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South Africa
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South Africa

South Africa is a republic at the southern tip of Africa. It is bordered to the north by Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, to the north-east by Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho is contained entirely inside the borders of South Africa.

South Africa is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa, and has the largest white population on the continent. Racial and ethnic strife have played a large role in much of the country's history and politics.

Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans)
Republic of South Africa (English) ()
IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika (IsiZulu)
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: !ke e: ǀxarra ǁke (Khoisan of the /Xam : diverse people unite) [1]
Official languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda
Capitals Cape Town (legislative)
Pretoria (administrative)
Bloemfontein (judicial)
Largest City Cape Town (1991 census)
President Thabo Mbeki
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 24th
1,219,912 km²
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 26th
From the UK:
May 31, 1910
Currency Rand
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (God Bless Africa)/Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa)
Internet TLD.ZA
Calling Code27
(1) Formed as Union of South Africa. Name changed to the Republic of South Africa on May 31, 1961.

Table of contents
1 Other names
2 History
3 Politics
4 Provinces
5 Geography
6 Economy
7 Demographics
8 Culture
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 Former national symbols
11 External links

Other names

South Africa has 11 official languages, which is second only to India. As a result, there are many acceptable official names for the country. They are: Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans), Republic of South Africa (English), IRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika (IsiNdebele), IRiphabliki yaseMzantsi Afrika (IsiXhosa), IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika (IsiZulu), Rephaboliki ya Afrika-Borwa (Sepedi), Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa (Sesotho), Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa (Setswana), IRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Afrika (SiSwati), Riphabuḽiki ya Afurika Tshipembe (Tshivenda) and Riphabliki ra Afrika Dzonga (Xitsonga). It also recognises 8 non-official languages (Fanagalo, Lobedu, Northern Ndebele, Phuthi, Sign Language, Khoe, Nama and San).


Main article: History of South Africa

South Africa is one of the oldest nation-states in Africa. South Africa was inhabited by the Khoi, San, Xhosa, Zulu and various other native tribes, when Dutch settlers arrived in 1652. Great Britain progressively encroached, leading to the Anglo-Dutch War and the two Boer wars. In 1910 the four main republics in the region united as the Union of South Africa. In 1931 South Africa became a fully sovereign and self-governing dominion under the British crown. In 1961 it became a republic.

The descendants of the white settlers remained a minority among the black Africans. After the Second World War the whites were able to maintain their rule by implementing Apartheid, a series of harsh laws segregating the country along racial lines. The Apartheid system became increasingly controversial in the late 20th century, leading to widespread sanctions and growing unrest and oppression by the National Party government. In 1990, after a long period of resistance by various anti-apartheid movements, above all the African National Congress, the National Party government took the first step towards negotiating itself out of power, when it lifted the ban on the African National Congress and other leftwing political organisations, and released Nelson Mandela from prison after 27 years. Apartheid legislation was gradually scrapped from the statute books, and the first multiracial elections were held in 1994. The ANC won by an overwhelming majority, and has been in power ever since. Control of the country is now largely in the hands of the black majority, which makes up roughly 80 percent of the population. Despite a series of voluntary and legislative moves to redress the economic imbalance caused by Apartheid, control of the South African economy remains predominantly in the hands of the white minority.


Main article: Politics of South Africa

South Africa's government operates under a parliamentary system, although the President of South Africa, is Head of State as well as Head of Government. The President is elected by a joint sitting of the bicameral Parliament, consisting of a National Assembly or lower house, and a National Council of Provinces, or upper house.

The National Assembly has 400 members, elected by proportional representation. The National Council of Provinces (NCoP), which replaced the Senate in 1997 is made up of 90 members representing each South Africa's nine provinces as well as the large cities.

Each province of South Africa has a unicameral Provincial Legislature, and an Executive Council headed by a Premier.


Main article: Provinces of South Africa

South Africa is divided into nine provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.


Main article: Geography of South Africa

South Africa is located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa.


Main article: Economy of South Africa

South Africa is a middle-income, developing country with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, although growth has been positive for ten consecutive years, it has not cut into the 30% unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the Apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime, corruption, and HIV/AIDS. At the start of 2000, President Thabo Mbeki vowed to promote economic growth and foreign investment by relaxing restrictive labour laws, stepping up the pace of privatization, and cutting unneeded governmental spending. His policies face strong opposition from organized labour.

South Africa has an estimated 4.79 million HIV infections. The government has recently, after much delay, devoted substantial resources to fighting the epidemic. A recent study (from the African Journal of Aids Research, Thomas Rehle and Olive Shisana) showed the infection rate starting to level off, (from 4.2% to 1.7% infection rate for 15-49 year olds), and AIDS deaths peaking at 487 320 in 2008.

Since South Africa opened its borders after the demise of Apartheid, international crime syndicates have penetrated the country, and much of the world's drug trade flows through its borders. South Africa is also the fourth-largest producer of marijuana in the world.

The volatility of the rand has affected economic activity, with the rand plummeting during 2001 (hitting an historic low of 13.85 to the dollar, raising fears of inflation, and causing the reserve bank to increase interest rates), but since dramatically recovering, trading at under 7 in October 2003, leading to a recovery in inflation, and the Reserve Bank to drop rates, but exporters threatening to cut jobs.


Main article: Demographics of South Africa


Main article: Culture of South Africa

Miscellaneous topics

Former national symbols


The national flag of South Africa between 1927 and 1994 featured the old Dutch Prinsenvlag, with the flags of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, together with the Union Jack representing the former British colonies of the Cape Province and Natal. It remained unchanged when South Africa became a republic in 1961, although some Afrikaner Nationalists advocated the introduction of a new flag without the Union Jack in the centre. (Prior to 1958, the Union Jack had equal status with the South African flag, and between 1912 and 1928, South Africa used a version of the Red Ensign, defaced with the shield from its coat of arms.)

National Anthem

The previous national anthem of South Africa, Die Stem van Suid-Afrika was first used in 1928, later being translated into English as The Call of South Africa in 1952. It officially replaced God Save the Queen in 1957. It was retained after the adoption of the first non-racial constitution in 1994, having equal status with Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, until the two were combined to form the present anthem in 1997.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms, dating from 1910, continued in use until 2000. The four quarters of the shield represent the four provinces of the Union of South Africa, and remained unchanged following the proclamation of the Republic of South Africa in 1961. The motto in Latin, Ex Unitate Vires or 'Unity is Strength', was a translation of the Dutch motto of the old South African Republic Eendracht Maakt Macht.

External links

[ Edit {}] Countries in Africa
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Other areas: Canary Islands | Madeira Islands | Mayotte | Réunion | Saint Helena | Western Sahara