Botswana, also known as the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The locals call themselves Batswana (singular: Motswana). Botswana, formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, chose its current name after achieving independence within the Commonwealth on September 30, 1966. It has maintained a strong history of robust representative democracy since then, with a continuous record of unbroken democratic elections.
Botswana is topographically flat, with the Kalahari Desert covering up to 70% of its area. It is bounded to the south and southeast by South Africa, to the west and north by Namibia, and to the northeast by Zimbabwe. Its northern boundary with Zambia, in Kazungula, is loosely defined and only a few hundred metres long.
Botswana, a mid-sized country of little more than 2 million inhabitants, is one of the world’s most sparsely inhabited countries. Gaborone, the capital and largest city, is home to around 10% of the population. Formerly one of the world’s poorest countries, with a GDP per capita of around US$70 per year in the late 1960s, Botswana has subsequently converted itself into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Mining, livestock, and tourism are the mainstays of the economy. Botswana has one of the highest GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita rates in Africa, at over $18,825 per year in 2015. Its high gross national income (the fourth-highest in Africa, according to some estimates) provides the country with a moderate quality of life and the highest Human Development Index in continental Sub-Saharan Africa.
Botswana is a member of several organizations, including the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the country. Between 2005 and 2013, the death rate from AIDS or AIDS-related causes fell dramatically (57 percent), as did the incidence of new infections in children. Despite the effectiveness of programs to make medicines available to individuals affected and to educate the general public on how to prevent the spread of HIV AIDS, the number of people living with the disease increased from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013. Despite these reasons for optimism, Botswana has the third highest HIV AIDS prevalence rate in the world, according to 2014 data.
Tswana are Botswana’s largest ethnic group, accounting for 79% of the population. The BaKalanga and San or AbaThwa, commonly known as Basarwa, are the two most populous minority ethnic groups. Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero, and Bakgalagadi are some of the other tribes. Furthermore, there are a limited number of Europeans and Indians, with both groups being approximately equal in size. Botswana’s Indian community is made up of numerous Indian-Africans who have moved from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa, and other countries, as well as first generation Indian immigrants. The white community, which accounts for about 3% of the population, speaks English and Afrikaans.
Because to Zimbabwe’s worsening economic circumstances, the number of Zimbabweans in Botswana has grown into the tens of thousands since 2000.
Fewer than 10,000 San people continue to live their original hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Since the mid-1990s, Botswana’s central government has been attempting to evict the San from their traditional grounds. In 2010, James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, described land loss as a major contributor to many of the problems confronting Botswana’s indigenous people, citing the San’s eviction from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) as an example. Among Anaya’s recommendations in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council was that development programs should promote activities in harmony with indigenous communities such as the San and Bakgalagadi people, such as traditional hunting and gathering activities, in consultation with those communities.
Approximately 70% of the country’s people identify as Christians. The majority of Christians are Anglicans, Methodists, and members of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. Lutherans, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses all have congregations in the nation. A Lutheran History Centre is accessible to the public in Gaborone.
According to the 2001 census, the nation contains about 5,000 Muslims, the majority of whom are from South Asia, 3,000 Hindus, and 700 Baha’is. Approximately 20% of people do not practice any religion. In both rural and urban regions, religious services are widely attended.
Botswana is the world’s 48th-largest nation, with 581,730 km2 (224,607 sq mi). It is about the size of Madagascar or France. It is located between latitudes 17° and 27° South and longitudes 20° and 30° East.
The terrain is mostly flat, with gently undulating tableland. Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which occupies up to 70% of the country’s geographical area. In the northwest lies the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s biggest inland deltas. In the north, there is the Makgadikgadi Pan, a huge salt pan.
The Limpopo River Basin, the largest landform in southern Africa, is partially situated in Botswana, with the basins of its tributaries, the Notwane, Bonwapitse, Mahalapswe, Lotsane, Motloutse, and Shashe, lying in the country’s east. The Gaborone Dam on the Notwane River supplies water to the capital. To the north, the Chobe River forms a border between Botswana and Namibia’s Zambezi Region. The Chobe River merges with the Zambezi River near Kazungula (meaning a small sausage tree, a point where Sebitwane and his Makololo tribe crossed the Zambezi into Zambia).
Botswana offers a wide range of animal habitats. Aside from the delta and desert regions, there are grasslands and savannas, which are home to blue wildebeest, antelopes, and other animals and birds. Northern Botswana is home to one of the last major groups of the critically endangered African wild dog. Chobe National Park, located in the Chobe District, is home to the world’s biggest population of African elephants. The park encompasses about 11,000 km2 (4,247 sq mi) and is home to over 350 bird species.
Chobe National Park and the Moremi Game Reserve (both in the Okavango Delta) are popular tourist attractions. Other reserves include the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which is situated in Ghanzi District in the Kalahari desert, and the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Nxai Pan National Park, all of which are located in Central District in the Makgadikgadi Pan. Mashatu Game Reserve is privately owned and is situated in eastern Botswana, where the Shashe and Limpopo rivers converge. Mokolodi Nature Reserve, located near Gaborone, is another privately owned reserve. There are also specialized sanctuaries, such as the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (for rhinoceros) and the Makgadikgadi Sanctuary (for elephants) (for flamingos). They are both in the Central District.
Botswana has had one of the world’s fastest per capita income growth rates since independence. Botswana has progressed from being one of the world’s poorest nations to a middle-income country. According to one assessment, it has Africa’s fourth highest gross national income at buying power parity, giving it a quality of life comparable to Mexico.
Botswana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry is in charge of encouraging business growth across the nation. From 1966 through 1999, economic growth averaged more than 9% each year, according to the International Monetary Fund. In comparison to other African nations, Botswana enjoys a high degree of economic freedom. Despite successive budget deficits in 2002 and 2003 and a small amount of foreign debt, the government has maintained a solid fiscal strategy. It has the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa and has accumulated foreign currency reserves (over $7 billion in 2005/2006) equivalent to almost two and a half years of current imports.
The country’s financial system is populated by a diverse range of financial institutions, with pension funds and commercial banks being the two most significant asset-size sectors. As a consequence of rising national resources and high interest rates, banks remain lucrative, well-capitalized, and liquid. Botswana’s central bank is the Bank of Botswana. The Botswana pula is the country’s currency.
Botswana’s competitive banking system is one of the most sophisticated in Africa. The financial industry, in general, adheres to worldwide norms in terms of openness of financial regulations and banking oversight, and it offers sufficient credit to businesses. The Capital Bank first opened its doors in 2008. As of August 2015, the nation has a dozen licensed banks. The government is engaged in banking via state-owned financial institutions and a specific financial incentives program aimed at elevating Botswana’s position as a financial center. Although the government offers subsidized loans, credit is distributed on market conditions. Non-bank financial institution reform has proceeded in recent years, most notably via the creation of a single financial regulatory body to offer more effective oversight. The government has removed exchange restrictions, leading in the development of new portfolio investment choices, and the Botswana Stock Exchange is expanding.
The constitution calls for an independent judiciary, which the government upholds in reality. The legal system is adequate for conducting safe business transactions, but a significant and increasing backlog of cases hinders speedy trials. The protection of intellectual property rights has greatly improved. In the 2014 International Property Rights Index, Botswana is placed second only to South Africa among Sub-Saharan African countries.
While its economy is largely open to international investment, Botswana maintains certain industries for its own people. Increased foreign investment is important in the privatization of state-owned businesses. Investment laws are clear, and bureaucratic processes are simplified and open, albeit a little sluggish. Profits and dividends, debt payments, capital gains, returns on intellectual property, royalties, franchise fees, and service fees may all be repatriated without restriction.
South Africa supplies Botswana with refined petroleum products and electricity. There is some coal-fired power generation in the United States.