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Botswana

iswana khama africa south

Botswana (formerly Bechuanaland), landlocked republic in southern Africa, enclosed by Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the Republic of South Africa. Its capital is Gabarone.

Land and climate

Botswana is divided into 3 main regions: the Okavango Swamp to the north, the Kalahari Desert in the south and southwest, and the mountainous areas to the east. Most of Botswana is an arid plateau some 3,000 ft (914 m) above sea level, and lack of water makes farming difficult.

People

The majority of the people are Iswana. Both English and Iswana are the official languages. Most of the people adhere to traditional African religions. About three-quarters of the population is literate.

Economy

Botswana is rich in mineral resources, principally diamonds, but also manganese, asbestos, copper, nickel, and coal. Because Botswana is landlocked, it is dependent upon its neighbors, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Diamonds are the principal export. Botswana also exports its labor: considerable numbers of men move into South Africa for at least part of each year to work in the larger mines.

History

The San Bushmen, original inhabitants of Bechuanaland, were replaced by the Iswana in the 19th century. Under the leadership of King Khama in the early 1800s, the Iswana maintained their independence against invasions by Zulu and Ndebele warriors. By the mid-19th century Boers of the Transvaal sought to annex portions of Bechuanaland for its gold deposits. Bechuana sought British protection and by 1885 had become a British protectorate. On Sept. 30, 1966, the country was given complete independence as Botswana. Sir Seretse M. Khama, grandson of King Khama, was president from 1965 until his death in 1980. Khama was succeeded by Sir Ketumile Joni Masire, who abdicated in 1998.

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