Moving to Botswana
With a population of just over 2 million people, Botswana it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Expats moving to Botswana will find a politically stable and peaceful country that has been largely spared the political turmoil and conflict that some of its African neighbours have experienced over the past few decades.
Botswana’s economy is stable and has seen steady growth in recent years. The country has a competitive banking system, and since independence from Britain, has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world, emerging as a middle-income country.
Botswana is rich in natural resources and its mining and construction industries have been popular attractions for foreigners seeking employment opportunities. The country also has a thriving tourism industry, which has attracted many foreigners from within the Southern African region and further afield. Several international mining corporations have established regional headquarters in Botswana, and diamonds, gold, uranium, copper and oil present employment opportunities for skilled expats in these sectors.
The main ethnic groups in Botswana include the Batswana, Bakalanga and Bushmen. The rest of the population is made up of minority groups of Bayei, Bambukushu, Basubia, Baherero and Bakgalagadi, as well as communities of people of European and Indian origin. Botswana has also seen a large influx of Zimbabweans since 2000, due to the deteriorating economic conditions in that country.
Botswana’s official language is English, while Setswana is also widely spoken. Although expats will manage well without learning Setswana, it is recommended that they at least try to learn a few basic phrases of this language, especially if working in the mining and tourism industries in the more remote and rural parts of the country.
The education system in Botswana has improved in recent years, and expats are able to enrol their children in local schools. However, many of these schools outside of the main cities still lack resources and most expats choose to send their children to an international school in Botswana, of which there are a few to choose from. Most of these are centred in the capital, Gaborone.
Botswana has also seen improvements in its healthcare system in recent years and both public and private medical facilities are available in the main cities and towns. However, serious medical emergencies may require evacuation to South Africa, and expats should ensure that they have adequate medical insurance coverage for such a possibility.
The country’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife see expats enjoying weekend breaks for a safari in the Chobe or Okovango Delta regions. For the adventurous, there are hiking and off-road trails and overland trips to be enjoyed, and the attractions in neighbouring Namibia and South Africa are also just a short flight away.
Population: 2.12 million
Capital city: Gaborone
Neighbouring countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia
Geography: Botswana, which is the world's 48th largest country, is predominantly flat and dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers about 70% of its land surface. The Okavango Delta in the northwest of the country is one of the world's largest inland deltas. The salt pans of Makgadikgadi also lie in the north.
Political system: Democratic republic
Major religion: Christianity
Main languages: English and Setswana
Money: The Pula (BWP) is divided into 100 thebe.
Tipping: Tipping is not compulsory, but will be greatly appreciated.
Time: GMT +2
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Plugs with three round pins are used.
Internet domain: .bw
International dialing code: +267
Emergency contacts: 997 (police), 911 (ambulance)
Transport and driving: Drives on the left.