The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:07 PM
The Republic of Botswana, one of Africa’s truly prosperous
nations and arguably its most stable democracy, occupies 225,000
square miles (about the size of Texas) in the center of the southern
Africa plateau. Most of its area is an inhospitable semi-desert
known as the Kalahari. Even the most arable sections of eastern
Botswana are subject to periodic drought and unpredictable rains.
Botswana straddles the Tropic of Capricorn and has an average
elevation of 3,300 feet. Daily high temperatures during the hottest
month, January, average in the upper 90’s to over 100 °F. Winter
daytime temperatures generally reach 70°, but with little cloud
cover and no humidity to hold warmth in the air, they plummet to 30
or 40°F at night.
The region has been settled by a succession of hunter-gatherers,
agriculturist, and pastoralist groups for nearly two millennia,
although most of the currently dominant Tswana people arrived during
the last 300 years. The British desire to forestall German expansion
from South West Africa (now Namibia) and Afrikaner expansion from
the Transvaal, led to the proclamation of a British “Protectorate”
over the territory, then known as Bechuanaland, in 1885. Many Tswana
chiefs, who saw British domination as the decidedly lesser evil,
actively encouraged this move. Bechuanaland remained a British
protectorate until independence was granted in 1896.
Population Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:08 PM
Botswana’s population is estimated at 1.7 million, and is growing
at 2.3%per annum according to government figures in the 2000 Annual
Economic Report. This number is subject to significant revision,
however, given the dramatic change in population growth rates due to
HIV/AIDS. Approximately 35.4% of Batswana adults are HIV positive
and life expectancy has dropped from 67 to 39 years of age. A 2001
population projection indicated that although Botswana’s population
would continue to grow, it would be up to 29% smaller than it would
be without AIDS.
An overwhelming majority of Botswana’s people are descendants of
the migrants who settled Southern Africa after leaving West Central
Africa centuries ago. The other occupants of Botswana are the
aboriginal Basarwa and the descendants of Asian and European
Some 80% of the population are ethnic Batswana, defined as people
for whom Setswana is the native language. The Constitution
recognizes eight principal ethnic groups of the Batswana nation —
the Bangwato, Bangwaketse, Bakwena, Barolong, Balete, Bakgatla,
Batawana, and Batlokwa. These eight ethnic groups are represented in
the House of Chiefs.
The largest non-Tswana ethnic group is the Kalanga, who are
concentrated along the Zimbabwe border, north and south of
Francistown. The Kalanga are related to the Ndebele people of
Zimbabwe and South Africa, and to the Zulu nation. The Kalanga
(whose language is known as “iKalanga”) comprise some 11%of the
The Basarwa, also known as the Khoi, N’Que, or San, were the
original inhabitants of southern Africa. Today, most live in
government settlements or on commercial farms. A small population
remained in the National Parks system, where they practiced
traditional hunting and gathering, until the mid-1990s, when the
Government relocated them to settlements outside the Parks.
The northern part of Botswana, between the Okavango Delta and the
Namibian border, is the home of the Humbukush people, whose
traditional handicrafts/baskets are Botswana’s best-recognized
product (after diamonds). To the south of the Humbukush area, there
is a population of Hereros, living in both Botswana and Namibia,
whose women are known for their colorful and distinctive dress.
Smaller groups in Botswana include the Lozi, Baloi, Basubia, Bayei,
Botswana’s four major incorporated towns, all located along the
eastern edge of the country are Gaborone (224,000); Francistown
(106,500); Selebi-Phikwe (50,500); Lobatse (33,000); and Mochudi
(31,000). Other towns with more than 20,000 residents are Serowe in
the Central District, Kanye in the Southern District, Molepolole in
the Kwenange District, and Maun in the Ngamiland District.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:09 PM
Botswana is governed by a British style parliamentary democracy.
Under the 1966 Constitution, elections must be held at least every 5
years, although they can occur as a result of a no-confidence vote
or a Presidential dissolution of the National Assembly.
Botswana has a bicameral legislature consisting of a 44-seat
National Assembly (also referred to as Parliament) and an advisory
House of Chiefs. The country is divided into 40 parliamentary
constituencies, which are modified in accordance with census data.
The President is elected by the 40 directly elected Members of
Parliament as the first order of business after a parliamentary
election. After the selection of the President, the Parliament
elects four additional “Specially Elected” members. As a result of
the 2001 Census, the number of elected members of the National
Assembly was increased by 17 to a total of 57. The House of Chiefs
has limited powers under Botswana’s 1966 Constitution and full
membership is limited to the eight principal ethnic groups of the
Political power in Botswana remains highly centralized. Although
there are municipal and district governments, they have limited
authority and no ability to independently raise revenue. The central
government retains all hiring, fundraising, and police
responsibilities. Almost all social services, including junior and
secondary schools, are provided via the national Government in
Gaborone. Municipal governments are run by elected city councils,
which in turn elect a mayor; villages remain under the authority of
a District Commissioner appointed by the Ministry of Local
A separate and independent branch of government encompassing
modern legal systems as well as traditional practices handles the
administration of justice. Lobatse is the modern judicial capital of
the country. Traditional courts are administered by local
traditional leaders, and their decisions are equally binding.
Decisions of the traditional courts may be appealed to civil courts.
The Botswana Defense Force (BDF) and the National Police are
firmly under civilian control. The portfolio of the Minister of
Presidential Affairs includes jurisdiction over the military and the
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:09 PM
Although Gaborone is not a mecca for world-class cultural events,
it is possible to enjoy Botswana culture, and also to attend or even
to participate in Western culture fine arts performances.
The indigenous handicrafts industry is best known for its
basketry. Each September, a local handicraft marketing cooperative,
Botswanacraft, stages an exhibition and auction of the best of
Botswana’s baskets. Some of the best go for hundreds of dollars.
Around Gaborone are villages that specialize in weaving and in
pottery and visiting their workshops makes for a pleasant weekend
excursion. A number of handicraft stores in Gaborone carry the
unique ostrich shell jewelry and other crafts of the Basarwa, as
well as crafted hide products, carvings, and dolls produced by
various ethnic groups.
Gaborone offers a museum/art gallery complex that features an
excellent permanent exhibit on Botswana’s history, environment, and
culture. The National Art Gallery occasionally sponsors art exhibits
from Botswana and other countries.
The Botswana Society was formed in 1968 to study the cultural,
historical, developmental, and other aspects of Botswana. The
Society sponsors lectures and readings, and publishes Botswana Notes
and Records, a scholarly journal on Botswana.
The weeklong Maitisong Festival, held each year in March, is the
best opportunity to see performances by internationally renowned
artists and by local artistic societies as well. The Capital Players
put on a play during the festival and also produce several other
plays throughout the year. The Gaborone Singers, a multicultural
choral group, holds three performances a year, usually featuring
Western classical music with orchestral accompaniment.
The University of Botswana, founded in 1972, offers undergraduate
and graduate degrees in a number of fields. The university library,
with 200,000 volumes, is available to the public. Other libraries in
Gaborone include the National Library, the National Archives, and
the Embassy's Information Resource Center.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:10 PM
Botswana’s economic success has been striking, thanks mainly to
diamonds and over three decades of sound economic management. The
country at independence in 1966 was one of the poorest in the world,
with a per capita income of roughly $80 in 1966. Today, Botswana is
a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of about $3,486 in
2000. The government’s immediate and consistent embrace of free
markets, its prudent fiscal management, and, of course, diamonds,
have helped Botswana’s economy maintain one of the highest growth
rates in the world over the last three decades — averaging 9.2
percent annually from 1966–97, ranking it No. 1 for that period over
Korea (7.3 percent) and China (6.7 percent). The country’s more
recent growth figures have remained impressive.
The Government of Botswana continues to diversify its economy to
lessen the dependence on diamonds. Whereas the diamond industry
accounted for one-half of GDP in the early 1990s, by 2000 this
figure had been reduced to one-third. Various government agencies,
including the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), the
government’s semiautonomous investment agency, the National
Development Bank (NDB), the government’s semi-autonomous lending
arm, and the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA),
the government’s autonomous trade and foreign investment promotion
arm, are working to transform diamond wealth into economically
productive, job generating ventures.
Recognizing that the private sector must be the key to sustaining
the country’s robust growth, Botswana has created an attractive
investment environment. The World Economic Forum rates Botswana as
the third most economically competitive nation in Africa. Botswana
also enjoys the best credit rating in Africa, and ranks higher than
many countries in central Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The
country’s currency, the Pula, is stable due in large part to the
nation’s large foreign exchange reserves. Botswana has eliminated
all controls on foreign exchange, which has made the repatriation of
profits for foreign direct investors a routine process. The
corporate and manufacturing tax rates were lowered to 15% in 1997,
and Botswana continues to aggressively market itself to foreign
Despite Botswana’s overall economic success, it nonetheless faces
some key structural economic challenges. More than half the nation’s
people — largely rural dwellers are outside the formal economy.
Subsistence agriculture, particularly livestock, forms the basis of
family income in the countryside, augmented by Government subsidies
during and after periods of drought. Unemployment is estimated at
about 20%, with an additional 44% of the working-age population
classified as “not economically active” (such as subsistence
farmers). Youth unemployment, higher than that of the general
unemployment rate, poses additional challenges.
Botswana’s most significant social and economic challenge is its
spiraling HIV infection rate and the consequent high mortality. The
overall infection rate of adults aged 16 to 49 stands at 35.4%, but
the rate among those in their 20s or early 30s exceeds 50%. Some
economists have projected that, due to the epidemic, GDP will still
rise but will be 17% smaller in 2021 than it would be without AIDS.
The Government of Botswana, and especially President Mogae, has
shown strong leadership in the fight against AIDS. With the help of
various donors, including the U.S., the Government has set up
prevention programs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has
implemented a $9 million (FY 2002) program to set up HIV counseling
and testing centers and develop other prevention campaigns, such as
a radio drama. A small country in terms of population and economic
activity, Botswana faces capacity constraints to its efforts to care
for and treat AIDS sufferers. For example, the Government has begun
widespread distribution of antiretroviral medications, but lacks
sufficient health care workers and laboratory facilities to
administer the program. The soaring number of AIDS orphans demands
the creation of a social services network that was never before
needed. Nevertheless, Botswana’s relative wealth and strong
commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS provide hope that the effects of the
epidemic can be mitigated.
Automobiles Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:11 PM
A personal vehicle is a necessity. Recent Mission staff have
found ordering a used car from Japan via the internet to be better
value for money than a local or South African purchase, though this
method has not been without problems. If employees choose to import
a second-hand Japanese vehicle, the Embassy strongly recommends that
transit insurance be bought and that the vehicle be consigned
exactly as per the guidance in the TMTWO telegram. Botswana still
allows the import of a used vehicle older than ten years old, unlike
neighboring South Africa. Two factors that need to be taken into
account in making the decision are that cars made or assembled in
South Africa do not qualify for duty-free purchase and it is
difficult to find used automatic vehicles locally. Since traffic
moves on the left, right-hand-drive cars are recommended, though not
required. If you import a left-hand-drive vehicle, please ensure
that it has side view mirrors on both sides to allow for better
viewing when passing other vehicles. Maintenance is available
locally, but is not always satisfactory. The price for replacement
parts is high and the parts themselves are not always immediately
available. Right-hand-drive Chevrolet Blazers, Daimler Chrysler
minivans, Toyotas, Nissans, Isuzus, Mazdas, Landrovers, Mercedes,
South African Fords, and Opels are the most common vehicles. To take
advantage of the region’s many game parks, a four-wheel-drive
vehicle is preferable and, in some cases, the only viable choice.
Gasoline and diesel fuel are available in all major towns and
villages. Unleaded gasoline is available, but can be difficult to
find outside of the largest cities. In June 2003, the price of
gasoline was about $1.78 per gallon. Embassy personnel can claim
reimbursement for tax payments.
A Botswana drivers’ license can be obtained upon presentation of
a valid U.S. license. All Mission employees must carry
third-party-liability insurance, which can be obtained locally.
Comprehensive and collision insurance is also available on the local
The accident rate in Botswana is high for several reasons. Rising
incomes and the proliferation of low-cost automobile purchase
programs have put many inexperienced drivers on the road. Also, all
major highways in the country are paved, but consist of only two
lanes, making it necessary to pull into the oncoming traffic lane in
order to pass. Speed limits are high and many roads do not have
adequate shoulders, thus head-on collisions and rollovers are
common. The situation is compounded by the ubiquitous presence of
livestock on the road and the high incidence of drunk driving. Night
driving is extremely dangerous and not recommended. The Government
has initiated a project to expand the heavily traveled
Gaborone-Francistown corridor to four lanes, which will be a welcome
Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:11 PM
Taxis are available in the major towns and are inexpensive. There
is a fairly well developed minibus service throughout Gaborone, but
is little used by Mission personnel because of overcrowding. The
Embassy does not recommend the use of public transportation. There
is also an intercity bus system that utilizes clean, modern
vehicles, but again this is little used by Mission personnel because
of unsafe roads and questionable driving practices.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:11 PM
Air Botswana is the country’s national airline and handling agent
for ground traffic at the three main airports in Gaborone,
Francistown and Maun. Service on Air Botswana and South African
Airlines to Johannesburg is excellent, with 10 flights a day. Air
Botswana also operates flights to Francistown, Maun and Kasane, and
internationally to Harare. Several companies provide charter
service; the Okavango tourist camps can only be reached by charter
aircraft, either from Gaborone or Maun.
The main rail line from Cape Town to Bulawayo runs through
Botswana for about 400 miles, serving the main towns in the eastern
part of the country. Trains are slow but comfortable and rates are
moderate compared to the U.S.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:12
Telephone service in Botswana is adequate, but the equipment is
overloaded and aging. Direct international dialing is available and
the country code is 267. A call to the U.S. costs approximately $l
per minute. Much cheaper rates can be obtained from U.S.-based
callback services. Cellular telephone service is available in many
locations in Botswana and is continually expanding. The service is
easily affordable and very popular.
Embassy Address: 2170 Gaborone Place Dulles, Virginia 20189–2170
after hours: 357–111; fax: 356–947
Embassy telephone: (267) 395–3982; after hours: 395–711 l; fax:
Internet Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:12 PM
There are several Internet service providers in Gaborone, and the
cost of subscription is reasonable. However, connectivity speed is
slow by U.S. standards and frequent outages on the international
telephone lines through South Africa cause frustrating service
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:13 PM
International airmail is generally reliable and takes about 7
days to reach the U.S. It costs $0.49 for a regular business
envelope. Mail sent directly to post via international mail should
Full Name American Embassy PO. Box 90 Gaborone
International courier services are also available to and from
Gaborone. The street address for the Embassy is:
American Embassy Embassy Drive Government Enclave Gaborone
Diplomatic pouch mail takes 5–10 days to arrive. Gaborone is
authorized full pouch privileges. Authorized individuals may receive
letter mail and packages through the pouch up to a maximum size of
62 inches, girth and length combined. Maximum weight for incoming
parcels is 40 pounds. Outgoing mail is limited to 2 pounds, except
for any returned merchandise. Employees should bring a supply of US
postage stamps and plan to order more.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:13 PM
The Government of Botswana recently opened a television station,
but viewing options are limited. Many employees purchase satellite
dishes ($300) and subscribe to a satellite service at about $50 a
month. This service provides a good selection of channels, including
CNN, BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, and even U.S. programs
(though usually a season or two behind the U.S.).
Local television is broadcast in PAL-1 system and sets
manufactured in the U.S. for use on the NTSC system will not work.
One of the two AFN channels received by the Embassy, however,
broadcasts in NTSC. Bring a multi-system television and VCR or plan
to purchase PAL-1 equipment at post or in South Africa (prices are
higher than for comparable U.S. sets). Gaborone has a number of
video rental outlets.
Radio Botswana and several private radio stations broadcast in
FM, mainly in Setswana, but also in English. The Voice of America
operates a medium-wave retransmitting facility in Selebi-Phikwe, 250
miles north of Gaborone. Bring a good short-wave receiver to pick up
VOA and BBC broadcasts.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
12/14/2005 3:13 PM
A wide range of publications from South Africa, the United
Kingdom and other European countries are available at local
bookstores. American news magazines are also stocked, but are
usually a week late. The International Herald Tribune is available
but is up to 2 weeks late in arriving. Several bookstores in
Gaborone stock the latest bestsellers and tourist books. Prices are
higher than in the U.S. The Embassy Public Affairs Information
Resource Center subscribes to some 60 U.S. periodicals. The Botswana
newspapers, mainly weekly, are available at low cost.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:14 PM
Health conditions in Gaborone and other major cities are
generally favorable. Public sanitation measures are operational and
the cleanliness of the water supply is equal to or even exceeds U.S.
Medical services in Gaborone are considered adequate. Most
physicians have been trained in South Africa, Europe or the U.S. The
Gaborone Private Hospital offers consultant care for most specialty
areas and those specialists who are not resident visit on a regular
basis. Because of the heavy demand for specialists, it is
occasionally necessary to travel to Pretoria or Johannesburg for
consultations. Routine dental care, including cleaning, root canals,
and orthodontics, can be done in Gaborone.
The Private Hospital also has an emergency room that is open 24
hours. Employees with severe injuries or serious medical conditions
are generally medevaced to South Africa. Ambulance service is
available in Gaborone. There are several medical evacuation services
that can provide air or land ambulance transfers in the unusual
event that someone must be evacuated urgently to South Africa.
The Embassy operates a Health Unit in Gaborone that is staffed by
two registered nurses. It provides first responder care (a nurse is
on call 24/7), immunizations, health education and occupational
health. Employees are strongly encouraged to develop a relationship
with a doctor upon arrival for Primary Health Care. The Health Unit
is supported by the regional medical officer, and the regional
psychiatrist, both based at Embassy Pretoria, and by a regional
nurse practitioner resident in Harare. The regional medical officer
makes quarterly visits.
Pharmacies are well supplied with prescription medications,
however, persons on long-term medication may wish to bring a
sufficient supply or plan to order through their health care
provider pharmacy service. A variety of over-the-counter medications
is available, including American, South African, and European
Selebi-Phikwe has two hospitals, a government hospital and a
private one. The latter is operated by the BCL Mining Company and
arrangements have been made for post families to be accepted on an
emergency basis only. There are several private medical
practitioners and a dentist available in Selebi-Phikwe. The IBB/VOA
station also maintains a small health unit with a part-time
expatriate nurse. Although health conditions are generally good,
smelter operations in the town may cause problems for people with
Community Health Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:14 PM
Malaria prophylaxis is not necessary in Gaborone. Travelers going
north of the Tropic of Capricorn and personnel stationed in
Selebi-Phikwe are, however, advised to take preventive measures
against the disease. The prevalent strain of malaria is choloroquine-resistant,
making mefloquine or doxycycline the prophylaxis of choice. These
medications are available at the Embassy Health Unit.
Bilharzias and tick bite fevers are seasonal and prevail
throughout the country. It is imperative not to swim in fresh water.
Tick bite fever, a tick-borne disease seen in those who spend time
in the bush, is uncomfortable but not dangerous and is treatable
with antibiotics. Sleeping sickness carried by the tsetse fly can be
a possible health hazard in the northern game parks. Wearing
protective clothing can help you avoid these bites. It is advisable
to machine dry or iron all laundry to prevent tumbo fly
Allergies can be a problem as flowers and grasses bloom all year.
Respiratory infections and sore throats are aggravated by the
aridity and dust during the dry season. Contact lens wearers can
experience irritation during the dry weather and may wish to also
HIV/AIDS is a problem of critical proportions in Botswana with
some 35.4% of adults infected. Hospital blood supplies are screened.
As they would in the U.S., personnel should avoid contact with the
blood or other bodily fluids of unknown persons.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:14 PM
No vaccinations are required for Botswana; however, travelers to
other countries in Africa are advised to maintain up-to-date shots
for yellow fever, typhoid, measles, polio, tetanus, hepatitis A, and
hepatitis B. All children should have their vaccination program kept
current — there are occasional outbreaks of chicken pox and other
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/14/2005
The employment situation is good for family members of
direct-hire employees in Gaborone. State maintains seven EFM
positions for eligible family members, and there are some personal
service contract opportunities available with other agencies at
post. EFM positions currently include the Community Liaison Officer,
the Deputy Chief of Mission secretary, political/economic section
secretary, GSO housing assistant, facility maintenance assistant,
consular assistant, and the self-help program coordinator. The
Embassy newsletter editor is paid under a purchase order, and family
members are occasionally hired to complete special projects, such as
the cost of living survey or the annual inventory.
Job opportunities for family members at the Voice of American
Relay Station in Selebi-Phikwe are limited.
The Embassy has a bilateral work agreement with the Government of
Botswana that allows family members to work locally. Those with
specialized skills such as nursing or teaching would find it
relatively easy to obtain work, but salaries are low by U.S.
standards. Those who choose to work on the local economy waive
diplomatic immunity for infractions occurring at the workplace and
are responsible for paying local taxes.
American Embassy - Gaborone
Post City Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:16 PM
Gaborone is a rapidly expanding city of 234,000, located in
southeastern Botswana, near the South African border and on the main
rail line from Mafikeng, South Africa, to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. A new
city built since independence, Gaborone was selected as the site of
the new capital of Botswana prior to independence in 1966. One key
factor influencing the choice was a suitable dam site on the nearby
Notwane River, which offered a potential water supply capable of
supporting a city. The first government buildings and houses were
ready for occupation in February 1965, and the shift from Mafikeng,
the administrative capital for Bechuanaland, was completed by 1969.
The city is named for a 19th century Boklokwa chief from the nearby
village of Gaborone-a-Matiapeng.
Gaborone has expanded under the guidance of an existing town plan
between two already established areas—the railroad station and
Gaborone village. The city originally centered on a pedestrian mall
that features shops and a hotel. Government buildings are located
nearby. Other newer shopping areas have been built in various
locations throughout the city, shifting much commercial and
development activity away from the mall and leaving the city without
a strong downtown center.
The Government Enclave, with the National Assembly and office
blocks for the government ministries, is located at the western edge
of the mall.
The Embassy is located on Embassy Drive within the Government
Enclave and near major banks and the Debswana diamond sorting
facility. The Chancery was built in 1989. State, Defense Attaché
Office (DAO), and the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) occupy
space in the Chancery. The Centers for Disease Control has its
offices in a Ministry of Health complex on the south side of the
city. USAID’s Regional Center for Southern Africa (RCSA) is located
in Gaborone West, a newer and expanding residential area, about 10
minutes from the Chancery.
The Peace Corps office is located near the scenic Kgale Hills and
the International Law Enforcement academy is located in the suburbs
Most Mission housing is located a short drive away from the
Embassy or in Gaborone West near RCSA, though due to a housing
shortage, the Mission is having to locate some housing in further
residential areas in Gaborone West. Housing near the Embassy is also
convenient to the two frequently used primary and secondary schools,
Northside and Maru a Pula, and also to the University of Botswana,
the Gaborone Golf Club, the Tennis Club, the Gaborone Sun Hotel and
Casino, the Cresta Lodge, and the Broadhurst shopping centers.
Westwood International School, which is supported by the Embassy,
and the Grand Palm Hotel and Casino are located on the western side
of the city.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:17 PM
In addition to State Department personnel, the U.S. Mission
comprises the USAID Regional Center for Southern Africa, Peace
Corps, the Centers for Disease Control, the Defense Attaché Office,
and the Office of Defense Cooperation. The International Board of
Broadcasters (IBB) is located in Selebi-Phikwe. A new initiative,
the International Law Enforcement Academy is staffed by two
direct-hire Americans (one Department of Homeland Security and one
State) and is located in Otse, some 40 miles from Gaborone.
The Embassy staff includes the Ambassador, DCM, Ambassador’s
office management specialist, two political/economic officers, a
regional health and environment officer, a public affairs officer, a
consular/commercial officer, two regional security officers, a
security office management specialist, and management officer, a
general services officer, a facilities maintenance manager, a
regional human resources officer, a financial management officer,
and two information management specialists. The Marine Security
Guard Detachment provides 24-hour security guard operations at the
Chancery. The management section provides a full range of support to
agencies participating in the ICASS agreement. USAID relies
minimally on the State administrative function since that agency
maintains its own support service operation.
The Mission business hours are Monday through Thursday, from 7:30
am to 5:00 pm, and Friday from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm. Contact the
Chancery at (267) 395-3982; after hours at 395-7111. The fax number
is 395-6947 or 392-2782.
Personnel at the AID Regional Center for Southern Africa consists
of a director, deputy director, and some 14 development assistance
and administrative officers, as well as a substantial contingent of
third-country national development specialists. The telephone number
is (267) 392-4449 and the fax number is 392-4486.
The Centers for Disease Control implements bilateral assistance
in HIV/AIDS prevention and testing and in tuberculosis research. The
staff consists of six direct-hire American positions, all health
professionals, and 150 FSN staff. The telephone number is (267)
390-1696 and fax 397-3117.
The Defense Attaché Office is staffed by an officer and two
noncommissioned officers and serves as the primary bilateral
military to military contact. The Office may be reached through the
main Chancery number.
The Office of Defense Cooperation is staffed by one officer, an
NCO, and an FSN assistant. The Office works closely with the
Botswana Defense Force on military sales, training, and humanitarian
assistance. In addition, one Army Foreign Area Officer is based in
Gaborone, though no office space is provided in the Chancery.
The IBB operates a Voice of America relay station in
Selebi-Phikwe, about 250 miles northeast of Gaborone. It is staffed
by 2 direct-hire Americans and 22 FSNs. The telephone number is
(267) 261-0932 and fax 261-0185.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:17 PM
Most new personnel arriving at post can move directly into their
permanent quarters. For those who cannot, however, the Mission makes
every effort to provide temporary housing in a guesthouse or vacant
housing unit. Hotels, though clean and comfortable, are used only as
a last resort due to high costs and the lack of kitchen facilities
in the rooms
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:18 PM
Housing is under the management of the post single real property
manager and assignments are made by the inter-agency housing board.
Housing is provided to all direct-hire Mission staff and to many
contractors as well. All houses have yards, some of which are
extensive, and most have swimming pools.
The Ambassador’s house is an excellent representational house
conveniently located about 5 minutes from the Chancery. The house
features an attractive large patio leading to a swimming pool and a
large garden complete with a thatched pavilion and barbecue
Other housing in the mission consists of both leased and
government owned units. These houses range in size from two to four
bedrooms and are assigned according to rank and family size
Furnishings Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:18 PM
All houses are government furnished and have a full complement of
appliances, including hot water heaters (usually solar), range,
refrigerator, washer, dryer, and the appropriate number of
reverse-cycle air-conditioners. All residences have telephones. Most
houses have fireplaces and firewood is widely available. Swimming
pool maintenance is the resident’s responsibility.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:18 PM
Electricity in Botswana is 220 volts, 50-cycle, AC. American
appliances require transformers, which are provided in limited
numbers by the sponsoring agency. The electrical supply is
relatively stable, but bring surge protectors for sensitive
Food Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:18 PM
Several of the large South African grocery chains have set up
shop in Botswana. Most of the typical American products, including
some American brands are available, though some staff use Net Grocer
for favorite items not available. Liquor, wine, and beer are sold
primarily at “bottle stores.” Most food items are imported from
South Africa, which has a large manufacturing base and a climate
more suitable for cultivation. Overall food quality is high, though
vegetables are not always very fresh. Botswana beef is lean, tender,
and flavorful, and inexpensive compared to the U.S. Poultry, lamb,
pork, and fresh eggs are locally produced. Lunchmeats and a wide
variety of sausages are widely available. Supermarkets sell a
variety of frozen fish. A local specialty is “biltong,” air-dried
beef jerky in a variety of flavors. Local loaf bread is fairly
tasteless and does not last long. If quality bread is important,
bring a bread maker and bread mixes.
Dairy products, including butter, fresh cream, sour cream, a wide
selection of cheeses, and fresh milk, are available.
Basically, anything that is widely available in the U.S. can be
found in Gaborone with some tenacious searching—baby food, cake
mixes, even Mexican food products are available. Some items, like
mayonnaise, may not have the same taste as in the U.S. Prices for
prepared foods can be noticeably higher than in the U.S., especially
American-made products with their high transportation costs. Some
items that are not available are canned chicken broth, lime juice,
pepperoni and vegetable shortening (though margarine is common).
Clothing Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:19 PM
Bring clothes for all four seasons. Summers are hot, and
lightweight cotton dresses, shirts, shorts, skirts, and trousers are
most appropriate. Most male government officials and business
executives wear suits and ties at the office, even in summer, and
employees who will call on them should dress accordingly. Batswana
take interest in being well dressed. Tropical weight suits are
appropriate year round. Women of course have more leeway in their
interpretation of professional attire. Casual clothing, including
shorts, is acceptable for informal invitations and shopping
excursions. Many invitations will read “smart casual” meaning men
should wear shirts with a collar and trousers (not jeans) and women
can wear any sort of sportswear except shorts. A dark suit for men
and a nice dress for women will usually suffice for any invitations
for which “formal” attire is requested. For some events, such as
charity fundraisers or the Marine Ball, a tuxedo for men and fancy
cocktail or long dress for women is appropriate.
Gaborone’s winter should not be underestimated. Houses are
uninsulated concrete without central heating. Temperatures can drop
to freezing at night. Bring moderately heavy clothing such as
sweaters and medium weight jackets or parkas. Layered clothing is
useful for winter as the temperature rises from the 30s in the
morning to the 70s at midday and back into the 40s by early evening.
Washable clothing is preferable, but good quality dry cleaning is
available in Gaborone at prices comparable to the U.S.
School-aged children will not need as extensive a wardrobe as
they do in the U.S., because all children wear uniforms to school
daily. School uniforms include an outfit for classroom wear (which
may vary by season), a hat, a sweater or jacket, and a physical
education outfit that includes shorts, polo shirt, bathing suit, and
cap. These items are available at moderate prices, either at the
individual school uniform shops or on the local market. Make sure to
put your child’s name on each item. Bring white athletic shoes and
black dress shoes to complete your child’s uniform, as the quality
of shoes is lower and the expense higher than in the U.S.
Clothing is available in Gaborone but quality and style may not
meet American expectations. Variety is also somewhat limited. Many
staff order from U.S. catalogs or on line.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:19 PM
Pharmacies and supermarkets stock a good variety of shampoos,
soap and other toiletries. If you have a strong brand preference for
a U.S. product, plan to bring a supply with you. Cosmetics are also
available, but are quite expensive. Pharmacies stock most
medications, with prices for over-the-counter items being more
expensive than in the U.S. and prices for prescription medications
being less. Tobacco products are widely available and cheaper than
in the U.S. Paper products such as wrapping paper, ribbons, greeting
cards, napkins, school supplies, etc., are stocked. Sewing notions
and fabrics are available.
You can find almost anything in Botswana, including stereos,
microwaves, sports gear, etc., but prices may be slightly higher
than in the U.S. These items cost much less in South Africa, and
many Mission members make shopping excursions to Johannesburg and
Pretoria, or even closer-by Mafeking or Rustenburg.
Basic Services Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:19 PM
Dressmakers and tailors are available, but price and quality
vary. Simple shoe repairs can be done. Dry-cleaning is available and
safe. Several excellent hairdressing salons are spread around the
city. Haircuts are generally under $15 and prices for manicures and
other salon services are considerably cheaper than in the U.S.
Adequacy and availability of appliance repair varies from fair to
poor. Household repairs are acceptable. Hardware stores have a good
assortment of home repair items and power tools for the
The quality of auto repair varies. Common consumable spares such
as spark plugs, belts, tires, and filters for Japanese, European and
some America cars are available. You may wish to bring your own
supply, however, as prices are higher and some items are not always
Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:20 PM
Female domestic help is readily available and inexpensive. Most
speak English and have worked for expatriates for several years.
Salaries vary according to duties and experience. Check with the CLO
upon arrival for the current salary range. Cooks are very difficult
to find. Gardeners are available and many work part-time at several
homes. Gardeners will generally only mow, weed, prune, and take care
of the pool. If you would like yours to do planning and landscaping,
you will need to issue specific instructions. Many domestic
employees in Botswana are Zimbabwean illegal aliens and may be
subject to arrest and deportation. Take care to establish the
nationality of potential servants. It is very difficult to obtain a
work permit for third-country nationals and employees contemplating
bringing a long-time servant from another country to post should
contact the management officer before arrival. Do not arrive with a
third-country national domestic and expect to obtain legal
immigration status and a work permit.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:20 PM
Gaborone’s churches are filled Sunday mornings as worshipers
attend Sunday School and religious services. Numerous Christian
denominations are represented, including Anglican, Catholic,
Methodist, Baptist, Seventh day Adventist and Latter-day Saints.
There are a great many independent or regional churches, many of
them evangelical in nature. The Jewish community is small. There is
an active Moslem community. Other faiths such as Baha’i are also
represented. Most congregations are composed of both expatriates and
Batswana and services are held in English and Setswana.
At Post Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:22 PM GENERAL
Gaborone has excellent primary and secondary schooling options.
Selebi Phikwe offers some acceptable primary schooling but it
becomes inadequate at higher grades and at the secondary level. All
schools in Botswana begin the school year in late January and end in
early December. Thirty-day breaks occur in April/May and
August/September and a 6-week break from early December to
mid-January. Schools require uniforms that may be purchased locally.
The school day begins at 7 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. for primary schools
and ends at 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. Secondary school students attend
classes from 7:10 a.m. or 7:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m.
depending on the individual schools. Extracurricular programs draw
students for supervised activity in the afternoons. Swimming pools
offer recreation and swimming lessons. Children also have their pick
of soccer, softball, cricket, choir and glee club, working on the
school yearbook, arts and crafts, or tennis. Students may also
participate in gymnastics, cooking classes, stamp club, marimba
club, or chess club.
Since public transportation is not available, parents deliver and
pick up their children if they live beyond walking distance from
school. Carpooling is common. Few students ride their bicycles due
to the high incidence of traffic accidents. Students attending the
three most-used mission schools are transported by a
parent-sponsored van to and from school. This school transportation
service is arranged by the Community Liaison Office, and the cost of
transportation is covered by the post educational allowance.
Gaborone has four private English primary schools; these schools
are Westwood International School, Northside Primary School,
Broadhurst Primary School, and Thornhill Primary School. Mission
children primarily attend Westwood and Northside and are extremely
satisfied with them. These schools are designed to accommodate
expatriate students, and about one-third of the students are
Batswana. Tuition costs are covered by the post educational
allowance. Primary school consists of classes ranging from
kindergarten (called Reception) through grade 7 (called Standard 7).
Children are accepted from ages 5 to 12 in primary schools. Westwood
International, founded by the British and American Embassies, is a
fully authorized official IB preparatory program (IB PYP) so parents
can rest assured children will receive a quality primary education.
Northside Primary School operates under the Botswana teaching
curriculum, closely modeled on the British system and modified to
meet the needs of the school’s international enrollments. Teaching
staffs at Westwood and Northside are recruited from Britain, the
U.S., and southern African nations.
Westwood grants unlimited admission to U.S. Embassy children with
one semester advance notification. School records indicating
previous study should be included in the correspondence. A placement
test is administered to the new students upon enrollment in order to
determine their level. Those who have returned to the U.S. after
having children enrolled in these local schools indicate that the
level of work here is at least equal to that in most U.S. schools.
Northside gives some preferential enrollment to Mission children.
Children applying here also take a placement test. Contact the CLO
soon after receiving notification of your assignment to schedule
assessments at either or both schools.
Most Mission secondary school students attend Westwood
International School, an excellent institution fully accredited in
both the U.S .and Europe, also authorized specifically to teach the
International Baccalaureate (IB) program, an
internationally-recognized course of study. Founded by the American
Embassy, the British High Commission, and several local business
firms, the school opened in May 1988. Westwood is a combined
primary-secondary school. A private coeducational English-medium
school, it is located in the southwestern part of the city. Its
modern campus includes 27 air-conditioned classrooms, a school
resource center that houses the library and a computer center, a
sports field and swimming pool, and a creative and performing arts
hall. Westwood provides an international standard of education.
Westwood currently has over 500 pupils from ages 5 to 18 in an
instructional offering that includes: 1 year of preschool
(Reception), 6 years of primary education (Standard 1 through 6),
and 6 years of secondary. Students will graduate with an IB degree
after study in grades 11 and 12 or grades 12 and 13, depending on
their individual programs. IB degrees are accepted as high school
graduation by all U.S. universities and widely recognized as a
superior education level.
Another alternative is Maru-a-Pula Secondary School, a private
coeducational boarding and day school, with an excellent scholastic
reputation and good record of U.S. college and university
admittance. The school has approximately 550 students coming from
nearly 20 countries, but a majority of Batswana students. This
school is located close to Embassy housing and the Embassy. The
teaching staff is varied and in recent years has included several
Americans. Maru-a-Pula offers an educational program from grades 8
to 13 (known as Form 1 and Form 6). The school basically follows a
British curriculum. Coursework concentrates on preparation for the
O-Level examination followed 2 years later by A-Levels. It is a
heavily exam-oriented curriculum. Students study a blend of
subjects, including English language and literature, French,
history, geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and
art. A number of students have been admitted to U.S. universities
after completing O-Levels and producing satisfactory SAT scores.
Maru-a-Pula also offers a 2-year program beyond O-Level, leading to
the A-Level examination. Here, students study the equivalent of a
12th and 13th year, concentrating on three subjects from among
advanced mathematics, English, history, biology, chemistry, or
physics. The A-Level examination is given in June and sent to the
U.K. for grading, for results available in August. Some American
universities give students advanced placement on the basis of their
performance at A-Level. Educational Test Service exams, such as the
PSAT and SAT may be taken in southern Africa, but you should come
with full particulars about which exam you need.
The O level/A level curriculum does not mesh well with U.S. or
international curriculums so Maru-a-Pula is best suited for students
who will be able to enter at the beginning of the O level program
and stay until completion of that program. However, if a student's
interest and schedule were applicable, Maru-a-Pula is a great
school. Maru-a-Pula policy discourages admitting academically gifted
or learning disabled children. An admission committee makes
decisions on admission to Form 1 (grade 8) in Maru-a-Pula based on
an entrance exam that includes a personal interview. All those who
have applied by May of the year preceding their proposed entry to
the school are tested. Maru-a-Pula does not reserve places for
special organizations; however, the Superintendent is currently
American and seeking Embassy enrollment. Admission to Form 1 is
based solely on merit. Admission to other years prior to O-Level is
made by selection from the waiting list of applicants as and when
vacancies arise. Entry to A-Level is decided upon the applicant's
performance at O-Level or upon other comparable exams.
Several private preschools used by Embassy families, including
one Montessori, provide half-day care for ages 2½ (or
toilet-trained) and up. The curriculum focuses on play rather than
academics. These facilities are acceptable but not quite up to U.S.
standards. Embassy families generally use a mix of home care and
commercial care, employing English-speaking maids/nannies for
childcare as part of their duties. Casual playgroups are
occasionally formed within the Embassy community.
Selibe-Phikwe has nine government primary schools, three private
English-medium primary schools, four junior secondary schools, and
one senior secondary school. Though the primary schools are adequate
at lower grades, the higher grades are not. The secondary school is
not able to provide a quality education. For dependent children, the
English-medium Morula Primary School accepts children ages 5 to 13
years. Three school terms are held yearly and tuition is 1,590 Pula
per term plus levy fees of about 1,000 Pula for first entry into
school. The school at-post allowance will cover the tuition. Private
secondary schools are not available in Selebi-Phikwe.
Away From Post Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:23 PM Parents may also
choose to send their secondary school-aged children to boarding
schools in the U.S. or elsewhere. This region has several
English-medium secondary and boarding schools, including American
International School of Johannesburg, Machabeng in Maseru, Lesotho,
and Waterford in Mbabane, Swaziland. (See Post Reports for these
countries for further details.)
The cultural environment in Gaborone for teenagers is extremely
limited. With virtually no part-time work opportunities, many find
they have a lot of free time. Avid readers, self-starters who take
an interest in Botswana and the Setswana language, or enthusiastic
tennis players or golfers intent on developing their game can be
happy. Movies and private parties on weekends are popular.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:23 PM
The University of Botswana is a degree-granting university
offering a variety of courses in the arts and sciences. A limited
number of foreign nationals are accepted for coursework. With
sufficient advance notice, it is possible that some arrangement can
be worked out with the university. Syllabuses of individual courses
should be checked with the U.S. institution where credits would be
transferred before enrolling in a specific course. Many U.S.
institutions, however, do accept work completed at the University of
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:23 PM
Gaborone is an excellent location for outdoor sports. The sunny
weather allows tennis enthusiasts to get plenty of practice at the
Embassy court or one of the tennis clubs in town. Membership fees at
the clubs are reasonable, and lessons are available.
An excellent 18-hole golf course with grass fairways and greens
(not to be discounted in Botswana’s desert climate) is centrally
located near the Gaborone Sun Hotel. Membership is about $400 per
year. The Golf Club is well organized and has competitions for both
men and women regularly.
The Phakalane Golf Resort has a PGA style 18-hole golf course,
located 15 minutes from Gaborone.
Squash is another popular game in Gaborone. There is a squash
club next to the Notwane Tennis Club. The Grand Palm Hotel and
Gaborone Sun both have tennis and squash courts. Club membership
also offers use of the weight room, sauna, and pool at the hotels.
Several fitness centers operate in Gaborone and offer weight
training equipment and exercise classes.
A small yacht club is located at the Gaborone Dam, where sailing
and windsurfing are available. Bilharzias and crocodiles make the
reservoir unsafe for swimming, however. Horseback riding and
instruction are available at stables located outside of town and at
very reasonable prices. The Kalahari Hash House Harriers meet every
week and serious marathoners can compete in a full season of events.
For those who prefer spectator sports, soccer games are held
regularly at the National Stadium and on other fields.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:23 PM
Photographers, hunters, birdwatchers, and fishing enthusiasts
will enjoy Botswana’s rich game and wildlife areas. Much of the
country is set aside for national parks and game reserves, such as
Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, Gemsbok National Park, and
the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, just to name a few. To the
northwest, the huge Okavango Delta Region is home to exotic birds,
many types of antelope, lion, elephant, hyena, leopard, wild dog,
and many other animals. Accommodations range from high-priced water
and land based camps to do-it-yourself camping. Other parks and
reserves, such as Kutse adjacent to the Central Kalahari Game
Reserve, and Mabuasehube within Gemsbok National Park, offer
excellent camping. Camping equipment is available locally. A
four-wheel-drive vehicle is a must for traveling in Botswana’s game
Entertainment Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:24 PM
Gaborone has 12 movie theaters, which run recent films, usually 3
months behind the U.S. release date. Video outlets provide overnight
checkout services, but you must have a PAL system TV and VCR to use
Gaborone also boasts an active amateur arts community. The
Gaborone Music Society provides opportunities for local musicians to
perform several times a year. Its principal component is the
Gaborone Singers. A theater group, the Capital Players, puts on
several productions a year. The Maitisong Center, opened in 1987 on
the campus of Maru-a-Pula Secondary School, has become the center
for cultural activities in Gaborone. Each year it sponsors the
Maitisong Festival, a week of performing arts presentations that
include choral concerts, plays, internationally renown jazz artists,
The Botswana Society and the Kalahari Conservation Society
present regular lectures and exhibits at Gaborone’s National Museum.
Botswana holds monthly meetings/lectures and bird watching outings,
as well as frequent trips to various important bird areas.
Gaborone supports Chinese, Italian, Indian, German, and
continental restaurants and several steak houses. Dining out here is
much cheaper than in Washington, D.C., at less than $10 for a large
The Gaborone Sun and the Grand Palm Hotel occasionally offer
professional entertainment and both hotels have casinos.
Much of the entertainment in Gaborone consists of informal
outdoor braais (barbecues) at people’s homes. Daytime patio
entertaining is possible year round, however during the winter
months (June–August) it is too cold to sit outside in the evenings.
Recreational facilities in Selebi-Phikwe include an 18-hole golf
course and two sports and social clubs, which provide facilities for
tennis, squash, swimming, field sports and other activities.
Social Activities Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:24 PM
The diplomatic community is relatively small, with 14 resident
diplomatic missions plus resident offices of international
organizations. Several thousand expatriates from South Africa, the
United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe, India, and some Scandinavian
countries live and work in Botswana and it is easy to become
acquainted with them through church, sporting clubs or social
organizations. Getting to know average Batswana requires more effort
as the focus of Botswana society is on village life, the family
cattle ranch, and church activities.
The American population in Gaborone is fairly limited.
Official Functions Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:24 PM
The Ambassador and other Embassy officials host representational
events throughout the year, to which a number of Mission employees
and spouses are invited. The Ambassador hosts an Independence Day
reception at the residence. The dress for these occasions is
business suit for men, suit or business dress for women. At a few
functions, such as the Botswana Independence Day Ball, the U.S.
Marine Birthday Ball, and one or two other fundraising balls
sponsored by charitable organizations, formal dress is appropriate.
High government officials host a number of informal cocktail and
garden parties throughout the year and an occasional formal dinner
party, which the Chief of Mission will be expected to attend. Also,
national day celebrations are held by resident diplomatic missions.
When the President of Botswana departs from or returns to the
country on official visits, Chiefs of Mission are expected to greet
him at the airport.
Business cards are widely used. They can be printed locally, but
the cost is relatively high. Some Mission members, particularly
spouses, have calling cards printed and find them useful when
meeting new people on social occasions.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/6/2005 4:55 AM
Gaborone has no direct airline service from either Europe or the
United States. Most travelers from the U.S. take the code-share
Delta-South African Airlines flights from either Atlanta or New York
to Johannesburg, though as of January 2006, there will be a new code
share from Washington, DC. There are also code-share arrangements
through Europe to Johannesburg, but the inbound layovers are long.
Both Air Botswana and South African Airlines have numerous flights
daily between Johannesburg and Gaborone, so the connection from
Johannesburg is relatively easy, and the flight is only an hour
Unaccompanied air baggage should be routed through Johannesburg
and takes 2–3 weeks to arrive from the U.S. Surface freight
household effects are routed through Durban. Please consult post for
current consignment instructions. UAB and HHE cannot be cleared
prior to the employee's arrival at post.
Clothing for cold weather should be included in your luggage if
arriving between May and September. If arriving at any other time,
warm weather clothing and a sweater for emergencies are needed.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:25 PM
The Botswana customs and immigration officials are highly
professional, and entry into Botswana is generally a problem-free
experience. Americans are required to present a valid passport, but
do not need a visa. Within the first week at post you will complete
immigration and customs forms and be given an exemption certificate
that attests to your diplomatic status. This document should be kept
with your passport and used for subsequent departures and reentry
into Botswana. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues diplomatic
personnel an ID card.
South Africa does not require visas of Americans traveling on
tourist passports or those traveling on diplomatic passports for
tourism purposes. Most Mission employees obtain South African visas
as they are required of diplomatic passport holders traveling to
South Africa for official reasons. It may also be prudent to obtain
South African visas for the entire household in case of medical
evacuation, though technically they are not required.
Mission personnel may bring in goods, except firearms, during the
first 6 months of assignment. Persons on the diplomatic list may
import goods duty free during the entire time of their assignments
in the country.
Importation of currency is not restricted, and diplomatic
personnel may export currency freely. Non-diplomatic personnel must
apply to the exchange control authorities through a commercial bank
when exporting amounts in excess of Pula 500. There are no currency
restrictions for those personnel, diplomatic and staff, who are
Passage Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:25 PM
Motor vehicle drivers in South Africa or Botswana must have
third-party-liability insurance, current vehicle registration and
valid license plates. The registration sticker must be affixed to
the windshield of the vehicle where it can be inspected by the
authorities. Motor vehicles imported into Botswana are required to
undergo a safety inspection and any deficiencies must be corrected
before registration plates can be issued.
Pets Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:25 PM
To enter Botswana, all animals need a certificate issued by the
Botswana Director of Veterinary Services. The Embassy will obtain a
permit for official travelers, provided they inform the Embassy at
least 2 months in advance. Once obtained, the Embassy will forward
the permit to the traveler for attachment to the cage. A valid
rabies vaccination certificate and a statement from a veterinarian
stating that the animal is in good health should also accompany the
If the pet is to transit South Africa, a transit permit is
required. Check with the airline you are using to see if they will
obtain the permit for you. Otherwise, contact the Embassy GSO who
can provide names of animal transport expediters based in
Johannesburg, who can provide this assistance for a reasonable fee.
These expediters will also meet, feed, and exercise the pet or keep
it overnight and place it on the connecting flight.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:26 PM
The Government of Botswana strictly controls the importation and
local acquisition of firearms. Personally owned handguns are
prohibited by law. The current post firearms policy prohibits those
Americans under Chief of Mission authority from owning firearms
while in Botswana. For further information, please contact the
regional security officer.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
12/14/2005 3:26 PM
The local currency is called the Pula, which means “rain.” The
pula is divided into 100 thebe (“drops”). There are 5, 10, 25, and
50 thebe coins and 1, 2, and 5 pula coins, plus 10, 20, 50, and 100
Pula notes. In June 2003, the exchange rate was Pula 5.0 to one U.S.
dollar. The Pula is freely convertible and its rate of exchange
fluctuates on the open market.
Barclays, Standard Chartered, First National, and Stanbic banks
offer modern and dependable banking services, including
international transfers and travelers’ checks. Bank fees are higher
than in the U.S. Both the Embassy and RCSA cashiers provide
accommodation exchange for permanent Mission members and visitors.
Relatively few Mission personnel maintain local bank accounts.
The metric system is used for standard official weights and
measures. Foods are sold by the kilogram, signposts display
kilometers, and gasoline and other liquids are sold by the liter.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/14/2005
Official Americans do not pay local taxes unless they are
employed on the local economy. A bilateral work agreement is in
force and spouses may work outside the Mission but are subject to
Botswana taxes if they do so.
Automobiles may be sold duty free after they have been within the
area of the Southern African Customs Union for 2 years. Cars that
have not been in country for 2 years are subject to duties, unless
they are sold to individuals with diplomatic status.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:29 PM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Campbell, Alec. Botswana Handbook. Gaborone.
Colclough, Christopher and Steven McCarthy. The Political Economy
of Botswana: A Study of Growth and Distribution. Oxford University
Press: Oxford, 1980.
Duggan. William. The Great Thirst. Delacorte, 1986.
Head, Bessie. When the Rain Clouds Gather. Heinnemann Educational
Books: London, 1981.
Holm, John, and Patrick Molutsi, eds., Democracy in Botswana.
Macmillan Botswana: Gaborone, 1989.
Kuper, Adam. Kalahari Tillage Politics. Cambridge University
Press: Cambridge, 1970.
Lye, William F., and C. Murray. Transformations on the Highveld:
The Tswana and Southern Sotho. Barnes & Noble Books: Totowa, NJ,
Main, Mike, John Fowkes, and Sandra Fowkes. Visitors’ Guide to
Botswana. Southern Book Publishers: Johannesburg, 1987.
Merriweather, A.M. Desert Doctor. Luterworth Press: 1975.
Parsons, Neil. History of Southern Africa. Macmillan: 1982.
Pauw, B.A. Religion in a Tswana Chiefdom. Oxford: London, 1960.
Picard, Louis A. The Evolution of Modern Botswana. University of
Nebraska Press: Lincoln, NE, 1985.
Rush, Norman. Whites: Stories. Alfred A. Knopf. New York, 1986.
Schapera, I. A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom. Oxford:
International African Institute.
—. Married Life in an African Tribe. Northwestern Press:Evanston,
—. Sixth National Development Plan, 1986–1991. Botswana
Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall. The Harmless People. Knopf: New York,
—. Warrior Herdsmen. Knopf. New York, 1965 (for young adults).
van der Post, Laurens. The Heart of the Hunter. Morrow: New York,
In addition to the above volumes, many articles and feature
stories have been written recently. These articles may be found by
consulting a recent edition of The Readers Guide to Periodical
Literature in any library.
The National Museum of Botswana has a small but excellent
collection of films about the San, wildlife, etc. Particularly worth
seeing are John Marshall’s films on the San, one of which was filmed
as a National Geographic Special for American television. The
National Museum has agreed to make those films available to Embassy
personnel. The National Archives has a copy of every research paper
and report for which the Government of Botswana has issued a permit.
This material may be studied at the Archives located in the Ministry
of Home Affairs.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/14/2005 3:29 PM
On the following days, most local facilities are closed. Normal
air services, however, are not affected, and personnel may plan to
arrive on local holidays.
New Year’s Day January 1 Good Friday Variable Holy Saturday
Variable Easter Monday Variable Ascension Thursday Variable
President’s Day Third Monday in July Bank Holiday Third Tuesday in
July Botswana Day September 30 Public Holiday October 1 Christmas
Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26
* Holidays falling on a Sunday are normally observed on Monday