Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name at independence in 1966. More than four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most stable economies in Africa. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party has won every election since independence; President Ian KHAMA was reelected for a second term in 2014. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves. Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.



Southern Africa, north of South Africa

Geographic coordinates

22 00 S, 24 00 E

Map references



total: 581,730 sq km
land: 566,730 sq km
water: 15,000 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries

total: 4,347.15 km
border countries (4): Namibia 1,544 km, South Africa 1,969 km, Zambia 0.15 km, Zimbabwe 834 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


semiarid; warm winters and hot summers


predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest


mean elevation: 1,013 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers 513 m
highest point: Tsodilo Hills 1,489 m

Natural resources

diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver

Land use

agricultural land: 45.8%
arable land 0.6%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 45.2%
forest: 19.8%
other: 34.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

20 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

periodic droughts; seasonal August winds blow from the west, carrying sand and dust across the country, which can obscure visibility

Environment - current issues

overgrazing; desertification; limited freshwater resources

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

landlocked; population concentrated in eastern part of the country

People and Society


noun: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)
adjective: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)

Ethnic groups

Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white 7%


Setswana 77.3%, Sekalanga 7.4%, Shekgalagadi 3.4%, English (official) 2.8%, Zezuru/Shona 2%, Sesarwa 1.7%, Sembukushu 1.6%, Ndebele 1%, other 2.8% (2011 est.)


Christian 79.1%, Badimo 4.1%, other 1.4% (includes Baha'i, Hindu, Muslim, Rastafarian), none 15.2%, unspecified 0.3% (2011 est.)

Demographic profile

Botswana has experienced one of the most rapid declines in fertility in sub-Saharan Africa. The total fertility rate has fallen from more than 5 children per woman in the mid 1980s to approximately 2.4 in 2013. The fertility reduction has been attributed to a host of factors, including higher educational attainment among women, greater participation of women in the workforce, increased contraceptive use, later first births, and a strong national family planning program. Botswana was making significant progress in several health indicators, including life expectancy and infant and child mortality rates, until being devastated by the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the 1990s.
Today Botswana has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world at approximately 22%, however comprehensive and effective treatment programs have reduced HIV/AIDS-related deaths. The combination of declining fertility and increasing mortality rates because of HIV/AIDS is slowing the population aging process, with a narrowing of the youngest age groups and little expansion of the oldest age groups. Nevertheless, having the bulk of its population (about 60%) of working age will only yield economic benefits if the labor force is healthy, educated, and productively employed.
Batswana have been working as contract miners in South Africa since the 19th century. Although Botswana’s economy improved shortly after independence in 1966 with the discovery of diamonds and other minerals, its lingering high poverty rate and lack of job opportunities continued to push workers to seek mining work in southern African countries. In the early 1970s, about a third of Botswana’s male labor force worked in South Africa (lesser numbers went to Namibia and Zimbabwe). Not until the 1980s and 1990s, when South African mining companies had reduced their recruitment of foreign workers and Botswana’s economic prospects had improved, were Batswana increasingly able to find job opportunities at home.
Most Batswana prefer life in their home country and choose cross-border migration on a temporary basis only for work, shopping, visiting family, or tourism. Since the 1970s, Botswana has pursued an open migration policy enabling it to recruit thousands of foreign workers to fill skilled labor shortages. In the late 1990s, Botswana’s prosperity and political stability attracted not only skilled workers but small numbers of refugees from neighboring Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Age structure

0-14 years: 32.4% (male 364,807/female 350,888)
15-24 years: 21.32% (male 234,251/female 236,650)
25-54 years: 37.61% (male 444,290/female 386,622)
55-64 years: 4.55% (male 45,186/female 55,272)
65 years and over: 4.13% (male 36,216/female 55,026) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.3%
youth dependency ratio: 49.7%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.6%
potential support ratio: 17.9% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 23.2 years
male: 23.4 years
female: 23.1 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.19% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

20.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

13.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

4.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 57.4% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.29% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

GABORONE (capital) 247,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 45,036
percentage: 9%
note: data represent children ages 7-17 (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

129 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 8.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 54.5 years
male: 56.3 years
female: 52.6 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.3 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

note: percent of women aged 12-49 (2007/08)

Health expenditures

5.4% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.4 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

1.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.2% of population
rural: 92.3% of population
total: 96.2% of population
urban: 0.8% of population
rural: 7.7% of population
total: 3.8% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 78.5% of population
rural: 43.1% of population
total: 63.4% of population
urban: 21.5% of population
rural: 56.9% of population
total: 36.6% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

22.21% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

348,900 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

3,200 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

19.5% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

11.2% (2008)

Education expenditures

9.6% of GDP (2009)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.5%
male: 88%
female: 88.9% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2013)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19 (2007 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 36%
male: 29.6%
female: 43.5% (2010 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Botswana
conventional short form: Botswana
local long form: Republic of Botswana
local short form: Botswana
former: Bechuanaland
etymology: the name Botswana means "Land of the Tswana" - referring to the country's major ethnic group

Government type

parliamentary republic


name: Gaborone
geographic coordinates: 24 38 S, 25 54 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

10 districts and 6 town councils*; Central, Chobe, Francistown*, Gaborone*, Ghanzi, Jwaneng*, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Lobatse*, North East, North West, Selebi-Phikwe*, South East, Southern, Sowa Town*


30 September 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day (Botswana Day), 30 September (1966)


previous 1960 (preindependence); latest adopted March 1965, effective 30 September 1966; amended several times, last in 2006 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law influenced by the Roman-Dutch model and also customary and common law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Botswana
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA (since 1 April 2008); Vice President Mokgweetsi Eric MASISI (since 12 November 2014); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA (since 1 April 2008); Vice President Mokgweetsi Eric MASISI (since 12 November 2014)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 24 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2019); vice president appointed by the president
election results: Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament consists of the National Assembly (63 seats; 57 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 4 nominated by the president and indirectly elected by simple majority vote by the rest of the National Assembly, and 2 ex-officio members - the president and attorney general; elected members serve 5-year terms); note - the House of Chiefs (Ntlo ya Dikgosi), an advisory body to the National Assembly, consists of 35 members - 8 hereditary chiefs from Botswana's principal tribes, 22 indirectly elected by the chiefs, and 5 appointed by the president; the House of Chiefs consults on issues including powers of chiefs, customary courts, customary law, tribal property, and constitutional amendments
elections: National Assembly elections last held on 24 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - BDP 46.5%, UDC 30.0%, BCP 20.4%, independent 3.1%; seats by party - BDP 37, UDC 17, BCP 3

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal, High Court (each consists of a chief justice and a number of other judges as prescribed by the Parliament)
judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and High Court chief justices appointed by the president and other judges appointed by the president upon the advice of the Judicial Service Commission; all judges appointed to serve until age 70
subordinate courts: Industrial Court (with circuits scheduled monthly in the capital city and in 3 districts); Magistrates Courts (1 in each district); Customary Court of Appeal; Paramount Chief's Court/Urban Customary Court; Senior Chief's Representative Court; Chief's Representative’s Court; Headman's Court

Political parties and leaders

Botswana Alliance Movement or BAM [Ephraim Lepetu SETSHWAELO]
Botswana Congress Party or BCP [Dumelang SALESHANDO]
Botswana Democratic Party or BDP [Ian KHAMA]
Botswana Movement for Democracy or BMD [Ndaba GAOLATLHE]
Botswana National Front or BNF [Duma BOKO]
Botswana Peoples Party or BPP [Motlatsi MOLAPISI]
Umbrella for Democratic Change or UDC [Duma BOKO] (includes BMD, BPP, and BNF)

Political pressure groups and leaders

Society for the Promotion of Ikalanga Language (Kalanga elites)
other: diamond mining companies

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador David John NEWMAN (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 244-4990
FAX: [1] (202) 244-4164
consulate(s) general: Atlanta

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Earl R. MILLER (since 30 January 2015)
embassy: Embassy Drive, Government Enclave (off Khama Crescent), Gaborone
mailing address: Embassy Enclave, P. O. Box 90, Gaborone
telephone: [267] 395-3982
FAX: [267] 318-0232

Flag description

light blue with a horizontal white-edged black stripe in the center; the blue symbolizes water in the form of rain, while the black and white bands represent racial harmony

National symbol(s)

zebra; national colors: blue, white, black

National anthem

name: "Fatshe leno la rona" (Our Land)
lyrics/music: Kgalemang Tumedisco MOTSETE
note: adopted 1966


Economy - overview

Until the global recession, Botswana maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. Diamond mining fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for one quarter of GDP, approximately 85% of export earnings, a

Botswana's economy is highly correlated with global economic trends because of its heavy reliance on a single luxury export. According to official government statistics, unemployment is 19.5%, but unofficial estimates run much higher. De Beers, a major in

Following the 2008 global recession Botswana’s economy recovered in 2010. In the time since then, the economy grew modestly. This was primarily due to the downturn in the global diamond market; water and power shortages also played a role. In October 2015

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is second highest in the world and threatens the country's impressive economic gains.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$36.51 billion (2016 est.)
$35.4 billion (2015 est.)
$35.49 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$10.95 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

3.1% (2016 est.)
-0.3% (2015 est.)
3.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$16,900 (2016 est.)
$16,600 (2015 est.)
$16,900 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

35.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
39.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
46.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 46.1%
government consumption: 17.1%
investment in fixed capital: 29.5%
investment in inventories: 6.9%
exports of goods and services: 52.4%
imports of goods and services: -52% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.8%
industry: 29.8%
services: 68.4% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

livestock, sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sunflowers, groundnuts


diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver; livestock processing; textiles

Industrial production growth rate

2.5% (2016 est.)

Labor force

1.177 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate

20% (2013 est.)
17.8% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line

30.3% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index

60.5 (2009)


revenues: $4.69 billion
expenditures: $5.306 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

42.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

21% of GDP (2016 est.)
19.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.4% (2016 est.)
3.1% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

6% (31 December 2015)
7.5% (31 December 2014)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

7% (31 December 2016 est.)
7.95% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$1.365 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.223 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$8.293 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$7.635 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.783 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.614 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$4.588 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$4.107 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$4.076 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

$447 million (2016 est.)
$1.043 billion (2015 est.)


$6.448 billion (2016 est.)
$6.274 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

diamonds, copper, nickel, soda ash, meat, textiles


$7.194 billion (2016 est.)
$7.09 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, machinery, electrical goods, transport equipment, textiles, fuel and petroleum products, wood and paper products, metal and metal products

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.622 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.546 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$2.386 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.221 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

pulas (BWP) per US dollar -
10.21 (2016 est.)
10.1263 (2015 est.)
10.1263 (2014 est.)
8.9761 (2013 est.)
7.62 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 700,000
electrification - total population: 66%
electrification - urban areas: 75%
electrification - rural areas: 54% (2013)

Electricity - production

2.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

3.7 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

1.7 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

100,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

23,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

22,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

4.4 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 160,490
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 3.475 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 159 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: Botswana is participating in regional development efforts; expanding fully digital system with fiber-optic cables linking the major population centers in the east as well as a system of open-wire lines, microwave radio relays links, and radiotelephone com
domestic: fixed-line teledensity has declined in recent years and now stands at roughly 7 telephones per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity now pushing 160 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 267; international calls are made via satellite, using international direct dialing; 2 international exchanges; digital microwave radio relay links to Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian (2015)

Broadcast media

2 TV stations - 1 state-owned and 1 privately owned; privately owned satellite TV subscription service is available; 2 state-owned national radio stations; 3 privately owned radio stations broadcast locally (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 600,000
percent of population: 27.5% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 194,005
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 94,729 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

A2 (2016)


74 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 10
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 64
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 46
under 914 m: 13 (2013)


total: 888 km
narrow gauge: 888 km 1.067-m gauge (2014)


total: 17,916 km
note: includes 8,916 km of Public Highway Network roads (6,116 km paved and 2,800 km unpaved) and 9,000 km of District Council roads (2011)


Military branches

Botswana Defense Force (BDF): Ground Forces Command, Air Wing Command, Defense Logistics Command, Special Forces Group (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)

Military expenditures

2% of GDP (2013)
2.31% of GDP (2012)
2.43% of GDP (2011)
2.31% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Trafficking in persons

current situation: Botswana is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; young Batswana serving as domestic workers, sometimes sent by their parents, may be denied education and basic necessities or experience confinement and abuse indicative of forced labor; Batswana girls and women also are forced into prostitution domestically; adults and children of San ethnicity were reported to be in forced labor on farms and at cattle posts in the country’s rural west
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Botswana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; an anti-trafficking act was passed at the beginning of 2014, but authorities did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any offenders or government officials complicit in trafficking or operationalize victim identification and referral procedures based on the new law; the government sponsored a radio campaign to familiarize the public with the issue of human trafficking (2015)