The British made the region that is now Botswana a protectorate in 1885, and named it Bechuanaland, after the largest ethnic group. In 1966, it became independent as Botswana within the Commonwealth of Nations. Discovery and exploitation of vast mineral resources spurred economic development in the 1970's and 1980's.

The National Assembly reelected President Khama in 1969, 1974, and 1979. Khama died in 1980. The National Assembly elected Quett Ketumile Joni Masire to succeed Khama as president. It reelected Masire, later known as Sir Ketumile Masire, in 1984, 1989, and 1994. Masire resigned as president in 1998. Vice President Festus Mogae succeeded him. Mogae remained president following elections held in 1999 and 2004. Mogae resigned in 2008 and was succeeded by his vice president, Ian Khama, the son of Botswana's first president. In 2009, Khama was elected to a full presidential term.