Source: US Department of State
Republic of Botswana
Area: 582,000 sq. km. (224,710 sq. mi.), about the size of Texas.
Cities (2001 census): Capital--Gaborone (pronounced ha-bo-ro-neh), pop. 186,007. Other towns--Francistown
(83,023), Selebi-Phikwe (49,849), Molepolole (54,561), Kanye (40,628),
Serowe (42,444), Mahalapye (39,719), Lobatse (29,689), Maun (43,776),
Terrain: Desert and savanna.
Climate: Mostly subtropical.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Motswana (sing.), Batswana (pl.).
Population (2003): 1.76 million.
Annual population growth rate (2002): 0.6%.
Ethnic groups: Tswana 79%; Kalanga 11%; Kgalagadi, Herero, Bayeyi, Hambukush, Basarwa ("San"), Khoi, whites 10%.
Religions: Christianity 70%, none 20%, indigenous beliefs 6%, other 4%.
Languages: English (official), Setswana, Ikalanga.
Education: Adult literacy--81%.
Health (2004): Life expectancy--33.9 years. Infant mortality rate--56/1,000.
Work force (2005/2006 est.): 548,600 employed; total including unemployed, 651,500.
Type: Republic, parliamentary democracy.
Independence: September 30, 1966.
Constitution: March 1965.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government), cabinet. Legislative--popularly elected National Assembly; advisory House of Chiefs. Judicial--High Court, Court of Appeal, local and customary courts, industrial labor court.
Administrative subdivisions: Five town councils and nine district councils.
political parties: Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)--48 seats, Botswana
National Front (BNF)--12 seats, Botswana Congress Party (BCP)--1 seat,
Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM)--0 seats.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
Nominal GDP (2005/2006): $9.5 billion.
Real GDP growth rate (2005/2006): -0.8%.
Per capita nominal GDP (2005/2006): $5,300.
Natural resources: Diamonds, copper, nickel, coal, soda ash, salt, gold, potash.
Agriculture (1.7% of real GDP, 2005/2006): Products--livestock, sorghum, white maize, millet, cowpeas, beans.
(41.4% of real GDP, 2005/2006): diamonds, copper, nickel, coal;
tourism, textiles, construction, tourism, beef processing, chemical
products production, food and beverage production.
Trade (2005/2006): Exports--$5.3 billion: diamonds, nickel, copper, meat products, textiles, hides, skins, and soda ash. Partners--EU, South Africa. Imports--$2.8 billion: machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals, fuels. Major suppliers--South Africa, EU, and U.S.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Batswana, a term also used to denote all citizens of Botswana, refers
to the country's major ethnic group (the "Tswana" in South Africa),
which came into the area from South Africa during the Zulu wars of the
early 1800s. Prior to European contact, the Batswana lived as herders
and farmers under tribal rule.
In the 19th century,
hostilities broke out between the Batswana and Boer settlers from the
Transvaal. After appeals by the Batswana for assistance, the British
Government in 1885 put "Bechuanaland" under its protection. The
northern territory remained under direct administration and is today's
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.
Despite South African
pressure, inhabitants of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now
Lesotho), and Swaziland in 1909 asked for and received British
assurances that they would not be included in the proposed Union of
South Africa. An expansion of British central authority and the
evolution of tribal government resulted in the 1920 establishment of
two advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans.
Proclamations in 1934 regularized 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, Britain
accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana. The seat
of government was moved from Mafikeng, in South Africa, to newly
established Gaborone in 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first
general elections and to independence in September 1966. Seretse Khama,
a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to
traditional rule of the Bamangwato, was elected as the first president,
re-elected twice, and died in office in 1980. The presidency passed to
the sitting vice president, Ketumile 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. Mogae won a
second term in elections held October 30, 2004. Mogae has announced his
intention to step down in March 2008. Vice President Ian Khama will
assume the presidency until the general election in 2009.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
has a flourishing multiparty constitutional democracy. Each of the
elections since independence has been freely and fairly contested and
has been held on schedule. The country's minority groups participate
freely in the political process. There are three main parties and a
number of smaller parties. In national elections in 2004, the Botswana
Democratic Party (BDP) won 44 of 57 contested National Assembly seats,
the Botswana National Front (BNF) won 12, and the Botswana Congress
Party (BCP) won 1 seat. Individuals elected by the National Assembly
hold an additional 4 seats; the ruling BDP currently holds all 4. The
opposition out-polled the ruling BDP in most urban areas. The openness
of the country's political system has been a significant factor in
Botswana's stability and economic growth. General elections are held
every 5 years. The next general election will be held in October 2009.
The president has executive
power and is chosen by the National Assembly following countrywide
legislative elections. The cabinet is selected by the president from
the National Assembly; it consists of a vice president and a flexible
number of ministers and assistant ministers, currently 16 and 8,
respectively. The National Assembly has 57 elected and 4 specially
elected members; it is expanded following each census (every 10 years;
the most recent was conducted in 2001).
The advisory House of
Chiefs represents the eight principal subgroups of the Batswana tribes,
five members specially elected by the president, and 22 members elected
from designated regions. The elected members hold office for a period
of only 5 years whereas the eight principal chiefs are members for
life. A draft of any National Assembly bill of tribal concern must be
referred to the House of Chiefs for advisory opinion. Chiefs and other
leaders preside over customary traditional courts, though all persons
have the right to request that their case be considered under the
formal British-based legal system.
The roots of Botswana's
democracy lie in Setswana traditions, exemplified by the Kgotla, or
village council, in which the powers of traditional leaders are limited
by custom and law. Botswana's High Court has general civil and criminal
jurisdiction. Judges are appointed by the president and may be removed
only for cause and after a hearing. The constitution has a code of
fundamental human rights enforced by the courts, and Botswana has a
good human rights record.
Local government is
administered by nine district councils and five town councils. District
commissioners have executive authority and are appointed by the central
government and assisted by elected and nominated district councilors
and district development committees. There has been ongoing debate
about the political, social, and economic marginalization of the San
(indigenous tribal population). The government's policies for the
Basarwa (San) and other remote area dwellers continue to spark