and largest city Gaborone|
Government Parliamentary republic
Currency Botswana pula
Official languages English, Tswana
Legislature National Assembly
Dialing code +267
President Ian Khama
|Ethnic groups 79% Tswana
Demonym Batswana (plural) Motswana (singular)
Points of interest Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Tsodilo, Nxai Pan National Park, Mokolodi Nature Reserve
Destinations Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Maun, Gaborone, Kasane
Southern africa south africa namibia botswana vacation travel video guide
Botswana (/bɒtˈswɑːnə/), officially the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens refer to themselves 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. Since then, it has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections.
- Southern africa south africa namibia botswana vacation travel video guide
- Map of Botswana
- Botswana vacation travel video guide
- Early history
- Contacts with Europeans
- Environmental problems
- Politics and government
- Foreign relations and military
- Human rights
- Administrative divisions
- Gemstones and precious metals
- Visual arts
- HIVAIDS epidemic
Map of Botswana
Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being 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. Its border with Zambia to the north near Kazungula is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred metres long.
A mid-sized country of just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone. Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s—Botswana has since transformed itself into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The economy is dominated by mining, cattle, and tourism. Botswana boasts a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $18,825 per year as of 2015, which is one of the highest in Africa. Its high gross national income (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a modest standard of living and the highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa.
Botswana is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. The country has been among the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The death rate due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes has fallen sharply (57%) from 2005 to 2013, and the number of new infections in children has also fallen. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available to those infected, and to educate the populace in general about how to stop the spread of HIV AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013. As of 2014, Botswana has the third highest prevalence rate for HIV AIDS.
Botswana vacation travel video guide
The history of Botswana starts more than 100,000 years ago, when the first humans inhabited the region. The original inhabitants of southern Africa were the Bushmen (San) and Khoi peoples. Both speak Khoisan languages and lived as hunter-gatherers. About a thousand years ago, large chiefdoms emerged that were later eclipsed by the Great Zimbabwe empire, which spread into eastern Botswana. Around 1300 CE, peoples in present-day Transvaal began to coalesce into three main linguistic and political groups, including the Batswana.
The Batswana (plural of "Motswana"), a term used also to denote all citizens of Botswana, remain the country's major ethnic group today. Prior to European contact, the Batswana lived as herders and farmers under tribal rule. As groups broke off and moved to new land, new tribes were created. Some human development occurred before the colonial period.
Contacts with Europeans
During the 1700s, the slave and ivory trades were expanding. To resist these pressures, Shaka, the king of the Zulu Empire, mobilised an army. Conquered tribes began to move northwest into Botswana, destroying everything in their path. In their efforts to re-establish themselves at the end of this period, tribes began to exchange ivory and skins for guns with European traders, who had begun to reach the interior. Christian missionaries sent from Europe also spread to the interior, often at the invitation of tribal chiefs who wanted guns and knew that the presence of missionaries encouraged traders. By 1880 every major village had a resident missionary, and their influence became permanent. Christianization was completed in Botswana under the reign of king Khama III (reigned 1875–1923). There were eight principal tribes (or chiefdoms); the dominant was the Bangwaketse.
In the late nineteenth 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 Dutch 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, British Bechuanaland, 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, their inhabitants began to be consulted by the UK, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred, the UK 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. The African Council consisted of the eight heads of the Tswana tribes and some elected members. Proclamations in 1934 regulated 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, the United Kingdom 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 Botswana's border with South Africa. 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, subsequently 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, and was succeeded by 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 had been serving as Mogae's Vice-President since resigning his position in 1998 as Commander of the Botswana Defence Force to take up this civilian role.
A long-running dispute over the northern border with Namibia's Caprivi Strip was the subject of a ruling by the International Court of Justice in December 1999, which ruled that Kasikili Island belongs to Botswana.
At 581,730 km2 (224,607 sq mi) Botswana is the world's 48th-largest country. It is similar in size to Madagascar or France. It lies between latitudes 17° and 27°S, and longitudes 20° and 30°E.
The country 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, one of the world's largest inland deltas, 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, with the basins of its tributaries, the Notwane, Bonwapitse, Mahalapswe, Lotsane, Motloutse and the Shashe, located in the eastern part of the country. The Notwane provides water to the capital through the Gaborone Dam. The Chobe River lies to the north, providing a boundary between Botswana and Namibia's Zambezi 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, 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.
Botswana faces two major environmental problems: drought and desertification. The desertification problems predominantly stem from the severe times of drought in the country. Three quarters of the country's human and animal populations depend on groundwater due to drought. Groundwater use through deep borehole drilling has somewhat eased the effects of drought. Surface water is scarce in Botswana and less than 5% of the agriculture in the country is sustainable by rainfall. In the remaining 95% of the country, raising livestock is the primary source of rural income. Approximately 71% of the country's land is used for communal grazing, which has been a major cause of the desertification and the accelerating soil erosion of the country.
Since raising livestock has proven to be profitable for the people of Botswana, the land continues 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. Similarly, the human population has increased from 574,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 1995, nearly a 200% increase. "Over 50% of all households in Botswana own cattle, which is currently the largest single source of rural income." "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." Environmentalists report that the Okavango Delta is drying up due to the increased grazing of livestock. The Okavango Delta is one of the major semi-forested wetlands in Botswana and one of the largest inland deltas in the world; it is a crucial ecosystem to the survival of many animals.
The Department of Forestry and Range Resources has already begun to implement a project to reintroduce indigenous vegetation into communities in Kgalagadi South, Kweneng North and Boteti. 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. The stipulation of the US reducing Botswana's debt is that Botswana will focus on more extensive conservation of the land.
The United Nations Development Programme claims that poverty is a major problem behind the overexploitation of resources, including land, in Botswana. 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". The leaders of this movement are supposed to be the people in the community, to draw them in, in turn increasing their possibilities to earn an income and thus decreasing poverty. 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
Politics and government
The constitution of Botswana is the rule of law which protects the citizens of Botswana and represents their rights. 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 eleventh, was held on 24 October 2014. 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. Botswana ranks 30th out of 167 states in the 2012 Democracy Index. According to Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa and ranks close to Portugal and South Korea.
It consists of a typical court system of local Magistrates Courts, a High Court and a Court of Appeal. The High Court is a superior court of record with unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any criminal, civil or constitutional cases under any law. Appeals can be heard by the Court of Appeal. The Head of the High Court is the Chief Justice.
The Court of Appeal is the highest and final court in the country and deals with appeals from the High Court and the Industrial Court. The Head of the Court of Appeal is the Judge President.
Judges are appointed by the President of Botswana on the recommendation of the Judicial Services Commission.
Foreign relations and military
At the time of independence, Botswana had no armed forces. It was only after the Rhodesian and South African militaries struck respectively against the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe bases that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) was formed in 1977. The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appoints a defense council and the BDF currently consists of roughly 12,000 servicemen.
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 have received U.S. training. The Botswana government gave the United States permission to explore the possibility of establishing an Africa Command (AFRICOM) base in the country.
Many of the indigenous San people have been forcibly relocated from their land onto reservations. To make them relocate, they were denied from accessing water from their land and faced arrest if they hunted, which was their primary source of food. Their lands lie in the middle of the world’s richest diamond field. Officially, the government denies that there is any link to mining and claims the relocation is to preserve the wildlife and ecosystem, even though the San people have lived sustainably on the land for millennia. On the reservations, they struggle to find employment and alcoholism is rampant.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Botswana, as in many African countries.
Botswana is divided into nine districts.
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. Although Botswana was resource-abundant, a good institutional framework allowed the country to reinvest resource-income in order to generate stable future income. 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.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Botswana is responsible for promoting business development throughout the country. 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.
An array of financial institutions populates the country's financial system, with pension funds and commercial banks being the two most important segments by asset size. Banks remain profitable, well-capitalised, and liquid, as a result of growing national resources and high interest rates. The Bank of Botswana serves as a central bank. The country's currency is the Botswana pula.
Botswana's competitive banking system is one of Africa's most advanced. Generally adhering to global standards in the transparency of financial policies and banking supervision, the financial sector provides ample access to credit for entrepreneurs. The Capital Bank opened in 2008. As of August 2015, there are a dozen licensed banks in the country. 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. Credit is allocated on market terms, although the government provides subsidised loans. 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. The government has abolished exchange controls, and with the resulting creation of new portfolio investment options, the Botswana Stock Exchange is growing.
The constitution 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 2014 International Property Rights Index.
While generally open to foreign participation in its economy, Botswana reserves some sectors for citizens. Increased foreign investment plays a significant role in the privatisation 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's fees, and service fees can be repatriated without limits.
Botswana imports refined petroleum products and electricity from South Africa. There is some domestic production of electricity from coal.
Gemstones and precious metals
In Botswana, the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, led by Hon Sadique Kebonang in Gaborone, maintains data regarding mining throughout the country. Debswana, the largest diamond mining company operating in Botswana, is 50% owned by the government. The mineral industry provides about 40% of all government revenues. In 2007, significant quantities of uranium were discovered, and mining was 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 to 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 Orapa mine is the largest diamond mine in the world in terms of value and quantity of carats produced annually. Estimated to have produced over 11 million carats in 2013, with an average price of $145/carat, the Orapa mine was estimated to produce over $1.6 billion worth of diamonds in 2013.
The Tswana are the majority ethnic group in Botswana, making up 79% of the population. The largest minority ethnic groups are the BaKalanga, and San or AbaThwa, also known as Basarwa. Other tribes are Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi. In addition, there are small numbers of 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, with some having migrated from Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa, and so on, as well as first generation Indian immigrants. The white population speaks English and 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.
Fewer than 10,000 San people are still living their traditional hunter-gatherer way of life. Since the mid-1990s the central government of Botswana has been trying to move San out of their historic lands. James Anaya, as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people for the United Nations in 2010, described loss of land as a major contributor to many of the problems facing Botswana's indigenous people, citing the San's eviction from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) as an especial example. Among Anaya's recommendations in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council was that development programs should promote, in consultation with indigenous communities such as the San and Bakgalagadi people, activities in harmony with the culture of those communities such as traditional hunting and gathering activities.
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 ethnic group 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.
Other languages spoken in Botswana include Kalanga (sekalanga), Sarwa (sesarwa), Ndebele, !Xóõ and, in some parts, Afrikaans.
An estimated 70% of the country's citizens identify as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa make up the majority of Christians. There are also congregations of Lutherans, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Dutch Reformed Church, Mennonites, Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses in the country. In Gaborone, a Lutheran History Centre is open to the public.
According to the 2001 census, the country has around 5,000 Muslims, mainly from South Asia, 3,000 Hindus and 700 Baha'is. Approximately 20% of citizens espouse no religion. Religious services are well attended in both rural and urban areas.
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.In Botswana most of the tribes have different ways that they use to greet one another, but for easy communication and connection batswana use a three way hand shake or one can just greet another by saying "Dumelang" as a way of saying "hello" without having to use hand shakes. In community celebrations like Dikgafela or during marriage ceremonies batswana women show exitement and happiness by the use of ululations as part of their culture.
Botswana music is mostly vocal and performed, sometimes without drums depending on the occasion; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. Botswana folk music has instruments such as Setinkane (a Botswana version of miniature piano), Segankure/Segaba (a Botswana version of the Chinese instrument Erhu), Moropa (Meropa -plural) (a Botswana version of the many varieties of drums), phala (a Botswana version of a whistle used mostly during celebrations, which comes in a variety of forms). Botswana cultural musical instruments are not confined only to the strings or drums. the hands are used as musical instruments too, by either clapping them together or against phathisi (goat skin turned inside out wrapped around the calf area; it is only used by men) to create music and rhythm. For the last few decades, the guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music as it offers a variety in string which the Segaba instrument does not have. It is the outsider that found a home within the culture. The highlight of any celebration or event that shows especially happiness is the dancing. This differs by regime, age, gender and status in the group or if it's a tribal activity, status in the community. The national anthem is Fatshe leno la rona. Written and composed by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete, it was adopted upon independence in 1966.
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 colour use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for international markets.
Other notable artistic communities include Thamaga Pottery and Oodi Weavers, both located in the south-eastern 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.
The cuisine of Botswana is unique but also shares some characteristics with other cuisine of Southern Africa. Examples of Botswana food are pap (maize porridge), boerewors, samp, vetkoek (fried dough bread) and mopani worms. Foods unique to Botswana include seswaa, heavily salted mashed-up meat.
Football is the most popular sport in Botswana, with qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations being the national team's highest achievement to date. Other popular sports are cricket, tennis, rugby, badminton, softball, handball, golf, and track and field. Botswana is an associate member of the International Cricket Council. Botswana became a member of The International Badminton Federation and Africa Badminton Federation in 1991. The Botswana Golf Union offers an amateur golf league in which golfers compete in tournaments and championships.
Botswana won the country's first Olympic medal in 2012 when runner Nijel Amos won silver in the 800 metres. In 2011, Amantle Montsho became world champion in the 400 metres and won Botswana's first athletics medal on the world level. High jumper Kabelo Kgosiemang is a three time African champion.
The card game bridge has a strong following; it was first played in Botswana over 30 years ago, and it grew in popularity during the 1980s. Many British expatriate school teachers informally taught the game in Botswana's secondary schools. The Botswana Bridge Federation (BBF) was founded in 1988 and continues to organise tournaments. Bridge has remained popular and the BBF has over 800 members. In 2007, the BBF invited the English Bridge Union to host a week-long teaching program in May 2008.
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. Botswana increased its adult literacy rate from 69% in 1991 to 83% in 2008.
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 seven technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching or nursing.Students enter the University of Botswana, Botswana College of Agriculture, Botswana International University of Science and Technology and the Botswana Accountancy College in Gaborone. Many other students end up in the numerous private tertiary education colleges around the country. Notable amongst these is Botho University, the country's first private university which offers undergraduate programmes in Accounting, Business and Computing. Another international university is the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology which offers various associate degrees in Creative Arts. Other tertiary institutions include Ba Isago, ABM University College the largest school of business and management, New Era, Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies etc. Tremendous strides in providing quality education have been made by private education providers such that a large number of the best students in the country are now applying to them as well. A vast majority of these students are government sponsored. The nation's second international university, the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, was completed in Palapye in 2011.
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 Botswana Ministry of Education is working to establish libraries in primary schools in partnership with the African Library Project. 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. Those objectives are in part pursued through policies in favour of vocational education, gathered within the NPVET (National Policy on Vocational Education and Training), aiming to "integrate the different types of vocational education and training into one comprehensive system". Botswana invests 21% of its government spending in education.
In January 2006, Botswana announced the reintroduction of school fees after two decades of free state education 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.
The Ministry of Health in Botswana is responsible for overseeing the quality and distribution of healthcare throughout the country. Life expectancy at birth was 55 in 2009 according to the World Bank, having previously fallen from a peak of 64.1 in 1990 to a low of 49 in 2002. After Botswana's 2011 census, current life expectancy is estimated at 54.06 years.
The Cancer Association of Botswana is a voluntary non-governmental organisation. The association is a member of the Union for International Cancer Control. The Association supplements existing services through provision of cancer prevention and health awareness programmes, facilitating access to health services for cancer patients and offering support and counseling to those affected.
Like elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic impact of AIDS is considerable. Economic development spending was cut by 10% in 2002–3 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. However, after Botswana's 2011 census current life expectancy is estimated at 54.06 years.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 25.4% for adults aged 15–49 in 2009 and 21.9% in 2013, exceeded by Lesotho and Swaziland in sub-Saharan African nations. This places Botswana at the third highest prevalence in the world, in 2013, while "leading the way in prevention and treatment programmes". In 2003, the government began a comprehensive program involving free or cheap generic antiretroviral drugs as well as an information campaign designed to stop the spread of the virus; in 2013, over 40% of adults in Botswana had access to antiretroviral therapy. In the age group of 15–19 years old, prevalence was estimated at about 6% for females and 3.5% for males in 2013, and for the 20–24 age group, 15% for females and 5% for males Botswana is one of 21 priority countries identified by the UN AIDS group in 2011 in the Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children and to keep their mothers alive. From 2009 to 2013, the country saw a decrease over 50% in new HIV infections in children. A further measure of the success, or reason for hope, in dealing with HIV in Botswana, is that less than 10% of pregnant HIV-infected women were not receiving antiretroviral medications in 2013, with a corresponding large decrease (over 50%) in the number of new HIV infections in children under 5. Among the UN Global Plan countries, people living with HIV in Botswana have the highest percentage receiving antiretroviral treatment: about 75% for adults (age 15+) and about 98% for children.
With a nationwide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program, Botswana has reduced HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children from about 40% to just 4%. Under the leadership of Festus Mogae, the Government of Botswana solicited outside help in fighting HIV/AIDS and received early support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Merck Foundation, and together formed the African Comprehensive HIV AIDS Partnership (ACHAP). Other early partners include the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute, of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Botswana-UPenn Partnership of the University of Pennsylvania. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, universal access to treatment – defined as 80% coverage or greater – has been achieved in Botswana.
Potential reasons for Botswana's high HIV prevalence include concurrent sexual partnerships, transactional sex, cross-generational sex, and a significant number of people who travel outside of their local communities in pursuit of work. The polyamorous nature of many sexual relationships further impacts the health situation, to the extent that it has given rise to a love vocabulary that is unique to the region.
The Botswana Tourism Organisation is the country's official tourism group. Primarily, tourists visit Gaborone due to the city having numerous activities for visitors. Hotels include the Lonrho Lansmore Masa Square, a 5-Star hotel, and the Avani Gaborone, a luxury hotel that also features a casino. The Lion Park Resort is Botswana's first permanent amusement park and hosts events such as birthday parties for families. Other destinations in Botswana include the Gaborone Yacht Club and the Kalahari Fishing Club and natural attractions such as the Gaborone Dam and Mokolodi Nature Reserve. There are golf courses which are maintained by the Botswana Golf Union (BGU). The Phakalane Golf Estate is a multimillion-dollar clubhouse that offers both hotel accommodations and access to golf courses.
Museums in Botswana include;