Botswana Politics and Economy

© Lions kill a buffalo female and calf
One of Africa's most popular and exclusive safari destinations, Botswana is a fascinating world, home to well-known landmarks such as the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert and the Chobe National Park. To help you prepare for your holiday here are some interesting, lesser known facts about the country.

Facts and Figures

Spanning across 600 370km2(231,788 miles²) Botswana is one of Africa's most popular tourism destinations. Located in southern Africa, just north of South Africa, Botswana is bordered by South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is home to over 1.5 million people. This varied and fascinating country has some unique and outstanding facts and trivia around it.

Facts About the Land

At 600 370km² (231,788 miles²) Botswana is a similar size to Madagascar and is just slightly smaller than Texas and only slightly larger than France.

The Kalahari Desert covers over 80% of Botswana resulting in its climate being mostly arid to semi-arid. Rainfall occurs mainly in summer with the peak times being in January. The average rainfall is about 500mm per year in the northeast and less than 250mm in the other parts of the country, some countries or areas, such as Chocó in Columbia can receive 500 mm of rain in just one day.

The Okavango River runs through the centre of the Kalahari Desert, creating the unique ecosystem known as the Okavango Delta, from which the abundant bird and wildlife populations flourish. The Okavango River Delta is one of the world's largest inland deltas. Chobe National Park is located on the banks of part of the Okavango River and is home to over 120 000 Elephants.

A predominantly flat landscape, the two highest points in Botswana are Otse Mountain, which is 1 491 metres, and the Tsodilo Hills which is 1 489 metres. Both of these points are taller than Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain which is only 1 085 metres high. Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro is almost 4 times higher than both points.

Tsodilo Hills is well-known for its bushmen rock art with over 4 500 paintings being found in the various caves in the hills. Most of these paintings date back over hundred thousand years ago.

Facts about the Economy

Despite the stigma of being 'in third-world Africa', Botswana is a very well-off or rich country thanks to the wealth of diamonds found in there. A politically stable country and most of the population enjoys a high standard of living. Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since 1966.

Most of the diamonds mined in the country are mined by a company called Debswana, a 50/50 joint venture between DeBeers and the Botswana government. The richest mine in the country, and in the entire world is located in the south and is known as Jwaneng Diamond Mine.

The currency in Botswana is known as the Pula. The Pula has been in circulation since 1976, prior to which the country used the South African Rand. The word Pula means 'rain' in Setswana and refers to the money being precious as Botswana does not get a lot of rain and therefore it is an important resource.

Facts about Politics and the Country

Prior to its independence in 1966 Botswana was known as the British protectorate of Bechuanaland. The official language of the country is English but national language and culture of most of Botswana's citizens in Setswana. The word for many citizens in Botswana is Batswana. One citizen is a Motswana.

The current president of Botswana is President Ian Khama, who is the son of the first president, Sir Seretse Khama. The story of President Ian Khama's parents' relationship is an incredible one of love and struggle as his mother, Ruth Williams Khama was a white woman.

Ruth and Seretse met in London while she was working as clerk at Lloyd's of London and he was attending law school. Their interracial marriage caused a lot of discomfort and unrest during a strained political time in both South Africa (during Apartheid) and in Botswana and they were forced to live in exile in London until 1956.

Facts about Health Care

Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but the country is also known for having one of the most progressive and comprehensive prevention and management programs for dealing with the disease.

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