Botswana Demographics

What is the population of Botswana?

Population 2,317,233
Population - note Note: Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of the population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Population Growth Rate 1.35%
Urban Population 61.700000
Population in Major Urban Areas GABORONE (capital) 202,000
Nationality Noun Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)
Ethnic Groups Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other (including Kgalagadi and white) 7%
Language Note English is the official language while Setswana is considered the national language. Tjikalanga is commonly spoken in northeastern Botswana.

Botswana Learning

What is school like in Botswana?


The primary school program takes seven years and most children will begin classes at the age of six. Classes are conducted in two main languages: Setswana and English. Setswana becomes the language of instruction during the first four years of school and this greatly inconveniences those children whose mother tongue is not Setswana. The classes are usually crowded with every class having not less than 50 students.  When children begin they are about six to seven years of age. Some schools have a feeding program, and in many schools, each child is required to come with a piece of wood daily as their contribution to the preparation of the lunchtime meal.

The lessons take between 35 and 40 minutes each and there are two short breaks before the lunch break. It’s during break time when children run to the washrooms, which are more often than not a few pit latrines. The rest of the time is spent playing a few local games. Due to the lack of facilities such as balls and other playthings, children will always improvise and have something to play with. Like in most other parts of Africa, boys will play soccer with their own balls made of plastic sheets and twine. The school walls are made of compressed earth and the floors are basically earthen. In a few cases, the walls are made of bricks. The children will either sit on the floor or share the few available desks. The rural areas are worst hit when it comes to the shortage of classes and other facilities including teachers.

Children are keen to learn the English language and in the first years of learning, they learn English predominantly in an oral way with the help of pictures, chants, rhymes songs,  and actions. They also learn writing patterns using coloring sheets as they improve they will learn handwriting using stubs of pencils. Since English is a global language, a lot of emphasis is put on learning English because the children are told they will never secure employment in the future if they cannot speak English. There is an intensive teaching program in primary school known as "breakthrough" which is in its pilot stages and it’s creating a lot of good results since it encourages a lot of student participation, especially in the first years of schooling. The lower classes end at lunch hour and the children have to go home till the following day.

The classrooms are made in such a way that there is a teacher’s corner which is likely to have a mat, a chalkboard, and other teaching facilities that may be available in the class. Class typically begins with a warm-up session that may include songs, questions, and answers just to emphasize what was learned earlier. Homework given in the morning may be done during the lunch break. The use of the library, where there is one, is usually timetabled with every class taking about 30 minutes per session. Computers are unheard of and many children will not experience computers until after high school.  The afternoon classes begin at 2:00 p.m. and may go on till 4:00 p.m. when the children and their teachers call it a day. The children will then begin the long trek home, which can take up to 2 hours.

To School

Pre-school is a luxury, only these parents who are rich enough can afford to take their children to private pre-schools. Most children will not have the privilege of attending a preschool. For most children, the day begins between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. when they wake up and prepare to go to school. Going to school involves some walking for the majority of the children and it is only those who go to private schools who may have the privilege of having some organized school transport. What time the child will wake up will depend on the distance they live from school as well as the number of chores they have to perform before they depart. Some of the chores may involve milking the family cow, tending the family garden as well as preparing the younger siblings for school, and before dawn, they will have left.

The walk to school is usually a long one and can go as far as 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) in some villages, but the average would be about 5 kilometers (about 3 miles). As the children walk through the village paths they will be in groups as they collect each other on the way, those who live farthest always begin their walk earliest. School begins at 7:15 a.m. but before then there will be the compulsory general cleaning up of the school compound followed by assembly before the start of the day. For the lucky few, there is hopefully going to be just a little lunch but for the majority, lunch is a luxury. Concentration in school becomes a problem so most children will drink water during the day. The only meal that is guaranteed would be the evening meal that is eaten somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

Botswana Population Comparison

Botswana Health Information

What are the health conditions in Botswana?

Life Expectancy at Birth 54.470000
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 12.91
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 9.900000
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 5.1%
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population .34
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 1.8
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk High
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 99.300000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 160
Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 12-49 52.8%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 2.41
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 11.2%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 77.900000
Underweight - percent of children under five years 11.2%

Botswana Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Botswana?

Life Expectancy at Birth 54.470000
Median Age 22.700000
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 52.8%
Infant Mortality Rate 9.900000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 160
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 2.41

Botswana median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 22
Median Age 22.700000
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population 4.68
Population Growth Rate 1.35%
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.030000
Age Structure 32.400000
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 52.8%
Infant Mortality Rate 9.900000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 160
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 2.41

Botswana Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Botswana?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Private medical facilities in Gaborone are adequate for simple medical problems, but facilities outside of Gaborone are severely limited. Adequately equipped emergency rooms and trained physicians are available in the capital but services are rudimentary elsewhere. Professional private emergency rescue services operate air and ground ambulances throughout the country, but care is rendered only after a patient’s ability to pay is established. Response times are often slow in less populated areas. Outside of Gaborone, most airports are either not equipped or may have malfunctioning night lighting capability, so airborne medical evacuations can often only be conducted during daylight hours. Malaria is prevalent only in the north of the country, particularly around the Chobe and Okavango National Parks. Malaria prophylaxis is not required in Gaborone but is suggested for travel to the north. For advanced care, U.S. citizens often choose to travel to South Africa. Many South African manufactured prescription drugs are available in Gaborone.

In many areas of Botswana (including Gaborone), tap water can be unsafe and should be avoided or boiled for at least one minute before drinking. Bottled water and beverages are believed to be safe. However, visitors should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Ice may also come from tap water and should be avoided.

Approximately one-quarter of the population of Botswana is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Travelers are advised to exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in sexual activity or if exposed to blood products through injuries or rendering assistance to accident victims. Tuberculosis is also endemic to Botswana. Several hundred cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) have been identified in Botswana since January 2008 when Botswana first obtained the ability to test for this form of TB. Individuals who plan to reside or stay in Botswana for extended periods are advised to obtain a tuberculosis skin test (PPD test) prior to arrival and again upon departure from Botswana. There are occasional diarrhea outbreaks in areas affected by heavy rains. Travelers in those regions are encouraged to take necessary precautions when handling food and drinking water.

Health Expenditures - percent of GDP


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Botswana Education

What is school like in Botswana?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 9.5%
Literacy - female 82.4%
Literacy - male 76.9%
Literacy - total population 81.2%
Literacy Definition Age 15 and over can read and write
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 12.000000

Botswana Literacy

Can people in Botswana read?

Literacy - female 82.4%
Literacy - male 76.9%
Literacy - total population 81.2%
Literacy Definition Age 15 and over can read and write

Botswana Crime

Is Botswana a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Crime is a serious concern in Botswana. Visitors must be vigilant and take common-sense security precautions. Petty street crimes and crimes of opportunity, primarily the theft of money and personal property, are not uncommon. Home invasions, “smash and grabs” from vehicles, and cell phone thefts, often at knifepoint, are routinely reported to the police. Hotels and lodges are not immune from criminal activity, and visitors should remain alert and take reasonable precautions in safeguarding personal property (particularly money and electronic equipment). Visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution near the Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in Gaborone due to the high number of reported criminal incidents.

Travelers arriving in Botswana via South Africa should be aware that there is a serious continuing baggage pilferage problem at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports. Travelers are encouraged to use an airport plastic wrapping service and to avoid placing electronics, jewelry, cameras, designer athletic gear, or other valuables in checked luggage. Also, make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Botswana Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Botswana, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Botswana’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Botswana are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Motorists should note that it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving; failure to comply could result in fines and/or confiscation of the cell phone. If you break local laws in Botswana, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Botswana, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. embassy of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. embassy.

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