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.