Botswana. At the beginning of the year, Botswana received large numbers of refugees from neighboring Zimbabwe, which were haunted by famine and regime repression. The Botswana authorities regarded the refugees as illegal immigrants, gathered them in camps and sent them back across the border.
According to Countryaah.com, Botswana Independence Day is September 30. Botswana gained international attention when US President George W. Bush during his tour of Africa in July made a short visit to the country. Prior to Bush’s visit, Botswana had agreed to grant Americans immunity from prosecution in the International Criminal Court ICC, thus avoiding the country being subject to US sanctions.
The difficult AIDS situation was the focus during Bush’s visit. Botswana is estimated to have the world’s highest proportion of HIV-infected, close to 40% of the adult population. According to the World Health Organization, a 15-year-old Botswana boy runs a 90% risk of suffering from AIDS and dying prematurely. The costs of combating AIDS, along with drought and reduced income from the mining industry, were expected to cause a sharp budget deficit for 2004. Microsoft founder Bill Gates partially funds Botswana’s free HIV medication program for the infected.
During the year, Botswana was recognized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the least corrupt country in Africa.