|Republic of Botswana
|Form of government
||UTC + 2
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Botswana (international spelling;
official German spelling: Botswana) is a landlocked
country in the south of the African continent and, with
an area of 600,350 km², is about the size of France.
Botswana borders on Namibia in the west and north , on
Zambia and Zimbabwe in the northeast and on South Africa
in the southeast and south .
Approx. 80% of the total land area is taken up by the
dry area of the Kalahari, which is on average 900 to 1
100 m above sea level. The Kalahari is a basin filled
with sand that is bordered by ranges of hills to the
west and east. The sand layer is sometimes only a few
meters, but in some places up to 200 m thick. The
southwest of the Kalahari is characterized by dune
The Okawango Basin is located in the north of
Botswana: The Okawango from Angola, with its numerous
tributaries, forms an extensive inland delta here. The
approximately 14,000 km² swamp area is one of the
largest untouched wetlands in the world. In the event of
flooding, the drainage-free Makgadikgadi salt pan, which
is located further to the northeast, is filled with
water and covers around 6,500 km².
Alongside the Okawango, the rivers Chobe in the north
and Limpopo in the southeast are year-round rivers. Most
of the rivers in Botswana have irregular water.
The capital Gaborone is located in the south-east of
the country in the border area with South Africa.
The climate of Botswana is continental and semi-arid
to arid. There are large temperature differences in the
Kalahari (from 40 °„ C to below freezing). In Gaborone,
in the south-east of the country, an average of 25 °„ C
is measured in the summer month of January and 15 °„ C in
July. Average annual rainfall is around 650 mm in the
north of the country and around 250 mm in the southwest.
Much of the rain mostly falls in the form of
thunderstorms in the hot summer months, so the moisture
evaporates quickly. In addition, the rain quickly seeps
into the permeable soil. The result is recurring
Flora and fauna
The Kalahari is a dry savannah with bushes, grasses
and thorn bushes. In the north and east, the savannah
turns into dry forests that drop leaves.
In the swamp area of the Okawango Delta, both the
flora and fauna are very diverse.
Papyrus, reeds, palm trees, precious woods and a
variety of flowers grow here. In the Okawango basin and
in the eight national parks there are still large
populations of mammals such as elephants, buffalos,
rhinos, antelopes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes
and zebras. The bird world has over 540 species in the
swamp areas alone. These include ospreys, cormorants,
ibises and cranes. A large number of aquatic animals
find an ideal habitat in the untouched swamps.
Around 1.8 million people live in Botswana; With an
average of three residents per square kilometer, the
country is one of the most sparsely populated countries
in the world. Around a third of the population lives in
cities, the largest of which is the capital Gaborone
with around 187,000 residents. Other large cities are
Francistown (83,000 residents), Molepolole (55,000) and
Around 95% of the Botswans belong to Bantu-speaking
peoples. According to COUNTRYAAH, 75% of the total population are Tswana, the
largest tribes of which are the Bamangwato and Bakwena.
12% belong to the Shona Bantu people. The rest of the
population is made up of San, Khoi-Khoi, Ndbele, whites,
Indians and half-breeds.
About half of the population is attached to the
Christian faith, which is often linked to indigenous
religious practices. Muslims and Hindus represent
religious minorities. The official languages are
Setswana and English.
Social and health services in Botswana are little
developed and completely inadequate, especially in rural
areas. The average life expectancy is 50 years.
Population growth was 2% at the end of the 1990s, but is
declining sharply: Every fourth adult resident is
infected with HIV, the causative agent of the immune
deficiency disease AIDS. Almost 40% of the population
are younger than 15 years. The illiteracy rate is around
According to the 1966 constitution, Botswana is a
presidential republic. The head of state is the
president, who is elected by parliament for a five-year
term (since April 2008 Seretse Ian Khama). He is also
head of the government and commander-in-chief of the
armed forces. The President appoints the ministers,
their representatives and the Vice President and has
veto power on all bills.
The Parliament consists of two chambers: the National
Assembly with 63 seats (57 of which are directly elected
by the people every five years, four are appointed by
the President and two are ex officio) and the "House of
Chiefs" with 15 members. These are composed of the
chiefs of the eight Tswana tribes, four elected
subchiefs of the districts of Chobe, Francistown, Ghanzi
and Kgalagadi and three specially elected members.
Tribal bills must be submitted to the House of Chiefs,
which has an advisory role only.
The dominant political party since independence in
1966 has been the "Botswana Democratic Party" (BDP). The
strongest opposition parties are the "Botswana National
Front" (BNF) and the "Botswana Congress Party" (BCP).
Botswana is divided into nine districts.
When independence was achieved in 1966, Botswana was
initially dependent on British subsidies. Since the
1970s, the discovery and extraction of mineral resources
such as diamonds, copper, nickel and coal have led to an
enormous economic boom. Livestock farming was also
expanded for the export market (Botswana was one of the
leading meat suppliers in Africa in the early 1990s).
Despite economic crises such as the drought of the
century in 1991/92, which led to a 50% reduction in
livestock, the country is characterized by high
political stability and growth rates. Botswana is one of
the wealthier countries in Africa, but there is a large
income gap (an estimated 30% of the population lives
below the poverty line) and high unemployment rates
(according to official figures 17.6%, estimated somewhat
higher). In addition,
Around 20% of the population work in agriculture,
where 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is
generated. Just under 5% of the country's land can be
used for agriculture, mainly millet, maize and legumes
are grown. Cattle breeding (especially cattle) plays a
much more important role. Food must be imported to meet
the food needs of the population.
Mining is the backbone of Botswana°Įs economy. In
addition to diamonds, coal, copper and nickel are mined.
Diamond trading revenues account for more than 30% of
total government revenue. In 2007, uranium deposits were
found in the northeast of the country, which could lead
to further diversification of the Botswana economy.
Tourism is another strong pillar of the economy. It
helps the African state to generate the necessary
foreign exchange income.
The industry is only moderately developed and focuses
on the processing of agricultural products
(slaughterhouses, breweries). There are also textile and
shoe manufacturers. The EU countries are the most
important trading partners for exports (diamonds,
copper, nickel, sodium carbonate, meat and textiles),
while South Africa handles three quarters of its imports
(fuels, machinery and food).
There is an international airport in the capital
Gaborone. The rail link between South Africa and
Zimbabwe runs through the east of the country.
The currency is the pula (= 100 thebes).