Learn more about Botswana
| Lefatshe la Botswana |
Republic of Botswana
|Motto: Pula ("Rain")|
| Anthem: Fatshe leno la rona|
("Blessed Be This Noble Land")
(and largest city)
| Gaborone |
|Official languages|| English (official)|
|- President||Festus Gontebanye Mogae|
|Independence||from the UK|
|- Date||September 30 1966|
|- Total|| 581,730 km² (41th)|
224,606 sq mi
|- Water (%)||2.5|
|- 2005 estimate||1,765,000 (147th)|
|- Density|| 3.0/km² (220th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2005 estimate|
|- Total||$18.068 billion (114th)|
|- Per capita||$11,410 (60th)|
|HDI (2006)||Image:Green Arrow Up.svg 0.570 (medium) (131st)|
|Currency|| Pula (|
|Time zone||CAT (UTC+2)|
|- Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+2)|
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on September 30, 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. The economy, closely tied to South Africa's, is predominated by mining (especially diamonds), cattle, and tourism. The country is named after its largest ethnic group, the Tswana.
In the late nineteenth century, hostilities broke out between the Shona inhabitants of Botswana and Ndebele tribes who were migrating into the territory from the Kalahari Desert. Tensions also escalated with the Boer settlers from the Transvaal. After appeals by the Batswana leaders Khama III, Bathoen and Sebele for assistance, the British Government on March 31, 1885 put "Bechuanaland" under its protection. The northern territory remained under direct administration as the Bechuanaland Protectorate and is today's Botswana, while the southern territory became part of the Cape Colony and is now part of the northwest province of South Africa; the majority of Setswana-speaking people today live in South Africa.
When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 out of the main British colonies in the region, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (the "High Commission Territories") were not included, but provision was made for their later incorporation. However, a vague undertaking was given to consult their inhabitants, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred, Britain kept delaying, and it never occurred. The election of the National Party government in 1948, which instituted apartheid, and South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961, ended any prospect of incorporation of the territories into South Africa.
An expansion of British central authority and the evolution of tribal government resulted in the 1920 establishment of two advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans. Proclamations in 1934 regularized tribal rule and powers. A European-African advisory council was formed in 1951, and the 1961 constitution established a consultative legislative council.
In June 1964, Britain accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana. The seat of government was moved from Mafikeng in South Africa, to newly established Gaborone in 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence on September 30, 1966. Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to the Ngwato chiefship, was elected as the first president, re-elected twice, and died in office in 1980. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, Ketumile Masire, who was elected in his own right in 1984 and re-elected in 1989 and 1994. Masire retired from office in 1998. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, Festus Mogae, who was elected in his own right in 1999 and re-elected in 2004.
 Geography and environment
Predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest
- More detail
At 231,788 mi² (600,370 km²), Botswana is the world's 45th-largest country (after Ukraine). It is comparable in size to Madagascar, and is slightly smaller than the state of Texas in Southern United States.
Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of the land surface of the country. The Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, is in the Northwest. The Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan lies in the North.
Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat, including the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert, grasslands and savannas, the latter where Blue Wildebeest and many antelopes as well as other mammals and birds are found.
 Politics and government
- Main articles on politics and government of Botswana can be found at the Politics and government of Botswana series.
The politics of Botswana takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Botswana is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Botswana. Since independence the party system is dominated by the Botswana Democratic Party. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
 Administrative divisions
Botswana is divided into nine districts:
These districts are subdivided into twenty-eight subdistricts.
- Main population centres (in descending order)
Towns and villages
At the time of independence Botswana had no armed forces. It was only after attacks from the Rhodesian army that Botswana formed a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) in self-defence in 1977. The president is commander in chief and a defence council is appointed by the president. The BDF now has approximately 12,000 members.
The BDF is a capable and well-disciplined military force. Following positive political changes in South Africa and the region, the BDF's missions have increasingly focused on anti-poaching activities, disaster-preparedness, 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 has received U.S. training. It is considered an apolitical and professional institution.
 Foreign relations
Botswana puts a premium on economic and political integration in Southern Africa. It seeks to make SADC a working vehicle for economic development, and promotes efforts to make the region self-policing in terms of preventative diplomacy, conflict resolution, and good governance. It has welcomed post-apartheid South Africa as a partner in these efforts. Botswana joins the African consensus on most major international matters and is a member of international organisations such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the African Union (AU). Botswana is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).
Since independence, Botswana has had the fastest growth in per capita income in the world <ref>.</ref> Economic growth averaged over 9% per year from 1966 to 1999. 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 $5.1 billion in 2003/2004) amounting to almost two and one half years of current imports. Botswana's impressive economic record has been built on the foundation of wisely using revenue generated from diamond mining to fuel economic development through prudent fiscal policies and a cautious foreign policy. Debswana, the only diamond mining company operating in Botswana, is 50% owned by the government and generates about half of all government revenues.
However, economic development spending was cut by 10% in 2002-2003 as a result of recurring budget deficits and rising expenditure on healthcare services. Botswana has been hit very hard by the AIDS epidemic; the average life expectancy is approximately 40 years, third to Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Approximately one in three Batswana has HIV, giving Botswana the second highest HIV infection rate in the world after Swaziland.  The government recognizes that HIV/AIDS will affect the economy and is trying to combat the epidemic, including free Antiretroviral drug treatment and a nation-wide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program.
Some of Botswana's budget deficits can be traced to relatively high military expenditures (of roughly 4% of GDP in 2004, according to the CIA World Factbook), which some critics contend is unnecessary given the low likelihood of international conflict (though the Botswana government also makes use of these troops for multilateral operations and assistance efforts).
 Private sector development and foreign investment
Botswana seeks to further diversify its economy away from minerals, which account for a third of GDP, down from nearly half of GDP in the early 1990s. Foreign investment and management are welcomed in Botswana. Botswana abolished foreign exchange controls in 1999, has a low corporate tax rate (15%), no prohibitions on foreign ownership of companies, and a moderate inflation rate (7.6% November 2004). The Government of Botswana is currently considering additional policies to enhance competitiveness, including a new Foreign Direct Investment Strategy, Competition Policy, Privatisation Master Plan, and National Export Development Strategy.
With its proven record of good economic governance, Botswana was ranked as Africa's least corrupt country by Transparency International in 2004, ahead of many European and Asian countries. The World Economic Forum rates Botswana as one of the two most economically competitive nations in Africa. In 2004 Botswana was once again assigned "A" grade credit ratings by Moody's and Standard & Poor's. This ranks Botswana as by far the best credit risk in Africa and puts it on par with or above many countries in central Europe, East Asia, and Latin America.
U.S. investment in Botswana remains at relatively low levels, but continues to grow. Major U.S. corporations, such as H.J. Heinz and AON Corporation, are present through direct investments, while others, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Remax, are present via franchise. The sovereign credit ratings by Moody's and Standard & Poor's clearly indicate that, despite continued challenges such as small market size, landlocked location, and cumbersome bureaucratic processes, Botswana remains one of the best investment opportunities in the developing world. Botswana has a 90-member American Business Council that accepts membership from American-affiliated companies.
Because of history and geography, Botswana has long had deep ties to the economy of South Africa. The Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa, dates from 1910, and is the world’s oldest customs union. Namibia joined in 1990. Under this arrangement, South Africa has collected levies from customs, sales, and excise duties for all five members, sharing out proceeds based on each country's portion of imports. The exact formula for sharing revenues and the decision-making authority over duties — held exclusively by the Government of South Africa — became increasingly controversial, and the members renegotiated the arrangement in 2001. The new structure has now been formally ratified and a SACU Secretariat has been established in Windhoek, Namibia. Following South Africa's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Botswana also joined; many of the SACU duties are thus declining, making products from outside the area more competitive in Botswana. Currently the SACU countries and the U.S. are negotiating a free trade agreement. Botswana is currently also negotiating a free trade agreement with Mercosur and an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union as part of SADC.
Botswana's currency, the Pula, is fully convertible and is valued against a basket of currencies heavily weighted toward the South African Rand. Profits and direct investment can be repatriated without restriction from Botswana. The Botswana Government eliminated all exchange controls in 1999. The Central Bank devalued the Pula by 7.5% in February 2004 in a bid to maintain export competitiveness against the real appreciation of the Pula. There was a further 12% devalution in May 2005 and the policy of a "crawling peg" was adopted.
Gaborone is host to the headquarters of the 14 nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), a successor to the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC-launched in 1980), which focused its efforts on freeing regional economic development from dependence on apartheid South Africa. SADC embraced the newly democratic South Africa as a member in 1994 and has a broad mandate to encourage growth, development, and economic integration in Southern Africa. SADC's Trade Protocol, which was launched on September 1, 2000, calls for the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade by 2008 among the 11 signatory countries. If successful, it will give Botswana companies free access to the far larger regional market. SADC's failure to distance itself from the Mugabe government in Zimbabwe has diminished the number of opportunities for cooperation between the U.S. and SADC.
Botswana is in the process or formulating an Action Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, which is expected to be adopted in the period 2006-2007.
 Visual arts
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. The artistry of these baskets is being steadily enhanced through color use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for commercial use.
The oldest paintings from both Botswana and South Africa depict hunting, both animal and human figures, and were made by the Khoisan (Kung San!/Bushmen) over 20,000 years ago within the Kalahari desert.
Bessie Head is usually considered Botswana's most important writer. She fled the apartheid regime in South Africa to live in and write about Botswana. She lived there from 1964 (when it was still the Bechuanaland Protectorate) until her death at the age of 49 in 1986. She lived in Serowe, and her most famous books, When Rain Clouds Gather, Maru, and A Question of Power are set there.
Botswana forms the setting for a series of popular mystery novels by Alexander McCall Smith. Their protagonist, Precious Ramotswe, lives in Gaborone. The first novel in the series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency appeared in 1998 in the UK (and 2001 in the US). The light-hearted books are appreciated for their human interest and local colour.
Unity Dow (born 1959) is a judge, human rights activist, and writer from Botswana. She came from a rural background that tended toward traditional values of the African kind. Her mother could not read English, and in most cases decision-making was done by men. She went on to become a lawyer with much of her education being done in the West. Her Western education earned her a mixture of respect and suspicion.
As a lawyer she earned acclaim most for her stances on women's rights. She was the plaintiff in a case that allowed the children of women by foreign nationals to be considered Batswana. The tradition and law before this stated nationality only descended from the father. She later became Botswana's first female High Court judge.
As a novelist she has had three books. These books often concern the issues concerning the struggle between Western and traditional values. They also involve her interest in gender issues and her nation's poverty.
|Date||English name||Local name|
|January 1||New Year's Day||Ngwaga o mosha|
|January 2||Public Holiday|
|varies <ref>Usually in late March or early April.</ref>||Good Friday|
|varies <ref>Usually in May</ref>||Ascension Day|
|July 1||Sir Seretse Khama Day|
|July 19||President's Day|
|July 20||Public Holiday|
|September 30||Independence Day||Boipuso|
|December 26/27||Boxing Day|
|The first Monday after Christmas is also a Public Holiday.|
Botswana has made great strides in educational development since independence in 1966. At that time there were very few graduates in the country and only a very small percentage of the population attended secondary school.
With the discovery of diamonds and the increase in government revenue that this brought, there was a huge increase in educational provision in the country. All students were guaranteed ten years of basic education, leading to a Junior Certificate qualification. Approximately half of the school population attends a further two years of secondary schooling leading to the award of the Botswana General Certificate of Education (BGCSE). After leaving school, students can attend one of the six technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching or nursing. The best students enter the University of Botswana in Gaborone, a modern, well-resourced campus with a student population of over ten thousand.
The quantitative gains have not always been matched by qualitative ones. Primary schools in particular still lack resources, and the teachers are less well paid than their secondary school colleagues. 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.
In January 2006, Botswana announced the reintroduction of school fees after two decades of free state education <ref>,</ref> 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 eduction in any field not offered locally, such as medicine, they are provided with a full scholarship to study abroad.
 Notes and references
- Denbow, James and Thebe, Phenyo C., Culture and Customs of Botswana
 See also
- List of Botswana-related topics
- Communications in Botswana
- Demographics of Botswana
- Transport in Botswana
- Music of Botswana
 External links
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- Open Directory Project - Botswana directory category
- Stanford University - Africa South of the Sahara: Botswana directory category
- The Index on Africa - Botswana directory category
-  Botswana Map
- http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Country_Specific/Botswana.html University of Pennsylvania - African Studies Center: Botswana] directory category
- Yahoo! - Botswana directory category
- Encyclopedia of the Nations : Botswana