Botswana is one of Africa’s most progressive and functional nation states. It has had over forty years of uninterrupted parliamentary democracy since its independence in 1966 and has maintained a strong and stable economy. It now provides, for many of its population, a standard of living comparable with Mexico and Turkey. It is mineral and wildlife rich - diamond mining and tourism - especially safari tourism - account for a large section of the country’s GDP. Botswana’s Okavango delta is one of Southern Africa’s most popular tourist destinations. However, these industries were hit by the recent global recession and growth in Botswana’s economy fell by 5% in 2007-2008.
Botswana has also been badly affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. It has the second highest global infection rate after Swaziland, with an estimated 23.9% of the population between ages 15 and 49, carrying the virus. However, the Botswanan government is taking steps to combat the disease including a programme of free anti-retroviral drug treatment and it has successfully reduced mother-to-child transmission rates from 40% to 4%.
Botswana has a small but significant population of 10,000 San Bushmen who try to live a traditional existence as hunter-gatherers. The Botswanan government has been widely condemned for trying to force the Bushmen off their land to make space for redevelopment. This is one example of the authoritarianism academic Ken Good argued as existing at the centre of the Botswanan state before he was unceremoniously expelled from the country.
Zimbabwean born Author Alexander McCall Smith chose to set his popular series The number one ladies detective agency in Botswana having taught at the national university for some years.