The World Factbook (1990)/Botswana

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World Factbook (1990) Botswana.jpg

 See regional map VII


Total area: 600,370 km²; land area: 585,370 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: 4,013 km total; Namibia 1,360 km, South Africa 1,840 km, Zimbabwe 813 km

Coastline: none—landlocked

Maritime claims: none—landlocked

Disputes: short section of the boundary with Namibia is indefinite; quadripoint with Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe is in disagreement

Climate: semiarid; warm winters and hot summers

Terrain: predominately flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest

Natural resources: diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver, natural gas

Land use: 2% arable land; 0% permanent crops; 75% meadows and pastures; 2% forest and woodland; 21% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: rains in early 1988 broke six years of drought that had severely affected the important cattle industry; overgrazing; desertification

Note: landlocked; very long boundary with South Africa


Population: 1,224,527 (July 1990), growth rate 2.8% (1990)

Birth rate: 37 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 43 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 58 years male, 64 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun and adjective—Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

Ethnic divisions: 95% Batswana; about 4% Kalanga, Basarwa, and Kgalagadi; about 1% white

Religion: 50% indigenous beliefs, 50% Christian

Language: English (official), Setswana

Literacy: 60%

Labor force: 400,000; 163,000 formal sector employees, most others are engaged in cattle raising and subsistence agriculture (1988 est.); 19,000 are employed in various mines in South Africa (1988)

Organized labor: 19 trade unions


Long-form name: Republic of Botswana

Type: parliamentary republic

Capital: Gaborone

Administrative divisions: 10 districts; Central, Chobe, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Ngamiland, North-East, South-East, Southern; note in addition, there may now be 4 town councils named Francistown, Gaborone, Lobaste, Selebi-Pikwe

Independence: 30 September 1966 (from UK; formerly Bechuanaland)

Constitution: March 1965, effective 30 September 1966

Legal system: based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law; judicial review limited to matters of interpretation; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Botswana Day, 30 September (1966)

Executive branch: president, vice president, Cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of an upper house or House of Chiefs and a lower house or National Assembly

Judicial branch: High Court, Court of Appeal

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government President Quett K. J. MASIRE (since 13 July 1980); Vice President Peter S. MMUSI (since 3 January 1983)

Political parties and leaders: Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Quett Masire; Botswana National Front (BNF), Kenneth Koma; Botswana People's Party (BPP), Knight Maripe; Botswana Independence Party (BIP), Motsamai Mpho; Botswana Progressive Union (BPU), Daniel Kwele

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: President—last held 7 October 1989 (next to be held October 1994); results—President Quett K. J. Masire was reelected by the National Assembly;

National Assembly—last held 7 October 1989 (next to be held October 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(34 total, 30 elected) BDP 31, BNF 3

Communists: no known Communist organization; Koma of BNF has long history of Communist contacts

Member of: ACP, AfDB, CCC, Commonwealth, FAO, G-77, GATT (de facto), IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, INTERPOL, ITU, NAM, OAU, Southern African Customs Union, SADCC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Botsweletse Kingsley SEBELE; Chancery at Suite 404, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 244-4990 or 4991; US—Ambassador (vacant); Deputy Chief of Mission Johnnie CARSON; Embassy at Botswana Road, Gaborone (mailing address is P. O. Box 90, Gaborone); telephone [267] 353982 through 353984

Flag: light blue with a horizontal white- edged black stripe in the center


Overview: The economy has historically been based on cattle raising and crops. Agriculture today provides a livelihood for over 80% of the population, but produces only about 50% of food needs and contributes a small 5% to GDP. The driving force behind the rapid economic growth of the 1970s and 1980s has been the mining industry. This sector, mostly on the strength of diamonds, has gone from generating 25% of GDP in 1980 to over 50% in 1988. No other sector has experienced such growth, especially not that of the agricultural sector, which is plagued by erratic rainfall and poor soils. The unemployment rate remains a problem at 25%. A scarce resource base limits diversification into labor-intensive industries.

GDP: $1.87 billion, per capita $1,600; real growth rate 8.4% (FY88)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 11.45% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 25% (1987)

Budget: revenues $1,235 million; expenditures $1,080 million, including capital expenditures of NA (FY90 est.)

Exports: $1.3 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—diamonds 88%, copper and nickel 5%, meat 4%, cattle, animal products; partners—Switzerland, US, UK, other EC-associated members of Southern African Customs Union

Imports: $1.1 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—foodstuffs, vehicles, textiles, petroleum products; partners—Switzerland, US, UK, other EC-associated members of Southern African Customs Union

External debt: $700 million (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 16.8% (FY86)

Electricity: 217,000 kW capacity; 630 million kWh produced, 510 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: livestock processing; mining of diamonds, copper, nickel, coal, salt, soda ash, potash; tourism

Agriculture: accounts for only 5% of GDP; subsistence farming predominates; cattle raising supports 50% of the population; must import large share of food needs

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $242 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.6 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $43 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $24 million

Currency: pula (plural—pula); 1 pula (P) = 100 thebe

Exchange rates: pula (P) per US$1—1.8734 (January 1990), 2.0125 (1989), 1.8159(1988), 1.6779(1987), 1.8678 (1986), 1.8882(1985)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Railroads: 712 km 1.067-meter gauge

Highways: 11,514 km total; 1,600 km paved; 1,700 km crushed stone or gravel, 5,177 km improved earth, 3,037 km unimproved earth

Civil air: 6 major transport aircraft

Airports: 99 total, 87 usable; 8 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 23 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: the small system is a combination of open-wire lines, radio relay links, and a few radiocommunication stations; 17,900 telephones; stations—2 AM, 3 FM, no TV; 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Air Wing, Botswana Police

Military manpower: males 15-49, 249,480; 131,304 fit for military service; 14,363 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 2.2% of GNP (1987)