We finally received the news about the country we are representing in the Model UN program. It is Botswana. It's in South-Central Africa. It is a small country and honestly I can't remember hearing about it before. My first impression was something like "wow, we weren't very lucky", because this wasn't expected at all. However, I started googling it and found out it's actually going to be exciting. It is a challenge, but there are so many things I like about it! First of all, it is a challenge because the culture there is obviously far from ours. Which might seem like it makes it complicated. Nevertheless, as I mentioned before, I love learning about new cultures and I'm definitely going to get to know Botswana's one. It will be like traveling to Africa without moving from New York City. I think it will let us see the world from a different side and from a totally different point of view, which I think is great.
Here I leave some fast facts about the country so that you all know what I'm talking about (they are taken from www.thesafaricompany.co.za).
- Head of State:
President Festus Mogae(I edit this because it wasn't updated) Ian Kahma
- Land Area: 582,000 sq. km
- Population: 1.6 million (1999)
- Currency: Pula
- Urbanisation: 46%
- Capital city: Gaborone 192,845('98)
- Climate: Subtropical
- Summer: 19-33°C, Winter: 5-23°C
- Languages: Official language: English. Setswana is the national language.
The fact that catches my attention the most is the population. The information here was updated in 1999, but according to Wikipedia it was 1.9 million in 2009. As you can see it is a very small country (considering the population). Which personally, is quite appealing. I spent last year in Estonia, which is 1.4 million people and I learned so much. I think big countries have so many things to learn from small ones, there are other matters they care about and they have the chance to do things in different ways since the government is dealing with an amount of people which is about 200 times smaller than in a country such as the US. We will definitely observe all these things. Besides from the population, I have read that 70% of the country is covered by the Kalahari Desert (which I have definitely heard about in the National Geographic!). This might explain why the population is less than 2 million.
Finally I'd like to mention something I read about the country and was actually very inspiring. This is from Wikipedia (even though it is not an academic source, as we all might already know, I personally think it's a good starting point for these kind of research and this time it helped a lot). This is the extract I'm talking about:
"Botswana is one of the world’s great development success stories. A small, landlocked country of 1.9 million people, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa with a GDP per capita of about US$70 at independence from Britain in 1966. In the four decades following independence, Botswana has transformed itself, moving into the ranks of middle-income status to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world with its average annual growth rate of about 9 percent with a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $14,800 (2010 IMF estimate)." (See the entire article here)
They went from being a very poor area to become a very fast growing economy. It seems it has a lot to do with the independence from Britain, which I am really eager to learn about. Even though at first impression they have nothing to do, I would also compare it somehow with Estonia. They had two independences from the Soviet Union and after that, their economy grew very fast too. As you can see in the extract, the average growth rate of Botswana is around 9%, which sounds quite crazy to me.
I'm not sure about my team mates, because we haven't had the chance to meet since we got the country, but for me this starts from zero. I mean, until today I didn't know anything about the country. And honestly, this is kind of exciting to me. I get the chance to discover a new culture of a country that maybe I would have never wondered about. I'm going to have fun with it, so I can say I'm not afraid anymore. What's more, I'm rather eager to get started!