A country of slightly over 2.3 million people,
Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated
countries in the world. About 11.6 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone
. Formerly one of the world's poorest countries—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s—it has since transformed itself into an upper-middle-income country, with one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
Botswana is a member of the African Union
, the Southern African Customs Union
, the Southern African Development Community
, the Commonwealth of Nations
, and the United Nations
. The country has been adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic
. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available, and to educate the populace about how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013.: A20
As of 2014, Botswana had the third-highest prevalence rate
for HIV/AIDS, with roughly 20% of the population infected.
However, in recent years the country has made strides in combatting HIV/AIDS, with efforts being made to provide proper treatment and lower the rate of mother-to-child transmission.
The country's name means "Land of the Tswana
", referring to the dominant ethnic group in Botswana
The term Batswana
was originally applied to the Tswana, which is still the case.
However, it has also come to be used generally as a demonym
for all citizens of Botswana.
dictionaries also include Botswanan
to refer to people of Botswana.
Archaeological digs demonstrate that hominids lived in Botswana for around two million years. Stone tools and fauna remains have shown that all areas of the country were inhabited at least 400,000 years ago.
In October 2019 researchers reported that Botswana was the birthplace of all modern humans
about 200,000 years ago.
Evidence left by modern humans, such as cave paintings, is about 73,000 years old.
The original inhabitants of southern Africa were the Bushmen (San
) and Khoi
peoples. Both speak Khoisan languages
and 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 fly
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 originally occupied towards the end of the Great Zimbabwe period (1250–1450 AD), 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 together 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.
This massive cattle-raising complex prospered until 1300 AD 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
Iron Age Settlement's radio-carbon dates for this settlement range from 7th to late 19th century AD indicating occupation of more than one thousand years. The hill was part of the formation of early states in Southern Africa with cattle keeping as major source of economy. Toutswe settlement include house-floors, large heaps of vitrified cow-dung and burials while the outstanding structure is the stone wall. There are large tracts of centaurs ciliaris, a type of grass which has come to be associated with cattle-keeping settlements in South, Central Africa. Around 700 A.D., the Toutswe
people moved westward into Botswana and began an agricultural and pastoral land tenure system based on sorghum
, and domesticated stock, respectively.
The site was situated in the centre of a broader cultural area in Eastern Botswana and shares many commonalities with other archaeological sites of this region, in both ceramic production styles and also time frames inhabited.
Large structures were observed that contained vitrified remains of animal dung, leading to the theory that these were animal enclosures and that Toutswemogala Hill was thus a major centre of animal husbandry in the region.
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 legendary 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.
Not long afterwards, a Bangwato offshoot known as the Batawana migrated into the Okavango Delta, probably in the 1790s.
Effects of the Mfecane and Batswana-Boer Wars
German map of 1905 still showing the 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.
Other chiefdoms in the area, by this time, had capitals of 10,000 or so and were fairly prosperous.
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.
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.
Following the Great Trek
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.
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 blow to the larger invading Ndebele force signalled the start of the collapse of the Ndebele Kingdom in Zimbabwe and helped galvanise Tswana speaking authority of the area now making part of northern Botswana.
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.
Colonialism and the Bechuanaland 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
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.
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
), and Swaziland
)—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; subsequently, 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.
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.
The African Council consisted of the eight heads of the Tswana tribes and some elected members.
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.
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.
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. Seretse Khama
, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to the Ngwato
chiefship, was elected as the first president, and subsequently re-elected twice.
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 5th 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.
At 581,730 km2 (224,607 sq mi) Botswana is the world's 48th-largest country. It is similar in size to Madagascar or France. It lies between latitudes 17° and 27° south, and longitudes 20° and 30° east.
The Limpopo River
Basin, the major landform of all of southern Africa, lies partly in Botswana, with the basins of its tributaries, the Notwane
and the Shashe
, located in the eastern part of the country. The Notwane provides water to the capital through the Gaborone Dam
. The Chobe River
lies to the north, providing a boundary between Botswana and Namibia's Zambezi Region
. The Chobe River meets with the Zambezi River
at a place called Kazungula
(meaning a small sausage tree
, a point where Sebitwane
and his Makololo tribe
crossed the Zambezi into Zambia).
Biodiversity and conservation
Zebras roaming the Okavango Basin
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.
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.: 64
Similarly, the human population has increased from 574,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 1995, a 161% increase in 24 years. "Over 50% of all households in Botswana own cattle, which is currently the largest single source of rural income." "Rangeland degradation or desertification is regarded as the reduction in land productivity as a result of overstocking and overgrazing, or as a result of veld product gathering for commercial use. Degradation is exacerbated by the effects of drought and climate change."
Environmentalists report that the Okavango Delta
is drying up due to the increased grazing of livestock.
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.
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.
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.
The country had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index
mean score of 9.13/10, ranking it 8th globally out of 172 countries.
The United Nations Development Programme
claims that poverty is a major problem behind the overexploitation
of resources, including land, in Botswana. To help change this 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.
Government and politics
Botswana was ranked as a "flawed democracy" and 33rd out of 167 states in the 2020 Democracy Index
, higher than Italy
, and just below the Czech Republic
. This was the second highest rating in Africa, and highest ranking in continental Africa (only the offshore archipelago of Cape Verde
bested its ranking). According to Transparency International
, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa and ranks just below Portugal and South Korea.
High Court of Botswana
is independent of the executive and the legislature.
It consists of a typical British-style court system of local Magistrates Courts, a High Court
and a Court of Appeal. The High Court is a superior court of record with unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any criminal, civil or constitutional cases under any law. Appeals can be heard by the Court of Appeal. The Head of the High Court is the Chief Justice.
The Court of Appeal is the highest and final court in the country and deals with appeals from the High Court and the Industrial Court. The Head of the Court of Appeal is the Judge President.
Judges are appointed by the President of Botswana on the recommendation of the Judicial Services Commission.
With regard to the legal profession, although the Law Society of Botswana
has been in existence since 1997,
there is still no clear indication in their registry of attorneys as to how certain demographics, such as women, have fared in the legal field.
List of Chief Justices of Botswana 
Foreign relations and military
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.
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.
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.
On the reservations they struggle to find employment, and alcoholism
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."
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
The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Ditshwanelo, was established in 1993.
The districts of Botswana. The appropriate article can be found by clicking over the district. City districts are not shown.
Botswana's ten districts are:
I-Towers, Gaborone Central Business District
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 an upper middle-income country. GDP per capita grew from $1,344 in 1950 to $15,015 in 2016.
Although Botswana was resource-abundant, a good institutional framework allowed the country to reinvest resource-income in order to generate stable future income.
By one estimate, it has the fourth highest gross national income
at purchasing power parity
in Africa, giving it a standard of living around that of Mexico.
Graphical depiction of Botswana's product exports in 28 colour-coded categories.
GDP per capita of Botswana, 1950 to 2018
GDP per capita (current), % of world average, 1960–2012; Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique
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 serious and growing backlog of cases prevents timely trials. The protection of intellectual property rights has improved significantly. Botswana is ranked second only to South Africa among sub-Saharan Africa countries in the 2014 International Property Rights Index.
While generally open to foreign participation in its economy, Botswana reserves some sectors for citizens. Increased foreign investment plays a significant role in the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. Investment regulations are transparent, and bureaucratic procedures are streamlined and open, although somewhat slow. Investment returns such as profits and dividends, debt service, capital gains, returns on intellectual property, royalties, franchise's fees, and service fees can be repatriated without limits.
Botswana imports refined petroleum products and electricity from South Africa. There is some domestic production of electricity from coal.
Energy in Botswana
is a growing industry with tremendous potential. However almost all Botswana's electricity is generated from coal.
No petroleum reserves have been identified and all petroleum products are imported refined, mostly from South Africa
. There is extensive woody biomass from 3 to 10t / hectare.
The International Renewable Energy Agency
(IRENA) undertook an evaluation of the national energy sector in 2021 and found that Botswana could meet 15% of its energy needs in 2030 from its indigenous solar, wind, and bioenergy resources.
During SONA 2020 summit it was announced that Botswana has a network of roads
, of varied quality and capacity, totalling about 31,747 kilometres (19,727 mi). Of these, 20,000 kilometres (12,000 mi) are paved (this is including 134 kilometres (83 mi) of motorways.
The remaining 11,747 kilometres (7,299 mi) worth are unpaved. Road distances are shown in kilometers and Botswana speed limits
are indicated in kilometers per hour
(kph) or by the use of the national speed limit (NSL) symbol. Some vehicle categories have various lower maximum limits enforced by speed limits
, for example trucks.
An array of financial institutions populates the country's financial system, with pension funds and commercial banks being the two most important segments by asset size. Banks remain profitable, well-capitalised, and liquid, as a result of growing national resources and high interest rates.
The Bank of Botswana
serves as a central bank
. The country's currency is the Botswana pula
Botswana's competitive banking system is one of Africa's most advanced.[clarification needed]
Generally adhering to global standards in the transparency of financial policies and banking supervision, the financial sector provides ample access to credit for entrepreneurs.
The Capital Bank opened in 2008.
As of August 2015, there are a dozen licensed banks in the country.
The government is involved in banking through state-owned financial institutions and a special financial incentives programme that is aimed at increasing Botswana's status as a financial centre.
Credit is allocated on market terms, although the government provides subsidised loans.
Reform of non-bank financial institutions
has continued in recent years, notably through the establishment of a single financial regulatory agency that provides more effective supervision.
The government has abolished exchange controls, and with the resulting creation of new portfolio investment options, the Botswana Stock Exchange
Gemstones and precious metals
In Botswana, the Department of Mines
and Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security
led by Hon Sadique Kebonang in Gaborone, maintains data regarding mining throughout the country. Debswana
, the largest diamond mining
company operating in Botswana, is 50% owned by the government.
The mineral industry provides about 40% of all government revenues.
In 2007, significant quantities of uranium were discovered, and mining was projected to begin by 2010. Several international mining corporations have established regional headquarters in Botswana, and prospected for diamonds, gold
, and even oil
, many coming back with positive results. Government announced in early 2009 that they would try to shift their economic dependence on diamonds, over serious concern that diamonds are predicted to dry out in Botswana over the next twenty years.
mine is the largest diamond mine in the world in terms of value and quantity of carats produced annually.
Estimated to have produced over 11 million carats in 2013, with an average price of $145/carat, the Orapa mine was estimated to produce over $1.6 billion worth of diamonds in 2013.
Increasing importance is being given to the economic contribution of the creative industries
to national economies. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) recompiles statistics about the export and import of goods and services related to the creative industries.
The World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO) has assisted in the preparation of national studies measuring the size of over 50 copyright industries around the world.
According to the WIPO compiled data, the national contribution of creative industries varies from 2% to 11% depending on the country.
Using the WIPO-framework, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority
(CIPA) and the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis were published by a sector-specific study in 2019.
In 2016, copyright industries contributed 5.46% to value-added and 2.66% to the total labour force, 1.28% to exports, and 3.47% to imports.
As of 2012, 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, Indians
and a number of other smaller Southern African ethnic groups.
Population pyramid 2016
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. 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
as a special example.: 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.: 19
The official language of Botswana is English, while Setswana
is widely spoken across the country.
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.
An estimated 77% of the country's citizens identify as Christians
, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
make up the majority of Christians. There are also congregations of Lutherans
, Roman Catholics
, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, the Dutch Reformed Church
, Seventh-day Adventists
, and Jehovah's Witnesses
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
Besides referring to the language of the dominant people groups in Botswana, Setswana is the adjective used to describe the rich cultural traditions of the Batswana—whether construed as members of the Tswana ethnic groups or of all citizens of Botswana. In Botswana, most ethnic groups have different ways of greeting one another. For easy communication and connection, Batswana use a three-way handshake, greeting one another by saying "Dumelang" as a way of saying "hello" without physical contact. In community celebrations like Dikgafela, or marriage ceremonies, Batswana women show excitement and happiness by using ululations
as part of their culture.
Literature and cinema
Botswana literature belongs somewhere in the strong African literary writing circles. African literature is known for its consciousness and didactic
writing styles. Writing as an art form has existed in Botswana for a long while, from the rock painting era — especially in the Tsodilo Hills
, known to be 20,000 years old — to the present day, with the movie production of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
, based on a series of more than 20 novels set in Botswana.
, author of Far and Beyon'
, The Screaming of the Innocent
and Heavens May Fall
Most of Bessie Head's important works are set in Serowe. When Rain Clouds Gather
(1971), and A Question of Power
(1973) all have this setting. The three are also autobiographical; When Rain Clouds Gather
is based on her experience living on a development farm, Maru incorporates her experience of being considered racially inferior, and A Question of Power
draws on her understanding of what it was like to experience acute psychological distress
. Head also published a number of short stories, including the collection The Collector of Treasures
(1977). She published a book on the history of Serowe, Serowe: Village of the Rainwind
. Her last novel, A Bewitched Crossroad
(1984), is historical, set in 19th-century Botswana. She had also written a story of two prophets, one wealthy and one who lived poorly, called Jacob: The Faith-Healing Priest
The critically acclaimed A United Kingdom
, about the real-life love story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams, was filmed partly between Botswana and London, and was released internationally in 2016.
There are six television stations
in Botswana, one of which is state-owned (Botswana TV
), along with Now TV, Khuduga HD, Maru TV, Access TV and EBotswana. There are five local radio stations
(RB1, RB2, Duma FM, Gabz FM, and Yarona FM) and thirteen newspapers
, Sunday Standard
, The Telegraph
, Business Weekly
, The Botswana Gazette
, The Voice
, The Guardian
, Botswana People's Daily
, Tswana Times
, Weekend Post
, and The Monitor
) that publish regularly.
Folklore Musician Sereetsi (top) & 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 Botswanan version of the Chinese instrument erhu
), moropa (meropa -plural) (many varieties of drums), phala (a whistle used mostly during celebrations, which comes in a variety of forms). Botswanan cultural musical instruments are not confined only to the strings or drums. The hands are 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. For the last few decades, the guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music as it offers a variety in string which the segaba instrument does not have. The national anthem is "Fatshe leno la rona
". Written and composed by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete
, it was adopted upon independence in 1966.
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 colour use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for international markets.
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
The cuisine of Botswana is unique and mostly includes meat as Botswana is a cattle country. The national dish is seswaa
, pounded meat made from goat meat or beef, Segwapa
dried, cured meat ranging from beef to game meats & the cut may also vary, either fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. Madila is a popular fermented milk product of Botswana in a yogurt form. Botswana's cuisine shares some characteristics with other cuisine of Southern Africa.
Examples of Botswana food are: Bogobe
(maize porridge), boerewors
, Magwinya (fried dough bread) and mopane worms
. Porridge (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. Many different kinds of beans are grown, including cowpeas, ditloo, and letlhodi. Some vegetables grow in the wild and are available seasonally including thepe and Delele (okra). Many fruits are locally available, including marula. Watermelons, believed to have come originally from Botswana, are plentiful in season. Another kind of melon, called lerotse or lekatane, is also grown. Some kinds of wild melon found in sandy desert areas are an important food and water source for the people who live in those areas. Kgalagadi Breweries Limited
produces the national beer, St. Louis Lager, Botswana's first and only local beer brand that has also been a part of Botswana's rich history since 1989, and non-alcoholic beverage Keone Mooka Mageu, a traditional fermented porridge.
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
, and track and field
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
offers 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
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
became world junior records
holder in 100m
in 2022 with a time of 9.94 at Eugene world athletics championship
The card game bridge
has a strong following; it was first played in Botswana over 30 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 and continues to organise tournaments. Bridge has remained popular and the BBF has over 800 members.
In 2007, the BBF invited the English Bridge Union
to host a week-long teaching programme in May 2008.
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. Botswana increased its adult literacy rate from 69% in 1991 to 83% in 2008.
Among sub-Saharan African countries, Botswana has one of the highest literacy rates.
According to The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency as of 2015, 88.5% of the population age 15 and over can read and write in Botswana were respectively literate.
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 Secondary Education (BGCSE). Secondary education in Botswana is neither free nor compulsory.
After leaving school, students can attend one of the seven technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching
. Students enter the University of Botswana
, Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
, Botswana International University of Science and Technology
and the Botswana Accountancy College
in Gaborone. Many other students end up in the numerous private tertiary education colleges around the country. Notable among these is Botho University
, the country's first private university which offers undergraduate programs in Accounting, Business and Computing. Another international university is the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology
which offers various associate degrees in Creative Arts.
Other tertiary institutions include Ba Isago
, ABM University College the largest school of business and management, New Era
, Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies
, Gaborone University College of Law And Professional Studies
etc. Tremendous strides in providing quality education have been made by private education providers such that a large number of the best students in the country are now applying to them as well. A vast majority of these students are government sponsored. The nation's second international university, the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, was completed in Palapye
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 Botswana Ministry of Education
is working to establish libraries in primary schools in partnership with the African Library Project
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.
Those objectives are in part pursued through policies in favour of vocational education, gathered within the NPVET (National Policy on Vocational Education and Training), aiming to "integrate the different types of vocational education and training into one comprehensive system".
Botswana invests 21% of its government spending in education.
In January 2006, Botswana announced the reintroduction of school fees after two decades of free state education
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.
Science and technology
Deaftronics Solar Powered Hearing Aid
Botswana is planning to use science and technology to diversify its economy and thereby reduce its dependence on diamond mining. To this end, the government has set up six hubs since 2008, in the agriculture, diamonds, innovation, transport, health and education sectors.
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 aims to take up the challenges of rapid technological evolution, globalisation and the achievement of the national development goals formulated in high-level strategic documents that include Botswana's Tenth National Development Plan
to 2016 and Vision 2016
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.
Cubesat miniaturized satellite
Despite the modest level of financial investment in research, 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.
Botswana was ranked 106th in the Global Innovation Index
in 2021, down from 93rd in 2019.
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, that can start from around $600.
In 2011, Botswana's Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) unveiled Musi cattle, designed to ultimately optimise the overall efficiency for beef production under Botswana conditions. A hybrid of Tswana
it is hoped that the composite will lead to increased beef production. The objective of the research was to find a genetic material that could perform like cross-breeds already found in Botswana and well above the indigenous Tswana breed while retaining the hardiness and adaptability of the native stock in one package.
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 existing diagnostic methods required highly trained laboratory personnel and special equipment, which caused delays in the implementation of control procedures; whereas the kit developed in Botswana allows for on-site diagnosis to be made.
Botswana Innovation Hub Under Construction
The Square Kilometre Array
) will consist 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. Botswana government has built SKA precursor telescope at Kgale View, called the African Very Long Base Line Interferometry Network (AVN) & sent student on Astronomy scholarships.
Botswana launched its own 3-year programme to build & 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 University of Oulu
in Finland & 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 smart farming and real-time virtual tourism. Furthermore, it will help us predict and forecast harvest time through the use of robotics and automated technology.
In the IT sector
in 2016 a firm, Almaz, opened a first-of-its-kind computer assembly company.
Ditec, a Botswana company, also customises, designs and manufactures mobile phones
. Ditec is one of the leading experts in design, development and customisation of Microsoft
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.
Botswana has 971 kilometres (603 mi) of railway lines, 18,482 kilometres (11,484 mi) of roads, and 92 airports, of which 12 have paved runways. The paved road network has almost entirely been constructed since independence in 1966. The national airline is Air Botswana
, which flies domestically and to other countries in Africa. Botswana Railways
is the national railway company, which forms a crucial link 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.
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.
Botswana's healthcare system has been steadily improving and expanding its infrastructure to become more accessible. The country's position as an upper middle-income country has allowed them to make strides in universal healthcare
access for much of Botswana's population. The majority of the Botswana's 2.3 million inhabitants now live within five kilometers of a healthcare facility.
As a result, the infant mortality and maternal mortality rates have been on a steady decline.
The country's improving healthcare infrastructure has also been reflected in an increase of the average life expectancy from birth, with nearly all births occurring in healthcare facilities.
Access to healthcare has not alleviated all of the country's healthcare concerns because, like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa
, Botswana is still battling high rates of HIV/AIDS
and other infectious diseases. In 2013, about 25% of the population was infected with HIV/AIDS.
Botswana is also grappling with high rates of malnutrition
among children under the age of 5 which has led to other health concerns such as diarrhea and stunted growth.
Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole
The Ministry of Health
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.
After Botswana's 2011 census, current life expectancy is estimated at 54.06 years.
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 counseling to those affected.
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.
However, after Botswana's 2011 census current life expectancy is estimated at 54.06 years.
However the graph here shows over 65 years, therefore there is conflicting information about life expectancy.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 25.4% for adults aged 15–49 in 2009 and 21.9% in 2013,: A8
exceeded by Lesotho and Eswatini in sub-Saharan African nations. This places Botswana at the third highest prevalence in the world, in 2013, while "leading the way in prevention and treatment programmes".
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.: 28
In the age group of 15–19 years old, prevalence was estimated at 6% for females and 3.5% for males in 2013,: 33
and for the 20–24 age group, 15% for females and 5% for males.: 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.: 37
From 2009 to 2013, the country saw a decrease over 50% in new HIV infections in children.: 38
A further measure of the success, or reason for hope, in dealing with HIV in Botswana, is that 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.: 39, 40
Among the UN Global Plan countries, people living with HIV in Botswana have the highest percentage receiving antiretroviral treatment: about 75% for adults (age 15+) and about 98% for children.: 237
Potential reasons for Botswana's high HIV prevalence include concurrent sexual partnerships, transactional sex, cross-generational sex, and a significant number of people who travel outside of their local communities in pursuit of work. The polyamorous
nature of many sexual relationships further impacts the health situation.
Tourist on a safari boat cruise
The Botswana Tourism Organisation
is the country's official tourism group. Primarily, tourists visit Gaborone due to the city having numerous activities for visitors. The Lion Park Resort
is Botswana's first permanent amusement park
and hosts events such as birthday parties
for families. Other destinations in Botswana include the Gaborone Yacht Club and the Kalahari Fishing Club and natural attractions such as the Gaborone Dam and Mokolodi Nature Reserve. There are golf courses
which are maintained by the Botswana Golf Union (BGU).
The Phakalane Golf Estate is a multi-million-dollar clubhouse that offers both hotel accommodations and access to golf courses. Museums
in Botswana include:
- Botswana National Museum in Gaborone
- Kgosi Bathoen II (Segopotso) Museum in Kanye
- Kgosi Sechele I Museum in Molepolole
- Khama III Memorial Museum in Serowe
- Nhabe Museum in Maun
- Phuthadikobo Museum in Mochudi
- Supa Ngwano Museum Centre in Francistown
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