This study investigates the role of political as well as economic institutions, factor endowments and geography as main drivers of change in Botswana's long-term economic development, from 1850 to the present. The claim that we need to embrace multi-causal explanations giving equal explanatory value to all mentioned potential drivers is made. Further, in order not to compress history, we should give equal attention to the pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence eras. The study leads by example and provides a thorough analysis that enriches our understanding of the country's past and present. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.