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Botswana

The Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana) is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to 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. It has held free and fair democratic elections since independence.

Geographically the country is flat and up to 70% of Botswana is covered by 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. It meets Zambia at a single point.

Botswana is one of the world’s great development success stories. A small, landlocked country of 1.9 million people, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa with a GDP per capita of about US$70 at independence from Britain in 1966. In the four decades following independence, Botswana has transformed itself, moving into the ranks of middle-income status to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world with its average annual growth rate of about 9 percent.

 

Botswana’s impressive track record of good governance and economic growth supported by prudent macroeconomic and fiscal management, stands in contrast to the country’s still high levels of poverty and inequality and generally low human development indicators. While Botswana’s economic progress over the past forty years has significantly raised living standards for about two-thirds of the population, a third or more of its people have been left behind. While education expenditure is high at 10 percent of GDP and significant educational achievements have been attained, including the provision of nearly universal and free education, overall outcomes have not created the skills and workforce Botswana needs. Unemployment has been persistently high at near 20 percent, household incomes are much lower in rural than in urban areas (HIES 2002/03), and, while rural poverty rates have fallen, they remain significantly higher than in urban areas. As a consequence, income inequality in Botswana is one of the highest in the world. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has further exacerbated the situation: the country now suffers from the second highest HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate in the world, and education and health outcomes are below those of countries in the same income group.

History

In the 19th 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 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 and is modern-day 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.

When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 out of 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, a vague undertaking was given to consult their inhabitants, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred, Britain 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 incorporation of the territories 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. 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 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 sits near its border. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to 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, 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. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, 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 resigned his position as leader of the Botswana Defence Force to take up this civilian role.

Politics and government

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 tenth, was held on October 16, 2009.

Since independence was declared, the party system has been dominated by the Botswana Democratic Party. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. According to Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa and ranks similarly close to Portugal and South Korea.[3] The national anthem is Fatshe leno la rona.

Administrative divisions

Botswana is divided into 9 districts

  1. Central District
  2. Ghanzi District
  3. Kgalagadi District
  4. Kgatleng District
  5. Kweneng District
  6. North-East District
  7. North-West District
  8. South-East District
  9. Southern District

Geography and environment

At 600,370 km2 (231,804 sq mi) Botswana is the world's 47th-largest country (after Ukraine). It is comparable in size to Madagascar, and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas or the Canadian province of Manitoba. It 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, the world's largest inland delta, 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, in the southeast of the country. The Chobe River lies to the north, providing a boundary between Botswana and Namibia (Caprivi 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 has diverse areas of wildlife habitat. In addition to the delta and desert areas, there are grasslands and savannas, where Blue Wildebeest, many 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 km2 (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.

Environmental problems

Botswana is currently facing two major environmental problems: drought and desertification. The desertification problems predominantly stem from the severe times of drought in the country. Due to the drought 75% of the country’s human and animal populations are dependent on groundwater.[4] Groundwater use has eased the effects of drought, but has left a toll on the land. Groundwater is retrieved through drilling deep boreholes, which leads to the erosion of the land.[4] Surface water is very scarce in Botswana and less than 5% of the agriculture in the country is sustainable by rainfall.[4] Due to this 95% of the country raises cattle and livestock as a means for an income.[4] Therefore, it is not a surprise to see that 71% of the country’s land is used for communal grazing,[4] which has been a major cause for the desertification of the country.

Since raising livestock has proven to be profitable for the people of Botswana, the land is continuing to be exploited. 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,[4] p 64. Similarly, the human population has increased from 574,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 1995, nearly a 200% increase.[4] “Over 50% of all households in Botswana own cattle, which is presently the largest single source of rural income” [4]. “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” [4]. It has been reported that the Okavango Delta is drying up due to the increased grazing of livestock.[5] The Okavango Delta is one of the major semi-forested wetlands in Botswana, the largest inland delta in the world and is a crucial ecosystem to the survival of many animals.[5]

The Department and Forestry and Range Resources has already begun to implement project to reintroduce indigenous vegetation into communities in Kgalagadi South, Kweneng North and Boteti.[6] 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.[5] The stipulation of the US reducing Botswana’s debt is that Botswana will focus on more extensive conservation of the land.[5]

The United Nations Development Programme claims that a major problem behind the overexploitation of resources, including land, in Botswana, is due to the poverty level.[7] 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” [7]. The leaders of this movement are supposed to be the people in the community, in order to draw these in, in turn increasing their possibilities to earn an income and thus decreasing poverty.[7] 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

Defense

At the time of independence Botswana had no armed forces. It was only after attacks from the Rhodesian and South African armies that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) was formed in self-defence in 1977. The president is commander in chief and appoints a defence council. The BDF has approximately 12,000 members.

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 has received U.S. training. It is considered an apolitical and professional institution.

Economy

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. 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 and Turkey

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.

Debswana, the largest diamond mining company operating in Botswana, is 50% owned by the government.[11] Mineral industry provides about 40% of all government revenues.[12] In 2007, significant quantities of uranium were discovered, and mining is 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 and 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 competitive banking system is one of Africa’s most advanced.[expand] Generally adhering to global standards in the transparency of financial policies and banking supervision, the financial sector provides ample access to credit for entrepreneurs.[citation needed] The opening of Capital Bank in 2008 brought the total number of licensed banks to eight.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Credit is allocated on market terms, although the government provides subsidized loans.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] The government has abolished exchange controls, and with the resulting creation of new portfolio investment options, the Botswana Stock Exchange is growing.[citation needed]

The constitution prohibits the nationalization of private property and 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 2009 International Property Rights Index.

While generally open to foreign participation in its economy, Botswana reserves a number of sectors for citizen participation. Increased foreign investment plays a significant role in the privatization 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 fees, and service fees can be repatriated without limits.

Demographics

Botswana's main ethnic groups are (in order) Tswana, Kalanga, Bushmen or AbaThwa also known as basarwa. Other tribes are Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi. Other groups of ethnicities in Botswana include 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, from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa, etc. as well as first generation Indian immigrants. The white population is native to Botswana or from other parts of Africa including Zimbabwe and South Africa. The white population speaks either English or 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.[13]

Fewer than 10,000 Bushmen live in the traditional way, as hunter-gatherers. Since the mid-1990s the central government of Botswana has been trying to move San out of their lands.[14] The UN's top official on indigenous rights, Prof. James Anaya, has condemned Botswana's persecution of the Bushmen in a report released in February 2010.[15][16]

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 24% for adults in 2006.[17] In 2003, the government began a comprehensive program involving free or cheap generic anti-retroviral drugs as well as an information campaign designed to stop the spread of the virus.

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 tribe 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.

Lesotho, an enclave within South Africa, is considered a sister country. It was inhabited by a cousin tribe called the Sotho, who speak a similar language. That language is called Sesotho and can be understood by speakers of Setswana.

Religion

An estimated 70 percent of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa make up the majority of Christians. There are also congregations of Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists, the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and other Christian sects.

According to the 2001 census, the country's Muslim community, primarily of South Asian origin, numbers slightly more than 5,000. The 2001 census also lists approximately 3,000 Hindus and 7,000 Baha'is. Approximately 20 percent of citizens espouse no religion. Religious services are well attended in both rural and urban areas.

Health

Life expectancy at birth was at 40 for both males and females in 2004. There were 40 physicians per 100,000 persons in 2004.

HIV/AIDS

Like elsewhere in the Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic impact of AIDS is considerable. Economic development spending was cut by 10% in 2002–2003 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.

Approximately one in six Batswana has HIV, giving Botswana the second highest infection rate in the world after nearby Swaziland.The government recognizes that AIDS will affect the economy and is trying to combat the epidemic, including free anti-retroviral drug treatment and a nation-wide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program. Botswana has reduced HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children from about 40% to just 4%.

Cancer

The cumulative number of cancer cases registered from 1986 to 2005 was 2000 and during the time the second annual cancer registry report was released it reached 4138.

The most affected groups observed were unemployed, peasants, housewives, scholars and self employed workers. The highest numbers of cancer cases were registered from Gaborone, Kweneng East, Serowe Palapye, Katleng and South East districts respectively.

The frequency of cancers was common in the age group 30–49 years of age. Females were more affected than males. 31% of all the cancers documented were of the female reproductive organs.

The most common sites of cancers were skin, cervix, breast, oesophagus, bone marrow, eye and mouth respectively.

The Cancer Association of Botswana is a voluntary non-governmental organization established as a trust in 1998. The Association is a leading service provider in supplementing existing services through provision of cancer prevention and health promotion programmes, facilitating access to health services for cancer patients and offering support and counseling to those affected.

Education

Botswana has made great strides in educational development since independence in 1966[citation needed]. At that time there were very few graduates in the country and only a very small percentage of the population attended secondary school.

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 six technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching or nursing. The best students enter the University of Botswana, Botswana College of Agriculture[1], and The Botswana Accountancy college in Gaborone. Many other students end up in the numerous private tertiary education colleges around the country. A high majority of these students are government sponsored.

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 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.[citation needed]

In January 2006, Botswana announced the reintroduction of school fees after two decades of free state education[22] 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.

Sports

The most popular sport in Botswana is football. Other popular sports include cricket, tennis, rugby union, softball, volleyball, golf and athletics.[23][24] Botswana is an associate member of the International Cricket Council.

Contract bridge has a strong following. Bridge was first played in Botswana thirty years ago and grew in popularity during the 1980s. Many British expatriate school teachers informally taught bridge in Botswana’s secondary schools. The Botswana Bridge Federation (BBF) was founded in 1988 and continues to organize tournaments. The game has remained popular and the BBF has over 800 members.[25] In 2007, the BBF invited the English Bridge Union to host a week-long bridge teaching program in May 2008.

Culture

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. The Scottish writer, Alexander McCall Smith, has written a number of popular novels about Botswana that entertain as well as inform the reader about the culture and customs of Botswana. Read the series about the #1 Ladies Detective Agency .

Music

Tswana music is mostly vocal and performed without drums; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Tswana folk music has instruments such as Setinkane, Segankure/Segaba, and for the last few decades, the guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music.

Visual arts

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 color use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for commercial use.

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

In addition to these more traditional arts there are a number of extremely talented artists who use modern means to express themselves. There are a few galleries around Botswana that display paintings and sculptures. Some pieces are inspired by the beautiful Botswana landscapes and others by the people themselves.

Holidays

DateEnglish nameLocal name
1 January New Year's Day Ngwaga o mosha'"Gole dzwa in kalanga"
2 January Public Holiday
varies Good Friday Labotlhano yo o molemo'
Easter Monday
varies Ascension Day Tlhatlogo
1 July Sir Seretse Khama Day
19 July President's Day tsatsi la ga tautona
20 July Public Holiday
30 September Independence Day Boipuso
25 December Christmas Keresemose"khisimose in kalanga"
26 December/27 December Boxing Day
The first Monday after Christmas is also a Public Holiday.
50 Largest Cities of Botswana by population
Italics indicate capitals of districts
  1. Gaborone
  2. Francistown
  3. Molepolole
  4. Serowe
  5. Selebi-Phikwe
  6. Maun
  7. Kanye
  8. Mahalapye
  9. Mogoditshane
  10. Mochudi
  1. Lobatse
  2. Palapye
  3. Ramotswa
  4. Moshupa
  5. Tlokweng
  6. Bobonong
  7. Thamaga
  8. Letlhakane
  9. Tonota
  10. Mmadinare
  1. Jwaneng
  2. Tutume
  3. Gabane
  4. Shoshong
  5. Ghanzi
  6. Letlhakeng
  7. Orapa
  8. Kopong
  9. Mmopane
  10. Kasane
  1. Shakawe
  2. Lentsweletau
  3. Molapowabojang
  4. Gumare
  5. Tshabong
  6. Lerala
  7. Mmathethe
  8. Gweta
  9. Mathangwane
  10. Mmankgodi
  1. Maitengwe
  2. Rakops
  3. Dukwi
  4. Mopipi
  5. Etsha
  6. Otse
  7. Sefophe
  8. Sehithwa
  9. Sefhare
  10. Nata
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 
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