Botswana


Region Listing

The Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name at independence on 30 September 1966. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west, Zambia to the north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. 

At 600,370 km², Botswana is the world's 45th-largest country. The country is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of the land surface. The Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, is in the northwest. Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat, including the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert, grasslands and savannas. The mian cities are Gaborone, the capital, and Francistown in the north-east.  

Economy

The economy, closely tied to South Africa's, is dominated by mining, tourism and cattle farming. Botswana has had one of the highest growth rates in per capita income in the world, averaging 9% per annum between 1966 and 1999. In the process Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest nations in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP (PPP) of US$16,450 in 2007. The main export of Botswana is diamonds. Jwaneng - the world's largest and richest diamond mine - was discovered when termites looking for water brought grains of diamond to the surface. Unemployment officially was 23.8% in 2004, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. About a third of the population lives below the official poverty line.

Population

Botswana is a sparsely populated country with only 3 people per km2. The total population is only 1,842,323 (July 2008 estimate), with about 35% younger than 14 years. The population is growing at 1.4% per annum (2008 est.). The main ethnic groups are (in order) Tswana, Kalanga, Bushmen/AbaThwa, whites and Indians.

The country has been hit very hard by the AIDS epidemic; the infection rate for adults was 38.8% in 2002. As a result the average life expectancy in Botswana at birth dropped from 64 years in 1990 to 34 years in 2005 - the shortest average lifespan in the world. Approximately one in six Batswana has HIV, giving Botswana the second highest HIV infection rate in the world after Swaziland.

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. The literacy rate is 81.2%. 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.

Environment

Botswana is a semi-arid country with warm winters and hot summers. Overgrazing and desertification are major environmental problems facing the country. It has limited fresh water resources.


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