Botswana Travel Information

Photo Beyond the narrow eastern corridor where the majority of population is concentrated, Botswana is a largely roadless wilderness of savannas, deserts, wetlands and salt pans. Skinflints and softies beware: This remains a destination for the intrepid, well-heeled traveler.
Botswana is an African success story. It achieved independence from Britain in 1966 and immediately thereafter, in a mad stroke of luck, discovered three of the world's richest diamond mines. Today it enjoys a relatively enlightened government, and good health, educational and economic standards.

The Batswana, a term also used to denote all citizens of Botswana, refers to the country's major ethnic group (the "Tswana" in South Africa), which came into the area from South Africa during the Zulu wars of the early 1880s. Prior to European contact, the Batswana lived as herders and farmers under tribal rule.

Since independence, Botswana has had the fastest growth in per capita income in the world. Economic growth averaged over 9% per year from 1966-99. The government has maintained budget surpluses for 12 of the last 13 years, has no domestic debt, an insignificant foreign debt, and has stockpiled foreign exchange reserves (over $6.3 billion in 2000) amounting to over 3 years of current imports.

The United States considers Botswana an advocate of and a model for stability in Africa and has been a major partner in Botswana's development since its independence. The U.S. Peace Corps closed out its presence in Botswana on December 1997, bringing to an end 30 years of well-regarded assistance in education, business, health, agriculture, and the environment. Similarly, the USAID phased out a longstanding partnership with Botswana in 1996, after successful programs emphasizing education, training, entrepreneurship, environmental management, and reproductive health.

Important: Travel to Botswana may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Botswana visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Botswana
Capital city: Gaborone
Area: 581,730 sq km
Population: 2,098,018
Ethnic groups: Tswana
Languages: Setswana 78.2%, Kalanga 7.9%, Sekgalagadi 2.8%, English
Religions: Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4%, unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6%
Government: parliamentary republic
Chief of State: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA
Head of Government: President Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA
GDP: 29.85 billion
GDP per captia: 16,100
Annual growth rate: 5.1%
Inflation: 8.5%
Agriculture: livestock, sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sunflowers, groundnuts
Major industries: diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver
Natural resources: diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver
Location: Southern Africa, north of South Africa