macrohistory & world report

Republic of Botswana

Map of Botswana

Botswana (capital, Gaborone) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. However, economic growth was negative in 2009, with the industrial sector shrinking by 30%, after the global crisis reduced demand for Botswana's diamonds. Although the economy recovered in 2010, GDP growth has again slowed. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $16,400 in 2013. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP, 70-80% of export earnings, and about one-third of the government's revenues. Botswana's heavy reliance on a single luxury export was a critical factor in the sharp economic contraction of 2009. Tourism, financial services, subsistence farming, and cattle raising are other key sectors. According to official government statistics, unemployment reached 17.8% in 2009, but unofficial estimates run much higher. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is second highest in the world and threatens Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond production within the next two decades overshadows long-term prospects. A major international diamond company signed a 10-year deal with Botswana in 2012 to move its rough stone sorting and trading division from London to Gaborone by the end of 2013. The move may support Botswana's downstream diamond industry."

Economic growth rate
2011: 6.2%
2010: 7,2%
2009: minus 4.9%

Public debt
2011: 20.3% of GDP

Unemployment rate
2007: 7.5%

Export/import ratio
2011: Exports are 101.5% of imports in cash value, a positive ratio

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

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 63rd among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Health expenditures
2009: 10.3% of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2006: 3.3%


Living in an urban area
2010: 61%
2008: 60%

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

2001 census: Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4%, unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6%

Net migration rate

2011: A net gain 4.82 persons per 1,000 population. Note: there is an increasing flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and Botswana in search of better economic opportunities (World Factbook).


Southern Africa, landlocked, north of South Africa, west of Zimbabwe. Almost as big as Texas. Flat with rolling tableland and some desert in the southwest. Semi arid. Warm winters and hot summers.


Presidents are elected by parliament for a five-year term and eligible for a second term. Bicameral parliament, upper house a largely advisory 15-member body with chiefs of the principal tribes and others. The lower house (National Assembly) has 63 seats with 57 members elected by popular vote.

Recent History

The Republic of Botswana was a British protectorate called Bechuanaland before becoming independent in 1966.

Bushmen families, December 23, 2003: Botswana has attempted to resettle about 600  people outside their old homes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the settlements called by the Bushmen "places of death."  In the game reserve the government has destroyed Bushmen  water holes and banned them from hunting. A third of the Bushmen have returned and are surviving, and they have taken the government to court regarding their right to return. Their court case resumes on January 17. 

Apr 2008: Botswana has been described as the least corrupt country in Africa and with four decades of stable government, as having sound economic policies and good management of the country's mineral wealth. The World Bank ranks it among the world's most politically stable nations.

Jun 2011: Botswana suffers from overgrazing, desertification and limited fresh water resources.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.