Bechuanaland and Botswana Philately


Botswana Fifty Years of Stamps

A Complete Review of
Botswana Stamps
Was published in Gibbons Stamp Monthly
during 2016 and also published in
The Runner Post
Botswana Fifty Years of Stamps
By Otto Peetoom

This article is published in the February 2016 edition of
The Runner Post No 91

In September 2015 Botswana issued a commemorative set of five stamps plus a miniature sheet Save Botswana’s Vultures and half a century before a set of four celebrated Independence. Although new issues are shunned by many collectors, I wonder how many have seen a complete Botswana collection and an even bigger challenge is to attempt acquiring a complete run.

Buying Botswana
In January 2015 I started constructing this website and thought a picture show of stamps would be appropriate and the easiest way of obtaining scans is to simply buy the stamps. I started at the York Racecourse stamp show and bought every different set on I made a clean sweep of EBay.

I found a Dutch dealer on the internet and at Stampex I had limited success. Nigel Haworth added to the tally plus a London dealer was also of help. Next stop a few dealers in South Africa...after which my luck fizzled out...but my wants list shortened. The June Stafford Fair brought along another half dozen issues and member Mike Smith had a few sets to swop.

The first anniversary of Buy Botswana has arrived and after a year I am almost complete. Only the 2010 Night animals set of six plus MS remain adrift and no booklets appear to be on offer. Thus there is nearly a complete show of 50 years of Botswana stamps to look at on this website

A Review of Botswana Stamps
I listed issues by year and summarized each decade. Separating definitives, commemoratives and MS and there are pitfalls.
The reason for the foregoing is the occasional oddball item, for instance there are two commemoratives that were only issued in miniature sheet format, 20th year of Independence MS 603 and SADC MS 903.

In other instances certain designs or values only appear on the miniature sheets i.e. 1997 Golden Wedding MS 976, 1998 Princess of Wales, with each design at 2p50, MS 889 and 1998 Weavers MS 894.
The first SAPOA 2004 set only appeared as a sheetlet, but the 5p Cattle Egret was printed in sheets and presumably used as a definitive.

Stamps incorporated into a miniature sheet design
This trait started with the 1999 Miss Universe and continued on the Wetlands series (2000 - 2003) plus the 2001 Kgalagadi Wildlife Park and Traditional Baskets. MS 910, 938, 948, 953, 963, 999 & 1014.
Seen as individual stamps, the designs appear incomplete.

Counting the number of collectable stamps
I excluded varieties, postage dues and booklets, but added ‘must have’ items such as the 1995 Hyenas (SG 809 - 812)
A set of singles, in a se-tenant strip of four and a sheetlet of sixteen with decorative borders.

My review indicates a total of 1,258 stamps, which takes into account the number of stamps in each miniature sheet.

1966 - 1975
1976 - 1985
1986 - 1995
1996 - 2005
2006 - 2015

The highest number of stamps in a year was 1992 (46) and 2014 (44). The least number were in 2012 (6) and 2013 (7).

Definitives - 221 stamps in total
Overprinted on Bechuanaland (14), depicting Birds (82), Animals (54), Butterflies (14) and Minerals (14)
New Currency overprints (24) and Surcharges (19)

Conservative Issuing Policy
Over a period of 50 years Botswana has effectively issued, on average, two stamps per month which in my opinion is very acceptable.

A Development of Botswana Stamp Issues

Sir Seretse Khama
1966 Independence Issue and Botswana's First President
1966 Overprinted Definitives
1967 Bird Definitives
Another Milestone
28 June 1976

First National

100 Thebe = 1 Pula
Two Commemoratives
Issued only in
Miniature Sheet format
1986 20th Anniversary
of Independence
1999 SADC
Community Day
of Wales

All values
1998 Weavers

1997 Golden Wedding

Designs only
used on MS
2001 Kgalagadi Wildlife Park

1999 Miss Universe

2000 - 2003 Wetlands series

The Stamps are part of the MS design
Unique Miniature Sheets
Stamps and Borders make-up design
1995 Hyenas - Set in singles, Se-tenant and a sheetlet
Miss Universe
Mpule Kwelagobe


1st Series
Okavango Delta
Stamps and Borders make-up design

2nd Series
Chobe River
Stamps and Borders make-up design
3rd Series
Makgadikgadi Pans


4th Series
Limpopo River
Stamps and Borders make-up design
Botswana - An introduction
Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, located just north of South Africa.
The country has a total area of 602,957 square kilometres (232,802 square miles), making it about the same size as the state of Texas. The length of Botswana's border is 4,011 kilometres (2,493 miles), and its neighbours are Namibia to the west, Zimbabwe to the east, and South Africa to the south. The capital is Gaborone and has a population of about 135,000 and is located in the southeast of the country, almost on the border with South Africa.
Values from various Bird Definitives
1966 - 2014 - Out of 221 Definitive stamps 96 depict birds
Botswana's population was estimated at 1.58 million in July 2000, growing at the slow rate of .76 percent. The population was expected to reach 2 million by 2030. The birth rate was 29.63 births per 1,000 people, and the death rate was 22.08 deaths per 1,000 people. Approximately 41 percent of the population was less than 15 years old, 55 percent was 15-64 years old, and only 4 percent had lived over 64 years of age in 2000.

is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a fairly homogeneous ethnic background. The Batswanans make up 95 percent of the population, of which the Tswana tribes constitute 60 percent.
The San people (also known as Basarwa, Khwe, or Bushmen) number 60,000. Population density is low due to the harsh climate of the Kalahari desert, at 2.6 people per square kilometer (6.7 people per square mile).
The majority of Botswana's people live in the southeast of the country, where the desert gives way to the more fertile land of the Okavango river delta and swamp, and 50 percent of the total population lives within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of Gaborone.
At Independence in 1966 only 3 percent of the population lived in urban areas, but by 2000 this figure had risen to over 65 percent.

The rapid spread of AIDS in Botswana is a major reason that population growth is low. It is estimated that 25-36 percent of the population is infected with the virus, reflecting one of the highest rates in the world.
This has caused a great number of social problems including labor shortages and a health care crisis. AIDS-related health and safety information is openly available, but cultural practices, social mobility, and the fact that Botswana lies on major trucking routes between South Africa and the north have contributed to the spread of the disease.

Mining provides 86 percent of the country's export earnings, most of this from diamond sales. However, the mining sector employs only about 4.4 percent of the formal labour force. The country has 3 main diamond mines, at Orapa, Lethlakane, and Jwaneng. These are all owned and operated by Debswana, an equal joint venture between the South African diamond mining company De Beers and the Botswana government.
Though diamonds dominate Botswana's mining industry, the country is also rich in copper, nickel, and gold. Botswana also has sizable coal deposits.
Many of Botswana's mineral resources have not yet been discovered, but are presumed to exist given the country's geology. The area is expected to yield natural gas and crude oil; Central Botswana and the Kalahari Desert are perhaps the most likely sources of new discoveries.
Though Botswana has tried to diversify its economy away from mining, the minerals sector continues to dominate the economy.
Fortunately, the Botswana government saved and invested a portion of the country's mineral revenues, producing additional income for the country as well as providing investment capital for new industries.


Manufacturing contributes only 5 percent of GDP and employs only 8.5 percent of the country's labor force. Botswana exports most of its natural resources in raw form, with minimum processing.
The Botswanan government would like more manufacturing companies to locate in the country; therefore it is focusing on the natural resources that may be used in manufacturing operations. Such resources include soda ash, which is used to produce detergents and fertilizers; and copper and nickel, which are used in electrical components. Other established manufacturing products include cement, food, and beer.
In 1997 the Botswana Export Development Investment Authority was established to encourage the export of goods manufactured in Botswana.
Botswana Stamp Issues - The First 10 Years 1966 - 1975
Much More to Follow
Botswana Booklets & Postage Dues

Bechuanaland Philately for Sale