Photos of Botswana

A male impala browsing at Chobe National Park.

Introduction

Background

In the early 1800s, multiple political entities in what is now Botswana were destabilized or destroyed by a series of conflicts and population movements in southern Africa. By the end of this period, the Tswana ethnic group, who also live across the border in South Africa, had become the most prominent group in the area. In 1852, Tswana forces halted the expansion of white Afrikaner settlers who were seeking to expand their territory northwards into what is now Botswana. In 1885, Great Britain claimed territory that roughly corresponds with modern day Botswana as a protectorate called Bechuanaland. Upon independence in 1966, the British protectorate of Bechuanaland adopted the new name of Botswana, which means "land of the Tswana."

More than five decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created an enduring democracy and upper-middle-income economy. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party has won every national election since independence; President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe MASISI assumed the presidency in 2018 after the retirement of former President Ian KHAMA due to constitutional term limits. MASISI won his first election as president in 2019, and he is Botswana’s fifth president since independence. 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 rates of HIV/AIDS infection but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.

 

 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southern Africa, north of South Africa

Geographic coordinates

22 00 S, 24 00 E

Area

total: 581,730 sq km

land: 566,730 sq km

water: 15,000 sq km

comparison ranking: total 50

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Texas; almost four times the size of Illinois

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 4,347.15 km

border countries (4): Namibia 1,544 km; South Africa 1,969 km; Zambia 0.15 km; Zimbabwe 834 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

semiarid; warm winters and hot summers

Terrain

predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest

Elevation

highest point: Manyelanong Hill 1,495 m

lowest point: junction of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers 513 m

mean elevation: 1,013 m

Natural resources

diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver

Land use

agricultural land: 45.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 45.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 19.8% (2018 est.)

other: 34.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

25 sq km (2014)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Zambezi (shared with Zambia [s]), Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [m]) - 2,740 km; Limpopo (shared with South Africa [s], Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [m]) - 1,800 km; Okavango river mouth (shared with Angola [s], and Namibia) - 1,600 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Orange (941,351 sq km)
Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Okavango Basin (863,866 sq km)

Major aquifers

Lower Kalahari-Stampriet Basin, Upper Kalahari-Cuvelai-Upper Zambezi Basin

Population distribution

the population is primarily concentrated in the east with a focus in and around the captial of Gaborone, and the far central-eastern city of Francistown; population density remains low in other areas in the country, especially in the Kalahari to the west as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic droughts; seasonal August winds blow from the west, carrying sand and dust across the country, which can obscure visibility

Geography - note

landlocked; sparsely populated with most settlement concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the country; geography dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers about 70% of the country, although the Okavango Delta brings considerable biodiversity as one of the largest inland deltas in the World 

People and Society

Population

total: 2,450,668

male: 1,174,306

female: 1,276,362 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 143; male 146; total 146

Nationality

noun: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

adjective: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

Ethnic groups

Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and people of European ancestry 7%

Languages

Setswana 77.3%, Sekalanga 7.4%, Shekgalagadi 3.4%, English (official) 2.8%, Zezuru/Shona 2%, Sesarwa 1.7%, Sembukushu 1.6%, Ndebele 1%, other 2.8% (2011 est.)

Religions

Christian 79.1%, Badimo 4.1%, other 1.4% (includes Baha'i, Hindu, Muslim, Rastafarian), none 15.2%, unspecified 0.3% (2011 est.)

Demographic profile

Botswana has experienced one of the most rapid declines in fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa. The total fertility rate fell from more than 5 children per woman in the mid 1980s to approximately 2.4 in 2013, and remains at that level in 2022. The fertility reduction has been attributed to a host of factors, including higher educational attainment among women, greater participation of women in the workforce, increased contraceptive use, later first births, and a strong national family planning program. Botswana was making significant progress in several health indicators, including life expectancy and infant and child mortality rates, until being devastated by the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the 1990s.

In 2021,  Botswana had one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world at close to 20%, however comprehensive and effective treatment programs have reduced HIV/AIDS-related deaths. The combination of declining fertility and increasing mortality rates because of HIV/AIDS is slowing the population aging process, with a narrowing of the youngest age groups and little expansion of the oldest age groups. Nevertheless, having the bulk of its population (about 60% as of 2022) of working age will only yield economic benefits if the labor force is healthy, educated, and productively employed.

Batswana have been working as contract miners in South Africa since the 19th century. Although Botswana’s economy improved shortly after independence in 1966 with the discovery of diamonds and other minerals, its lingering high poverty rate and lack of job opportunities continued to push workers to seek mining work in southern African countries. In the early 1970s, about a third of Botswana’s male labor force worked in South Africa (lesser numbers went to Namibia and Zimbabwe). Not until the 1980s and 1990s, when South African mining companies had reduced their recruitment of foreign workers and Botswana’s economic prospects had improved, were Batswana increasingly able to find job opportunities at home.

Most Batswana prefer life in their home country and choose cross-border migration on a temporary basis only for work, shopping, visiting family, or tourism. Since the 1970s, Botswana has pursued an open migration policy enabling it to recruit thousands of foreign workers to fill skilled labor shortages. In the late 1990s, Botswana’s prosperity and political stability attracted not only skilled workers but small numbers of refugees from neighboring Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Age structure

0-14 years: 28.7% (male 355,583/female 348,863)

15-64 years: 65.2% (male 759,210/female 837,752)

65 years and over: 6.1% (2024 est.) (male 59,513/female 89,747)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 57.5

youth dependency ratio: 51.8

elderly dependency ratio: 5.7

potential support ratio: 13.8 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 27.1 years (2024 est.)

male: 26 years

female: 28.3 years

comparison ranking: total 161

Population growth rate

1.34% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 72

Birth rate

19.6 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 72

Death rate

8.9 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 62

Net migration rate

2.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 42

Population distribution

the population is primarily concentrated in the east with a focus in and around the captial of Gaborone, and the far central-eastern city of Francistown; population density remains low in other areas in the country, especially in the Kalahari to the west as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 72.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.47% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

269,000 GABORONE (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female

total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

186 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 48

Infant mortality rate

total: 23.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 25.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 21.4 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 65

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.4 years (2024 est.)

male: 64.4 years

female: 68.6 years

comparison ranking: total population 201

Total fertility rate

2.34 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 75

Gross reproduction rate

1.15 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.1% of population

rural: 96.9% of population

total: 99.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.2% of population

rural: 3.1% of population

total: 0.6% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

6.2% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.38 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1.8 beds/1,000 population

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 94.9% of population

rural: 63% of population

total: 85.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 5.1% of population

rural: 37% of population

total: 14.4% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/AIDS (2024)

note: on 31 August 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Botswana is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

18.9% (2016)

comparison ranking: 114

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 5.98 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 2.93 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.46 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.96 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 1.64 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 71

Tobacco use

total: 19.4% (2020 est.)

male: 30.4% (2020 est.)

female: 8.3% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 90

Education expenditures

8.7% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 10

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 88.5%

male: 88%

female: 88.9% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 12 years

female: 12 years (2021)

Environment

Environment - current issues

overgrazing; desertification; limited freshwater resources; air pollution

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Climate

semiarid; warm winters and hot summers

Land use

agricultural land: 45.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 45.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 19.8% (2018 est.)

other: 34.4% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 72.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.47% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.23% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 88

Revenue from coal

0.45% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 13

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 12.82 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 6.34 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 5.73 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 210,854 tons (2010 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 2,109 tons (2005 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 1% (2005 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Zambezi (shared with Zambia [s]), Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [m]) - 2,740 km; Limpopo (shared with South Africa [s], Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [m]) - 1,800 km; Okavango river mouth (shared with Angola [s], and Namibia) - 1,600 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Orange (941,351 sq km)
Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Okavango Basin (863,866 sq km)

Major aquifers

Lower Kalahari-Stampriet Basin, Upper Kalahari-Cuvelai-Upper Zambezi Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 110 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 30 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 80 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

12.24 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Botswana

conventional short form: Botswana

local long form: Republic of Botswana

local short form: Botswana

former: Bechuanaland

etymology: the name Botswana means "Land of the Tswana" - referring to the country's largest ethnic group

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Gaborone

geographic coordinates: 24 38 S, 25 54 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after GABORONE (ca. 1825-1931), a revered kgosi (chief) of the Tlokwa tribe, part of the larger Tswana ethnic group

Administrative divisions

10 districts and 6 town councils*; Central, Chobe, Francistown*, Gaborone*, Ghanzi, Jwaneng*, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Lobatse*, North East, North West, Selebi-Phikwe*, South East, Southern, Sowa Town*

Independence

30 September 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day (Botswana Day), 30 September (1966)

Constitution

history: previous 1960 (pre-independence); latest adopted March 1965, effective 30 September 1966

amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires approval in two successive Assembly votes with at least two-thirds majority in the final vote; proposals to amend constitutional provisions on fundamental rights and freedoms, the structure and branches of government, and public services also requires approval by majority vote in a referendum and assent by the president of the republic; amended several times, last in 2021

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law influenced by the Roman-Dutch model and also customary and common law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Botswana

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe MASISI (since 1 April 2018)

head of government: President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe MASISI (since 1 April 2018)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 23 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2024); vice president appointed by the president

election results: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA, who had served as president since 1 April 2008, stepped down on 1 April 2018 having completed the constitutionally mandated 10-year term limit; upon his retirement, then Vice President MASISI became president; national elections held in 2019 gave MASISI'S BPD 38 seats in the National Assembly, which then selected MASISI as President

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament consists of the National Assembly (63 seats; 57 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 4 nominated by the president and indirectly elected by simple majority vote by the rest of the National Assembly, and 2 ex-officio members - the president and attorney general; elected members serve 5-year terms); note - the House of Chiefs (Ntlo ya Dikgosi), an advisory body to the National Assembly, consists of 35 members - 8 hereditary chiefs from Botswana's principal tribes, 22 indirectly elected by the chiefs, and 5 appointed by the president; the House of Chiefs consults on issues including powers of chiefs, customary courts, customary law, tribal property, and constitutional amendments

elections: last held on 23 October 2019 (next to be held by October 2024)

election results: percent of vote by party - BDP 52.7%, UDC 35.9%, BPF 4.4%, AP 5.1%, other 1.7%; seats by party - BDP 38, UDC 15, BPF 3, AP 1; composition- men 56, women 7, percentage women 11.1%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal, High Court (each consists of a chief justice and a number of other judges as prescribed by the Parliament)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and High Court chief justices appointed by the president and other judges appointed by the president upon the advice of the Judicial Service Commission; all judges appointed to serve until age 70

subordinate courts: Industrial Court (with circuits scheduled monthly in the capital city and in 3 districts); Magistrates Courts (1 in each district); Customary Court of Appeal; Paramount Chief's Court/Urban Customary Court; Senior Chief's Representative Court; Chief's Representative’s Court; Headman's Court

Political parties and leaders

Alliance of Progressives or AP [Ndaba GAOLATHE]
Botswana Congress Party or BCP [Dumelang SALESHANDO]
Botswana Democratic Party or BDP [Mokgweetsi MASISI]
Botswana National Front or BNF [Duma BOKO]
Botswana Patriotic Front or BPF [Mephato REATILE]
Botswana Peoples Party or BPP [Motlatsi MOLAPISI]
Botswana Republic Party or BRP [Biggie BUTALE]
Umbrella for Democratic Change or UDC [Duma BOKO] (various times the coalition has included the BPP, BCP, BNF and other parties)

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, C, CD, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Onkokame Kitso MOKAILA (since 17 September 2020)

chancery: 1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 244-4990

FAX: [1] (202) 244-4164

email address and website:
info@botswanaembassy.org

http://www.botswanaembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Howard A. VAN VRANKEN (since 24 May 2023)

embassy: Embassy Drive, Government Enclave (off Khama Crescent), Gaborone

mailing address: 2170 Gaborone Place, Washington DC  20521-2170

telephone: [267] 395-3982

FAX: [267] 318-0232

email address and website:
ConsularGaborone@state.gov

https://bw.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

light blue with a horizontal white-edged black stripe in the center; the blue symbolizes water in the form of rain, while the black and white bands represent racial harmony

National symbol(s)

zebra; national colors: light blue, white, black

National anthem

name: "Fatshe leno la rona" (Our Land)

lyrics/music: Kgalemang Tumedisco MOTSETE

note: adopted 1966

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (1 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Tsodilo Hills (c); Okavango Delta (n)

Economy

Economic overview

good economic governance and financial management; diamond-driven growth model declining; rapid poverty reductions; high unemployment, particularly among youth; COVID-19 sharply contracted the economy and recovery is slow; public sector wages have posed fiscal challenges

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$40.819 billion (2022 est.)
$38.585 billion (2021 est.)
$34.491 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 125

Real GDP growth rate

5.79% (2022 est.)
11.87% (2021 est.)
-8.73% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 57

Real GDP per capita

$15,500 (2022 est.)
$14,900 (2021 est.)
$13,500 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 108

GDP (official exchange rate)

$20.356 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

11.67% (2022 est.)
7.24% (2021 est.)
1.89% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 174

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: A2 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: BBB+ (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 27.5% (2017 est.)

services: 70.6% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 64; industry 98; agriculture 180

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 48.5% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 29% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -1.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 39.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -33.9% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, root vegetables, vegetables, maize, sorghum, beef, game meat, watermelons, cabbages, goat milk (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver; beef processing; textiles

Industrial production growth rate

7.57% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 32

Labor force

1.145 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 143

Unemployment rate

23.62% (2022 est.)
23.11% (2021 est.)
21.02% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 212

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 41.2% (2021 est.)

male: 39.5%

female: 43.3%

comparison ranking: total 9

Population below poverty line

16.1% (2015 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

53.3 (2015 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 6

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.5%

highest 10%: 41.5% (2015 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

0.34% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.32% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.3% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $3.828 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $6.006 billion (2020 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 78

Public debt

19.62% of GDP (2020 est.)
16.19% of GDP (2019 est.)
15.23% of GDP (2018 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 190

Taxes and other revenues

22.25% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 67

Current account balance

$606.394 million (2022 est.)
-$250.118 million (2021 est.)
-$1.531 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 52

Exports

$8.9 billion (2022 est.)
$7.928 billion (2021 est.)
$4.703 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 117

Exports - partners

UAE 27%, Belgium 18%, India 15%, South Africa 10%, Hong Kong 6% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

diamonds, copper ore, insulated wire, coal, cattle (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$8.7 billion (2022 est.)
$9.252 billion (2021 est.)
$7.554 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 128

Imports - partners

South Africa 61%, Namibia 9%, Belgium 5%, India 4%, Canada 4% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

diamonds, refined petroleum, trucks, raw sugar, plastic products (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.279 billion (2022 est.)
$4.802 billion (2021 est.)
$4.941 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 95

Debt - external

$2.187 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.421 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 151

Exchange rates

pulas (BWP) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
12.369 (2022 est.)
11.087 (2021 est.)
11.456 (2020 est.)
10.756 (2019 est.)
10.2 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 73.7% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 93% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 24.9% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 766,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 3,515,900,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 1.101 billion kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 631 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 141; transmission/distribution losses 90; imports 71; exports 195; consumption 135

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 99.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 1.876 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 1.416 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 497,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 1.66 billion metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 21,700 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 178

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 213

Refined petroleum products - imports

21,090 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 116

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

5.965 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 2.922 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 3.042 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 131

Energy consumption per capita

34.095 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 117

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 92,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 138

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 4.348 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 165 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 132

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: effective regulatory reform has made Botswana’s telecom market one of the most liberalized in the region; there is a service-neutral licensing regime adapted to the convergence of technologies and services, and several operators now compete in all telecom sectors; Botswana has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa; in a bid to generate new revenue streams and secure market share, the three mobile network operators have entered the underdeveloped broadband sector by adopting of 3G, LTE, and WiMAX technologies; in the fixed-line broadband market they compete with a large number of ISPs, some of which have rolled out their own wireless access infrastructure; the landlocked country depends on satellites for international bandwidth, and on other countries for transit capacity to the landing points of international submarine cables; the landing of additional cables in the region in recent years has improved the competitive situation in this sector, while prices for connectivity have fallen dramatically (2022)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity has declined in recent years and now stands at roughly 5 telephones per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity is roughly 161 telephones per 100 persons (2021)

international: 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)

Broadcast media

2 TV stations - 1 state-owned and 1 privately owned; privately owned satellite TV subscription service is available; 2 state-owned national radio stations; 4 privately owned radio stations broadcast locally (2019)

Internet users

total: 1.924 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 74% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 134

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 259,525 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 111

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 253,417 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 110,000 (2018) mt-km

Airports

122 (2024)

comparison ranking: 43

Railways

total: 888 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 888 km (2014) 1.067-m gauge

comparison ranking: total 94

Roadways

total: 31,747 km

paved: 9,810 km

unpaved: 21,937 km (2017)

comparison ranking: total 98

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Botswana Defense Force (BDF): Ground Forces Command, Air Arm Command, Defense Logistics Command (2024)

note: both the BDF and the Botswana Police Service report to the Ministry of Defense and Security; the Botswana Police Service has primary responsibility for internal security; the BDF reports to the Office of the President through the minister of defense and security and has some domestic security responsibilities

Military expenditures

2.8% of GDP (2022 est.)
3% of GDP (2021 est.)
3% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
2.8% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 36

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 9,000 active BDF personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the BDF has a mix of mostly older weapons and equipment, largely of Western/European-origin; in recent years, it has received limited amounts of material from several European countries and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

Military - note

the BDF’s key functions include defending the country's territorial integrity on land and in the air, ensuring national security and stability, and aiding civil authorities in support of domestic missions such as disaster relief and anti-poaching; it participates in regional and international security operations; the Ground Force has five small brigades of infantry, light armor, and artillery, plus commandos and a marine unit with boats and river craft for patrolling Botswana's internal waterways and supporting anti-poaching operations; the Air Arm has a small squadron of ageing fighters, as well as some multipurpose helicopters

Bechuanaland/Botswana did not have a permanent military during colonial times, with the British colonial administrators relying instead on small, lightly armed constabularies such as the Bechuanaland Mounted Police, the Bechuanaland Border Police, and by the early 1960s, the Police Mobile Unit (PMU); after independence in 1966, Botswana militarized the PMU and gave it responsibility for the country’s defense rather than create a conventional military force; however, turmoil in neighboring countries and numerous cross-border incursions by Rhodesian and South African security forces in the 1960s and 1970s demonstrated that the PMU was inadequate for defending the country and led to the establishment of the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) in 1977 (2023)

Transnational Issues

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Botswana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; officials investigated some additional trafficking crimes and referred victims to services, increased cooperation with foreign governments to investigate and prosecute cross-border trafficking, and sought trafficking survivors’ input in drafting a new National Action Plan; however, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts, compared with the previous reporting period, to expand its anti-trafficking capacity; officials did not initiate any new prosecutions or convict any traffickers, nor did they amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; fewer trafficking victims were identified, and the lack of formal procedures to identify and refer victims to care hindered protection efforts; the government continued to rely on civil society to provide most victim services and did not report providing adequate in-kind or financial support for these efforts; efforts to regulate labor recruitment agencies remained minimal, increasing migrant workers’ vulnerability to trafficking; therefore, Botswana was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Botswana, and exploit victims from Botswana abroad; unemployed women, individuals from rural areas, agricultural workers, and children are trafficked for sex and labor; traffickers use social media and other online platforms to recruit, using false employment offers, and exploit Batswana girls and women in sex trafficking; traffickers abuse the cultural practice where some parents in low-income rural communities send their children to live and work for wealthier relatives or acquaintances in cities, agriculture, or farming, leading to exploitation of children in sex and labor trafficking; extended family members may subject young Batswana domestic workers to conditions indicative of forced labor, including confinement and verbal, physical, or sexual abuse; owners of private cattle farms and ranches exploit adults and children from the indigenous San community of Bushmen, but avoid inspection from local officials with whom they have relationships; Batswana adults and children are exploited in labor trafficking, including domestic servitude and agricultural work, in other African countries, including Cameroon, South Africa, and Zimbabwe; traffickers intercept and exploit, in Botswana and South Africa, Central African economic migrants transiting Botswana to South Africa, as well as child sex victims from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and East African countries; Cuban nationals working in Botswana may have been forced to work by the Cuban Government  (2023)