Botswana's prosperity can be largely attributed to the discovery of valuable natural resources, such as diamonds and copper, and also to the principles that have guided its leadership since independence in 1966.
Botswana is a multiparty parliamentary republic. The President is head of state, and head of government. The National Assembly has 57 elected and 4 appointed members. General elections take place every 5 years.
The House of Chiefs, an advisory body through which all legislation must pass, consists of the chiefs of the eight primary Tswana groups, and four members elected by subchiefs.
The court system consists of tribal chiefs, as well as a judicial system more familiar in Western societies. All citizens have the right to request one or the other.
Local government commissioners are appointed by the President, and supported by elected advisors.
While Botswana's government consists of representatives from a number of political parties, the Botswana Democratic Party is the dominant political party, and has been since the country's independence in 1966. The BDP was founded by one of Botswana's key political architects and first president, Sir Seretse Khama, in 1961. It is based primarily in Batswana traditional communities.
Since independence, Botswana has had one of the highest economic growth rates in the world. This can be attributed to impressive mining wealth, cautious fiscal and foreign policies, and international development assistance.
Tourism is also a key area of growth in Botswana's economy, with national parks and safaris drawing visitors from around the globe.
Although Botswana's economic development has outpaced that of its neighbors, it is also more susceptible to global economic downturns that can occur in more industrialized nations.
One of the most acute challenges Botswana faces is the spread of HIV/AIDS. With at least 20 percent of the adult population HIV positive, the disease continues to take a toll on the economy — decreasing worker productivity, and increasing health care costs.
Most diplomats and foreign visitors live in Gaborone, Botswana's capital. There are many museums, exhibits of traditional arts, and open-air markets with many varieties of African arts and crafts.
Elsewhere in the country, there are many exciting opportunities for visitors including game spotting in the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta. The facilities range from rustic to full-service resorts, and visitors receive a warm welcome.