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Botswana, Population

The population of Botswana (2002 estimate) is 1,591,232, giving the country an overall population density of 2.7 persons per sq km (7.1 per sq mi). The majority of the population is concentrated in the eastern part of the country, and 50 percent live in rural areas. Many live in small villages surrounded by agricultural land. The population growth rate in 2002 was 0.2 percent annually. Life expectancy at birth was 35.1 years for men and 35 years for women. Gaborone, the main business center, has a population (1999) of 202,680. Other business centers are Francistown (97,050), Selebi-Pikwe (47,868), Molepolole (45,811), Kanye (36,189), and Serowe (30,706).

Botswana received its name from the country’s principal ethnic group, the Tswana, who can be divided into eight tribes. Representatives of several other peoples are also found, including a small number of San (Bushmen), who have inhabited the region for many centuries. About one-half of the population practice traditional African religions; most of the remainder are Christians. English is the official language, but most of the people speak Setswana, the language of the Tswana, which belongs to the Sotho subgroup of Bantu languages.

In 2001 Botswana’s adult literacy rate neared 88.6 percent. Most primary schools are supervised by the district councils and township authorities and are financed from local government revenues assisted by grants-in-aid from the central government. Virtually all primary school-aged children were enrolled in school in 1998, while 77 percent of secondary school-aged children were enrolled. Specialized education was provided by teacher-training schools and vocational-training schools. Some 5,532 students were enrolled in the University of Botswana (1976), in Gaborone.


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