Country Profile: Botswana

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Botswana, based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Botswana's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. 

Country Background

Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bounded by Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa. The capital of Botswana is Gaborone. While English is the official language of Botswana, only about 3% of the population speaks English. About 80% of the country speaks Tswana (or Setswana), the national language of Botswana. An additional 20 languages are also spoken in Botswana on a much smaller scale. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 2.2 million. Botswana is a predominantly Christian country, with about 79% of the population Christian.  

It is also important to note that AIDS/HIV epidemic has been particularly devastating in Botswana, as the country has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. Although the infection rate has declined by 59% since 2005, it is estimated that almost a quarter of adults in Botswana have HIV/AIDS. This has had substantial effects on the country, including reduced economic growth. 

Constitution & Legal Structure

Botswana is referred to as a parliamentary republic. The Constitution of Botswana was adopted in 1966, and it has been amended numerous times since, most recently in 2005. Although it is not officially stated, in practice it is clear that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. All laws in Botswana have derived their validity from the Constitution and laws can be declared unconstitutional and invalid if they are deemed to be inconsistent with the Constitution. The system of government of Botswana is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Botswana is mixed legal system, influenced by the Roman-Dutch model of civil law, British common law, and customary laws/traditions. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Botswana 

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Botswana. 

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Botswana has no official school of Islamic law. 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].