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Brief History

The Republic of Botswana gained its independence from the British on September 30, 1966, when it adopted its current name after being known as the British protectorate of Bechuanaland. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence. 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. Today, the chief of state is Ian Khama –the son of the first president of the country.

Geography

Botswana, capital Gaborone, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa covering an area of 581,730 square kilometers. It meets Zambia at a point in the north and is bordered on the northeast by Zimbabwe, on the southeast and south by South Africa, and on the west and north by Namibia. The climate is semiarid; it has warm winters and hot summers. The Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, is in the northwest of Botswana. The country has a number of rivers such as the Limpopo River and the Shashe River. Some natural resources that Botswana has include diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, and silver.

People

Botswana has a population of 2,029,307 (2010). Botswana's main ethnic groups are -in order- Tswana, Kalanga, Bushmen or Abathwa also known as basarwa. Other tribes are Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi. Other groups of ethnicities in Botswana include whites and Indians. The official languages are English and Tswana, while other spoken dialects include Kalanga and Sekgalagadi. The literacy rate is 81.2% (2003) and the unemployment rate is 7.5% (2007). Its religions are distributed among 71.6% Christians, 6% Badimo, 1.4% other religions, 0.4% unspecified, 20.6% none (2001).

Government

The government of Botswana is subject to a parliamentary republic system. Its legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdictions with reservations. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama (since 1 April 2008) is both the chief of state and head of government. The vice president is Mompati Merafhe (since 1 April 2008). The official currency is the Pula, where7.4 pulas are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Since independence, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world. Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country, where the GDP per capita is US$13,100 (2009). In 2003, Botswana was rated 125th on Human Development Index. By one estimate, it has the fourth highest gross national income at purchasing power parity in Africa.

The country's economy was dependent almost entirely on livestock production until the 1970s, when it became an important exporter of diamonds and other minerals. Then, the Botswana Development Corporation, adopting a conservative investment policy, actively sought foreign capital for investments in crop agriculture, tourism, and secondary industries.

Botswana has a high level of economic freedom compared to other African countries. 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 amounting to almost two and a half years of current imports.

The rapid growth in diamond production helped Botswana achieve average high economic growth from independence through the early 2000s. Diamond mining –contributing almost 35% of the GDP- has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP, 70-80% of export earnings, and about half of the government's revenues.

Manufacturing, construction, and agriculture each contribute about 3-6% of GDP.

Botswana’s competitive banking system is one of Africa’s most advanced. The government is involved in banking through state-owned financial institutions and a special financial incentives program that is aimed at increasing Botswana’s status as a financial center.

Botswana became a member of the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) in 1968, and is now a contributor to IDA. It joined the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 1979 and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 1990.

Botswana is ranked second only to South Africa among sub-Saharan Africa countries in the 2009 International Property Rights Index.

Although Botswana had an advanced infrastructure with good roads, communications, and dependable utilities, there was a general lack of technical and managerial skills among its workers. High rates of unemployment and poverty keep the country from fully sharing its economic success with all its citizens.

Botswana has an inflation rate of 8.1 % (2009) and its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 6,471.226 (2010).


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