BotswanaBotswana is a country in the center of southern Africa.

Botswana occupies part of a flat to rolling tableland, and averages 3,300 feet (1,000 m) above sea level. The Kalahari Desert occupies the central and southwestern areas. In the north are the Okavango Swamps and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan; both lie in broad depressions and have no outward drainage. Except for the Limpopo River on the southeastern border, there are no large streams. The climate is warm to hot, with little rainfall. Droughts occur periodically.

Livestock raising, especially of cattle, is an important occupation. Livestock products account for more than three-fourths of Botswana's farm income. Because of scanty rainfall, crop growing is of little importance except for subsistence. Botswana is a major producer of diamonds, and minerals are the nation's chief export. Other minerals produced include copper, nickel, coal, and cobalt. Manufacturing is poorly developed and consists mostly of the processing of farm products and minerals. Botswana is linked by railway with Zimbabwe and South Africa. Roads and air transport are poor. Botswana's basic currency unit is the pula.

Botswana is one of the world's most sparsely populated nations, with about 5.7 persons per square mile (2.2 per km2). Gaborone (formerly Gaberones) is the nation's the capital. By 2000, AIDS had devasted the population and life expectancy in Botswana was among the lowest in Africa.

English, the official language, and Setswana are most widely used. The school system is not well developed; the literacy rate is about 70 per cent. The University of Botswana is in Gaborone.

Under the constitution of 1966, the president shares power with the elected National Assembly and the House of Chiefs.

The British made the region that is now Botswana a protectorate in 1885, and named it Bechuanaland, after the largest ethnic group. In 1966, it became independent as Botswana within the Commonwealth of Nations. Discovery and exploitation of vast mineral resources spurred economic development in the 1970's and 1980's.

Facts in brief about Botswana
Capital: Gaborone.
Official language: English.
Area: 224,607 mi2 (581,730 km2). Greatest distances―north-south, 625 mi (1,006 km); east-west, 590 mi (950 km).
Elevation: Highest―Otse Mountain, 4,886 feet (1,489 meters) above sea level. Lowest―near junction of Shashe and Limpopo rivers, 1,684 feet (513 meters).
Population: Current estimate―1,758,000; population density, 8 per mi2 (3 per km2); distribution, 54 percent rural, 46 percent urban. 2001 census―1,680,863.
Chief products: Agriculture―beef, corn, cottonseed, hides and skins, milk, millet, onions, oranges, peanuts, sorghum, wheat. Mining―coal, cobalt, copper, diamonds, nickel.
National anthem: "Fatshe La Rona" ("Blessed Country").
Flag: On the Botswana flag, three horizontal bands of blue, black, and blue (top to bottom) are divided by two white bands.
Money: Basic unit―pula. One hundred thebe equal one pula.