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Coordinates: 24°39.5′S 25°54.5′E / 24.6583°S 25.9083°E / -24.6583; 25.9083
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Republic of Botswana
Lefatshe la Botswana (Tswana)
Motto: Pula
"Let it Rain"
Anthem: Fatshe leno la rona
"Blessed Be This Noble Land"
and largest city
24°39.5′S 25°54.5′E / 24.6583°S 25.9083°E / -24.6583; 25.9083
Official languagesEnglish[1]
National languageSetswana[1]
Ethnic groups
  • 15.2% no religion
  • 4.1% Badimo
  • 1.4% others[b]
  • 0.3% unspecified[3]
  • Batswana (plural)
  • Motswana (singular)
GovernmentUnitary dominant-party parliamentary republic with an executive presidency[4][5]
• President
Mokgweetsi Masisi[6]
Slumber Tsogwane
Phandu Skelemani
(National Assembly)
• Established (Constitution)
30 September 1966
• Total
581,730 km2 (224,610 sq mi)[7] (47th)
• Water (%)
• 2023 estimate
2,417,596[8] (145th)
• 2022[10][11] census
• Density
4.1/km2 (10.6/sq mi) (231st)
GDP (PPP)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $54.647 billion[12] (124th)
• Per capita
Increase $20,158[12] (83rd)
GDP (nominal)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $21.90 billion[12] (122nd)
• Per capita
Increase $7,859[12] (87th)
Gini (2016)Positive decrease 45.5[13][14]
HDI (2022)Increase 0.708[15]
high (114th)
CurrencyPula (BWP)
Time zoneUTC+2 (Central Africa Time[16])
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideleft
Calling code+267
ISO 3166 codeBW
Internet TLD.bw

Botswana,[c] officially the Republic of Botswana,[d] is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Botswana is topographically flat, with approximately 70 per cent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, Zambia to the north and Zimbabwe to the northeast. Being a country of slightly over 2.4 million people and roughly the size of France, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It is essentially the nation-state of the Tswana people, who constitute 70 per cent of the population.

The Tswana ethnic group were descended mainly from Bantu-speaking tribes who migrated southward of Africa to modern Botswana around AD 600. In 1885, the British colonised the area and declared a protectorate named Bechuanaland. As decolonisation occurred, Bechuanaland became an independent Commonwealth republic under its current name on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has been a parliamentary republic with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections, though as of 2024 the Botswana Democratic Party has been the ruling party since independence. As of 2024, Botswana is the third least corrupt country in Africa, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International.

The economy is dominated by mining and tourism. Botswana has a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $20,158 as of 2024. Botswana is the world's biggest diamond-producing country. Its relatively high gross national income per capita (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a relatively high standard of living and the second-highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa (after South Africa). Botswana is a member of the Southern African Customs Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations.


The country's name means "Land of the Tswana", referring to the dominant ethnic group in Botswana.[18] The Constitution of Botswana recognizes a homogeneous Tswana state.[19] The term Batswana was originally applied to the Tswana, which is still the case.[20] However, it has also come to be used generally as a demonym for all citizens of Botswana.[21]



The 'Two Rhino' painting at Tsodilo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

It is estimated that hominids lived in Botswana during the Pleistocene.[22] Stone tools and animal remains indicate that all areas of the country was inhabited at least 400,000 years ago.[23]

It was claimed to have been the birthplace of all modern humans from around 200,000 years ago.[24][25][26] Evidence left by modern humans, such as cave paintings, is about 73,000 years old.[27] The earliest known inhabitants of southern Africa are thought to have been the forebears of present-day San ("Bushmen") and Khoi peoples. Both groups speak click languages from the small Khoe-Kwadi, Kx’a and Tuu families whose members hunted, gathered, and traded over long distances. When cattle were first introduced about 2000 years ago into southern Africa, pastoralism became a major feature of the economy since the region had large grasslands free of tsetse flies.[28]

Domboshaba Ruins Stone Wall (top) and clay pottery plate (bottom)

It is unclear when Bantu-speaking peoples first moved into the country from the north, although AD 600 seems to be a consensus estimate. In that era the ancestors of the modern-day Kalanga moved into what is now the north-eastern areas of the country. These proto-Kalanga were closely connected to states in Zimbabwe as well as to the Mapungubwe state, and the notable of these was Domboshaba ruins, a cultural and heritage site in Botswana initially occupied towards the end of the Great Zimbabwe period (1250–1450), with stone walls that have an average height of 1.8 metres. The site is a respected place for the people living in the region, and it is believed that the chief lived on the top of the hill with his helpers or assistants. These states, located outside of current Botswana's borders, appear to have kept massive herds of cattle in what is now the Central District—apparently at numbers approaching modern cattle density.[29] This massive cattle-raising complex prospered until 1300 or so and seems to have regressed following the collapse of Mapungubwe. During this era the first Tswana-speaking groups, the Bakgalagadi, moved into the southern areas of the Kalahari. All these various peoples were connected to trade routes that ran via the Limpopo River to the Indian Ocean, and trade goods from Asia such as beads made their way to Botswana, most likely in exchange for ivory, gold and rhinoceros horn.[30]

Toutswemogala Hill Iron Age Settlement's radio-carbon dates for this settlement range from the 7th to late 19th century indicating occupation of more than one thousand years.[31] The hill was part of the formation of early states in Southern Africa with cattle keeping as a major source of economy.[31] Toutswe settlement includes house-floors, large heaps of vitrified cow dung and burials while the outstanding structure is the stone wall.[32] Around 1000 AD, the Toutswe people moved into Botswana.[33]

However, agriculture also played a vital role in the longevity of Toutswemogala Hill's extended occupation, as many grain storage structures have also been found on the site. Many different stratified layers of housing floors further signal continuous occupation over hundreds of years. The arrival of the ancestors of the Tswana speakers who came to control the region has yet to be dated precisely. Members of the Bakwena, a chieftaincy under a leader named Kgabo II, made their way into the southern Kalahari by AD 1500, at the latest, and his people drove the Bakgalagadi inhabitants west into the desert. Over the years, several offshoots of the Bakwena moved into adjoining territories. The Bangwaketse occupied areas to the west, while the Bangwato moved northeast into formerly Kalanga areas.[34] Not long afterwards, a Bangwato offshoot known as the Batawana migrated into the Okavango Delta, probably in the 1790s.[35]

Mfecane and Batswana-Boer Wars[edit]

1905 German map of Southern Africa, showing the still-undivided Bechuanaland area

The first written records relating to modern-day Botswana appear in 1824. What these records show is that the Bangwaketse had become the predominant power in the region. Under the rule of Makaba II, the Bangwaketse kept vast herds of cattle in well-protected desert areas, and used their military prowess to raid their neighbours.[36] Other chiefdoms in the area, by this time, had capitals of 10,000 or so and were fairly prosperous.[37] This equilibrium came to end during the Mfecane period, 1823–1843, when a succession of invading peoples from South Africa entered the country. Although the Bangwaketse were able to defeat the invading Bakololo in 1826, over time all the major chiefdoms in Botswana were attacked, weakened, and impoverished. The Bakololo and AmaNdebele raided repeatedly and took large numbers of cattle, women, and children from the Batswana—most of whom were driven into the desert or sanctuary areas such as hilltops and caves. Only after 1843, when the Amandebele moved into western Zimbabwe, did this threat subside.[38]

Sechele I who led a Batswana Merafe Coalition against Boers in 1852

During the 1840s and 1850s trade with Cape Colony-based merchants opened up and enabled the Batswana chiefdoms to rebuild. The Bakwena, Bangwaketse, Bangwato and Batawana cooperated to control the lucrative ivory trade and then used the proceeds to import horses and guns, which in turn enabled them to establish control over what is now Botswana. This process was largely complete by 1880, and thus the Bushmen, the Kalanga, the Bakgalagadi, and other current minorities were subjugated by the Batswana.[39]

Following the Great Trek, Afrikaners from the Cape Colony established themselves on the borders of Botswana in the Transvaal. In 1852 a coalition of Tswana chiefdoms led by Sechele I defeated Afrikaner incursions at the Battle of Dimawe and, after about eight years of intermittent tensions and hostilities, eventually came to a peace agreement in Potchefstroom in 1860. From that point on, the modern-day border between South Africa and Botswana was agreed on, and the Afrikaners and Batswana traded and worked together comparatively peacefully.[40][41]

In 1884, Batawana, a northern-based Tswana clan's cavalry under the command of Kgosi Moremi, fought and defeated the Ndebele's invasion of northern Botswana at the Battle of Khutiyabasadi. This is the start of the collapse of the Ndebele Kingdom in Zimbabwe and helped the Tswana speaking authority.[42]

Due to newly peaceful conditions, trade thrived between 1860 and 1880. Taking advantage of this were Christian missionaries. The Lutherans and the London Missionary Society both became established in the country by 1856. By 1880, every major village had a resident missionary, and their influence slowly became felt. Khama III (reigned 1875–1923) was the first of the Tswana chiefs to make Christianity a state religion and changed a great deal of Tswana customary law as a result. Christianity became the de facto official religion in all the chiefdoms by World War I.[43]


The Three Dikgosi Monument of Khama III, Sebele I and Bathoen I, who negotiated a Protectorate

During the Scramble for Africa, the territory of Botswana was coveted by both the German Empire and Britain. During the Berlin Conference, Britain decided to annex Botswana in order to safeguard the Road to the North and thus connect the Cape Colony to its territories further north. It unilaterally annexed Tswana territories in January 1885 and then sent the Warren Expedition north to consolidate control over the area and convince the chiefs to accept British overrule. Despite their misgivings, they eventually acquiesced to this fait accompli.[44][45]

In 1890, areas north of 22 degrees were added to the new Bechuanaland Protectorate. During the 1890s, the new territory was divided into eight different reserves, with fairly small amounts of land being left as freehold for white settlers. During the early 1890s, the British government decided to hand over the Bechuanaland Protectorate to the British South Africa Company. This plan, which was well on its way to fruition despite the entreaties of Tswana leaders who toured England in protest, was eventually foiled by the failure of the Jameson Raid in January 1896.[46][47]

Postage stamp of British-ruled Bechuanaland from 1960

When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 from the main British colonies in the region, the High Commission Territories—the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (now Eswatini)—were not included, but provision was made for their later incorporation. However, the UK began to consult with their inhabitants as to their wishes. Although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred to their jurisdiction, the UK kept delaying; consequently, it never occurred. The election of the Nationalist government in 1948, which instituted apartheid, and South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961, ended any prospect of the UK or these territories agreeing to incorporation into South Africa.[48]

An expansion of British central authority and the evolution of native government resulted in the 1920 establishment of two advisory councils to represent both Africans and Europeans.[49] The African Council consisted of the eight heads of the Tswana tribes and some elected members.[49] Proclamations in 1934 regulated tribal rule and powers. A European-African advisory council was formed in 1951, and the 1961 constitution established a consultative legislative council.[50]

Seretse Khama (right) and Quett Masire (left) at independence talks in London, 1965


In June 1964, the United Kingdom accepted proposals for a democratic self-government in Botswana. An independence conference was held in London in February 1966.[51] The seat of government was moved in 1965 from Mahikeng in South Africa, to the newly established Gaborone, which is located near Botswana's border with South Africa. Based on the 1965 constitution, the country held its first general elections under universal suffrage and gained independence on 30 September 1966.[52] Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement,[53] was elected as the first president, and subsequently re-elected twice.[54]

Khama died in office in 1980. The presidency passed to the sitting vice-president, Quett Masire, who was elected in his own right in 1984 and re-elected in 1989 and 1994. Masire retired from office in 1998. He was succeeded by Festus Mogae, who was elected in his own right in 1999 and re-elected in 2004. The presidency passed in 2008 to Ian Khama (son of the first president), who had been serving as Mogae's vice-president since resigning his position in 1998 as Commander of the Botswana Defence Force to take up this civilian role. On 1 April 2018, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi was sworn in as the fifth president of Botswana, succeeding Ian Khama. He represents the Botswana Democratic Party, which has also won a majority in every parliamentary election since independence. All the previous presidents have also represented the same party.[55] A long-running dispute over the northern border with Namibia's Caprivi Strip was the subject of a ruling by the International Court of Justice in December 1999. It ruled that Kasikili Island belongs to Botswana.[56]


Botswana map of Köppen climate classification

At 581,730 km2 (224,607 sq mi), Botswana is the world's 48th-largest country.[57] It also has a mean altitude of roughly 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level.[58][59] Botswana is predominantly flat, tending towards gently rolling tableland.[60] Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of its land surface.[61]

The Okavango Delta

The Limpopo River Basin, the major landform of all of southern Africa, lies partly in Botswana, with the basins of its tributaries, the Notwane, Bonwapitse, Mahalapye, Lotsane, Motloutse and the Shashe, located in the eastern part of the country.[62] The Notwane provides water to the capital through the Gaborone Dam.[63] The Chobe River meets with the Zambezi River at a place called Kazungula.[64]

Biodiversity and conservation[edit]

Zebras roaming the Okavango Basin

Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat.[65] In addition to the delta and desert areas, there are grasslands and savannas.[65] Northern Botswana has one of the few remaining large populations of the endangered African wild dog.[66] Chobe National Park in the Chobe District has the world's largest concentration of African elephants. The park covers about 11,000 km2 (4,247 sq mi) and supports about 350 species of birds.[67]

The Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve (in the Okavango Delta) are major tourist destinations.[68] Other reserves include the Central Kalahari Game Reserve located in the Kalahari Desert in Ghanzi District; Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Nxai Pan National Park are in Central District in the Makgadikgadi Pan.[69]

Botswana faces two major environmental problems, drought and desertification, which are heavily linked. Three-quarters of the country's human and animal populations depend on groundwater due to drought. Groundwater use through deep borehole drilling has somewhat eased the effects of drought. Surface water is scarce in Botswana and less than 5% of the agriculture in the country is sustainable by rainfall. In the remaining 95% of the country, raising livestock is the primary source of rural income. Approximately 71% of the country's land is used for communal grazing, which has been a major cause of the desertification and the accelerating soil erosion of the country.[70]

Since raising livestock has been profitable for the people of Botswana, they continue to exploit the land with dramatically increasing numbers of animals. From 1966 to 1991, the livestock population grew from 1.7 million to 5.5 million.[70] Similarly, the human population has increased from 574,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 1995, a 161% increase in 24 years.[71] Environmentalists report that the Okavango Delta is drying up due to the increased grazing of livestock.[72] The Okavango Delta is one of the major semi-forested wetlands in Botswana and one of the largest inland deltas in the world; it is a crucial ecosystem to the survival of many animals.[72]

The Department of Forestry and Range Resources has already begun to implement a project to reintroduce indigenous vegetation into communities in Kgalagadi South, Kweneng North and Boteti.[73] Reintroduction of indigenous vegetation will help reduce the degradation of the land. The United States Government has also entered into an agreement with Botswana, giving them US$7 million to reduce Botswana's debt by US$8.3 million. The stipulation of the US reducing Botswana's debt is that Botswana will focus on more extensive conservation of the land.[72] The country had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 9.13/10, ranking it 8th globally out of 172 countries.[74]

The United Nations Development Programme claims that poverty is a major problem behind the overexploitation of resources, including land, in Botswana. The UNDP joined in with a project started in the southern community of Struizendam in Botswana. The purpose of the project is to draw from "indigenous knowledge and traditional land management systems". The leaders of this movement are supposed to be the people in the community to draw them in, in turn increasing their possibilities to earn an income and thus decreasing poverty. The UNDP also stated that the government has to effectively implement policies to allow people to manage their own local resources and are giving the government information to help with policy development.[75]

Government and politics[edit]

Mokgweetsi Masisi has been the President of Botswana since 2019.

Botswana is a parliamentary republic governed by the Constitution of Botswana,[76] and it is the longest uninterrupted democracy in Africa.[77] Its seat of government is in Gaborone.[78] Botswana's governing institutions were established after it became an independent nation in 1966. Botswana's governmental structure is based on both the Westminster system of the United Kingdom and the tribal governments of the Tswana people.[76] Botswana has a centralized government in which national law supersedes local law.[79] Local laws are developed by local councils and district councils.[80] They are heavily influenced by tribal governments, which are led by the tribe's chief.[80]

The Parliament of Botswana consists of the President and the National Assembly, which serves as the nation's formal and sole legislature. Whilst the Ntlo ya Dikgosi serves an advisory body made up of tribal chiefs and other appointed members.[81] Botswana's executive branch is led by the President of Botswana, who serves as both the head of state and head of government.[76] The members of parliament choose the president,[82] and the president then appoints the Vice-President and the members of the Cabinet.[83] The president has significant power in Botswana, and the legislature has little power to check the president once appointed.[82][84] The judiciary includes the High Court of Botswana, the Court of Appeal, and Magistrates' Courts.[85] Cases are often settled by customary courts with tribal chiefs presiding.[80]

Elections in Botswana are held every five years and overseen by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).[86] Botswana operates a multi-party system in which many political parties compete in elections,[77] but it is effectually a dominant-party state in which the Botswana Democratic Party has ruled with a majority government since independence.[87][88] The nation's elections are recognized as free and fair, but the ruling party has institutional advantages that other parties do not.[86][89] Factionalism is common within Botswana's political parties, and several groups have formed new parties by splitting from established ones.[77] Since 2019, the Umbrella for Democratic Change has operated as a coalition of opposition parties.[90] The most recent election was held in 2019, with the Botswana Democratic Party maintaining its majority and Mokgweetsi Masisi being re-elected president.[91]

In Botswana's early years, its politics were managed by President Seretse Khama and Vice-President (later president) Quett Masire.[92] Since the Kgabo Commission in 1991, factionalism and political rivalries have dominated Botswana politics. The Barata-Phathi faction was led by Peter Mmusi, Daniel Kwelagobe, and Ponatshego Kedikilwe, while the A Team faction was led by Mompati Merafhe and Jacob Nkate.[93][94] When Festus Mogae and Ian Khama became president and vice-president, respectively, they aligned with the A Team. Khama effectively expelled the A Team from the party in 2010 after he became president.[94] A new rivalry formed in 2018 when Khama's chosen successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, became president. He opposed Khama, and the two formed a political rivalry that looms over Batswana politics in the 2020s.[95]

Botswana was ranked as a "flawed democracy" and 33rd out of 167 states in the 2023 Democracy Index (The Economist), which was the second highest rating in Africa, and highest ranking in continental Africa (only the offshore island nation of Mauritius bested its ranking).[96] However, according to the 2024 V-Dem Democracy Indices, Botswana has been experiencing an episode of democratic backsliding over the past ten years, recording its lowest ever score on the indices. The indices classify Botswana as an electoral democracy in a 'grey zone' between electoral democracy and electoral autocracy. Furthermore, they show that Botswana lost its status as a "liberal democracy" in 2021, with its liberal, participatory, and deliberative components decreasing "at a statistically significant level," with the latter component being noted as becoming "significantly worse."[97]

The 2023 Transparency International Corruption Index ranks Botswana is the third least corrupt country in Africa and ranks just below Cabo Verde and the Seychelles.[98] Botswana is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.[99]

Foreign relations and military[edit]

Botswana soldiers board a Botswana Defence Force plane to Mozambique in July 2021.

At the time of independence, Botswana had no armed forces. It was only after the Rhodesian and South African armies attacked the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe[100] bases respectively that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) was formed in 1977.[101] The president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appoints a defence council. In 2019, Botswana signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.[102]

Following political changes in South Africa and the region, the BDF's missions have increasingly focused on prevention of poaching, preparing for disasters, and foreign peacekeeping. The United States has been the largest single foreign contributor to the development of the BDF, and a large segment of its officer corps have received U.S. training. The Botswana government gave the United States permission to explore the possibility of establishing an Africa Command (AFRICOM) base in the country.[103]

Human rights[edit]

The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Ditshwanelo, was established in 1993.[104] Until June 2019, homosexual acts were illegal in Botswana. A Botswana High Court decision of 11 June of that year struck down provisions in the Criminal Code that punished "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" and "acts of gross indecency", making Botswana one of twenty-two African countries that have either decriminalised or legalised homosexual acts.[105] Capital punishment is a legal penalty for murder in Botswana, and executions are carried out by hanging.[106]

San hunter

San and other indigenous tribes[edit]

Many of the indigenous San people have been forcibly relocated from their land to reservations. To make them relocate, they were denied access to water on their land and faced arrest if they hunted, which was their primary source of food.[107] Their lands lie in the middle of the world's richest diamond field. Officially, the government denies that there is any link to mining and claims the relocation is to preserve the wildlife and ecosystem, even though the San people have lived sustainably on the land for millennia.[107] On the reservations, they struggle to find employment, and alcoholism is rampant.[107]

On 24 August 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minorities, Fernand de Varennes, issued a statement calling on Botswana "to step up efforts to recognise and protect the rights of minorities in relation to public services, land and resource use, and the use of minority languages in education and other critical areas."[108]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Districts of Botswana in 1977
Districts and subdistricts of Botswana

Botswana is divided into 10 administrative districts, two city districts, four towns,[109] 11 sub districts, and in total, 16 administrative divisions.[109] They are Central, Chobe, Francistown, Gaborone, Ghanzi, Jwaneng, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Lobatse, North East, North West, South East, Southern, Selibe Phikwe and Sowa Town.[109] These are administered by 16 local authorities (district councils, city councils or town councils).[110][111]

In 1977, Botswana's administrative divisions were Ngamiland, Chobe, Francistown, Ngwato, Tuli, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Ngwaketse, Kweneng, Gaborone, and Lobatse.[112] In 2006, Chobe was removed from being an administrative division, and Ngamiland's name was changed to North West district. Chobe was readded on 31 March 2014. That same day, the administrative divisions Francistown, Gaborone, Jwaneng, Lobatse, Selibe Phikwe, and Sowa Town were all added.[109]


GDP per capita of Botswana, 1950 to 2018

Since independence, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world.[113] Formerly one of the world's poorest countries—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s,[114] Botswana has transformed itself into an upper middle-income country. GDP per capita grew from $439 in 1950 to $15,842 in 2018.[115] Although Botswana was resource-abundant, a good institutional framework allowed the country to reinvest resource-income in order to generate stable future income.[116] By one estimate, it has the fourth highest gross national income at purchasing power parity in Africa, giving it a relatively high standard of living in Africa, around that of Mexico.[117]

The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Botswana is responsible for promoting business development throughout the country. According to the International Monetary Fund, economic growth averaged over 9% per year from 1966 to 1999. Botswana has a high level of economic freedom compared to other African countries.[118] The government has maintained a sound fiscal policy, despite consecutive budget deficits in 2002 and 2003, and a negligible level of foreign debt. It earned the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa and has stockpiled foreign exchange reserves (over $7 billion in 2005/2006) amounting to almost two and a half years of current imports.[119]

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government respects this in practice. The legal system is sufficient to conduct secure commercial dealings, although a growing backlog of cases prevents timely trials. Botswana is ranked second only to South Africa among sub-Saharan African countries in the 2014 International Property Rights Index.[120]

Gemstones and precious metals[edit]

The Jwaneng diamond mine, richest in the world.[121]

In Botswana, the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security maintains data regarding mining throughout the country.[122][123] Debswana, the largest diamond mining company operating in Botswana, is a joint venture, 50% owned by the government.[124]

The mineral industry provides about 40% of all government revenues.[125] Uranium mining has not started in Botswana, however the Letlhakane Uranium Project in Africa is one of the largest undeveloped uranium projects.[126] The government announced in early 2009 that they would try to diversify their economy and overreliance on diamonds.[127]


The Botswana Tourism Organisation is the country's official tourism group.[128] Other destinations in Botswana include the Gaborone Yacht Club and the Kalahari Fishing Club; it has natural attractions such as the Gaborone Dam and Mokolodi Nature Reserve. There are golf courses that are maintained by the Botswana Golf Union (BGU).[129] In 2014, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the largest inland delta in the world, was inscribed as the 1,000th World Heritage Site.[130]


Air Botswana (top) and Thapama Interchange (bottom)

Botswana has 971 kilometres (603 mi) of railway lines, 18,443.8 kilometres (11,460.4 mi) of roads, and 92 airports, of which 12 have paved runways. 7,383.2 kilometres (4,587.7 mi) of these roads are paved, with the other 11,060.6 kilometres (6,872.7 mi) being unpaved.[131] The national airline is Air Botswana, which flies domestically to other countries in Africa. Botswana Railways is the national railway company operating primarily in the Southern African regional railway system. Botswana Railways offers rail-based transport facilities for moving a range of commodities for the mining sector and primary industries, as well as passenger train services and dry ports.[132][133]

In terms of power infrastructure in Botswana, the country produces coal for electricity and oil is imported into the country. Recently, the country has taken a large interest in renewable energy sources and has completed a comprehensive strategy that will attract investors in the wind, solar and biomass renewable energy industries. Botswana's power stations include Morupule B Power Station (600 MW), Morupule A Power Station (132 MW), Orapa Power Station (90 MW), Phakalane Power Station (1.3 MW) and Mmamabula Power Station (300 MW), which is expected to be online in the near future. A 200 MW solar power plant is at the planning and design stage by Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.[134][135]


As of 2024, the Tswana are the majority ethnic group in Botswana, making up approximately 79% of the population, followed by Kalanga at 11% and the San (Basarwa) at 3%. The remaining 7% is made up of White Batswana/European Batswana,[136] Indians,[2] and a number of other smaller Southern African ethnic groups.

Native groups include the Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi. The Indian minority is made up of both recent migrants and descendants of Indian migrants who arrived from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius and South Africa.[137]

Population pyramid of Botswana, 2016

Since 2000, because of deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, the number of Zimbabweans in Botswana has risen into the tens of thousands.[138] Fewer than 10,000 San people are still living their traditional hunter-gatherer way of life. Since the mid-1990s the central government of Botswana has been trying to move San out of their historic lands, with the main reason possibly being that they live on a diamond-rich region.[139]

James Anaya, as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people for the United Nations in 2010, described loss of land as a major contributor to many of the problems facing Botswana's indigenous people, citing the San's eviction from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR)[140] as a special example.[141]: 2  Among Anaya's recommendations in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council was that development programs should promote, in consultation with indigenous communities such as the San and Bakgalagadi people, activities in harmony with the culture of those communities such as traditional hunting and gathering activities.[141]: 19 

Largest cities or towns in Botswana
Census Botswana 2022[142]
Rank Name District Pop. Rank Name District Pop.
1 Gaborone South-East 246,325 11 Kanye Southern 48,028 Maun
2 Francistown North-East 103,417 12 Selibe Phikwe Central 42,488
3 Mogoditshane Kweneng 88,006 13 Letlhakane Central 36,338
4 Maun North-West 84,993 14 Ramotswa South-East 33,271
5 Molepolole Kweneng 74,674 15 Lobatse South-East 29,772
6 Serowe Central 55,676 16 Mmopane Kweneng 25,345
7 Tlokweng South-East 55,508 17 Thamaga Kweneng 25,297
8 Palapye Central 52,636 18 Moshupa Southern 23,858
9 Mochudi Kgatleng 50,317 19 Tonota Central 23,296
10 Mahalapye Central 48,431 20 Bobonong Central 21,216


The official language of Botswana is English, while Setswana is widely spoken across the country.[1] In Setswana, prefixes are more important than they are in many other languages, since Setswana is a Bantu language and has noun classes denoted by these prefixes. They include Bo, which refers to the country, Ba, which refers to the people, Mo, which is one person, and Se which is the language. For example, the main ethnic group of Botswana is the Tswana people, hence the name Botswana for its country. The people as a whole are Batswana, one person is a Motswana, and the language they speak is Setswana.[143][144]

Other languages spoken in Botswana include Kalanga (Sekalanga), Sarwa (Sesarwa), Ndebele, Kgalagadi, Tswapong, !Xóõ, Yeyi, and, in some parts, Afrikaans.[145]


Religion in Botswana (Pew Research)[146]
Religion Per cent
No religion

An estimated 77% of the country's citizens identify as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa make up the majority of Christians. There are also congregations of Lutherans, Baptists, Roman Catholics, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and Serbian Orthodox in the country. According to the 2001 census, the nation has around 5,000 Muslims (mainly from South Asia), 3,000 Hindus, and 700 of the Baháʼí Faith. Approximately 20% of citizens identify with no religion.[146]


Botswana's healthcare system has been steadily improving and expanding,[147] specifically in the fact that the infant mortality and maternal mortality rates are steadily declining.[148] 85 per cent of the population live within a 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) radius of a health facility. 73 per cent of pregnant women access antenal care services at least four times. Almost 100 per cent of births in Botswana take place in hospitals.[147]

Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole

The Ministry of Health[149] in Botswana is responsible for overseeing the quality and distribution of healthcare throughout the country. Life expectancy at birth was 55 in 2009 according to the World Bank, having previously fallen from a peak of 64.1 in 1990 to a low of 49 in 2002.[150] After Botswana's 2011 census, current life expectancy is estimated at 54.06 years.[2]

The Cancer Association of Botswana is a voluntary non-governmental organisation. The association is a member of the Union for International Cancer Control. The Association supplements existing services through provision of cancer prevention and health awareness programs, facilitating access to health services for cancer patients and offering support and counselling to those affected.[151]

HIV/AIDS epidemic[edit]

Life expectancy in select Southern African countries, 1950–2019. HIV/AIDS has caused a fall in life expectancy.

Like elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic impact of AIDS is considerable. Economic development spending was cut by 10% in 2002–3 as a result of recurring budget deficits and rising expenditure on healthcare services. Botswana has been hit very hard by the AIDS pandemic; in 2006, it was estimated that life expectancy at birth had dropped from 65 to 35 years.[152] The life expectancy is 66.4 years as of 2024.[18]

In 2003, the government began a comprehensive programme involving free or cheap generic antiretroviral drugs as well as an information campaign designed to stop the spread of the virus; in 2013, over 40% of adults in Botswana had access to antiretroviral therapy.[153]: 28  In the age group of 15–19 years old, prevalence was estimated at 6% for females and 3.5% for males in 2013,[153]: 33  and for the 20–24 age group, 15% for females and 5% for males.[153]: 33  Botswana is one of 21 priority countries identified by the UN AIDS group in 2011 in the Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children and to keep their mothers alive.[153]: 37  From 2009 to 2013, the country saw a decrease over 50% in new HIV infections in children.[153]: 38  Less than 10% of pregnant HIV-infected women were not receiving antiretroviral medications in 2013, with a corresponding large decrease (over 50%) in the number of new HIV infections in children under 5.[153]: 39, 40  Among the UN Global Plan countries, people living with HIV in Botswana have the highest per centage receiving antiretroviral treatment: about 75% for adults (age 15+) and about 98% for children.[153]: 237 

With a nationwide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program, Botswana has reduced HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children from about 40% in 2003 to 4% in 2010. Under the leadership of Festus Mogae, the Government of Botswana solicited outside help in curing people with HIV/AIDS and received early support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Merck Foundation, which together formed the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP). Other early partners include the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Botswana–UPenn Partnership of the University of Pennsylvania. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, universal access to treatment—defined as 80% coverage or greater—has been achieved in Botswana.[154]

The country has been adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2002, Botswana became the first country to offer anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) to help combat the epidemic.[155] Despite the launch of programs to make treatment available and to educate the populace about the epidemic,[156] the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013.[157]: A20  However, in recent years the country has made strides in combating HIV/AIDS, with efforts being made to provide proper treatment and lower the rate of mother-to-child transmission.[158][159]


Folklore Musician Sereetsi (top) and traditional basket (bottom)

Botswana's music is mostly vocal and performed, sometimes without drums depending on the occasion; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Botswana folk music has instruments such as setinkane (a sort of miniature piano), segankure/segaba (a Motswana version of the Chinese instrument erhu), moropa (meropa for plural) and phala (a whistle used mostly during celebrations). The hands are sometimes used as musical instruments too, by either clapping them together or against phathisi (goat skin turned inside out wrapped around the calf area, only used by men) to create music and rhythm. The national anthem is "Fatshe leno la rona", which was written and composed by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete; it was adopted upon independence in 1966.[160][161][162]

In the northern part of Botswana, women in the villages of Etsha and Gumare are noted for their skill at crafting baskets from mokola palm and local dyes. The baskets are generally woven into three types: large, lidded baskets used for storage, large, open baskets for carrying objects on the head or for winnowing threshed grain and smaller plates for winnowing pounded grain. These baskets steadily use colour.[163]

The oldest paintings from both Botswana and South Africa depict hunting, animal and human figures, and were made by the Khoisan (Kung San/Bushmen) over twenty thousand years ago within the Kalahari Desert.[164]


The national dish is seswaa, pounded meat made from goat meat or beef, Segwapa dried, cured meat ranging from beef to game meats, either fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. Botswana's cuisine shares some characteristics with other cuisine of Southern Africa.[165]

Examples of Botswana food are: bogobe, pap (maize porridge), boerewors, samp, Magwinya and mopane worms. Bogobe is made by putting sorghum, maize or millet flour into boiling water, stirring into a soft paste, and cooking it slowly. A dish called ting is made when the sorghum or maize is fermented, and milk and sugar added. Without the milk and sugar, ting is sometimes eaten with meat or vegetables as lunch or dinner. Another way of making bogobe is to add sour milk and a cooking melon (lerotse). This dish is called tophi by the Kalanga tribe. Madila is a traditional fermented milk product similar to yogurt or sour cream.[166]


Obed Itani Chilume Stadium

Football is the most popular sport in Botswana, with qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations being the national team's highest achievement to date. Other popular sports are softball, cricket, tennis, rugby, badminton, handball, golf, and track and field.[167][168] Botswana is an associate member of the International Cricket Council. Botswana became a member of The International Badminton Federation and Africa Badminton Federation in 1991. The Botswana Golf Union has an amateur golf league in which golfers compete in tournaments and championships. Botswana won the country's first Olympic medal in 2012 when runner Nijel Amos won silver in the 800 metres.

In 2011, Amantle Montsho became world champion in the 400 metres and won Botswana's first athletics medal at the world level. High jumper Kabelo Kgosiemang is a three-time African champion, Isaac Makwala is a sprinter who specialises in the 400 metres, he was the gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, Baboloki Thebe was a silver medalist in the 200 metres at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics and reached the semi-finals at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Athletics, and Ross Branch Ross, a motor-biker, holds the number one plate in the South African Cross Country Championship and has competed at the Dakar Rally. Letsile Tebogo set the world junior record in the 100 metres with a time of 9.94 at the 2022 World Athletics Championships,[169] and as of 2024 holds the 100m and 200m world's third best time of 30.69 seconds.[170] On 7 August 2021, Botswana won the bronze medal in the Men's 4 × 400 metres relay at the Olympics in Tokyo. Botswana was the first African nation to host the Netball World Youth Cup.[171][172]

The card game bridge has a strong following; it was first played in Botswana around 40 years ago, and it grew in popularity during the 1980s. Many British expatriate school teachers informally taught the game in Botswana's secondary schools. The Botswana Bridge Federation (BBF) was founded in 1988. Bridge has remained popular and the BBF has over 800 members.[173] In 2007, the BBF invited the English Bridge Union to host a week-long teaching programme in May 2008.[174]


Botswana Ministry of Education building

Botswana has made educational progress since independence in 1966. In 1966, there were only 22 graduates in the country[175] and only a very small per centage of the population attended secondary school. Botswana increased its adult literacy rate from 69% in 1991 to 83% in 2008.[176] Among sub-Saharan African countries, Botswana has one of the highest literacy rates.[177] As of 2024, 88.5% of the population age 15 and over could read and write and were respectively literate.[177]

The Botswana Ministry of Education[178] is working to establish libraries in primary schools in partnership with the African Library Project.[179] The Government of Botswana hopes that by investing a large part of national income in education, the country will become less dependent on diamonds for its economic survival, and less dependent on expatriates for its skilled workers.[180] NPVET (National Policy on Vocational Education and Training) introduced policies in favour of vocational education.[180] Botswana invests 21% of its government spending in education.[176]

In January 2006, Botswana announced the reintroduction of school fees after two decades of free state education,[181] though the government still provides full scholarships with living expenses to any Botswana citizen in university, either at the University of Botswana or if the student wishes to pursue an education in any field not offered locally, they are provided with a full scholarship to study abroad.[182]

Science and technology[edit]

Physicist in a lab at Botswana International University of Science and Technology

In 2015, Botswana planned to use science and technology to diversify its economy and thereby reduce its dependence on diamond mining.[183] Botswana published its updated National Policy on Research, Science and Technology in 2011, within a UNESCO project sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID). This policy was formulated in strategic documents that include Botswana's Tenth National Development Plan for 2016 and Vision 2016.[183] The National Policy on Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (2011) fixes the target of raising gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R&D) from 0.26% of GDP in 2012 to over 2% of GDP by 2016. This target can only be reached within the specified time frame by raising public spending on R&D.[183] Botswana counts one of the highest researcher densities in sub-Saharan Africa: 344 per million inhabitants (in head counts), compared to an average of 91 per million inhabitants for the subcontinent in 2013.[183] Botswana was ranked 85th in the Global Innovation Index in 2023.[184][185]

In 2009, Botswana-based company Deaftronics launched a solar-powered hearing aid after six years of prototype development. Since then, Deaftronics has sold over 10,000 of the hearing aids. Priced at $200 per unit, each hearing aid includes four rechargeable batteries (lasting up to three years) and a solar charger for them. The product is inexpensive compared to many similar devices, which can start at around $600.[186][187] In 2011, Botswana's Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) unveiled Musi cattle, designed to optimise beef production. As a hybrid of the Tswana, Bonsmara, Brahman, Tuli and Simmental breeds,[188] it is hoped that the composite will lead to increased beef production.[189] In 2016, the Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) developed a rapid testing kit for foot-and-mouth disease in collaboration with the Botswana Vaccine Institute and Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The kit developed in Botswana allows for on-site diagnosis to be made.[190]

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) (MeerKAT) consists of thousands of dishes and antennas spread over large distances linked together to form one giant telescope. Additional dishes will be located in eight other African countries Botswana among them. Botswana was selected to participate because of its ideal location in the southern hemisphere and environment, which could enable easier data collection from the universe. The Botswana government has built the SKA precursor telescope at Kgale View, which is the African Very Long Base Line Interferometry Network (AVN), it sent students on astronomy scholarships.[191]

Cubesat miniaturized satellite

Botswana launched its own three-year programme to build and launch a Micro Satellite (CubeSat) Botswana Satellite Technology (Sat-1 Project) in Gaborone on 18 December 2020. The development of the satellite will be led by Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) with technical support from the University of Oulu in Finland and Loon, a giant leap forward in the realisation of Botswana's ambition to become a technologically driven economy. The satellite, which will be used for earth observation, will generate data for farm planning and real-time virtual tourism. It can also help predict and forecast harvest time.[192][193] In 2016, for the IT sector, Almaz opened a first-of-its-kind computer assembly company.[194][195] Ditec, a Botswana company, also customises, designs and manufactures mobile phones. Ditec is specialized in the customisation of Microsoft-powered devices.[196]

On 19 November 2021, scientists at the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory (BHHRL) first discovered the variant Omicron subsequently designated B.1.1.529, and then named "Omicron" becoming the first country in the world to discover the variant. Since early 2021, they have genome-sequenced some 2,300 positive SARS-CoV-2 virus samples. According to Dr Gaseitsiwe, Botswana's genome sequence submissions to GISAID are among the highest in the African region on a per capita basis, on a par with its well-resourced neighbour South Africa. Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) was built in 2003, two years after the umbrella organisation opened the BHHRL, its purpose-built HIV research lab and one of the first on the continent.[197]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ includes Kgalagadi, White and Indian
  2. ^ Including Baháʼí, Hindu, and Islam.
  3. ^ (English: Land of the Tswana; /bɒtˈswɑːnə/ , also UK: /bʊt-, bʊˈw-/[17])
  4. ^ (Setswana: Lefatshe la Botswana [lɪˈfatsʰɪ la bʊˈtswana])



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Works cited[edit]

General sources[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY-SA IGO 3.0. Text taken from UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030​, 546–547, UNESCO, UNESCO Publishing.

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles, Thalefang (2016). Botswana's Top50 Ultimate Experiences. Mmegi Publishing House. ISBN 9789996845413.
  • Acemoglu, Daron; Johnson, Simon; Robinson, James A. (11 July 2001). "An African Success Story: Botswana". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018 – via mit.edu.
  • Cohen, Dennis L (1979). "The Botswana Political Elite: Evidence from the 1974 General Election". Journal of Southern African Affairs. 4: 347–370.
  • Colclough, Christopher and Stephen McCarthy. The Political Economy of Botswana: A Study of Growth and Income Distribution (Oxford University Press, 1980)
  • Cunningham, A.B.; Milton, S.J. (1987). "Effects of basket-weaving industry on mokola palm and dye plants in northwestern Botswana". Economic Botany. 41 (3): 386–402. doi:10.1007/BF02859055. JSTOR 4254989.
  • Denbow, James & Thebe, Phenyo C. (2006). Culture and Customs of Botswana. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-33178-7.
  • Edge, Wayne A. and Mogopodi H. Lekorwe eds. Botswana: Politics and Society (Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik, 1998)
  • Good, Kenneth (1992). "Interpreting the Exceptionality of Botswana". Journal of Modern African Studies. 30: 69–95. doi:10.1017/S0022278X00007734. S2CID 154542272.
  • Good, Kenneth (September 1994). "Corruption and Mismanagement in Botswana: A Best-Case Example?" (PDF). Journal of Modern African Studies. 32 (3): 499–521. doi:10.1017/S0022278X00015202. eISSN 1469-7777. ISSN 0022-278X. S2CID 153626418. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018 – via harvard.edu.
  • Tlou, Thomas, and Alec C. Campbell. History of Botswana (Macmillan Botswana, 1984)

External links[edit]

24°39.5′S 25°54.5′E / 24.6583°S 25.9083°E / -24.6583; 25.9083