The Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. Citizens of Botswana are Batswana (singular: Motswana), regardless of ethnicity. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west, Zambia to the north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast.

Background History

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


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Botswana
  • conventional short form: Botswana
  • former: Bechuanaland


  • name: Gaborone
  • population: 196,000
  • geographic coordinates: 24 45 S, 25 55 E
  • time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 30 September 1966 (from the UK)

Government Type:

  • parliamentary republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Seretse Khama Ian Khama (since 1 April 2008); Vice President Mompati Merafhe (since 1 April 2008)
  • head of government: President Seretse Khama Ian Khama (since 1 April 2008); Vice President Mompati Merafhe (since 1 April 2008)
  • elections: president indirectly elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Chiefs and the National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: High Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrates' Courts (one in each district)

People & Society


  • 2,098,018 (global rank: 144)
  • growth rate: 1.477% (global rank: 80)


  • noun: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)
  • adjective: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

Major Cities:

  • Gaborone (capital): 196,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white 7%


  • Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4%, unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6%


  • Setswana 78.2%, Kalanga 7.9%, Sekgalagadi 2.8%, English (official) 2.1%, other 8.6%, unspecified 0.4%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 55.74 years (global rank: 197)
  • male: 56.93 years
  • female: 54.51 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 10.49 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 144)
  • male: 11.03 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 9.94 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 24.8% (global rank: 2)
  • people living with AIDS: 320,000 (global rank: 18)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 81.2%
  • male: 80.4%
  • female: 81.8%


Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. However, economic growth was negative in 2009, with the industrial sector shrinking by 30 %, after the global crisis reduced demand for Botswana's diamonds. The economy has since recovered, with GDP growth in 2010 at 7.2 % and estimated GDP growth in 2011 of 6.2 %. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $16,300 in 2011. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP, 70-80% of export earnings, and about half of the government's revenues. Botswana's heavy reliance on a single luxury export was a critical factor in the sharp economic contraction of 2009. Tourism, financial services, subsistence farming, and cattle raising are other key sectors. Although unemployment was 7.5% in 2007 according to official reports, unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is second highest in the world and threatens Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond mining production within the next two decades overshadows long-term prospects.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $30.09 billion (global rank: 109)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $16,300 (global rank: 73)
  • real growth rate: 6.2% (global rank: 39)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 2.1%, industry: 45%, services: 52.9%


  • currency: Botswanan Pul (BWP)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 6.695


  • unemployment rate: 7.5%
  • population below poverty line: 30.3%

Agricultural Products:

  • livestock, sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sunflowers, groundnuts


  • diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver; livestock processing; textiles

Export Commodities:

  • diamonds, copper, nickel, soda ash, meat, textiles

Import Commodities:

  • foodstuffs, machinery, electrical goods, transport equipment, textiles, fuel and petroleum products, wood and paper products, metal and metal products



  • Southern Africa, north of South Africa


  • total: 581,730 sq km (global rank: 48)
  • land: 566,730 sq km
  • water: 15,000 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Texas


  • semiarid; warm winters and hot summers

Land Use:

  • arable land: 0.65%
  • permanent crops: 0.01%
  • other: 99.34%

Natural Resources:

  • diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver

Current Environmental Issues:

  • overgrazing; desertification; limited freshwater resources

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: none

Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008