The ancestors of the hunter-gatherer San people are considered to have been the first inhabitants of what is now Botswana and South Africa.
The double meaning has also permitted the fiction, widely accepted in outside reporting, that Botswana's success as a multiparty liberal democracy is based on an ethnically homogeneous population, when abundant state resources based upon diamond mining, responsibly and equitably distributed, are the more likely source of stability. Bordering on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia, it is 224,607 square miles (581,730 square kilometers) in area, about the same size as France.
This fiction may indeed have supported the building of an officially nonethnic, state-oriented society, but has come under sharp challenge in the 1990s, as minority groups request the privileges of official recognition. Two-thirds of the country is comprised of the Kalahari Desert, which is covered with grasses and scrub but has scarce surface water.
Mean annual rainfall ranges from under 10 inches (250 millimeters) per annum in the southwest to over 25 inches (635 millimeters) in the northeast.
The entire country is prone to extended droughts, causing significant hardship to agriculturalists, pastoralists, and hunter-gatherers.
More information about Botswana is available on the Botswana Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet. S.-BOTSWANA RELATIONS The United States considers Botswana an excellent partner and an advocate of and model for stability in Africa.