Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name upon independence in 1966. Four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves. Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.
note:estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)
president indirectly elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014); vice president appointed by the president
Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA%
bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Chiefs (a largely advisory 15-member body with 8 ex-officio members consisting of the chiefs of the principal tribes, and 7 non-permanent members serving 5-year terms, consisting of 4 elected subchiefs and 3 members selected by the other 12 members) and the National Assembly (63 seats; 57 members directly elected by popular vote, 4 appointed by the majority party, and 2, the President and Attorney General, serve as ex-officio members; members serve five-year terms)
National Assembly elections last held on 16 October 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
percent of vote by party - BDP 53.3%, BNF 21.9%, BCP 19.2%, 2.3%, other 4.3%; seats by party - BDP 45, BNF 6, BCP 4, BAM 1, other 1
Botswana Alliance Movement or BAM [Ephraim Lepetu SETSHWAELO]; Botswana Congress Party or BCP [Gilson SALESHANDO]; Botswana Democratic Party or BDP [Daniel KWELAGOBE]; Botswana National Front or BNF [Otswoletse MOUPO]; Botswana Peoples Party or BPP [Bernard BALIKANI]; MELS Movement of Botswana or MELS [Themba JOINA]; New Democratic Front or NDF [Dick BAYFORD]
note:a number of minor parties joined forces in 1999 to form the BAM but did not capture any parliamentary seats - includes the United Action Party [Ephraim Lepetu SETSHWAELO]; the Independence Freedom Party or IFP [Motsamai MPHO]; the Botswana Progressive Union [D. K. KWELE]
Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966, though growth fell below 5% in 2007-08, and turned sharply negative in 2009, with industry falling nearly 30%. 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 $14,100 in 2008. 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 half 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. Although unemployment was 7.5% in 2007 according to official reports, unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is second highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond mining production within the next two decades overshadows long-term prospects.
general assessment: Botswana is participating in regional development efforts; expanding fully digital system with fiber-optic cables linking the major population centers in the east as well as a system of open-wire lines, microwave radio relays links, and radiotelephone communication stations
fixed-line teledensity has declined in recent years and now stands at roughly 7 telephones per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership is rapidly approaching a teledensity of 100 telephones per 100 persons
country code - 267; international calls are made via satellite, using international direct dialing; 2 international exchanges; digital microwave radio relay links to Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2008)
2 TV stations - 1 state-owned and 1 privately-owned; privately-owned satellite TV subscription service is available; 2 state-owned national radio stations; 3 privately-owned radio stations broadcast locally (2007)
Botswana still struggles to seal its border from thousands of Zimbabweans who flee economic collapse and political persecution; Namibia has long supported, and in 2004 Zimbabwe dropped objections to, plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River at Kazungula crossing, thereby de facto recognizing the short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary