Botswana Country Report
Botswana, located in southeastern Africa, is a small landlocked country with large diamond reserves (second-largest producer in the world). The country is sparsely populated (2 million inhabitants) and, in stark contrast to its neighbors, benefits from a relatively stable political system.
President Ian Khama, initially elected in 2009, was reelected in late 2014 for a second five-year term. This came after legislative elections held in October 24, 2014, during which his party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), won the majority of seats in Parliament (the president is elected by the Parliament). The elections took place without incident in this country where democracy and the freedom of the press are well-established institutions.
While the situation is generally stable, high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as flagrant inequalities, are often the root of tensions and anger toward the authorities. During his reelection in late 2014, President Khama acknowledged his own failure in addressing these issues, issues that have the potential to spark further protests and strikes at any moment.
In July 2015, President Khama declared a general drought in the country, a first since 1984. Such a climatic situation, responsible for a decline of 25 percent in the national agricultural production, could have serious economic consequences in the coming months and lead to socioeconomic tensions.
Botswana has historically boasted low crimes rates; however, rates have risen consistently over the past few years, particularly in the cities of Gaborone (the capital) and Francistown. It is advisable to refrain from wearing or carrying any valuable objects or documents, and to avoid walking around urban areas after nightfall. If attacked, never offer resistance.
Botswana continues to suffer from poor health conditions: malaria is endemic in the north, 20 percent of the population is HIV-positive, a new strain of tuberculosis – highly resistant to treatment – has recently been discovered, and epidemics of diarrheal diseases take a heavy toll on the country.
To minimize your chances of contracting one of the aforementioned diseases, be sure to use a mosquito net while sleeping, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and use insect repellent. Furthermore, drink only bottled water (tap water is often contaminated) and refuse drinks with ice cubes, as well as undercooked foods. Do not swim or bathe in fresh water.
Finally, travelers should note there are few healthcare facilities outside cities (e.g. Gaborone) and those that do exist are poorly equipped.
Authorities have announced that as of October 1, 2016, anyone traveling to Botswana with a minor child must be able to provide a complete and certified copy of the child's birth certificate in addition to his/her valid passport. If the child is traveling with only one of his/her parents, the child must present a travel authorization signed by the absent parent, except in the case where the father is not mentioned in the birth certificate.
The climate in Botswana is relatively temperate. The summer - from October until April - is very hot and rainy. From May until September the weather is drier and cooler, with an average temperature of 25°C. Early mornings and late evenings can be cold and icy during winter months.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: 267 Police: 999
Voltage: 231 V ~ 50 Hz