Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens refer to themselves as "Batswana" (singular: Motswana), but many English-language sources use "Botswanan" instead. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. It has held free and fair democratic elections since independence.
Botswana is flat, and up to 70% is covered by the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. Its border with Zambia to the north near Kazungula, Zambia is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred meters long.
A mid-sized country of just over two million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa when it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, with a GDP per capita of about US$70. Botswana has since transformed itself, becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in the world to a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $14,000. The country also has a strong tradition as a representative democracy.
In the 19th century, hostilities broke out between Tswana inhabitants of Botswana and Ndebele tribes who were making incursions into the territory from the north-east. Tensions also escalated with the Dutch Boer settlers from the Transvaal to the east. After appeals by the Batswana leaders Khama III, Bathoen and Sebele for assistance, the British Government put "Bechuanaland" under its protection on 31 March 1885. The northern territory remained under direct administration as the Bechuanaland Protectorate and is modern-day 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, their inhabitants began to be consulted by the UK, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred, 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 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 to represent both Africans and Europeans. 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 UK accepted proposals for a democratic self-government in Botswana. The seat of government was moved in 1965 from Mafikeng in South Africa, to the newly established Gaborone, which sits near its border. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to 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, 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. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, 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.
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, which ruled that Kasikili Island belongs to Botswana.
Politics and government
The politics of Botswana take place in a framework of a representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Botswana is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Botswana. The most recent election, its tenth, was held on 16 October 2009.
Since independence was declared, the party system has been dominated by the Botswana Democratic Party. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. According to Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa and ranks similarly close to Portugal and South Korea. Nevertheless the country is considered to have the most secretive public institutions in Africa. The national anthem is Fatshe leno la rona.
Botswana is divided into 10 districts.
Botswana is further divided into 15 councils which includes the 10 districts councils from the 10 districts plus some councils from urban or town councils being:
| North-West District Ghanzi District Kgatleng District South-East District Central District North-East District Kgalagadi District Southern |
District Kweneng District Gaborone* Francistown * * Lobatse * Selebi-Phikwe Jwaneng * Sowa *
At 600,370 km2 (231,804 sq mi) Botswana is the world's 47th-largest country (after Ukraine). It is comparable in size to Madagascar, and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas or the Canadian province of Manitoba. It lies between latitudes 17° and 27°S, and longitudes 20° and 30°E.
The country is predominantly flat, tending toward gently rolling tableland. Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of its land surface. The Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, is in the northwest. The Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan, lies in the north.
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, Mahalapswe, Lotsane, Motloutse 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, in the Caprivi 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).
Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat. In addition to the delta and desert areas, there are grasslands and savannas, where Blue Wildebeest, antelopes, and other mammals and birds are found. Northern Botswana has one of the few remaining large populations of the endangered African Wild Dog. Chobe National Park, found 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.
The Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve (in the Okavango Delta) are major tourist destinations. 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. Mashatu Game Reserve is privately owned: located where the Shashe River and Limpopo River meet in eastern Botswana. The other privately owned reserve is Mokolodi Nature Reserve near Gaborone. There are also specialised sanctuaries like the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (for Rhinoceros) and Makgadikgadi Sanctuary (for Flamingos). They are both located in Central District.
Moremi Gorge, in the Tswapong Hills east of Palapye, Botswana. The porous rock absorbs rainwater, which then seeps out forming permanent cascades and pools. The hills provide one of Botswana's two breeding sites for the endangered cape vulture.
Botswana is currently facing two major environmental problems: drought and desertification. The desertification problems predominantly stem from the severe times of drought in the country. Due to the drought, 75% of the country’s human and animal populations are dependent on groundwater. Groundwater use has eased the effects of drought, but has left a toll on the land. Groundwater is retrieved through drilling deep boreholes, which leads to the erosion of the land. Surface water is very scarce in Botswana and less than 5% of the agriculture in the country is sustainable by rainfall. Due to this 95% of the country raises cattle and livestock as a means for an income. Therefore, it is not a surprise to see that 71% of the country’s land is used for communal grazing, which has been a major cause for the desertification of the country.
Since raising livestock has proven to be profitable for the people of Botswana, the land is continuing to be exploited. The animal populations have continued to dramatically increase. From 1966 to 1991 the livestock population has increased 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, nearly a 200% increase. “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”. It has been reported 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 is the largest inland delta 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 with the degradation of the land. The United States Government has also entered into an agreement with Botswana, giving them $7 million US dollars to reduce Botswana’s debt by $8.3 million US dollars. The stipulation of the US reducing Botswana’s debt is that Botswana will focus on more extensive conservation of the land.
The United Nations Development Programme claims that a major problem behind the overexploitation of resources, including land, in Botswana, is due to the poverty level. 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
At the time of independence, Botswana had no armed forces. It was only after the Rhodesian and South African militaries struck respectively against ZIPRA and MK bases that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) was formed in 1977. The president is commander in chief and appoints a defence council. The BDF has approximately 12,000 members.
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 has received U.S. training. It is considered an apolitical and professional institution.
The Botswana government gave the United States the green light to explore the possibility of establishing an Africa Command (Africom) base in the country. This fueled protests by the South African ANC youth organization.
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. 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 and Turkey.
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. 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.
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, uranium, copper, and even oil, many coming back with positive results. Government announced in early 2009 that they would try and shift their economic dependence on diamonds, over serious concern that diamonds are predicted to dry out in Botswana over the next twenty years.
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-capitalized, and liquid, as a result of growing national resources and high interest rates.
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 opening of Capital Bank in 2008 brought the total number of licensed banks to eight. 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 centre. Credit is allocated on market terms, although the government provides subsidized 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 is growing.
The constitution prohibits the nationalization of private property and 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 2009 International Property Rights Index.
While generally open to foreign participation in its economy, Botswana reserves a number of sectors for citizen participation. Increased foreign investment plays a significant role in the privatization 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. In spite of one the highest insolation levels in the world, Botswana has no significant solar energy capacity.
Botswana's main ethnic groups are Batswana, BaKalanga, 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, both groups being roughly equally small in number. Botswana's Indian population is made up of many Indian-Africans of several generations, from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa, and so on, as well as first generation Indian immigrants. The white population is native to Botswana or from other parts of Africa including Zimbabwe and South Africa. The white population speaks either English or Afrikaans and makes up roughly 3% of the population.
Since 2000, because of deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, the number of Zimbabweans in Botswana has risen into the tens of thousands.
Fewer than 10,000 Bushmen are still living the traditional hunter-gatherer style of life. Since the mid-1990s the central government of Botswana has been trying to move San out of their lands. The UN's top official on indigenous rights, Prof. James Anaya, has condemned Botswana's persecution of the Bushmen in a report released in February 2010.
The official language of Botswana is English although Setswana is widely spoken across the country. In Setswana prefixes are more important than they are in many other languages. These prefixes 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 tribe 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. Other languages spoken in Botswana include, Kalanga(sekalanga), Sarwa (sesarwa), Ndebele and in some parts Afrikaans.
|Religion in Botswana|
An estimated 70% of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of make up the majority of Christians. There are also congregations of Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists, the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other Christian sects.
According to the 2001 census, the country has around 5,000 Muslims, 3,000 Hindus and 700 Baha'is, all mainly from South Asia. Approximately 20% of citizens espouse no religion. Religious services are well attended in both rural and urban areas.
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.
Life expectancy in several African countries from 1958 to 2003. Botswana had the highest life expectancy until HIV/AIDS began to reduce it in the late 1980s.
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.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 24% for adults in 2006. In 2003, the government began a comprehensive program involving free or cheap generic anti-retroviral drugs as well as an information campaign designed to stop the spread of the virus. Under the leadership of Festus Mogae, the Government of Botswana solicited outside help in fighting HIV/AIDS and received early support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Merck Foundation, and 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 – as defined as 80% coverage or greater – has been achieved in Botswana.
Concurrent sexual partnerships, transactional sex, cross-generational sex, and a significant numbers of people who have traveled outside of their local communities in pursuit of work, are potential reasons for the high HIV prevalence. The promiscuous nature of many sexual relationships further impacts the health situation; so much so that it has given rise to a Love Vocabulary that is unique to the region.
Approximately one in six Batswana has HIV, giving Botswana the second highest infection rate in the world after nearby Swaziland. The government recognizes that AIDS will affect the economy and is trying to combat the epidemic, including free anti-retroviral drug treatment and a nation-wide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program. Botswana has reduced HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children from about 40% to just 4%.
The Cancer Association of Botswana is a voluntary non-governmental organization. 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 programmes, facilitating access to health services for cancer patients and offering support and counseling to those affected.
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.
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 six technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching or nursing. The best students enter the University of Botswana, Botswana College of Agriculture , and The Botswana Accountancy College in Gaborone. Many other students end up in the numerous private tertiary education colleges around the country. A high majority of these students are government sponsored. A larger influx of tertiary students is expected when construction of the nation's second international university, The Botswana International University of Science and Technology, is completed in Palapye.
One notable International University is Limkokwing University of Creative Technology that offers various Associate Degree(s) in Creative Arts. This has helped many youths develop and create their own businesses across the country.
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. 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, such as medicine, they are provided with a full scholarship to study abroad.
Football is the most popular sport in Botswana, with qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations being the biggest achievement to date. Other popular sports are cricket, tennis, rugby, softball, handball, golf and track and field. Botswana is an associate member of the International Cricket Council.
Botswana won its first Olympic medal in 2012 when 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 on the world level. Another famous Botswana athlete is high jumper Kabelo Kgosiemang, three times African champion.
The card game bridge has a strong following; it was first played in Botswana over 30 years ago and 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 organize 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 program in May 2008.
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. The Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith has written a number of popular novels (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series) about Botswana that entertain as well as inform the reader about the culture and customs of Botswana.
Tswana music is mostly vocal and performed without drums; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Tswana folk music has instruments such as Setinkane, Segankure/Segaba, and for the last few decades, the guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music.
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.
Other notable artistic communities include Thamaga Pottery and Oodi Weavers, both located in the southeastern part of Botswana.
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.
In addition to these more traditional arts there are a number of extremely talented artists who use modern means to express themselves. There are a few galleries around Botswana that display paintings and sculptures. Some pieces are inspired by the beautiful Botswana landscapes and others by the people themselves.
The cuisine of Botswana is unique but also shares some characteristics with other cuisine of . Examples of Botswana food are Pap, Boerewors, Samp, Vetkoek and Mopane worms. A food unique to Botswana includes Seswaa, heavily salted mashed-up meat.
|Date||English name||Local name|
|1 January||New Year's Day||Ngwaga o mosha'"Gole dzwa in kalanga"|
|2 January||Public Holiday|
|varies||Good Friday||Labotlhano yo o molemo'|
|1 July||Sir Seretse Khama Day|
|19 July||President's Day||tsatsi la ga tautona|
|20 July||Public Holiday|
|30 September||Independence Day||Boipuso|
|25 December||Christmas||Keresemose"khisimose in kalanga"|
|26 December/27 December||Boxing Day|
|The first Monday after Christmas is also a Public Holiday.|
Notes and references
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- Stefan Lovgren (2004-09-14) African Bushmen Tour U.S. to Fund Fight for Land. National Geographic News.
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- "UNESCO Institute for Statistics". Stats.uis.unesco.org. http://stats.uis.unesco.org. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- "Ministry of Education and Skills Development: Home". Moe.gov.bw. 2011-07-27. http://www.moe.gov.bw/index.php?id=10. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- "Library Partner – Botswana Ministry of Education". Africanlibraryproject.org. http://www.africanlibraryproject.org/about-us/our-partners/139-library-partner-botswana-ministry-of-education. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- BBC News website, Botswana brings back school fees. Retrieved 2009-23-7.
- "Sparks to fly at Diamond". Botswana Press Agency (BOPA). 2006-01-26. http://web.archive.org/web/20090114095524/http://www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20060126. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
- "Opinion the Academic World". Botswana Press Agency (BOPA). Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20061003050400/http://www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20040813. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
- "Botswana Bridge Federation". Botswana National Sports Council. Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080227184536/http://www.bnsc.co.bw/affiliates/bridge_federation.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- "English Bridge Union". English Bridge Union. http://www.ebu.co.uk/general/news/2008/BotswanaTrip.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- Usually in late March or early April.
- Usually in May
- Denbow, James & Thebe, Phenyo C. (2006). Culture and Customs of Botswana. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-33178-2.