Botswana People - 2021


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2,350,667 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 144


noun: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

adjective: Motswana (singular), Batswana (plural)

Ethnic groups

Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and people of European ancestry 7%


Setswana 77.3%, Sekalanga 7.4%, Shekgalagadi 3.4%, English (official) 2.8%, Zezuru/Shona 2%, Sesarwa 1.7%, Sembukushu 1.6%, Ndebele 1%, other 2.8% (2011 est.)


Christian 79.1%, Badimo 4.1%, other 1.4% (includes Baha'i, Hindu, Muslim, Rastafarian), none 15.2%, unspecified 0.3% (2011 est.)

Demographic profile

Botswana has experienced one of the most rapid declines in fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa. The total fertility rate has fallen from more than 5 children per woman in the mid 1980s to approximately 2.4 in 2013. The fertility reduction has been attributed to a host of factors, including higher educational attainment among women, greater participation of women in the workforce, increased contraceptive use, later first births, and a strong national family planning program. Botswana was making significant progress in several health indicators, including life expectancy and infant and child mortality rates, until being devastated by the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the 1990s.

Today Botswana has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world at approximately 22%, however comprehensive and effective treatment programs have reduced HIV/AIDS-related deaths. The combination of declining fertility and increasing mortality rates because of HIV/AIDS is slowing the population aging process, with a narrowing of the youngest age groups and little expansion of the oldest age groups. Nevertheless, having the bulk of its population (about 60%) of working age will only yield economic benefits if the labor force is healthy, educated, and productively employed.

Batswana have been working as contract miners in South Africa since the 19th century. Although Botswana’s economy improved shortly after independence in 1966 with the discovery of diamonds and other minerals, its lingering high poverty rate and lack of job opportunities continued to push workers to seek mining work in southern African countries. In the early 1970s, about a third of Botswana’s male labor force worked in South Africa (lesser numbers went to Namibia and Zimbabwe). Not until the 1980s and 1990s, when South African mining companies had reduced their recruitment of foreign workers and Botswana’s economic prospects had improved, were Batswana increasingly able to find job opportunities at home.

Most Batswana prefer life in their home country and choose cross-border migration on a temporary basis only for work, shopping, visiting family, or tourism. Since the 1970s, Botswana has pursued an open migration policy enabling it to recruit thousands of foreign workers to fill skilled labor shortages. In the late 1990s, Botswana’s prosperity and political stability attracted not only skilled workers but small numbers of refugees from neighboring Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.54% (male 357,065/female 350,550)

15-24 years: 18.31% (male 208,824/female 215,462)

25-54 years: 39.67% (male 434,258/female 484,922)

55-64 years: 5.92% (male 59,399/female 77,886)

65 years and over: 5.56% (male 53,708/female 75,159) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 61.1

youth dependency ratio: 53.8

elderly dependency ratio: 7.3

potential support ratio: 13.8 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 25.7 years

male: 24.5 years

female: 26.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Population growth rate

1.43% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Birth rate

20.6 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Death rate

9.12 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Net migration rate

2.85 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 38

Population distribution

the population is primarily concentrated in the east with a focus in and around the captial of Gaborone, and the far central-eastern city of Francistown; population density remains low in other areas in the country, especially in the Kalahari to the west as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 71.6% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 2.47% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

269,000 GABORONE (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.76 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

144 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Infant mortality rate

total: 25.97 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 28.38 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 23.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 68

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 65.24 years

male: 63.21 years

female: 67.32 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Total fertility rate

2.42 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 76

Contraceptive prevalence rate

67.4% (2017)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.2% of population

rural: 94% of population

total: 96.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.8% of population

rural: 3.1% of population

total: 3.8% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

5.9% (2018)

Physicians density

0.53 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

1.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 92.9% of population

rural: 60.8% of population

total: 82.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 7.1% of population

rural: 39.2% of population

total: 17.2% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

19.9% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 3

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

370,000 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

HIV/AIDS - deaths

5,100 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 24

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

18.9% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 114

Education expenditures



definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 88.5%

male: 88%

female: 88.9% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 13 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 37.8%

male: 39%

female: 36.4% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

NOTE: The information regarding Botswana on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Botswana 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Botswana 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.