Botswana Information

General Information for Botswana

Country: Botswana
Location: Southern Africa
Independence: September 30, 1966
Nationality: Botswanan
Capital City: Gaborone
Population: 1,540,000
Important Cities: Ghanzi, Nata, Serowe
Head of State: Quett K. J. Masire
Area: 600,372
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 2.14 B pulas=1 USD
Major peoples: Batswana,San,Kalanga,Herero,Khoe
Religion: African religion 50%, Christian 50%
Climate: Arid to semiarid
Literacy: 23%
Official Language: (Se)Tswana
Principal Languages: Khoesan, Kalanga, Herero, English
Major Exports: Diamonds, Copper, Nickel, Livestock
Pre-Colonial History Prior to European contact, the population of what is now Botswana lived as herders and farmers or as hunters and gatherers under tribal rule. European, especially Scotttish, missionaries arrived in the early 1800s, and David Livingstone lived in the country. In the 19th century, hostilities broke out between the Batswana and Boer settlers in the Transvaal. Several decades after appeals by the Batswana for assistance, the British Government in 1885 put "Bechuanaland" under its protection. The northern territory remained under indirect British administration and today is Botswana, but the southern territory became part of the Cape Colony and is now part of the North-West Province of South Africa; the majority of Setswana-speaking people live across the border in South Africa. Despite South African pressure, inhabitants of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland in 1909 asked for and received British assurances that they would not be included in the proposed Union of South Africa for the time being--the threat remained until 1954. An expansion of British central authority resulted in the 1920 establishment of two advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans. Proclamations between 1934 and 1943 regularized tribal rule and powers. A joint European-African advisory council was formed in 1951. The 1961 constitution established a legislative council.
Post-Colonial History In June 1964, Britain accepted proposals for self-government. The seat of government was moved to Gaborone in February 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence in September 1966. Seretse Khama, an independence leader, was elected as the first president, reelected thrice, and died in office in 1980. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, Quett Masire, who was elected in his own right in 1984 and reelected in 1989 and 1994. From independence, it was the Botswana Government's stated policy not to permit any guerrilla groups to operate from Botswana territory. With the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa in the first half of 1990s, Botswana's relations with that country improved and diplomatic relations were established in June 1994. In April 1998 President Masire resigned and was succeeded by Vice-President Festus Mogae, elected in his own right in 1999.

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