Location: Southern Africa
Capital: Gaborone
Time zone: GMT/UTC plus 2 hours
Daylight savings time: no
Current time: 07:11
Population: 2,070,984
Currency: pula
Dialling code: +267
Internet suffix: .bw

Botswana is a landlocked southern African country notable for its relative political stability, low corruption and democratic institutions. It is regarded as a favourable location to do business and is considered to be an investment-grade economy by at least two major ratings agencies.

However, socio-economic inequality is pronounced, infrastructure can be underdeveloped, road accidents are common, the murder rate is very high and the country’s HIV infection rates are amongst the worst in the world.


Overall security situation: mostly secure
Crime rate: notable
Murder rate: extremely high
Gun ownership levels: average
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no

From a security perspective, Botswana is one of the most stable countries on the African continent. However, the crime rate is high, with a notably high murder rate.

Elements of society also have strong grievances, particularly related to the status quo, wealth inequality and underdevelopment, although any related unrest and protests are generally infrequent and usually peaceful.

The country’s institutions are fairly well developed, although there are fiscal and capability gaps, which means that the government would be vulnerable in the event of any future instability or crisis.


Aviation safety levels: potential concerns
Annual road fatality rates: very high
Vehicles drive on the: left
Infrastructure quality: very poor
Urban ATM availability: limited
Electricity supply: 230V 50Hz
Electricity supply reliability: poor
Plug types: D and G

Plug type D (3 round pins, top pin is larger than the others, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug type C, unsafe socket compatibility with plug types E and F)

Plug type G (3 rectangular pins, grounded/earthed)


 


Is tap water drinkable: no
Healthcare quality: very poor
Infectious disease prevalence: one of the highest prevalences of infectious diseases in the world

Vaccinations

Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B (not always needed)
  • Rabies (usually only for long-term stays, or for those spending time in isolated areas or coming into contact with animals)
  • Typhoid
  • Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)

Disease presence

Malaria risk: very low
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: rare/non-existent
Rabies prevalence: high risk
HIV prevalence in society: among the very worst in the world
Hepatitis A prevalence: high
Hepatitis B prevalence: high
Hepatitis E prevalence: highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: not present

Zika virus presence: not recently reported
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: low
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: none

Typhoid fever presence: strongly endemic
African trypanosomiasis presence: previously reported cases but thought to be uncommon
Plague status: present
Rift Valley fever status: some reported cases
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no


Climate: semiarid; warm winters and hot summers
Terrain: predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest
Natural disaster risk: moderate
Natural hazards: periodic droughts; seasonal August winds blow from the west, carrying sand and dust across the country, which can obscure visibility; storms; flooding
Tropical storms: few/none
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no


Government type: parliamentary republic
Investment rating: rated investment grade by at least two major ratings agencies
Corruption levels: fairly low
Socio-economic development score: 4/10 (low levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 88.5%
Unemployment rate: very high
Civil liberties: some restrictions, usually mild
Same-sex sexual activity: illegal

Death penalty: in use
Languages: Setswana 78.2%, Kalanga 7.9%, Sekgalagadi 2.8%, English (official) 2.1%, Sesarwa 1.9%, Sempukushu 1.7%, other 5.1%, unspecified 0.2%
Ethnic groups: Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white 7%
Beliefs: Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4% (includes Baha’i, Hindu, Muslim), unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6%

General guidelines

  • The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
  • However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
  • Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
  • Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
  • Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
  • Consider conducting or obtaining a risk assessment specific to you, your profile and your trip, task or operation.
  • This should take into account the likelihood of potential risks affecting you, as well as the likely impact they will have, and will help you decide, depending on your risk appetite and implementable risk mitigation measures, whether or not you should proceed.

Infrastructure

  • Be prepared for potentially poor-quality roads and other forms of transportation.
  • This can make it difficult to get around.
  • Consider obtaining a high-quality vehicle that can handle difficult terrain if you intend to travel anywhere with particularly bad-quality roads.
  • Bear in mind that traffic safety conditions may be poor.
  • Try to ensure that any accommodation or workplace is located in a good quality building.
  • Bear in mind that in the event of an accident or emergency, the emergency response services may have very limited resources available.

Road traffic accident

  • Be aware of local driving conditions and hazards.
  • Drive defensively and adhere to speed limits to minimise the risk of being caught up in an accident, or request that your driver(s) do the same.
  • If using a taxi or local driver, ensure that they are qualified and competent and that their vehicle appears well maintained.
  • Ensure that vehicles are in good working order before travel.
  • Perform regular checks on your vehicles for oil, fuel, tyres and seatbelts.
  • Consider taking additional equipment such as a jack, spare tyres, water, blankets, torches and a first aid kit, especially if travelling to more rural or isolated areas.
  • Consider using four-wheel drive vehicles for particularly poor road conditions.
  • Car users should know how to perform emergency repairs.

Aviation safety

  • Try to use reputable airlines.
  • Check the safety records of any companies you use to charter flights.
  • Check the weather forecast in advance of travel – particularly for domestic flights.
  • Consider delaying your trip or using an alternative means of transport rather than taking a risky flight.

Healthcare

  • Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be significantly less extensive than more developed countries.
  • There may be very limited facilities, staff, techniques and medications available, especially in more isolated or underdeveloped areas.
  • There may not be adequate reliable blood supplies in local hospitals.
  • Pharmacists and other sources of even basic medical products may be difficult to find.
  • Aim to be as medically self-sufficient as possible, taking basic medical supplies.
  • Research whether or not certain medications are legal in your destination(s).
  • Take extra supplies of any routinely-taken medicines.
  • It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
  • Avoid carrying medication for other travellers.
  • In the event of serious illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.

Disease

  • Find out what specific diseases are present in your intended travel destinations.
  • Research the specific measures you should take to lower the risk of infection, bearing in mind that the disease(s) in question could be water, air or insect-borne.
  • It might be useful to seek medical advice prior to your trip.
  • If possible, do this several weeks in advance of your travel, in case you need to obtain specific vaccinations, some of which can take time to be administered properly.
  • Be aware of any potential outbreaks which may be taking place in the country.
  • Be careful with any cuts and grazes which might be more susceptible to infection in your travel destination than at home.
  • Hygiene will be very important, but it can be more challenging to maintain good standards of hygiene in some parts of the world where sanitary products, cleaning products and even clean water can be hard to obtain.
  • It might be advisable to bring extra supplies with you.
  • It would be better to take them and not use them than to leave them behind and then need them in a challenging situation.
  • You may also encounter challenges over where and what you want to eat.
  • Try to avoid venues which appear unsanitary.
  • Be very aware of any medical symptoms which might arise, both when you are travelling and for up to a month after you return home.
  • Seek medical assistance if you have any concerns.
  • Bear in mind that local doctors in your home country might not be familiar with certain tropical diseases.
  • If you become ill on your return, inform your doctor where you have been and ensure that unfamiliar tropical diseases are taken into consideration as a possible diagnosis.

Crime

  • Research and familiarise yourself with your destination in advance of travel.
  • Find out what the local criminal trends are and identify any potential hotspots, such as certain neighbourhoods.
  • You may wish to avoid the higher risk areas, but this is not always practical.
  • As such, in higher risk areas exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Note that jewellery, watches, mobile phones, laptops or other items may mark you out as a potential target for petty thieves.
  • Be careful with your wallet and cash.
  • Note that crime trends can change, and the level of risk can become higher, after dark.
  • In general, use your gut instincts and be prepared avoid situations, places or people that seem suspicious, odd or wrong in some way.

Religious or conservative attitudes

  • Exercise sensitivity in societies which place a high value on perceived morality, even if it goes against personal beliefs and values.
  • Research what local cultural practises, attitudes, values and laws you will need to be mindful of before travelling.
  • Note that some behaviours, interactions and attire may also attract unwanted attention, cause offence or trigger a hostile response.
  • Note that some subjects may be taboo so avoid discussing them with people if you think it might cause offence.