Map: Map of Botswana
Republic of Botswana flagFlag description: light blue with a horizontal white-edged black stripe in the centre.

Location: Southern Africa, north of South Africa

Geographic coordinates: 22 00 S, 24 00 E

Climate: semi-arid; warm winters and hot summers

Independence: 30 September 1966 from UK

Nationality: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

Capital City: Gaborone

Population: 1,576,470

Head of State: President Ian Khama

Area: 600,370 sq km

Type of Government: parliamentary republic

Currency: 1 pula (P) = 100 thebe

Major peoples: The largest tribe is the Bamangwato (about 34% of the total population); the others are the Bangwaketse, the Bakwena, the Batawana, the Bakgatla, the Bamalete, the Baralong, the Batlokwa and the San.

Religion: indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 50%

Official Language: English

Principal Languages: English (official), Setswana and other

Major Exports: diamonds 72%, vehicles, copper, nickel, meat (1998)

History: The Tswana are believed to have entered Botswana and subjugated the local San about the end of the 18th century.

The 19th century was marked by devastating invasions by Zulus and Boers and by contact with British Christian missionaries.

The Tswana, led by Khama III, chief of the Bamangwato tribe, asked for help against the Boers from the British, and in 1885 the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland was established. The British favoured eventual incorporation of the land into South Africa with the consent of the chiefs, but this policy was ended when apartheid was formally introduced into South Africa.

Internal self-government was granted in 1965 and full independence on Sept. 30, 1966.

Sir Seretse Khama was elected president and served until his death in 1980. His successor, former vice-president Quett Masire, won re-election in 1984 and 1989. Although Botswana's foreign policy is necessarily constrained by its economic dependence on South Africa, it has long advocated majority rule for all of southern Africa. It has refused to allow its territory to be used as a base to launch guerrilla operations against its neighbours but has granted asylum to political refugees from neighbouring countries. The refugee presence prompted raids into Botswana by South Africa in the mid-1980s.

Botswana has developed in the past 20 years into an peaceful and stable country due to good governance. The Botswana Pula is the strongest currency in Africa, and has developed an strong economy based on mining of diamonds, agriculture and tourism.

Tourism is one of the main economic pillars of Botswana, with the famed Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe Game Reserves forming the centre point of their tourism industry. As tourist destination, it is not of the cheapest, as Botswana has always followed the route of quality over quantity.