Short Facts about Botswana
Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. Its border with Zambia to the north near Kazungula is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred metres long. A mid-sized country of just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone.
Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s—Botswana has since transformed itself into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, now boasting a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $18,825 per year as of 2015, which is one of the highest in Africa. Its high gross national income (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a modest standard of living and the highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa. In spite of this, Botswana has the fourth highest discrepancy in the world between income of the rich and the poor.
Botswana has a semi-arid climate characterized by low rainfall that is unreliable, unevenly distributed and highly variable both spatially and temporally with common dry spells during the cropping season, and drought is a recurrent phenomenon.
It is estimated that only about 5 per cent of the total land area in Botswana is suitable for arable agriculture and only about 1 per cent is under cultivation, with the best soils concentrated in the eastern parts of the country. The agricultural sector is dualistic, composed of traditional and commercial farmers, the main difference between them being land tenure, use of technology and marketing of agricultural outputs.
Botswana is able to guarantee national food security through its ability to import food. However, this is not the case at the household level, especially in rural areas where food security is threatened by low yields due to drought, low and unreliable rainfall, poor soils and poor crop husbandry.
Botswana is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. Despite its political stability and relative socioeconomic prosperity, the country has been among the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The death rate due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes has fallen sharply (57%) from 2005 to 2013, and the number of new infections in children has also fallen. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available to all those infected, and to educate the people in general about how to stop the spread of HIV AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013. Botswana has the third highest prevalence rate for HIV AIDS, reported in 2014, also due to the fact that people survive on ARV treatment.