Around 300 A.D. three groups of the Bantu people migrated south into the area now known as South Africa. From there they spread eastwards and across the more northern areas now known as Botswana. Starting as hunter-gatherers they settled into the new lands and the Toutswe state grew from around 600 A.D. onwards.
Around 1200 the Toutswe state was conquered by the neighbouring Mapungubwe state, but they in turn were swallowed up by the new state of Great Zimbabwe. Its successor, the Butua state appears to have had its power base in the region around Bulawayo in modern Zimbabwe. In the 1600s another force expanded into the western borders of the modern Botswana called the Rolong who in turn consumed the Khalagari and in the 1700s Hurutshe migrants founded the Ngwatketse chiefdom in south-eastern Botswana.
By this time Europeans were well established in South Africa and tensions grew with the Boer settlers from the south and German colonialists from the west. Khama III, the King of the Bamangwato people of Bechuanaland came to the crown in 1875 and immediately worked to gain the support of the British. The issue was solved by the British in 1885 when they established the colony of British Bechuanaland (now part of South Africa) in the area south of the Molopo River while the territory north of the river became the Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana).
It was intended that the Protectorate would eventually become part of South Africa but this never took place and the British continued to govern the Protectorate for the next 70 years.
The first elections in the territory took place in the 1920s after a European Advisory Council (EAC) and a Native Advisory Council (NAC) had been formed. The NAC was a small beginning but by 1940 it had become the African Advisory Council (AAC) and was enlarged to cover 35 tribal members.
In 1950 a Joint Advisory Council was formed with eight representatives each from the EAC and AAC along with three appointed members. Again the pressure for more representation led to the Legislative Council being formed in 1961. The first proper parliamentary elections took place in 1965 and the Bechuanaland Democratic Party (forerunner of the Botswana Democratic Party – BDP) won 28 of the 31 seats.
The Botswana Democratic Party has gone on to win every single general election in the country since – a record of 10 straight wins so far (up to 2009). The only party to have properly challenged them has been the Botswana National Front (BNF) but they reached their zenith in 1994 when they won 13 seats to the BDPs 27 seats in the 44 seat National Assembly.
Meanwhile, on 30th September 1966 the British granted Botswana independence and Gaborone became the new capital. Since then there have been just four Presidents; Seretse Khama (1966 – 1980); Quett Masire (1980 – 1998); Festus Mogae (1998 – 2008) and Ian Khama (2008 – ).
Botswana is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, possibly because of its open democratic system, although the continued election of the BDP has led to rumblings in recent years.
The President is indirectly elected for a five year term and is eligible for a second term.
The bicameral parliament is made up of The House of Chiefs with 15 members; 8 ex officio who are the Chiefs of the principal tribes plus 7 members serving five year terms, 4 sub chiefs and 3 selected by the other 12 members. The National Assembly has 63 seats and serves a five year term. 57 are directly elected, 4 are appointed by the majority party plus the President and Attorney General who sit as ex officio members.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Botswana at joint 35th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 60 (where 100 is least corrupt).