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Botswana - Country Information

Botswana Flag

Official languages

English,Tswana

Capital

Gabarone

Government

Parliamentary Republic

 - President

Festus Gontebanye Mogae

Area

581,730 km² (41st)

Population

1,765,000

Botswana Coat of Arms

- Density

3.0/km²

GDP ( PPP ) - Per capita

$ 5950.00

Currency

Pula

Independence

from the UK  on September 30, 1966

Time zone

UTC+2

Calling code

+267

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 dominated by mining (especially diamonds), cattle, and tourism. The country is named after its largest ethnic group, the Tswana

History of Botswana
In the late nineteenth century , hostilities broke out between the Tswana 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.

Botswana MapGeography
Botswana is predominantly flat, tending toward to gently rolling tableland. The Kalahari Desert in located in the southwest of the country.

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 the 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.

Economy
Since independence, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world. 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 a 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. Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of a little over $10,000 in 2005.

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 in Botswana at birth, 1990: 64 years, 2004: 35 years. This is the lowest figure in the world (based on World Bank figures for 208 countries and territories) and barely half the 59-year average for low-income countries. 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 (about 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).

Tourism
Tourism plays a role in Botswana . A number of national parks and game reserves, with their abundant wildlife, are a top draw for tourists. The wildlife, including lions, brown hyenas, cheetas, leopards, wild dogs and antelope, were described in great detail in the best-selling book "Cry of the Kalahari" by Mark and Delia Owens.

The main safari destinations for tourism are Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park .

Politics and Government
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.

 

 

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