that he plans to run for another presidential term, which has helped maintain unity within the BDP. Other political organizations include the Botswana Congress Party (BCP); Botswana Workers Front (BWF); Botswana People's Party (BPP); United Action Party (UAP); and the Botswana National Front (BNF), which is the main opposition group.

One problem that emerged immediately after Botswana became an independent country was financing the impoverished educational system left over from the protectorate. Primary education had been funded exclusively from tribal resources; some tribes had funded as much as 70 percent of educational costs. Government leaders were faced with two options: educating the majority of the population with the long-term goal of creating a literate society or providing limited educational facilities for a few that could occupy civil service jobs, which were then held primarily by expatriates. The second option was selected, and, as a result, income distribution became highly skewed. Critics argued that the educational policy was creating a small, privileged elitist educated group.

To address these social inequalities, the government commissioned a study in 1977. The National Commission on Education's recommendations received top priority, and Botswana began providing universal primary education and ensuring equality of educational opportunity at secondary and tertiary levels through the fair distribution of facilities, the provision of scholarships, and the use of an objective national selection system. However, the wide geographic dispersal of Botswana's population has made it difficult and costly to achieve universal education and expand the opportunities for economic development.

Educational SystemOverview

Education in Botswana is free, but it is not compulsory. The Ministry of Education has authority over all of Botswana's educational structure except the University of Botswana. The educational structure mirrors that of the United Kingdom: there is universal access to primary and junior secondary school, but a process of academic selectivity reduces entrance to the senior secondary school and the university. However, educational curricula incorporate prevocational preparation in the junior and senior secondary schools.

In 2001 Botswana's education system was comprised of seven years of primary education, three years of junior secondary education, and two years of senior secondary education. Each year at the primary level is a Standard, and each secondary level is a Form. This system was implemented in 1995 as a result of a 1993 National Education Commission study. Botswana's basic education program is comprised of the primary and junior secondary levels.

Primary education is the most important stage in the educational system, and the government strives to make this level of education accessible to everyone. One central objective of primary education is for children to be literate first in Setswana and then in English. Other goals are for children to become knowledgeable in mathematics and to have a command of science and social studies. From 1991 to 1997, the number of students completing the primary level and entering junior secondary increased from 65.0 percent to 98.5 percent.

Completing the Junior Certificate program may lead to admission to the senior secondary school program. Only those pupils whose grades are high enough on the Junior Certificate Examination are admitted to the senior secondary program. From 1991 to 1994, the number of students admitted to senior secondary schools increased from 28 to 34 percent. Botswana is in the process of building unified secondary schools, Form I to Form V, in the remote areas of the country to increase access to a senior secondary education.

Education has been given priority in the national budget. In the 1994-1995 financial year, the Ministry of Education received 10 percent of the national budget. The Department of Secondary Education and Teacher Training and Development shared 64 percent, and the ministry headquarters, which was responsible for four projects including the University of Botswana and Brigades development, received 25 percent. The 11 percent balance was spent on improving facilities and functions under the technical education, nonformal education, curriculum development, and evaluation and special education departments. The Ministry of Education expanded from a small unit of government in 1966 to one that looks after the educational needs of hundreds of thousands students from primary to tertiary levels. In addition, the ministry writes all required textbooks. The ministry's emphasis is on training qualified teachers, developing a diversified curriculum, and expanding facilities to meet the national commitment of universal education. The concern for achieving national literacy is underscored by the fact that 40.6 percent of the country's population is under the age of 15.

Botswana's first educational policy, called Education for Kagisano (Social Harmony), guided the country's educational development and administration from 1977 to 1993. In the early 1990s, the recognition that the country's socioeconomic situation had changed significantly resulted in a review of policies and strategies for Botswana's educational development. In March 1994, the Minister of Education presented Government Paper No. 2, The Revised National Policy on Education. Its recommendations will provide direction for Botswana's educational system until 2020.

The objectives of the new policy are to review the current education system and its relevance and to identify problems and strategies for its further development in the context of Botswana's changing and complex economy; to reexamine the structure of the education system to guarantee universal access to primary and junior secondary education, while consolidating and vocationalising the curriculum content at these levels; to advise on ways to ensure the education system is sensitive and responsive to the people's wishes and the country's manpower requirements; to study the various methods of streaming into vocational and academic groups at the senior secondary level; to study how the senior secondary structure relates to the University of Botswana degree programs and to determine how the two programs may best be reconciled; to advise on the organization and diversification of the secondary school curricula to prepare students who do not continue with higher education; and to make recommendations to the government on the best and most cost-effective methods of implementing the recommendations proposed by the Ministry of Education.

The education system makes minimal provisions for children with disabilities. Few disabled children are integrated in regular school classes, and there is a limited special education curriculum. Parents must pay fees to nongovernmental organizations if their special needs children are educated. However, the government has committed to intensify efforts to educate these children by paying the nongovernmental organizations' fees.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool education is available only to those children whose parents can afford to send them to expensive private day care centers and preschools. The overwhelming majority of parents have no access to preschool programs. The University of Botswana's Primary Education Department and Home Economics Education Department offer courses for students seeking the Baccalaureate Degree in Education. Following a 1998 study reporting that the university lacked a comprehensive plan and policy on preschool education and that the Department of Primary Education did not offer a full-fledged program in preschool education, the Department of Home Economics Education opened a day care center. The center, managed by students as part of their curriculum, is for children of the university's employees who do not have the financial resources to send their children to other day care centers.

Children begin the seven-year primary education program at age six. Botswana's education system recognizes that primary education is the foundation upon which future learning is based. Setswana and English are the only two languages taught in the schools. Setswana is the language of instruction for the first four years of primary school, so those not speaking it, such as the Basarwa children, choose not to attend.

The primary curriculum is based on the country's principles and goals of democracy and is designed to prepare children for life after they have completed school. Teachers continually assess their students and provide remediation when needed. At the end of the primary program, Standard VII, students take the Primary School Leaving Examination. Those who pass this examination enter the junior secondary schools. The government increased the number of primary schools from 537 in 1986 to 669 in 1994 as part of their plan to achieve universal access to education, but there is a noticeable shortage of classrooms in the rural areas.

By 1994 primary school enrollment was 310,050, an increase of more than 30 percent from the 1986 enrollment of 235,941 students. In 1990 the Ministry of Education projected a primary school enrollment of 342,155 students by 1994; the 1994 enrollment figure was just 9.6 percent below this projected number. In 1986 there were 7,324 primary teachers, and the student-teacher ratio was 32:1. By 1994 the number of primary teachers had increased to 11,726, and the student-teacher ratio had dropped to 26:1.

Secondary Education

Botswana's secondary education program has two levels: the three-year junior secondary program and the two-year senior secondary program. Each year is a Form; Forms I to III are completed in junior secondary and Forms IV and V in senior secondary. In 1996 the junior secondary level was expanded from two years to three years so that it would align with the 1994 revision of the government's basic education policy to emphasize prevocational preparation. Prevocational preparation is implemented by including vocational applications in academic subjects; providing more practical elective courses for students; emphasizing skills relevant to work situations including problem solving, team work, self-identity, and computing; offering both curricular and co-curricular activities that focus on the organization and demands of working life; and offering career guidance and counseling.

In 1997, about 98 percent of students leaving primary school enrolled in junior secondary schools, which is a significant increase from 1991 when only 65 percent of those completing primary school entered a junior secondary school. One reason for this change is the increase in the number of junior secondary schools. In 1977 there were 32 junior secondary schools in Botswana; by 1990 the number had increased to 150. In 1977 only 35 percent of those completing primary school had access to a junior secondary school. In 1991, about 95 percent of the students completing primary school had access to a junior secondary school.

There is a nationwide network of community-based junior secondary schools. Each community elects a Board of Governors that oversees the school. Ex-officio members, mainly government workers, also serve as on these boards. The Botswana government supports community schools by providing assistance for capital projects and recurrent costs, providing teaching staff, supervising construction, and housing teachers. Communities are expected to employ ancillary staff and maintain school buildings.

The majority of students not completing the secondary level are boys who must herd cattle and girls who become pregnant. For every 100 girls dropping out due to pregnancy, only 10 return. There is a gap in academic performance between girls and boys, and the underachievement of girls impacts their opportunities for employment and thus exacerbates gender inequality.

Admission to senior secondary schools is determined by student performance in the junior secondary school. The number of students admitted to the senior secondary school has increased from 28 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 1997. The government's goal is to increase access to senior secondary schools by 50 percent before the year 2003. To accomplish this, unified secondary schools for Forms I to V will be built in the remotest areas, and larger senior secondary schools will be constructed in the urban areas.

The Ministry of Education provides secondary school curricula guidelines. The headmaster of each school, in consultation with his staff, determines the actual options that will be offered. The junior level prescribes a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 11 subjects. All students must take eight core subjects: English, Setswana, social studies, mathematics, integrated science, design and technology, agriculture, and moral education. Students must also select a minimum of two and a maximum of three of the following optional subjects: home economics, commerce, principles of accounts/bookkeeping and office skills, religious education, third language, art, music, and physical education. The purpose of this broad curriculum is to meet the needs of students who enter the junior secondary school having a wide range of differing abilities.

In 1984 a science curriculum, Science by Investigation in Botswana, was introduced. The curriculum consists of 15 units inclusive of biological and earth science subjects. Pupils at both junior and senior secondary levels are encouraged to participate in science clubs so they can apply classroom knowledge to practical experiences. Supporting this curriculum is the Botswana Science Association (BOTSA), which has made it possible for students to exhibit their projects in annual science fairs.

There has always been an agricultural program in the junior secondary school, but it has been expanded since the junior secondary program was increased to three years. Vegetable production is a required topic; optional topics include bee keeping, ostrich farming, fish farming, and other forms of poultry husbandry. The agricultural program in the senior secondary school offers basic research and technical report writing skills through what is referred to as project methods of teaching. The Botswana Agriculture Teachers Association organizes fairs at both regional and national levels. These fairs enable schools to reach out to the public and demonstrate what students can produce if given adequate support. The agrarian program is not meant to be vocational. Its main objective is for students to have knowledge and skills they can apply on a daily basis that will have a positive impact on their environment.

Higher Education

The University of Botswana is located in Gaberone. Until 1975 the University College of Botswana was part of the Regional University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. When Lesotho dropped out, Botswana and Swaziland developed as a joint university until 1982 when collective planning ceased and the two institutions separated. The University of Botswana admits approximately 3,000 new students annually. All those receiving first and second class in their final senior secondary examinations are eligible to be admitted. Enrollment for the 1999-2000 academic year was 9,500 students.

By act of Botswana's Parliament, the university was established as a separate corporation. The institution is in complete control of its funds and can govern itself without direct intervention from the State. The University of Botswana directly controls its staff salaries, promotions, employment, and staff expulsion. It can decide student policy and programs. The university's budget is primarily financed by a government endowment and through government scholarships that pay full fees and personal allowances to all secondary school graduates who qualify academically. In 1990-1991 government subvention provided 74 percent of the university's revenue.

The University of Botswana offers a broad range of educational programs. Most are on the undergraduate level. Students can earn certificates for professions and career studies or baccalaureate degrees in accounting and business studies, engineering, law, library science, nursing, social work, and most of the basic arts and sciences areas. Baccalaureate degrees are also offered in home economics, agricultural science, and engineering and technology. Graduate degrees at the master's level are offered in education, business administration, public administration, and in arts and sciences.

In 1996 Botswana Polytechnic was incorporated into the University of Botswana as the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. Various ministries cooperate with the university to support the technical programs. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs share the responsibility of oversee the provision of craft training.

Non-university vocational training is provided at government Vocational Training Centers (VTCs). Enrollment is open to Botswana's employed and unemployed citizens. These centers are strategically located in development areas, which have diversified major industrial and commercial infrastructures. VTCs offer short courses during the day, evening, and weekends for full-time trainees and apprentices. Courses include mechanical, automotive, textile, computing, construction, electrical, commercial trades, and hotel/catering. The VTCs emphasize the importance of practical training and experience. The programs require apprentices to spend three months at a VTC and nine months at job training supervised by the Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs.

Aided by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Botswana's national television channel opened in the summer of 2000; however, much of the country will have access only to radio for some time because it is expensive to run lines to sparsely populated remote areas. Botswana Telecommunications Authority provides Intersawana, radio-based Internet connectivity throughout Botswana and the University of Botswana. The service is funded by the United States through the Education Democracy and Development Initiative, which supports delivering teaching and learning programs through various communication technologies including distance learning. Secretary of State Madeline Albright signed the agreement on behalf of President Clinton in December 2000 at the University of Botswana.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

With the exception of the University of Botswana, the Ministry of Education has authority over Botswana's educational structure. The Department of Curriculum Development plans, develops, and evaluates school curricula for primary and for junior and senior secondary schools. Each of the department's five divisions has a specific responsibility. The Curriculum Development Division operates through subject panels and promotes consultation in the development of educational programs. This division is responsible for reviewing, revising, and developing syllabi; for creating instructional materials; and for adapting published materials for curriculum needs. The Educational Publications Division is the public relations division of the ministry. It also provides supplementary materials for teachers and pupils. The Guidance and Counseling Division provides programs for career guidance and teacher training and is involved in material development. The Teaching Aid Production Division develops teaching aids primarily for use at the primary levels. These aids may be print materials or other instructional items, such as those used in science and mathematics instruction. The Educational Broadcasting Division develops radio lessons to support the school curriculum and provides teachers with notes to help them use the radio lessons. Most of these lessons are developed for the primary level.

The Examinations, Research, and Testing Division was at one time a part of the Curriculum Development and Evaluation Division, but has since become a semiautonomous unit. This division designs and implements national examination programs for primary and secondary systems and ensures that the exams meet acceptable standards in operational procedures as well as in technical quality. The division is also responsible for training teachers to develop criterion-referenced tests for classroom assessments.

The National Examination Board of the Ministry of Education conducts the Junior Certificate examinations in October and November. The "O" level examinations are written twice a year in June and November and administered by the Examinations, Research, and Testing Division.

Since 1987 public education in Botswana has been free except for the cost of school uniforms and other incidentals. However, impoverished parents cannot buy school uniforms for their children. Although a uniform is not required, not wearing one subjects individuals to peer pressure so often these children do not attend school. Education has always been given priority in national budgets. In the 1991-1992 national recurrent budget, 22.6 percent was for education. This increased to 30.5 percent the following year. An estimated 27 percent of government expenditures in 1999-2000 were spent on education. In 2000 education minister George Kgoroba proposed partial school fees, but it was doubtful such charges would be approved because of the government's financial reserves and the low economic status of many citizens. There have been some changes in school management, however, such as the privatization of catering services.

In 1992 the president commissioned a study to prioritize manpower needs essential to the Botswana's development. The most critical manpower shortage areas were in science and technical fields: medicine, accounting, engineering, actuarial science, and teaching of mathematics, science, and Setswana. The next most critical area was for vocations that seem unattractive to students: paramedical, teaching, and sub-professionals. The category prioritized as the third most critical identified vocations where there were too few individuals to meet the country's needs: law, public administration, human resource management, psychology, hotel and tourism, and fashion design. The fourth category identified those areas seen as beneficial to society and the economy but of less priority: library information systems, sociology, and land board administration. The final category identified those occupations described as beneficial to an individual or a small section of the economy: cosmetology, performing arts, and interior design.

In 1995 a Grant/Loan Scheme administered by the Department of Student Placement and Welfare (DSPW) went into effect. The program is designed to attract more students into critical occupations and professions. Students entering high priority areas receive aid priorities over those in areas deemed less essential. Career guidance units disseminate career related information and offer more professional student counseling. The number of students administered by the DSPW grew from 3,000 in 1991 to more than 4,300 in 1995. The projected number for 2001 is 7,000.

Another function of the DSPW is administrating programs for students who travel to other countries, primarily the United Kingdom or the United States, as part of their education. When the DSPW became responsible for these students, there were approximately 100 students traveling abroad, all in either the United Kingdom or the United States. In 2000, there were approximately 500 students in the United Kingdom and 300 in the United States.

Nonformal Education

Botswana Extension College was founded in 1973 as part of the Ministry of Education. In 1978 the Department of Nonformal Education was created and incorporated into the Botswana Extension College. The department supplements secondary level education by offering Junior Certificate and Cambridge "O" Level courses via distance learning.

In 1980 literacy programs began for the then 250,000 men, women, and youths who were illiterate or unable to do simple computations. In the program's first year, 7,676 individuals enrolled in the four regional districts. The number of participants increased steadily until 1986 when enrollments leveled. One part of the literacy program is the Ditiro tsa Ditlhabololo (Home Economics Course); district adult education officers work with extension teams and village development committees to create locally-oriented activities.

Brigades Centers are autonomous, communitybased, and predominately rural organizations that provide practical on the job training for Botswana youth. Their primary objective is to develop self-reliant individuals. Training is offered in automechanics, agriculture, construction, office studies, carpentry, electrical, drafting, general maintenance, machinery, plumbing, tannery, textiles, and welding. In 1999 there were 37 registered Brigades with 33 actively engaged in training.

Until 1999 graduates of the senior secondary school system were required to perform Trelo Setshaba (National Service) for one year. The government guaranteed places at the University of Botswana for those who completed the program. The service program began in 1980 as a pilot program with 28 participants; by 1991 there were more than 6,000 participants. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration managed the program; by the late 1990s, there were many logistical and budget problems that eventually led to the program's termination. National Service was designed to provide secondary graduates with opportunities to mature more and to explore possible career choices. They lived and worked in rural areas and remote places where more than 80 percent of Botswana's population reside. The program provided educated workers who assisted with government programs and bridged gaps between urban and rural dwellers, as well as between the educated and uneducated.

When National Service ended in 1999, the University of Botswana could not accommodate the unusually large freshman class comprised of those who had completed National Service and those who had just graduated from senior secondary schools. To accommodate everyone, the university switched some courses and sent some students to universities outside of Botswana but within the Southern African Development Community region. The national parliament appropriated additional funds for these expenses.

Teaching Profession

Two years after Botswana gained its independence, there were 1,791 primary level teachers, but 1,114 of these were not certified teachers. By 1985 the number of primary level teachers had increased to 6,980, and 74.3 percent were certified. The percentage of certified primary teachers has continued to increase. In 1993, about 83 percent of the 11,190 primary level teachers were certified. This trend is also found at the secondary level. In 1985 there were 1,368 secondary teachers; 72.3 percent of these were certified. In 1993 there were 4,391 secondary teachers; 81.9 percent of these were certified.

In 1985, about 77 percent of the primary level teachers were female. Of these, 21 percent were not certified. In 1993, about 76 percent of the primary teachers were female, but the percentage of uncertified female teachers decreased to 9.0 percent. That same year 8.0 percent of the male primary teachers were not certified. In 1985, about 43 percent of the 1,368 secondary teachers were female; 13.0 percent of these were not certified. That same year 14.0 percent of the male secondary teachers were not certified. In 1993, about 42 percent of the 4,391 secondary teachers were female. That year only 9.0 percent of male and female teachers were not certified.

Botswana has four primary level and two secondary level colleges of education. With the exception of the Botswana College of Agriculture, which has its own teacher-training program, all of the teacher training institutions (TEIs) are affiliated with the University of Botswana. The University has a mandate from the Ministry of Education to oversee the maintenance of academic and professional standards of diplomas and certificates for which students in the TEIs are prepared. Boards and committees systematically consult and participate in the decision-making process between the university and the ministry. The TEIs are provided with advice, guidance, technical, and qualitative capacities. Therefore, all teachers are trained in programs validated by the University. The University has the authority to implement whatever is necessary to achieve universal education; however, Botswana's government controls all funding.

African tradition dictates strict divisions of responsibility and positions of authority. Females have lower status than males. Males dominate the University of Botswana's Faculty of Education. It is only in the primary level colleges that the majority of lecturers and heads of departments are women. Male department heads lead in those areas traditionally seen as the responsibility of males, such as engineering and technology. Female department heads lead in areas such as primary, home economics, and nursing education.

Policy makers at the Ministry of Education are aware of hierarchies and gender inequities within the University and the TEIs. To address these problems, the University of Botswana established the Department of Primary Education, which, since 1980, has offered diploma courses to primary school teachers in order to replace expatriate lecturers in the TEIs. Enrollment in the University's Master's of Education program increases every year. In 1994 the government upgraded the primary level teachers colleges by phasing out the certificate program and replacing it with a diploma. In 1990 the Faculty of Education established the Gender and Education Committee (GEC), which is committed to encourage and support gender reform within the University as well as in schools and in the Ministry of Education. The University of Botswana is the only education establishment in the country with a gender policy.


Botswana is a unique country in Africa because of its sustained economic growth and political stability. Education is free, but not compulsory. While Botswana's government strives for universal education, there are barriers that must be overcome. In addition to overcrowded school facilities, the efficiency and effectiveness of teacher education is constrained by the centralized and hierarchical nature of educational administration. The Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation is in charge of basic educational curriculum development with only a minimal involvement of teachers, teacher training institutions, and the University of Botswana.

Many of Botswana's problems exist because of the republic's rapid transition from a rural to a technologically developing country. While the problems are great, they do not appear to be insurmountable. The motto on the University of Botswana's Coat of Arms, Thuto Ke Thebe (Education Is A Shield), underscores the important role education has in the country.


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Sherman E. Silverman

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Republic of Botswana



Botswana is a landlocked country in southern Africa, located just north of South Africa. Botswana has a total area of 602,957 square kilometers (232,802 square miles), making it about the same size as the state of Texas. The length of Botswana's border is 4,011 kilometers (2,493 miles), and its neighbors are Namibia to the west, Zimbabwe to the east, and South Africa to the south. The capital, Gaborone, has a population of about 135,000 and is located in the southeast of the country, almost on the border with South Africa.


Botswana's population was estimated at 1.58 million in July 2000, growing at the slow rate of .76 percent. The population was expected to reach 2 million by 2030. The birth rate was 29.63 births per 1,000 people, and the death rate was 22.08 deaths per 1,000 people. Approximately 41 percent of the population was less than 15 years old, 55 percent was 15-64 years old, and only 4 percent had lived over 64 years of age in 2000.

Botswana is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a fairly homogeneous ethnic background. The Batswanans make up 95 percent of the population, of which the Tswana tribes constitute 60 percent. The San people (also known as Basarwa, Khwe, or Bushmen) number 60,000. Population density is low due to the harsh climate of the Kalahari desert, at 2.6 people per square kilometer (6.7 people per square mile). The majority of Botswana's people live in the southeast of the country, where the desert gives way to the more fertile land of the Okavango river delta and swamp, and 50 percent of the total population lives within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of Gaborone. At independence in 1966 only 3 percent of the population lived in urban areas, but by 2000 this figure had risen to over 65 percent.

The rapid spread of AIDS in Botswana is a major reason that population growth is low. It is estimated that 25-36 percent of the population is infected with the virus, reflecting one of the highest rates in the world. This has caused a great number of social problems including labor shortages and a health care crisis. AIDS-related health and safety information is openly available, but cultural practices, social mobility, and the fact that Botswana lies on major trucking routes between South Africa and the north have contributed to the spread of the disease.


Botswana's economy depended primarily on the raising of livestock, especially cattle, until the early 1970s. At that time, the diamond industry surpassed cattle raising as the main source of foreign exchange. While the export of diamonds generates a great deal of money for the few who own and work the diamond mines, subsistence agriculture and cattle raising provides employment for about 80 percent of the population and supplies half of the domestic food consumption. The government of Botswana hopes to develop a more diversified economy through ecotourism , manufacturing, and financial services.

Botswana's external debt is small, at US$651 million (or about 10 percent of GDP in 1998). The country is one of the only African nations (with Swaziland) that contributes money to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Botswana has historically favored free market policies and encourages foreign investment, although a monopoly in the diamond industry discourages smaller mining ventures. The South African company De Beers, in partnership with the Botswanan government, controls virtually all of the diamond industry. In contrast, cattle are exported from smaller domestic companies. Large African companies such as Waverly Blankets (from South Africa) run manufacturing operations.


Botswana was a British colony called Bechuanaland until 30 September 1966, when it received its independence. It is a republic, with a unicameral (single-chambered) parliament similar to that of the United Kingdom. The president of the country is elected by Parliament and then chooses the vice president. The main political parties are the Botswana Democratic Party, Botswana National Front, Botswana Congress Party, and Botswana Peoples Party. Botswana has a stable political history, with peaceful elections held every 5 years. Sir Seretse Khama was elected president of Botswana in 1966 and held office until 1980. Quett Masire took office upon the death of President Khama and remained president until 1998, when he resigned. Festus Mogae of the Botswana Democratic Party was elected president in 1998. Political opposition parties question the government about unemployment and the perception that foreigners take jobs away from locals.

Though Botswana in general practices free market policies, there is some government control over central services such as banking and telecommunications. Government policy leans towards privatization of publicly-owned companies. Taxes on investment are among the lowest in the Southern Africa region. Corporate taxes apply equally to foreign and domestic businesses and were lowered from 35 percent to 25 percent in 1995 in order to attract more investment. A similar tax reduction in the same year was applied to the manufacturing sector, where taxes were lowered from 35 percent to 15 percent.


Botswana has 971 kilometers (603 miles) of rail lines, 18,482 kilometers (11,484 miles) of roads (of which only 23 percent are paved), and 92 airports, of which 12 have paved runways. The national airline is Air Botswana, which flies domestically and to other countries in Africa. Direct air service from Gaborone to London and Paris is provided by British and French airlines.

Botswana has a good infrastructure by African standards. The quality of infrastructure was greatly improved by the development of the mining industry, which required adequate transportation and communication networks. Botswana also benefits from its location next to South Africa. This has allowed Botswana access to South Africa's telecommunications infrastructure. Botswana's desire to become an international financial services center is a key factor driving the improvement of the country's land line and cellular telephone networks. In 1998 there were 78,000 phone lines in use.

Domestically produced coal generates 100 percent of the electricity for Botswana, which is approximately 1.619 billion Kilowatts (1998). Every other source of energy, including oil, must be imported.


The vast majority of Botswana's people practice subsistence farming and cattle raising. Because subsistence farm products and livestock are primarily raised for local consumption and are not sold in the formal market, the value of this production is not included in the gross domestic product or formal employment figures. Although agricultural employment is estimated at 15.6 percent of the formal labor force , the true figure is more like 80 percent of the informal labor force. The mining and service sectors (especially government, finance, transportation, and communication) account for most of

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Botswana 27 156 20 N/A 15 2.3 25.5 6.00 12
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
Zimbabwe 19 93 30 N/A 4 N/A 9.0 1.19 20
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE : World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

the nation's gross domestic product, but employ very few people. About 100,000 people are employed in the public sector , and about 245,000 in the private sector .

Botswana is one of the world's largest diamond producers. Debswana (an equal partnership of the South African company De Beers and the Botswanan government) controls most of the country's diamond industry. The Botswana government is currently trying reduce the country's dependence on diamonds by encouraging new manufacturing and service industries to locate in the country.


Agriculture in Botswana is practiced primarily to feed the country, rather than for export. Yet agricultural production is not sufficient to meet domestic demand. Botswana's agricultural exports totaled US$114.2 million in 1998, while agricultural imports for the same year totaled US$348.4 million. Though the majority of people in Botswana practice agriculture (80 percent), it contributes only 4 percent to GDP and accounts for only 15.6 percent of formal employment.

Environmental factors have determined the kinds of crops and animals that can be raised in the country. Much of Botswana is part of the Kalahari Desert, with a dry and drought-prone climate. The primary crops are corn and wheat, which are grown in the wetter eastern parts of the country. The drier parts of Botswana are suitable for non-intensive cattle raising, similar to the western United States. Botswana's only important agricultural exports are meat and animal hides.



Mining provides 86 percent of the country's export earnings, most of this from diamond sales. However, the mining sector employs only about 4.4 percent of the formal labor force. The country has 3 main diamond mines, at Orapa, Lethlakane, and Jwaneng. These are all owned and operated by Debswana, an equal joint venture between the South African diamond mining company De Beers and the Botswana government.

Though diamonds dominate Botswana's mining industry, the country is also rich in copper, nickel, and gold. Botswana also has sizable coal deposits.

Many of Botswana's mineral resources have not yet been discovered, but are presumed to exist given the country's geology. The area is expected to yield natural gas and crude oil; Central Botswana and the Kalahari Desert are perhaps the most likely sources of new discoveries. Though Botswana has tried to diversify its economy away from mining, the minerals sector continues to dominate the economy. Fortunately, the Botswana government saved and invested a portion of the country's mineral revenues, producing additional income for the country as well as providing investment capital for new industries.


Manufacturing contributes only 5 percent of GDP and employs only 8.5 percent of the country's labor force. Botswana exports most of its natural resources in raw form, with minimum processing. The Botswanan government would like more manufacturing companies to locate in the country, therefore it is focusing on the natural resources that may be used in manufacturing operations. Such resources include soda ash, which is used to produce detergents and fertilizers; and copper and nickel, which are used in electrical components. Other established manufacturing products include cement, food, and beer. In 1997 the Botswana Export Development Investment Authority was established to encourage the export of goods manufactured in Botswana.


The services sector contributes roughly 51 percent of GDP, and employs 71.5 percent of the formal labor force. Transportation, telecommunications, and tourism are the key sectors within the services sector, as is government. Transportation is dominated by passenger air travel and cargo rail. A number of important truck routes between South Africa and central and eastern African countries pass through Botswana. The tourism sector received 734,000 tourist arrivals in 1997, generating US$184 million. The tourism industry in Botswana is characterized by ecotourism. The country has great tourism potential given its desert scenery and plentiful wildlife. Botswana also has a developing financial services

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Botswana
Exports Imports
1975 .142 .218
1980 .503 .692
1985 .728 .580
1990 1.784 1.946
1995 2.143 1.914
1998 1.122 1.120
SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

sector. There are currently a number of commercial banks, a savings bank run through the post office (which accepts very small deposits), a development bank, and the government's central bank. Botswana is hoping to become an international financial services center.


During the colonial period and in the years immediately after independence, Botswana's trade was primarily with Great Britain and Western Europe. Imports from Europe declined during the 1970s while imports from other African countries, and especially with South Africa, increased. In 1999 Botswana exported a total of US$2.36 billion in goods and imported US$2.05 billion. In 1996 74 percent of exports went to EU countries, 21 percent went to South African Customs Union (SACU) countries, and 3 percent went to Zimbabwe. In the same year, 78 percent of imports came from SACU countries, 8 percent from EU countries, and 6 percent from Zimbabwe.

The South African Customs Union was formed in 1969 with Botswana as one of the founding members, along with South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland. Membership in the customs union removes many of the trade barriers, such as import duties and taxes, between member countries, making it easier to import and export goods within the local region. South Africa especially has been a source of imports (electricity, manufactured goods, and foodstuffs) and a destination for exports (diamonds, copper, and livestock). Exports to Europe, and especially to Great Britain, have increased. The declining value of the Botswanan currency has made imports from outside the customs union more expensive, while also making it cheaper for European nations to import Botswana's products, especially diamonds.


The Botswana pula has traditionally had a similar exchange rate to the South African rand, which meant that goods sold for almost the same price in both countries.

Exchange rates: Botswana
pulas per US$1
Jan 2001 5.4585
2000 5.1018
1999 4.6244
1998 4.2259
1997 3.6508
1996 3.3242
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

During the late 1990s the pula was much stronger than the rand, resulting in South African products becoming relatively cheaper when purchased in pula. Botswana could afford to import more South African products. The stronger pula relative to the rand also meant that foreign investors found Botswana a more attractive place to invest money. However, during the same time period the pula gradually lost its value against the U.S. dollar, meaning that imports valued in U.S. dollars, such as those from the United States itself as well as from many other countries, were more expensive. But Botswana's exports, especially diamonds, were cheaper for American and European buyers.

The Botswana Stock Exchange, established in 1995, had 22 companies listed in 2001, including 6 South African companies.


Living standards in Botswana are high by African standards, but vary considerably across the country. Ethnic minorities, such as the San, get little recognition or support from the government, and thus tend to practice a traditional lifestyle without much involvement with the formal economy. Botswana has recently come under criticism regarding alleged human rights violations against the San people, who were removed from their traditional lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to develop tourism and mining. On the other hand, Botswana has

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Botswana 1,132 1,678 2,274 3,124 3,611
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Zimbabwe 686 638 662 706 703
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Botswana 24 5 12 2 7 5 45
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
South Africa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zimbabwe 20 10 21 3 15 9 22
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE : World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

been one of the most rapidly urbanizing nations in the world. With the obvious and major exception of the dramatic effect of AIDS on life expectancy in Botswana (32 years for men and women), living standards in urban centers are good. Botswana was ranked 122 on the Human Development Index in 1997, very high for an African country. In the urban centers, 91 percent of the population had access to sanitation and sewage disposal, and 100 percent had access to safe drinking water. The percentage having access to safe drinking water across the country as a whole was 70 percent.


The unemployment rate in Botswana is a debated figure, with the official estimate at 20 percent, and the unofficial rate at 40 percent. Most infrastructure developments, such as hospitals, roads, and schools, have been in urban areas and benefit urban residents. With the majority of the population (65 percent) living in urban centers, working conditions have improved. Wages in the mining sector are high, but are low in the agricultural sector. Women have poorer employment prospects, make less money, and are rarely promoted. Until 2000 education in Botswana was free, but in that year the government required students to pay fees, even for elementary schooling. In 1995 enrollment rates for males and females in primary and secondary education was between 81 and 89 percent, but this figure was expected to drop due to the new fees.


1885. The British government takes control of Bechuanaland.

1909. Bechuanaland is exempted from inclusion in the proposed Union of South Africa.

1966. The independence of Bechuanaland, now called Botswana.

1966. Sir Seretse Khama elected President of Botswana, holding office until 1980.

1969. Botswana helps to form the Southern African Customs Union.

1972. Botswana's first diamond mine begins production at Orapa.

1977. A political Botswana Defense Force is established because of conflict in neighboring Rhodesia.

1980. Quett Masire takes office upon the death of President Khama and remains president until 1998.

1997. The Botswana Export Development Investment Authority (BEDIA) is established.

1998. Festus Mogae is elected president.


Botswana has remained peaceful and democratic since independence in 1966, and, with the opening of diamond mines in the 1970s, the country has been economically prosperous as well. Botswana has managed to invest its diamond revenues carefully, but still relies heavily on the export of diamonds for most of its revenue. This is likely to be the case for some time, though the Botswanan government is trying to diversify the economy by encouraging manufacturing industries to locate in the country. This strategy has met with mixed success. Botswana is likely to compete with South Africa for much of the manufacturing employment in the region. The Botswana government remains committed to its twin goals of economic diversification and balancing the budget.

Regional political instability, especially in neighboring Zimbabwe, but also in South Africa and Angola (where a civil war is still raging), will have an impact on Botswana, especially as refugees move into the country. However, given its political and economic history and its current policies, Botswana is likely to remain one of the most prosperous African countries.


Botswana has no territories or colonies.


Botswana Central Statistics Office. National Accounts Statistics. <>. Accessed March 2001.

Botswana, Government of. Economic Snapshot: Botswana Economy Facts and Figures. <>. Accessed March 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. EIU Country Report: Botswana .London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Botswana: Currently Employed Persons by Industry, Region, and Sex. <>. Accessed May 2001.

Mines 2000. Country Profiles: Botswana. <>. Accessed December 2000.

Newafrica. Botswana Economy. <>. Accessed March 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed July 2001.

Michael Pretes

Rory Eames




Pula. 1 pula equals 100 thebe. (Pula means "rain" and "greetings.") Notes come in 5-, 10-, 20-, 50-, and 100-pula denominations, and coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 thebe and 1 and 2 pula.


Diamonds, vehicles, copper, nickel, and meat.


Foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, textiles, and petroleum products.


US$5.7 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$2.36 billion (1999 est.). Imports: US$2.05 billion (1999 est.).

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Botswana (bŏtswä´nə), officially Republic of Botswana, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,640,000), 231,804 sq mi (600,372 sq km), S central Africa. It is bordered by Namibia on the west and north, by Zambia at a narrow strip in the north, by Zimbabwe on the east, and by South Africa on the east and south. Gaborone is the capital and largest city. In addition to the capital, important cities are Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe.

Land and People

The terrain is mostly an arid plateau (c.3,000 ft/910 m high); in the east are hills. The Kalahari Desert lies in the south and west. In the northwest the Okavango (Cubango) River drains into the vast region of the Okavango Delta and Lake Ngami, thus forming a huge marshland. Rainfall varies from less than 9 in. (23 cm) per year in the southwest to about 25 in. (64 cm) in the north. The climate is subtropical, but droughts are common.

The country's population is mainly Tswana, who speak a Bantu language and are divided into eight major groups. There are also small minorities of Kalanga, Basarwa, Kgalagadi, and other poeples. English is the official language, but Tswana is also widely spoken. More than 70% of the population follow Christianity and about 10% adhere to traditional practices.


Cattle raising and the export of beef and other cattle products and subsistence farming are the chief agricultural activities. The country's water shortage and consequent lack of sufficient irrigation facilities have hampered agriculture, and only a small percentage of the land is under cultivation. Sorghum, corn, millet, and beans are the principal subsistence crops, and peanuts, sunflowers, and cotton are the main cash crops.

Mining has become the country's economic mainstay since independence. The only known minerals in the country at the time of independence were manganese and some gold and asbestos, but significant diamond, coal, nickel, and copper deposits have since been found, as well as salt, soda ash, and potash. Botswana's diamond mines collectively make up one of the largest diamond reserves in the world, with stones mined by the government and a South African mining concern; Botswana now is also a diamond-processing and -trading center. The revenue earned from diamonds has underwritten national health-care and educational programs, and now drives Botswana's economy. The vast coal deposits are also being worked. Deposits of antimony, sulfur, plutonium, and platinum have also been found.

Although Botswana's mineral wealth has made it one of the wealthiest nations of S Africa, high unemployment remains a problem. The government is attempting to diversify the economy by building up other sectors, including safari-based tourism and financial services. Botswana, because of its landlocked position, remains heavily dependent on South Africa, which provides port facilities. Many Botswanans work in South Africa's mines, although their numbers have diminished. There are rail and road links with South Africa and Zimbabwe, its chief trade partners. Besides minerals, Botswana exports meat and textiles. Imports include foodstuffs, machinery, electrical goods, transportation equipment, textiles, fuel, petroleum products, wood, paper, and metal.


Botswana is governed under the constitution of 1966. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is indirectly elected to a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. There is a bicameral legislature. The House of Chiefs has 15 members, eight permanent and seven elected for five-year terms. The National Assembly has 63 members, 57 of whom are popularly elected and four appointed by the majority party (the president and attorney general serve as ex-officio members). Members of the National Assembly serve five-year terms and elect the president. Administratively, the country is divided into nine districts and five town councils.


San (Bushmen) were the aboriginal inhabitants of what is now Botswana, but they constitute only a small portion of the population today. The Tswana supplanted the San, who remained as subjects. Beginning in the 1820s, the region was disrupted by the expansion of the Zulu and their offshoot, the Ndebele. However, Khama II, chief of the Ngwato (the largest Tswana nation), curbed the depredations of the Ndebele and established a fairly unified state.

A new threat arose in the late 19th cent. with the incursion of Boers (Afrikaners) from neighboring Transvaal. After gold was discovered in the region in 1867, the Transvaal government sought to annex parts of Botswana. Although the British forbade annexation, the Boers continued to encroach on native lands during the 1870s and 80s. German colonial expansion in South West Africa (Namibia) caused the British to reexamine their policies, and, urged on by Khama III, they established (1884–85) a protectorate called Bechuanaland. The southern part of the area was incorporated into Cape Colony in 1895. Until 1965, Bechuanaland was administered by a resident commissioner at Mafeking (now Mahikeng), in South Africa, who was responsible to the British high commissioner for South Africa.

Britain provided for the eventual transfer of Bechuanaland to the Union of South Africa; in succeeding years, however, South Africa's attempts at annexation were countered by British insistence that Bechuanaland's inhabitants first be consulted. The rise of the National party in South Africa in 1948 and its pursuit of apartheid turned British opinion against the incorporation of Bechuanaland into South Africa. Although Bechuanaland spawned no nationalist movement, Britain granted it internal self-government in 1965 and full independence as Botswana on Sept. 30, 1966. Shortly after, Botswana became a member of the United Nations. Seretse Khama, grandson of Khama III, was elected the first president, and served until his death in 1980, when he was succeeded by Dr. Quett Ketumile Joni Masire.

In the period after independence, the country generally maintained close ties with its white-ruled neighbors and refused to let its territory harbor guerrilla operations against them. Prior to Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, however, Botswana became a refuge for guerrillas. In the years before a multiracial government was established in South Africa, Botswana was the target of South African reprisals.

Despite the increased importance of mining in the Botswanan economy, unemployment has been a problem since the 1970s, as subsistence farming has become less profitable and migrant workers have returned from the South African mines in search of work. By 1997, Botswana also had one of the highest rates of HIV infection (25%). On the political scene, the Botswana National Front, an organization acting on behalf of labor, had grown in popularity since independence, but elections in 1989 and 1994 again gave the ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP) a majority in the national assembly.

President Masire resigned in 1998 and was succeeded by his vice president, Festus Gontebanye Mogae. Mogae won election to the presidency in 1999, after the BDP retained its hold on the national assembly. The BDP remained in power after the Oct., 2004, national assembly elections, and Mogae was subsequently reelected president. In Apr., 2008, Mogae resigned and was succeeded as president by Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, son of Botswana's first president. Despite some unhappiness with Khama among BDP members, the party faced a divided opposition and again won the national assembly elections in Oct., 2009, and Khama was then elected to a full term. The BDP and Khama also were returned to power after the Oct., 2014, elections, but those elections were marked by attempts to intimidate opposition politicians and media harassment.


See Z. Cervenka, Republic of Botswana (1970); A. Sillery, Botswana (1974); J. M. Chirenje, A History of Northern Botswana, 1850–1910 (1976); C. Colclough and S. McCarthy, The Political Economy of Botswana (1980); L. A. Picard, The Politics of Development in Botswana (1987).

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Official name: Republic of Botswana

Area: 600,370 square kilometers (231,802 square miles)

Highest point on mainland : Tsodilo Hills (1,489 meters/4,884 feet)

Lowest point on land: Junction of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers (513 meters/ 1,683 feet)

Hemispheres : Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 2:00 p.m. = noon GMT

Coastline: None

Longest distances: 1,110 kilometers (690 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest; 960 kilometers (597 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest

Land boundaries : 4,013 kilometers (2,488 miles) total boundary length; Zimbabwe, 813 kilometers (504 miles); South Africa, 1,840 kilometers (1,141 miles); Namibia, 1,360 kilometers (843 miles)

Territorial sea limits: None


Botswana is a landlocked country (does not have access to the sea) located in southern Africa. It is bordered by Zimbabwe to the northeast, South Africa to the south and southeast, and Namibia to the north and west. Botswana covers an area of 600,370 square kilometers (231,802 square miles), or slightly less than the state of Texas.


Botswana claims no territories or dependencies.


Most of the country has a subtropical climate, while the higher altitudes have cooler temperatures. Winter days are warm with cool nights, although the desert is commonly covered in heavy frost. Temperatures range from 33°C (91°F) in January to 22°C (72°F) in July. The August seasonal winds that blow from the west carry sand and dust across the landscape, often contributing to droughts. Normal rainfall averages 45 centimeters (18 inches) throughout most of the country except for the Kalahari Desert, in the south, which receives less than 25 centimeters (10 inches), and the wet northern plateau regions, which receive about 69 centimeters (27 inches) annually.

Season Months Average Temperature: °Celsius (°Fahrenheit)
Summer December to February 22 to 40°C (72 to 104 °F)
Winter April to October 33°C (91°F)


Botswana is a vast tableland with a mean altitude of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). A gently undulating plateau, running northward from the South African border near Lobatse to the Zimbabwe border, forms a watershed between the two main natural divisions of Botswana. The fertile land to the south and east of this plateau is hilly bush country and grassland, or veld. To the west of the plateau, stretching over the border into Namibia, is the Kalahari Desert. In the north lies the area known as Ngami-land, which is dominated by the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.


Botswana is a landlocked nation.


Temporary lakes form in the Okavango Swamps and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans during seasons of heavy rainfall. Lakes Ngami and Xau are more permanent, but they also rely on the floodwaters that rush down the high plateaus.


There are few permanent rivers in Botswana, and its temporary rivers never reach the sea. One of the permanent waterways, the Chobe River in the north, is a major tributary of the Zambezi River. The Zambezi itself forms a short section of Botswana's border. The Limpopo River, a major waterway in the east, marks the border with South Africa. The Okavango River enters the country in the northwest and ends in the Okavango Swamps. The Boteti River flows south from these swamps into Lake Xau.


The Kalahari Desert lies in the western portion of the country. It is a large, dry sandy basin that covers about 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 square miles). The Kalahari reaches from the Orange River in South Africa north to Angola, west to Namibia, and east to Zimbabwe.


In the heart of the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango River spreads out into a seasonally flooded wetland covering some 16,835 square kilometers (6,500 square miles), or roughly the size of Massachusetts. It comprises swamps, channels, lagoons, and flood plains.


There are no mountains in this elevated but relatively flat country. Botswana's highest elevations are found in the Tsodilo Hills, which are granite cliffs on the northwest fringe of the Kalahari Desert. The hills form a fortress-like ridge 20 kilometers (12 miles) in length and have long been considered sacred by the native people. At their highest point, the cliffs reach 1,489 meters (4,884 feet) above sea level.


There are a number of caves in Botswana, some of which contain fossils as many as 3 million years old, notably in the area around Lake Ngami. In the southeast, south of Gaborone, lie the Lobatse Caves.


All of Botswana is located on a broad tableland with an average altitude of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). A vast plateau, rising to about 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level, divides the country into two distinct topographical regions. This plateau extends from the southeastern part of the country to the border with Zimbabwe.


There are no notable man-made features affecting the geography of Botswana.


The Okavango Delta, one of the world's largest wetlands, provides a unique ecosystem and habitat for an astounding abundance of African wildlife, including mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles.



Alverson, Marianne. Under African Sun. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Augustinus, Paul. Botswana: A Brush with the Wild. Randburg, South Africa: Acorn Books, 1987.

Picard, Louis A., ed. Politics and Rural Development in South Africa: The Evolution of Modern Botswana. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Web Sites

The Government of Botswana Website. (accessed July 3, 2003).

Mbendi Profile. (accessed July 3, 2003).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Botswana
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 1,576,470
Language(s): English, Setswana
Literacy rate: 69.8%

Background and General Characteristics

Botswana (bot-SWA-na) is a landlocked country in southern Africa, which used to be known as Bechuanaland. It covers 224,610 square miles, making it slightly bigger than Texas. Botswana is bordered by South Africa to the south, Zimbabwe to the northeast, Zambia to the north, and Namibia to the west and north.

In the 1800s, Bechuanaland became a British protectorate, meaning that it was under the protection and control of Britain. After undergoing a series of governmental structures, including the use of white and black advisory councils, in 1965 the county attained self-government, with Sereste Khama as its first African head of government. After further successful negotiations with Britain, on September 30, 1966, the former Bechuanaland became the sovereign Republic of Botswana, with Khama as the new president. In the early 20th century, Botswana was one of the truly democratic African countries. The 1.6 million citizens of this sparsely populated semi-desert country have enjoyed democratic freedoms found in few other African countries.

Print Media

In the early twenty-first century, there were four print news media outlets in Botswana. The Botswana Daily News, published in English and Setswana, was established in 1964. With a circulation in the 25,000 to 50,000 range, it was the country's largest newspaper in 2002. Below it, with circulations from 10,000 to 25,000, were the Botswana Guardian, an English weekly established in 1982; The Botswana Gazette, another English weekly; and Mmegi wa Digmang (The Reporter), also a weekly, published in English and Setswana, established in 1984. The Daily News, Mmegi wa Digmang, and the Botswana Guardian were Botswana's largest and most influential newspapers. The Daily News was state owned. The others were privately owned.

Press Laws

The Botswana independence constitution of September 1966 (amended in August and September 1997) guaranteed freedom of expression to all residents. Unlike many African countries, where the ruling party bans opposition views and news from newspapers, radio and television, Botswana has allowed a diversity of views and allowed robust debate in the electronic and print media. As of 2002, journalists were not licensed or required to register. Newspapers and journalists did not have to post bonds to do their work. There was no censorship, but journalists operated according to community standards by avoiding material that would be considered obscene or offensive. Foreign media and journalists also operated freely and openly. The University of Botswana was establishing a Department of Journalism, which will provide training.

Broadcast Media

In 2002, Botswana television offered MultiChoice Botswana and Gaberone Television. The latter was owned by Gaberone Broadcasting Corp. and was a private television channel that reached about 20 percent of the population. South African television was also accessible in most of Botswana. As of the early twenty-first century, however, radio remained the most common means of mass communication in Botswana. The number of radio receivers increased from 180,000 in 1994 to 230,000 in 1996, while the number of television receivers rose from 24,000 to 29,000 during the same period. Government-owned Radio Botswana broadcast in English, the official language, and Setswana. Its work was complemented by Radio Botswana 2, an FM channel accessible only in Gaberone, the country's capital. There were also two private radio stations: GABZ-FM and VA RONA-FM.

News Agencies

The Botswana Press Agency (BOPA) is a government-owned domestic news agency. Foreign news agencies, including the South African Press Association and Reuters, have operated freely in the country.


The Botswana print media are robust, operate with little or no government restrictions and relations with the government are good. The broadcast media are government controlled, but are not abused by government officials. For the first 26 years of Botswana's independence, democracy has prevailed, and the future looks bright for the media.


Africa. New York: Worldmark Press, Ltd., 1988.

Africa South of the Sahara. London: Europa Publications, 2002.

Ainslie, R. The Press in Africa. New York: Walker and Co., 1966.

Barton, F. The Press of Africa. New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1979.

Country Profile: Botswana. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 2002.

International Year Book. New York: Editor and Publisher, 2002.

Liebenow, J. Gus. African Politics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Merrill, John C., ed. Global Journalism: Survey of International Communication. Boston: Longman, 1993.

Middleton, John, ed. Encyclopedia of Africa: South of the Sahara. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1997.

Tendayi S. Kumbula

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581,730sq km (224,606sq mi)



capital (population):

Gaborone (213,017)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Tswana 75%, Shona 12%, San (Bushmen) 3%


English (official), Setswana (national language)


Traditional beliefs 49%, Christianity 50%


Pula = 100 thebe

Landlocked republic in the heart of s Africa; the capital is Gaborone.

Land and climate

Most of the land is flat or gently rolling, with an average height of c.1000m (3280ft) with more hilly country in the e. The Kalahari Desert covers much of Botswana. Most of the s has no permanent streams, but large depressions form inland drainage basins in the n, such as the delta swamps of the River Okavango. Gaborone lies in the wetter and more populous e. Temperatures are high in summer months (October–April), but winter months are much cooler. The average annual rainfall varies from more than 400mm (16in) in e Botswana to less than 200mm (8in) in the sw.


The earliest inhabitants were the nomadic San. The cattle-owning Tswana, modern Botswana's majority population, first settled in e Botswana more than 1000 years ago. The San were gradually displaced s to the Kalahari Desert, and now form a tiny minority. Incursion by Boers and the threat of German colonialism led Britain to form the Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885–1966). In 1966 it achieved independence as the Commonwealth republic of Botswana. One of the ‘front-line states’, Botswana provided a haven for refugees from South Africa's apartheid government. Botswana is a stable multi-party democracy. AIDS is a major problem: more than one in three adults are infected with HIV or have developed AIDS.


At the time of independence, Botswana was one of Africa's poorest countries and many people migrated to work in the mines of South Africa. Today, Botswana is one of the wealthiest African nations (2000 GDP per capita $US6600), its economy boosted by the discovery of diamonds. It is the world's third-largest diamond producer (accounting for 70% of its exports). Coal, copper, and nickel are also valuable resources. Botswana depends on South African ports for the transshipment of its minerals. However, it remains essentially an agricultural economy. Agriculture employs more than 40% of the workforce, mainly in pastoral farming.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name



Identification. Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate under the British, Botswana became independent in 1966. Bot swana means "place of Tswana" in the dominant national language (Set swana), and the citizenry are called Bat swana, or Tswana people. The term Batswana, however, bears a double meaning. In government rhetoric, it refers to all citizens of Botswana. But the word also refers to ethnically "Tswana" people, as distinct from the other ethnic groups present in the country. This double meaning allows for both the expression of strong civic national sentiments and debate about the dominance of Tswana people and ideology over the broader population. The double meaning has also permitted the fiction, widely accepted in outside reporting, that Botswana's success as a multiparty liberal democracy is based on an ethnically homogeneous population, when abundant state resources based upon diamond mining, responsibly and equitably distributed, are the more likely source of stability. This fiction may indeed have supported the building of an officially nonethnic, state-oriented society, but has come under sharp challenge in the 1990s, as minority groups request the privileges of official recognition.

Location and Geography. Botswana is a landlocked and arid country. Bordering on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia, it is 224,607 square miles (581,730 square kilometers) in area, about the same size as France. Two-thirds of the country is comprised of the Kalahari Desert, which is covered with grasses and scrub but has scarce surface water. Mean annual rainfall ranges from under 10 inches (250 millimeters) per annum in the southwest to over 25 inches (635 millimeters) in the northeast. The entire country is prone to extended droughts, causing significant hardship to agriculturalists, pastoralists, and hunter-gatherers. The Okavango Delta, in the north, is a large inland delta, and people there fish and farm on its flooded banks; tourists are drawn to the large numbers of wildlife that congregate in the area. The eastern third of the country, with more rainfall and fertile soils, is home to most of the population. Prior to independence, the British administered the Protectorate from Mafiking in South Africa. The capital city today, Gaborone, was built on a village site in the southeastern corner of the country at independence, near the borders of several of the Tswana polities that dominated the country.

Demography. Botswana's population has grown from 600,000 people in 1971 to an estimated 1,600,000 in 2000. While very high growth rates in the 1970s and 1980s have declined, high birth rates and declining infant mortality have led to a population structure heavily skewed toward young people: 43 percent of the population was under fifteen in 1991. Although ethnically Tswana people are often said to be a majority, government censuses collect no information on ethnicity. Earlier studies indicated that in some regions, Tswana were a minority, and that all polities were composed of people of heterogeneous origins, including Kalanga, Yei, Mbukushu, Subiya, Herero, Talaote, Tswapong, Kgalagadi, Kaa, Birwa, and varied peoples known as Bushmen (or, in Botswana, Sarwa). There are also resident Europeans and Indians.

Linguistic Affiliation. Bantu, Khoisan, and Indo-European languages are spoken in Botswana. English is the official language and Setswana the national language. This means that the language of government and higher education is primarily English, but that Setswana is the dominant language spoken in the country. Ninety percent of the population is said to speak Setswana. The term Setswana refers both to Tswana language, and to Tswana practices/culture, and there has been increasing resistance to the dominance of Setswana as national language by speakers of other languages in the country; language-revival movements have also emerged. Most speakers of other languages are multilingual; some, however, have weaker competence in Setswana and have complained of disadvantages in primary schooling.

Symbolism. "Pula," the Setswana word for rain, is featured on the coat of arms, and is called out frequently at public gatherings as a salute and cry of approbation. It is also the term for the national currency. The national anthem is "Lefatshe la Rona," ("Our Country"), and its title captures the strong attachment most Batswana feel to the land and its resources, as well as some antiforeign sentiments. Cattle were tremendously important not just to a material economy but also to the symbolic economy of status, family, and social relations in the past, and cattle remain powerfully evocative to most Batswana today.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. People known colloquially to the west as Bushmen have lived in Botswana for thousands of years. Herders and agriculturalists from a Bantu tradition appeared more than two-thousand years ago. Tswana polities under Tswana chiefs moved into Botswana from the south and east in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some responding to the rise of the Zulu state and European encroachments. Missionization of Tswana began in 1816, and throughout the nineteenth century Tswana polities were drawn into trade, Christianity, and the migrant labor economy centered in South Africa, while defending themselves against incursions from the north, east, and south. In 1885 the British declared the area the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and in a famous visit to Britain in 1895, three of the Tswana kings petitioned to remain under the British instead of being governed by the British South Africa Company. British administration in the twentieth century strengthened the role of the Tswana chiefs and the dominance of Tswana laws and customs over the country.

National political activity at first focused upon preventing the protectorate's annexation by South Africa. Later, as independence movements emerged across Africa, people from a variety of ethnic groups looked forward to independence and formed political parties. The move to independence was quite peaceful. Independence was granted to the newly named Republic of Botswana in 1966.

National Identity. As a new nation, Botswana emphasized nonethnic citizenship and liberal democracy. Diamonds were discovered soon after independence was granted, and the prudent and equitable use of their revenues has underwritten stability and the repeated reelection of the dominant political party.

Ethnic Relations. The domination of the country by the Tswana polities has persisted in a nonethnic government through the easy assumption of the predominance of Tswana people, language, and customs. Certain groups in the past were treated as serfs or subordinates by Tswana, such as the Sarwa, Kgalagadi, Yei, and Kalanga, and the latter two have been particularly active in the 1990s to secure official recognition for minority "tribes," and in ethnic revivalism. The nonethnic official rhetoric of civic participation, however, has also allowed many members of minority groups to move through the educational system into prominent management and bureaucratic positions.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Traditional architecture in Botswana is distinguished from modern architecture in three domains: the use of materials (mud/dung, wooden poles, thatch) that may be manufactured by members of a household; the round house form and/or thatched roofing; and/or the presence of a courtyard known as a lolwapa where much activity takes place. By contrast, modern architecture uses purchased materials (cement and bricks and roofing products) and involves the labor of specialized and commercial craftsmen, is square, and features rooms for specialized activities (bedrooms, kitchens). The traditional Tswana residential area is a compound, often housing several closely related family groups. Into the 1990s, much urban housing was financed and built by the government, and repeated a few basic patterns, including one that retained a courtyard structure, which later became unpopular.

Households in the Tswana polities often maintained three residential sites: one in a village, one at agricultural holdings around the village periphery, and one farther out at the cattlepost. Cattleposts, where livestock are kept, are today sometimes complex compounds with several houses and nearby agricultural fields, and sometimes just an animal pen or two and a ramshackle shelter for the herder(s). Many urban residents today continue to maintain a house in a village of origin, and many men and some women also develop cattleposts. Villages are distinguished from towns and cities by a significant engagement in agriculture by residents, and by the political structure of the settlement. At the heart of a village is the chief's central court and public forum, known as a kgotla. The village is divided into wards, each of which also has a kgotla where a headman hears lower-level disputes and matters of ward concern are aired.

Urban areas have grown rapidly in Botswana since independence. In 1991, 46 percent of the population was urban, a percentage that continues to grow. Cities are centered by a downtown area of shops, businesses, and government offices. Some larger villages have come to be known as "urban villages" or "agro-towns."

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Sorghum or corn meal porridge is the staple of most Botswana meals. People wake in the morning to a thinner version of the porridge, sometimes enriched with soured milk and/or sugar, and tea. A thicker version of the porridge, known as bogobe, anchors the substantial midday meal, accompanied by a stew of meat and/or cabbage, spinach (or wild greens), or beans. People also use rice, but it is considered more expensive and associated with Europeans. Meats include chicken, goat, sheep, cattle, fish, a caterpillar known as phane and various wild game. Village evening meals may include leftovers from midday, but for many people is often just tea and buttered bread.

There are many restaurants representing food from around the world in the urban areas. Fast food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Nando's chicken, and Pie City are quite popular. In smaller villages, there are likely to be no restaurants. Fatcakes, somewhat like round doughnut holes, are sold as snacks fairly ubiquitously. Locally brewed beer made from sorghum is popular in the rural areas and is available commercially as chibuku; people also drink the stronger honey/sugar-based khadi.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. At large public events, such as the opening of a new government building, and at weddings and funerals, men prepare the centerpiece: meat cooked in large iron pots until in shreds. Women prepare porridge and/ or rice, pumpkin/squash, and often cole slaw or beet salad, and people are served heaping plates of food, arguing to get more meat for themselves. Beer is often served at weddings, and ginger beer at other events; tea and fatcakes are prepared for weddings and funerals that have all-night components.

Basic Economy. At independence in 1966, most people in Botswana relied on mixed agriculture (crops and livestock), hunting and gathering wild foods, and remittances from migrant labor in South Africa. But diamonds were found soon after independence, and since the 1970s mining has provided a strong backbone for economic development. Farming of sorghum, maize, millet, and beans, along with small stock and cattle, are still important for subsistence and also commercial returns. Because of drought and urban migration, Botswana no longer aspires to be self-sufficient in agriculture, but instead focuses on "food security" incorporating regular imports of grain and processed foods. Thirty-seven percent of formal employment is by the government (and almost 8 percent in state corporations), but employment in the private sector is now growing more rapidly; people work in service and retail, mines, construction, other industries, and in many small start-up businesses. Earnings are typically remitted rather broadly through extended kin networks.

Land Tenure and Property. About 5 percent of Botswana's land is freehold, and about 25 percent is state land in the form of national parks, game reserves, and wildlife management areas. The rest is communal land, also called "tribal land"; people are allocated rights to farm or build houses and pass the rights on to descendants, but they may not transfer the rights to someone else. Grazing land is generally not allocated, but people develop claims to grazing areas through registered wells and water rights. Some tribal grazing land was zoned for commercial development in the controversial Tribal Grazing Lands Policy of 1975, and is allocated in fifty-year leases. Land boards, composed of elected and appointed members, administer the allocation of tribal land. Although all citizens are guaranteed access to land, there have been many complaints about land board allocation; the association of "tribal" land with the dominant Tswana polities has produced demands by some minority groups for tribal lands of their own.

Commercial Activities. Agricultural products are marketed both through government marketing services and privately. Small-scale retailing of manufactured goods is widespread. Small home industries, such as sewing, cement block manufacture, other household goods, and construction are common activities, and the government is promoting larger industrial enterprises.

Major Industries. Botswana's diamond mines are jointly owned and operated with De Beers Consolidated Mines. Copper, nickel, and potash mines produce for an international market. Beef is exported as well, primarily to the European Union (EU) through the Lomé Conventions, designed by the EU to promote trade and development in third-world countries. Botswana has struggled to attract major industrial enterprise to the country. Textiles, clothing, and food processing constitute the major industries. Abundant wildlife, especially in the north, is the basis of a tourist sector that has focused primarily on high-end tours.

Trade. Botswana exports are dominated by diamonds, copper/nickel matte, beef and animal products; also exported are textiles and soda ash. In the 1990s, an automobile assembly plant added vehicles to the list of exports, but that plant was closed in 1999, and the government is seeking new operators for it. Around 80 percent of exports go to Europe. Diamonds account of about 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings. Botswana imports a wide variety of goods. Botswana is a member of the South African Customs Union.

Division of Labor. There was very little specialization in the "traditional" economy, with the exception of traditional doctors. Within the household, tasks were distributed based on age and gender. Tswana practices are often taken as representative of the country as a whole: hence the symbolically important area of cattle care is associated entirely with men. But women do care for and milk cattle in other cultures within the country (as, for example, the Herero). When ox-drawn plows, and later tractors, were introduced, men became more involved in crop agriculture. Apart from the heavy wooden supports, women did most of the construction and maintenance of traditional houses; today, men tend to specialize in modern construction techniques. Young boys and men, along with other dependent males, used to work at cattleposts, but now younger people attend school and Batswana complain frequently about finding reliable herders. In the "modern" economy, there is no formal division of labor by gender, age, or class.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. In the past, class differentiation was not strongly marked in material life. Although cattle ownership was highly unequal, cattle themselves were distributed among many households for care and management purposes. In the Tswana polities, there was some differentiation between members of the chiefs' kin group ("royals"), commoners, and recent immigrants who had been incorporated into the polity. This differentiation was enacted at seasonal political rituals, such as the first-fruits ceremony. In the western and northern parts of the country, certain groups of people were essentially serfs, with few or no political rights, whose labor was compelled by citizens of the Tswana polities. These groups included Sarwa (Bushmen), Kgalagadi, and Yei in particular. These categories have, in contemporary Botswana, no legal standing, yet lingering prejudices and resentments of historical inequities continue to inform current social relations.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Late twentieth-century Botswana has developed one of the most skewed income distributions in the world. There is a developing bourgeoisie that has the ability to distinguish and reproduce itself through access to English-medium education, networks, and material lifestyle (including cars and electricity).

Political Life

Government. Since independence in 1966, Botswana has been a multiparty democracy with elections held every five years to a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, which has been dominated by the Botswana Democratic Party. There is also an advisory House of Chiefs, composed of the heads of the eight Tswana polities, and of chiefs elected from districts outside those polities. In 2000, the government undertook a review of the role of the House of Chiefs, and its constitution and role may be changed in coming years. Local government is organized around elected district and urban councils (with some appointed members), land boards, and village development committees. There is also a "tribal administration" organized under the Ministry of Local Government, Lands, and Housing. Chiefs and headmen are important figures both in villages and nationally, although they are forbidden to be active in party politics.

Leadership and Political Officials. Politics takes place in two forums, which are distinct in their underlying premises and the ways in which they are perceived by the citizenry, but which also overlap considerably. One forum is the liberal democratic party system and the bureaucratic apparatus of government. The other is focused on the chiefs (dikgosi ; singular, kgosi ), subchiefs, and headmen; and the distinctive center of Tswana village life, the kgotla, an open-air chief's court and community forum.

Many Batswana look upon the consensual nature of kgotla debates, and the hearing of disparate opinions within them, as underpinning Botswana's successful constitutional democracy. It should be remembered, though, that the dikgosi were able to manipulate support through their great wealth and political power, that they declared many regulations without widespread support, and that only the voices of adult men were formerly admitted in kgotla. Indeed, in many dikgotla, ethnic minority groups were not allowed to speak, or their voices were significantly discounted. Furthermore, the emphasis on consensus at the end of debates meant that open disagreement was not toleratedthe illusion of homogeneity and consensus being created only through the silencing of difference and the exclusion of many possible voices.

Beneath the dikgosi were subordinate chiefs, in nesting levels like a pyramid, called dikgosana (literally "little chiefs"), going down to the headman of a ward, or neighborhood group within a village. The ward has often been represented as a microcosm of the tribe: composed of patrilineally linked families, headed by the senior male who negotiates disputes, and guarantees well-being through ritual/religious practices. Like the tribe overall, wards also include nonfamily who choose to reside near an in-married relative, or who attach themselves to the family group as dependents. Succession to the position of kgosana or kgosi is ideally patrilineal to the first son; since monogamy became the dominant form of marriage, succession has largely followed these lines. Previously, however, polygamy and practices of substituting a sister for a childless wife, and of marrying women to men after the men's death, made the senior heir difficult to determine, and inheritance of the chiefship was often a complex political battle.

Today the chiefs represent both a politics based on familiarity (in the sense both of kinship, and of personal knowledge of lives lived in proximity) and a morality of consensus. By contrast, party politics represents continued disagreement and a morality of individualism. The chiefs, representing a morality of group unity, have become the focus of minority claims to recognition in the nation. The morality of the political parties and the bureaucracy is not viewed entirely negatively: this is the domain in which women, minorities, and junior males have been able to attain position, and its morality accords with ambitions of self-development promoted by government rhetoric.

The distinction between the two domains is becoming more blurred, as ethnic minorities see chiefs as representatives in government, as subchiefs are elected by villages, and as the entire "tribal" system is administered by the Ministry of Local Government, Lands, and Housing. The chiefs are effectively under the minister, and lower-level chiefs are clearly salaried state employees. With 85 percent of court cases in Botswana heard in the dikgotla, a considerable amount of bureaucratic oversight and procedure now surrounds the chiefs' courts.

Social Problems and Control. Court cases are heard in magistrates' courts, based on Roman-Dutch law, and in chiefs' courts, based on customary law. Because the magistrates' courts are conducted in English and require a lawyer, most Batswana prefer to bring cases to the dikgotla, where lesser criminal cases are also heard. Here, much personal testimony is heard from all who wish to contribute, and chiefs' decisions are built upon the opinions of respected members of the community. Cases may be appealed in both systems, and there is an independent High Court. Theft, disputes over property, and personal relations are common court cases. There is an increasing fear of violent theft, and illegal immigrants and street youth are seen as particular problems. Batswana deal with social problems through gossip, witchcraft, and the courts. They tend to leave civic problems to the police; when they have taken matters into their own hands, the situation is considered a "riot" and police are called in.

Military Activity. The Botswana Defense Force was established in 1977, in response to armed incursions from neighboring South Africa and Zimbabwe. The army has grown considerably, accounting for about 9 percent of government expenditures in 2000; the population is proud of its participation in United Nations peacekeeping efforts.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Drought is a recurrent problem, and the government has provided drought-relief labor programs and has supported initiatives to combat declining interest in agriculture. Botswana's high population growth rate and an educational system oriented toward formal sector employment contribute to an official unemployment rate of around 20 percent in the 1990s. Many of these were youth, and youth disaffection was growing. Several nongovernmental and governmental programs targeted youth, focusing largely on sexuality, home-based industries, and job skills. Urbanization has also created problems for elderly people in rural areas, and the government introduced old age pensions in 1997. With HIV/AIDS producing a large number of orphans, Orphans Rations were created in 2000 to assist families in caring for them.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

International donors, drawn by the stable democratic environment and the relative absence of corruption, have aided infrastructural development and social welfare programs. As Botswana's own resources have grown, international aid has fallen off: the Peace Corps and the U.S. Agency for International Development, for example, withdrew from the country. Botswana-based nongovernmental organizations have supplemented the internationally based aid programs, targeting health, families, women, youth, the environment, human rights, unemployment, and the disabled. Among the most important associations that the broad population joins are churches. People may also join ethnic associations, burial societies, and other self-help groups; some of these serve as rotating-credit clubs where people pool small financial contributions to give members an occasional large sum or loan.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Tasks were assigned by gender and age in the traditional households among the different ethnic groups in Botswana. Hunting was primarily a male activity everywhere, housebuilding and agriculture primarily female, while work with livestock varied among ethnic groups. Among Sarwa, women have been active participants in political affairs; among Tswana, women formerly were not allowed to participate in their own right, except as an occasional regent. To some extent, traditional divisions of labor persist in rural areas. In the "modern" economy, there is no formal division of labor by gender, but fewer women are in upper-level management and government positions, and certain positions are gender-based (herders are male; housemaids are female).

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Today, after decades of labor migration, declining marriage rates, new laws guaranteeing women civil rights, and the modern economy, almost half of all households in Botswana are headed by women. Western education, the modern economy (particularly the service sector), and civil service positions have all provided venues for women to improve their positions, but women's cash income in both rural and urban households lags far behind men's, and women's overall income is more dependent on non-cash items. Women have had trouble breaking into national politics except in supporting roles, but in the 1999 elections several women were elected to the National Assembly and others were appointed to seats, and one of the elected positions in the House of Chiefs was taken up by a young woman. Women now hold prominent ministerial positions. The legacy of women's unequal citizenship in Botswana was contested by a landmark case brought successfully against the government, challenging laws that allowed a man married to a foreign woman to transmit citizenship to his children, but not allowing a woman married to a foreigner to do the same.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. The various ethnic groups have different marriage traditions. In past practices, most groups permitted polygyny (the taking of more than one wife), a girl's first marriage would be arranged by her family, and marriages involved bride-wealth or bride-service. Tswana marriages in the past were best described as a process, attaining the full definition of marriage often only after many years; steps in the process included requesting marriage and preliminary exchanges, sexual relations but not cohabitation, children, a public celebration, the establishment of a household within the man's compound, and bride-wealth. Bride-wealth is still common, polygyny less so, and while most marriages are still negotiated by family members, the spouses choose each other. Most Batswana register a civil marriage, as well as conduct marriage ceremonies according to custom at home, and many have a church wedding too. People may marry according to customary property provisions or civil community property arrangements, but in both the woman is disadvantaged, and the husband is likely to control the property. Divorce may be sought by women and men, with common reasons including adultery, failure to provide support or household labor, and abuse. But many women today are choosing not to marry at all, opting for autonomy and to retain control over their own children.

Domestic Unit. Most people belong to extended families that share a compound; within the compound the domestic units based upon a woman and her children are discrete. The Tswana pattern of multiple residences meant that families were often not coresidential, as some members worked fields, others tended cattle, and others lived in the village. Modern village-based households are again dispersed, through school placements, labor migration, and urbanization. These patterns have placed strains on the cooperative extended family, but most people still expect demands on their resources and time, and cooperation, from a wide range of kin.

The senior male is traditionally the head of the household, and is responsible for mediating internal affairs and representing the group to larger society. Today, authority in a compound may be diffuse, as younger members with technocratic skills or special agricultural training make many decisions and represent the group to outside bureaucracies. Even more dramatically, almost half of all households in Botswana in 1991 were headed by women.

Inheritance. Inheritance practices vary between groups. Dominant Tswana tradition in the past allotted the management of property (cattle in particular), and offices to the senior son of the deceased. Today, widows and daughters also inherit property, but their claims may be judged less important in court disputes. Nondisputed smaller estates including houses, furniture, small business capital, and clothing, may be distributed among descendants and other relatives by the senior relatives of the deceased, according to perceived needs.

Kin Groups. Tswana patrilineal customs predominate through the court systems, though kin groups are organized according to patrilineal, matrilineal, double-descent, or bilateral principles depending on the ethnic group. Some groups have named clans, others have more fluid boundaries. Kin groups larger than the household or compound group may cooperate for a healing or strengthening ritual invoking ancestors, and should participate in funerals, which are significant events for defining relationships and obligations.


Infant Care. Infants are carefully attended to and indulged. Mothers and older sisters carry infants almost everywhere in slings tied across the back. There is a prompt response to crying, with feeding, calming and jiggling, and attempts at distraction with keys or other small objects.

Child Rearing and Education. Toddlers continue to be indulged; adults encourage them to learn words, and jokingly threaten them with beatings or being taken away by passing police. As they get older, however, children are expected to contribute significantly to household work. They are often chastised for "just playing" and "not listening," and comments that they are lazy or bad outnumber praises of beauty or intelligence. By and large, children are spoken to, and should speak deferentially to their seniors.

Many women place children with their own mothers to raise, and the children do household chores for aging grandparents. Alternatively, working mothers will take in a (usually distant) young female relative, or a village girl, to help care for urban children. There is also an increasing use of preschools for the educational advantage they give.

As children become teenagers, they form groups and socialize more outside the household. Most Batswana consider teenagers children, being unable to make decisions or manage relationships; however, these ideas about age categories are changing. Initiation schools were formerly important, and are believed to have been where children learned about sex and relationships, but are held in only a few areas today. Formal education is considered the means to achievement in modern society, but many children receive little support at home to help them progress through school.

Higher Education. Higher education is considered very important by both the government and by Batswana at large. The country has invested considerable energy and money to improve primary and secondary schools, although there remains competition to secure places in senior secondary schools, and many students attend schools far from home. Students aspire to attend the University of Botswana.


Batswana emphasize extensive greetings and inquiries after each other. It is polite to address senior men as Rra and women as Mma (literally, father and mother). Grown women should keep their thighs covered, but more and more women are wearing tight pants, and short skirts are seen in urban areas. While younger people should be deferential to their elders, and women to men, these patterns are sustained more strongly in villages than in the urban areas.


Religious Beliefs. Most Batswana are Christians of one form or another, although some still follow local practices. Small communities of Muslims, Hindus, and Baha'is are present. There are numerous small independent churches led by local prophets, larger churches with regional representation, and the major international Christian sects. Many of the local Christian churches incorporate recognition of older local religious practices and beliefs, including the influences of ancestors in people's lives, often focusing on healing and promoting well-being. Traditional beliefs among most ethnic groups focused on securing ancestral beneficence; Kalanga also followed the Mwali cult, and Sarwa rites focused upon troublesome but nonfamilial spirits. Many people who belong to a Christian church will also conduct private family ancestor rites to protect a new compound or house, or when repeated illness and misfortune afflicts members of the family.

Religious Practitioners. Batswana hold positions of responsibility in the Christian worldwide sects. Women and men with charismatic powers to heal and contact God originate and lead their own sects. At events such as weddings or funerals, leaders of different churches preside cooperatively. Within households, senior males generally are the ones to make contact with ancestors and to act on their behalf. Traditional religious specialists may bring rain, diagnose misfortunes, or strengthen households against evil influences and witchcraft, using herbs, roots, and special medicines. Some are thought to practice witchcraft, called boloi, and use human body parts to assist their clients.

Rituals and Holy Places. Apart from churches, there are no national holy places, and national ceremonies for Independence Day and President's Day are predominantly civic, accompanied by Christian prayer. Some members of various ethnic groups maintain ritual and holy places; for example, Kalanga locate Mwali (God) in the Matopo Hills to the east, and Herero will maintain a "holy fire," or okuruo in their compounds.

Death and the Afterlife. Most Batswana believe in a Christian afterlife and anticipate resurrection. People also expect the deceased to maintain interest in their descendants, as ancestral spirits. People want to be buried in their home villages, even those who have not lived there for a long time. Today most people are buried in cemeteries, but some Batswana are still buried inside their compounds. Funerals are very important events, at which a wide range of relatives, neighbors, and other associates are expected to attend; the expenses are heavy for many families.

Medicine and Health Care

Some illnesses are considered "European" and some "African" and are brought to medical practitioners accordingly. Other illnesses are brought to Western medical doctors, traditional doctors, and church priests/healers for the same ailment, or to as many healers as people can afford. Physical ailments and general misfortune are both considered treatable, and the latter is brought to the attention of traditional doctors/diviners and church healers who are likely to diagnose social causesjealousies, malevolence, and selfish ambitions. Women make extensive use of government clinics for prenatal and child medical care. Sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria remain problems; the HIV infection rate is among the highest in the world.

Secular Celebrations

Public holidays are scheduled for four-day weekends. Secular holidays include President's Day in mid-July, and Botswana Day on 30 September, which celebrates independence.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The government provides limited support for performance and plastic arts. Schools have choral and dance groups, and young people may receive grants to develop song-drama groups. The National Museum and Art Gallery promotes local artists, and hosts annual exhibits of Western-style plastic arts and traditional crafts.

Literature. Praise poetry was highly elaborated in the Tswana chiefships and there are still a number of older men proficient at it, but modern literary forms are not extensively developed as yet. Botswana's best-known writer is Bessie Head, a South African emigree who lived in and wrote extensively about the country.

Graphic Arts. Crafts, particularly basketry, along with woven hangings and printed textiles, are developed for the urban and tourist markets. Traditions of house-painting in south-eastern Botswana have declined over recent decades.

Performance Arts. Choral groups proliferate, often associated with voluntary associations, and compete in neighborhoods, villages, and nationally; an annual Eisteddfod is held for school choir and traditional dance groups.

Song-drama groups are formed by the young; their performances focus on social problems facing youth, including pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Some Tswana musical groups are becoming popular regionally.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The University of Botswana expanded considerably in the 1990s, and aspires to market higher education regionally. Scholarship tends to be parochial, although some faculty are active in international academic circles.


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Botswana. Former British protectorate of Bechuanaland. British influence in the region was established by representatives of the London Missionary Society and traders operating northward from Cape Colony in the early 19th cent. Its importance in British eyes was as the road to the interior of Africa from the Cape, but it was not until pressure from the Boers of the South African Republic (Transvaal) to the east and the establishment of a German colony to the west threatened that road that the British government declared a protectorate in 1885. South African claims to the territory were resisted and it became independent in 1966.

Kenneth Ingham

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BOTSWANA. A country in southern AFRICA and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: Setswana (national), English (official). In 1885, under threat of settlement by Boer farmers from the Transvaal, its lands came under British influence and were divided into a southern colony, now part of the Cape province, South Africa, and the northern protectorate of Bechuanaland, which became independent as Botswana in 1966. See BANTU.

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BotswanaAlana, Anna, bandanna, banner, Branagh, canna, canner, Diana, fanner, Fermanagh, Guyana, Hannah, Havana, hosanna, Indiana, Joanna, lanner, Louisiana, manna, manner, manor, Montana, nana, planner, Pollyanna, Rosanna, savannah, scanner, spanner, Susanna, tanner •Abner • Jaffna • Patna • caravanner •Africana, Afrikaner, Americana, ana, banana, Botswana, bwana, cabana, caragana, Christiana, Dana, darner, Edwardiana, garner, Georgiana, Ghana, Gloriana, Guiana, gymkhana, Haryana, iguana, Lana, lantana, liana, Lipizzaner, Ljubljana, Mahayana, mana, mañana, marijuana, nirvana, Oriana, pacarana, piranha, prana, Purana, Rosh Hashana, Santayana, Setswana, sultana, Tatiana, Tijuana, Tirana, tramontana, Tswana, varna, Victoriana, zenana •Gardner • partner •antenna, Avicenna, duenna, henna, Jenna, Jenner, Morwenna, Ravenna, senna, Siena, sienna, tenner, tenor, Vienna •Edna • interregna • Etna • Pevsner

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