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Hotels of Botswana

A hotel in Botswana is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Botswana hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Botswana are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Botswana hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Botswana hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Botswana have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Botswana
An upscale full service hotel facility in Botswana that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Botswana hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Botswana
Full service Botswana hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Botswana
Boutique hotels of Botswana are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Botswana boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Botswana may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Botswana
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Botswana travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Botswana focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Botswana
Small to medium-sized Botswana hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Botswana traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Botswana hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Botswana
A bed and breakfast in Botswana is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Botswana bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Botswana B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Botswana
Botswana hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Botswana hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Botswana
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Botswana hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Botswana lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Botswana
Botswana timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Botswana often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Botswana on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Botswana
A Botswana motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Botswana for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Botswana motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Botswana

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Republic of Botswana
Lefatshe la Botswana (Tswana)
Flag of Botswana
Coat of arms of Botswana
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Pula" (Tswana)
"Rain"
Anthem: Fatshe leno la rona (Tswana)
This Land of Ours
Location of  Botswana  (dark blue)in the African Union  (light blue)
Location of Botswana (dark blue)

in the African Union (light blue)

Capital
and largest city
Gaborone
 / -24.6583; 25.9083
Official languages English
Ethnic groups
  • 79% Tswana
  • 11% Kalanga
  • 3% Basarwa
  • 3% Kgalagadi
  • 3% White
  • 1% others
Religion Christianity
Demonym
  • Batswana (plural)
  • Motswana (singular)
Government Parliamentary republic
• President
Ian Khama
• Vice-President
Mokgweetsi Masisi
Legislature National Assembly
Independence from the United Kingdom
• Established (Constitution)
30 September 1966
Area
• Total
581,730 km (224,610 sq mi) (48th)
• Water (%)
2.6
Population
• 2014 estimate
2,155,784 (145th)
• 2011 census
2,038,228
• Density
3.7/km (9.6/sq mi) (231st)
GDP (PPP) 2017 estimate
• Total
$39.054 billion
• Per capita
$17,918
GDP (nominal) 2017 estimate
• Total
$15.564 billion
• Per capita
$7,140
Gini (2013) 60.5
very high
HDI (2015) Steady 0.698
medium · 108th
Currency Pula (BWP)
Time zone Central Africa Time (UTC+2)
Date format DD/MM/YYYY
Drives on the left
Calling code +267
ISO 3166 code BW
Internet TLD .bw
Website
www.gov.bw

Botswana (/bɒtˈswɑːnə/), 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). Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the best perceived corruption ranking in Africa for the last four years.

Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being 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 is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred metres long.

A mid-sized country of just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone. Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world-with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s-Botswana has since transformed itself into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The economy is dominated by mining, cattle, and tourism. Botswana boasts a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $18,825 per year as of 2015, which is one of the highest in Africa. Its high gross national income (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a modest standard of living and the highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa.

Botswana is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. The country has been among the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The death rate due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes has fallen sharply (57%) from 2005 to 2013, and the number of new infections in children has also fallen. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available to those infected, and to educate the populace in general 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. As of 2014, Botswana has the third-highest prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS.

Botswana: History

Botswana: Early history

Starting fire by hand. San people in Botswana.

The history of Botswana starts more than 100,000 years ago, when the first humans inhabited the region. The original inhabitants of southern Africa were the Bushmen (San) and Khoi peoples. Both speak Khoisan languages and lived as hunter-gatherers. About a thousand years ago, large chiefdoms emerged that were later eclipsed by the Great Zimbabwe empire, which spread into eastern Botswana.

Around 1300 CE, peoples in present-day Transvaal began to coalesce into three main linguistic and political groups, including the Batswana. The Batswana (plural of Motswana), a term used also to denote all citizens of Botswana, remain the country's major ethnic group today. Prior to European contact, the Batswana lived as herders and farmers under tribal rule. As groups broke off and moved to new land, new tribes were created. Some human development occurred before the colonial period.

Botswana: Contacts with Europeans

British colonial drawing of a "Booshuana village", 1806.

During the 1700s, the slave and ivory trades were expanding. To resist these pressures, Shaka, the king of the Zulu Empire, mobilised an army. Conquered tribes began to move northwest into Botswana, destroying everything in their path. In their efforts to re-establish themselves at the end of this period, tribes began to exchange ivory and skins for guns with European traders, who had begun to reach the interior. Christian missionaries sent from Europe also spread to the interior, often at the invitation of tribal chiefs who wanted guns and knew that the presence of missionaries encouraged traders. By 1880 every major village had a resident missionary, and their influence became permanent. Christianization was completed in Botswana under the reign of king Khama III (reigned 1875–1923). There were eight principal tribes (or chiefdoms); the dominant was the Bangwaketse.

In the late nineteenth 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; it gained independence as modern-day Botswana. The southern territory, British Bechuanaland, 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.

Stamp of British Bechuanaland from 1960

When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 from 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, 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; 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 the UK or these territories agreeing to incorporation 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. 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.

Botswana: Independence

In June 1964, the United Kingdom 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 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.

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. It ruled that Kasikili Island belongs to Botswana.

Botswana: Geography

Botswana map of Köppen climate classification.
A lechwe in the Okavango Delta

At 581,730 km (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°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, one of the world's largest inland deltas, 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'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).

Botswana: Ecology

Botswana has one of the largest elephant populations in Africa
Plains zebra (Equus quagga) in Okavango

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 km (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.

Botswana: Environmental problems

A baobab tree (Adansonia digitata)

Botswana faces two major environmental problems: drought and desertification. The desertification problems predominantly stem from the severe times of drought in the country. 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 proven to be profitable for the people of Botswana, they continue to exploit the land. 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. 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."

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 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 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

Botswana: Politics and government

House of the Parliament of Botswana in Gaborone

The constitution of Botswana is the rule of law which protects the citizens of Botswana and represents their rights. 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 eleventh, was held on 24 October 2014. Since independence was declared, the party system has been dominated by the Botswana Democratic Party.

Botswana: Judiciary

The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Botswana ranks 30th out of 167 states in the 2012 Democracy Index. According to Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa and ranks close to Portugal and South Korea.

It consists of a typical 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.

Chief Justices:

  • 1968–1971 John Richard Dendy-Young
  • 1972–1975 Akinola Aguda
  • 1975–1977 George O.L. Dyke
  • 1977–1981 Hayfron Benjamin
  • 1981–1987 O'Brien Quinn
  • 1987–1992 Livesey Luke
  • 1992–1997 Moleleki Didwell Mokama
  • 1997–2010 Julian Mukwesu Nganunu
  • 2010–present Maruping Dibotelo

Botswana: Foreign relations and military

Signs at the Botswana-South Africa border, 2010
Signs at the Botswana–Zimbabwe border, 2010

At the time of independence, Botswana had no armed forces. It was only after the Rhodesian and South African militaries struck respectively against the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe bases that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) was formed in 1977. The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appoints a defence council and the BDF currently consists of roughly 12,000 servicemen.

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.

Botswana: Human rights

Many of the indigenous San people have been forcibly relocated from their land onto reservations. To make them relocate, they were denied from accessing water from 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 is rampant.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Botswana, as in many African countries.

Botswana: Administrative divisions

insert description of map here
The districts of Botswana. The appropriate article can be found by clicking over the district. City districts are not shown.

Botswana's nine districts are: Southern District, South-East District, Kweneng District, Kgatleng District, Central District (Central Serowe/Palapye, Central Mahalapye, Central Bobonong, Central Boteti and Central Tutume), North-East District, North-West District (Ngamiland District, Okavango District and Chobe District), Ghanzi District and Kgalagadi District (Kgalagadi South District and Kgalagadi North District).

Botswana's councils created from urban or town councils are: Gaborone City, Francistown, Lobatse Town, Selebi-Phikwe Town, Jwaneng Town, Orapa Town and Sowa Township.

Botswana: Economy

Headquarters of Debswana Diamond Company Ltd in Gaborone
Graphical depiction of Botswana's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.
GDP per capita (current), compared to neighbouring countries (world average = 100)

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. 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.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Botswana is responsible for promoting business development throughout the country. 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.

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. 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 program 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 is growing.

Botswana's trading partners in 2004

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.

Botswana: 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, uranium, copper, 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.

Botswana's Orapa 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.

Botswana: Demographics

A girl in the Okavango Delta

The Tswana are the majority ethnic group in Botswana, making up 79% of the population. The largest minority ethnic groups are the BaKalanga, and San or AbaThwa, also known as Basarwa. Other tribes are Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi. In addition, there are small numbers of 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, with some having migrated from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa, and so on, as well as first generation Indian immigrants. The white population speaks English and 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 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 (CKGR) as an especial example. 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.

Botswana: Language

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 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.

Other languages spoken in Botswana include Kalanga (sekalanga), Sarwa (sesarwa), Ndebele, !Xóõ and, in some parts, Afrikaans.

Botswana: Religion

Religion in Botswana (Pew Research)
religion percent
Protestant
66%
None
20%
Catholic
7%
Folk
6%
Other
1%

An estimated 70% of the country's citizens identify as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa make up the majority of Christians. There are also congregations of Lutherans, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses in the country. In Gaborone, a Lutheran History Centre is open to the public.

According to the 2001 census, the country has around 5,000 Muslims, mainly from South Asia, 3,000 Hindus and 700 Baha'is. Approximately 20% of citizens espouse no religion. Religious services are well attended in both rural and urban areas.

Dance at a cultural day.

Botswana: Culture

A rondavel at a lodge near the Kalahari Desert.

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 of the tribes have different ways that they use to greet one another, but for easy communication and connection batswana use a three way hand shake or one can just greet another by saying "Dumelang" as a way of saying "hello" without having to use hand shakes. In community celebrations like Dikgafela or during marriage ceremonies batswana women show exitement and happiness by the use of ululations as part of their culture.

Botswana: Media

Botswana: Music

Botswana 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 Botswana version of miniature piano), Segankure/Segaba (a Botswana version of the Chinese instrument Erhu), Moropa (Meropa -plural) (a Botswana version of the many varieties of drums), phala (a Botswana version of a whistle used mostly during celebrations, which comes in a variety of forms). Botswana 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; it is 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. It is the outsider that found a home within the culture. The highlight of any celebration or event that shows especially happiness is the dancing. This differs by regime, age, gender and status in the group or if it's a tribal activity, status in the community. The national anthem is Fatshe leno la rona. Written and composed by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete, it was adopted upon independence in 1966.

Botswana: Visual arts

Textile art

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.

Other notable artistic communities include Thamaga Pottery and Oodi Weavers, both located in the south-eastern 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.

Botswana: Food

Boerewors

The cuisine of Botswana is unique but also shares some characteristics with other cuisine of Southern Africa. Examples of Botswana food are pap (maize porridge), boerewors, samp, vetkoek (fried dough bread) and mopani worms. Foods unique to Botswana include seswaa, heavily salted mashed-up meat.

Botswana: Sports

Football 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 cricket, tennis, rugby, badminton, softball, handball, golf, 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 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. High jumper Kabelo Kgosiemang is a three time African champion.

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 program in May 2008.

Botswana: Education

Buildings of the new and old Botswana university. Botswana's economic growth has had a positive impact on the university.

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 seven technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching or nursing. Students enter the University of Botswana, Botswana College of Agriculture, 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 amongst these is Botho University, the country's first private university which offers undergraduate programmes 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 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 in 2011.

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, such as medicine, they are provided with a full scholarship to study abroad.

Botswana: Science and technology

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, globalization 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.

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: Health

Botswana: General

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 programmes, facilitating access to health services for cancer patients and offering support and counseling to those affected.

Botswana: HIV/AIDS epidemic

Life expectancy in several African countries from 1960 to 2012. 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. However, after Botswana's 2011 census current life expectancy is estimated at 54.06 years.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 25.4% for adults aged 15–49 in 2009 and 21.9% in 2013, exceeded by Lesotho and Swaziland 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 program 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. In the age group of 15–19 years old, prevalence was estimated at about 6% for females and 3.5% for males in 2013, and for the 20–24 age group, 15% for females and 5% for males 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. From 2009 to 2013, the country saw a decrease over 50% in new HIV infections in children. 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. 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.

With a nationwide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program, Botswana has reduced HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children from about 40% to just 4%. 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 – defined as 80% coverage or greater – has been achieved in Botswana.

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, to the extent that it has given rise to a love vocabulary that is unique to the region.

Botswana: Tourism

Chobe National Park

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 multimillion-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

Botswana: See also

  • Economy of Botswana
  • Commonwealth of Nations
  • Communications in Botswana
  • Science and technology in Botswana
  • Cuisine of Botswana
  • Outline of Botswana
  • Postage stamps and postal history of Bechuanaland Protectorate
  • Transport in Botswana
  • Tuli block

Botswana: Sources

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Botswana: Further reading

  • Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson. "An african success story: Botswana." (2002). online
  • Cohen, Dennis L. "The Botswana Political Elite: Evidence from the 1974 General Election," Journal of Southern African Affairs, (1979) 4, 347–370.
  • Colclough, Christopher and Stephen McCarthy. The Political Economy of Botswana: A Study of Growth and Income Distribution (Oxford University Press, 1980)
  • Denbow, James & Thebe, Phenyo C. (2006). Culture and Customs of Botswana. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-33178-2.
  • Edge, Wayne A. and Mogopodi H. Lekorwe eds. Botswana: Politics and Society (Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik, 1998)
  • Good, Kenneth. "Interpreting the Exceptionality of Botswana," Journal of Modern African Studies (1992) 30, 69–95.
  • Good, Kenneth. "Corruption and Mismanagement in Botswana: A Best-Case Example?" Journal of Modern African Studies, (1994) 32, 499–521.
  • Tlou, Thomas, and Alec C. Campbell. History of Botswana (Macmillan Botswana, 1984)
  • Official website
  • "Botswana". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Botswana from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Botswana at DMOZ
  • Botswana from the BBC News
  • Wikimedia Atlas of Botswana
  • Key Development Forecasts for Botswana from International Futures
  • Government Directory for Botswana from African Directory Services

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