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Info Africa - BOTSWANA

The southern African country of Botswana is surrounded by Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This former British protectorate of Bechuanaland gained independence in 1966 and adopted its new name of Botswana. Since obtaining independence, Botswana has enjoyed continuous civilian leadership, progressive social policies and significant capital investment, creating one of the best economies in Africa. Since diamonds were discovered in Botswana, the country has enjoyed a soaring economic growth rate. Because it is one of the world’s largest producers of diamonds, this trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation. As one of Africa’s most stable countries, Botswana is known to be relatively free of corruption. It also has a good human rights record. Botswana has one of the world’s highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infections, however; it has one of Africa’s most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with this disease. Botswana is home to huge areas of wilderness and over the past years, tourism has grown immensely as a result of the country’s conservation practices and extensive nature preserves.  Over 17% of the country’s land is dedicated to national parks. Botswana’s Delta region is very well-developed with impressive lagoons, beautiful birdlife and various animals. This delta region, which is home to various game reserves and national parks, is the largest inland delta in the world. Many know Botswana because of its Kalahari Desert; a semi-desert that stretches from South Africa through Namibia into Angola, comprising the entire western and central regions of Botswana. The Kalahari, which is one of the largest areas of semi-desert in the world, is home to the Khoikhoi and San peoples (hunter-gatherers). They have maintained their traditional lifestyle from years ago. Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, has a number of attractions, such as the National Museum, which houses natural history and ethnological exhibitions. There are a number of markets spread around town where one can get pottery, basketwork, leatherwork as well as hand-woven objects. The population of Botswana is made up of people from at least 20 different tribes. Some of these tribes are from the neighbouring countries of Botswana. The word Botswana means the ‘land of the Tswana.’ The Tswana tribe itself is divided into many different locally autonomous chiefdoms and tribes. Therefore, it is fairly common to find similarities between tribes.

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CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Bostwana's Flag

Light blue with a horizontal white-edged black stripe in the center

Nationality: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

Capital: Gaborone

Population: 1,639,833

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • -14 years: 38.3% (male 319,531/female 309,074)
  • 15-64 years: 57.9% (male 460,692/female 488,577)
  • 65 years and over: 3.8% (male 23,374/female 38,585) (2006 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.04% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 79.8% of the population is literate (male: 76.9%, female: 82.4%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4%, unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6% (2001 census)

Languages: Setswana 78.2%, Kalanga 7.9%, Sekgalagadi 2.8%, English 2.1% (official), other 8.6%, unspecified 0.4% (2001 census)

Quick Facts
  • total: 600,370 sq km
  • land: 585,370 sq km
  • water: 15,000 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: the size of Alberta

Natural resources: diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver

Environmental Issues: overgrazing; desertification; limited fresh water resources


Since gaining independence in 1966, Botswana has been successful in maintain one of the world’s highest economic growth. As a result of fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana is now a middle-income country with a per capital GDP of $10 000 as of 2005. Diamond mining accounts for more than one-third of GDP and for 70-80% of export earnings. Tourism, financial services, subsistence farming and cattle raising are key sectors of the economy of Botswana.  However, the government still needs to tackle some problems, namely the issue of high unemployment rates and poverty. The official unemployment rate is 23.8% but the unofficial rate is believed to be close to 40%. Botswana has the second highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world. This is affecting the economic growth of the country as an increasing amount of population is dying as a result of HIV/AIDS.   

Major industries:

  • diamonds
  • copper
  • nickel
  • salt
  • soda ash
  • potash
  • livestock processing
  • textiles

Agricultural products:

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

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways:888 km (2004)

Road map: 25,233 km (paved:8,867 km , unpaved: 16,366 km)(2003)

Currency: pula (BWP)


Telephone lines in use: 136,500 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 823,100 (2005)

Television Stations: 1 (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 8, FM 13, shortwave 4 (2001)

Internet users: 60,000 (2002)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 37.3% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 350,000 (2003 est.)

More Information

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