Country Profile: Botswana
Capital and largest cityGaborone
Other cities and townsFrancistown, Molepolole, Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Serowe, Kanye
Official languagesEnglish, Tswana (Setswana)
Area600, 370 sq km
Population1, 639, 833 (2006 est.)
Tswana, a Bantu language written in the latin alphabet, is the official language of Botswana. As a language it is most closely related to Sesotho and Northern Sotho. In the past, it has also been referred to as Beetjuans, Chuana, Coana, Cuana and Sechuana. English is another widely spoken language in Botswana.
Botswana's growth rate between 1966 and 1999 was 9% per year, the highest in the world. Ranked as the least corrupt country in Africa, and with a standard of living approximating to that of Turkey or Mexico, Botswana's has built its economic success on diamond mining as well as help from international partners, and prudent fiscal and foreign policies. However, despite this expansion, the devestation caused by AIDS has led to economic turmoil in recent years - with one in six Botswana having HIV.
Agriculture makes up a large proportion of the workforce, employed in producing livestock, maize, beans, groundnut oil. Industries in the country include diamond mining, copper, salt, nickel, textiles and potash. Botswan's major trading partners are the European Free Trade Association, the Southern African Customs Union, and Zimbabwe.
Tourism is a very important sector in Botswana, accounting for a significant percentage of the country's GDP. The country has many game and safari reserves which attract many visitors, including the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. The Okavango Delta is one of the world's unique ecosystems, and elsewhere in the country are the world's largest herds of roaming elephants. The country is also trying to involve village communities in tourism through natural resource management projects, for example in the Khwai Development Trust. Since Alexander McCall Smith's series of books on the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - set in Botswana - the country has seen an upsurge in tourism.
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