South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is the fourth highest number in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most coloured and white South Africans; English reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though it is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's recent history and politics. The National Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalising previous racial segregation. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress (ANC) and other anti-apartheid activists both inside and outside the country, the repeal of discriminatory laws began in 1990.
Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the country's liberal democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is often referred to as the "rainbow nation" to describe the country's multicultural diversity, especially in the wake of apartheid. The World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy, and a newly industrialised country. Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, and the 34th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa. However, poverty and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.
Republic of South Africa
10 other official names
Anthem: "National anthem of South Africa"
Location of South Africa (dark blue)
in the African Union (light blue)
|Official languages||11 languages:[Note 1]|
|Recognised regional languages|
|Ethnic groups |
|Religion||See Religion in South Africa|
|Government||Unitary dominant-party parliamentary constitutional republic|
from the United Kingdom
|31 May 1910|
|11 December 1931|
|31 May 1961|
|4 February 1997|
|1,221,037 km2 (471,445 sq mi) (24th)|
• Water (%)
• 2018 estimate
• 2011 census
|42.4/km2 (109.8/sq mi) (169th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2018 estimate|
|$795 billion (30th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2018 estimate|
|$371 billion (35th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2014)|| 63.0|
|HDI (2017)|| 0.699|
medium · 113th
|Currency||South African rand (ZAR)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (SAST)|
|ISO 3166 code||ZA|
The name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation, the country was named the Union of South Africa in English, reflecting its origin from the unification of four formerly separate British colonies. Since 1961, the long form name in English has been the "Republic of South Africa". In Dutch, the country was named Republiek van Zuid-Afrika, replaced in 1983 by the Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika. Since 1994, the Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages.
South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological and human-fossil sites in the world. Archaeologists have recovered extensive fossil remains from a series of caves in Gauteng Province. The area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been branded "the Cradle of Humankind". The sites include Sterkfontein, one of the richest sites for hominin fossils in the world. Other sites include Swartkrans, Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa. Raymond Dart identified the first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child (found near Taung) in 1924. Further hominin remains have come from the sites of Makapansgat in Limpopo Province, Cornelia and Florisbad in the Free State Province, Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Klasies River Mouth in Eastern Cape Province and Pinnacle Point, Elandsfontein and Die Kelders Cave in Western Cape Province.
These finds suggest that various hominid species existed in South Africa from about three million years ago, starting with Australopithecus africanus. There followed species including Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei, Homo naledi and modern humans (Homo sapiens). Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 170,000 years.
Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were already present south of the Limpopo River (now the northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe) by the 4th or 5th century CE (see Bantu expansion). They displaced, conquered and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu slowly moved south. The earliest ironworks in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosa people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan people. The Xhosa reached the Great Fish River, in today's Eastern Cape Province. As they migrated, these larger Iron Age populations displaced or assimilated earlier peoples. In Mpumalanga Province, several stone circles have been found along with the stone arrangement that has been named Adam's Calendar.
At the time of European contact, the dominant ethnic group were Bantu-speaking peoples who had migrated from other parts of Africa about one thousand years before. The two major historic groups were the Xhosa and Zulu peoples.
In 1487, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias led the first European voyage to land in southern Africa. On 4 December, he landed at Walfisch Bay (now known as Walvis Bay in present-day Namibia). This was south of the furthest point reached in 1485 by his predecessor, the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão (Cape Cross, north of the bay). Dias continued down the western coast of southern Africa. After 8 January 1488, prevented by storms from proceeding along the coast, he sailed out of sight of land and passed the southernmost point of Africa without seeing it. He reached as far up the eastern coast of Africa as, what he called, Rio do Infante, probably the present-day Groot River, in May 1488, but on his return he saw the Cape, which he first named Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). His King, John II, renamed the point Cabo da Boa Esperança, or Cape of Good Hope, as it led to the riches of the East Indies. Dias' feat of navigation was later immortalised in Luís de Camões' Portuguese epic poem, The Lusiads (1572).
By the early 17th century, Portugal's maritime power was starting to decline, and English and Dutch merchants competed to oust Lisbon from its lucrative monopoly on the spice trade. Representatives of the British East India Company did call sporadically at the Cape in search of provisions as early as 1601, but later came to favour Ascension Island and St. Helena as alternative ports of refuge. Dutch interest was aroused after 1647, when two employees of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) were shipwrecked there for several months. The sailors were able to survive by obtaining fresh water and meat from the natives. They also sowed vegetables in the fertile soil. Upon their return to Holland, they reported favourably on the Cape's potential as a "warehouse and garden" for provisions to stock passing ships for long voyages.
In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape sea route, Jan van Riebeeck established a victualling station at the Cape of Good Hope, at what would become Cape Town, on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. In time, the Cape became home to a large population of "vrijlieden", also known as "vrijburgers" (lit. free citizens), former Company employees who stayed in Dutch territories overseas after serving their contracts. Dutch traders also imported thousands of slaves to the fledgling colony from Indonesia, Madagascar, and parts of eastern Africa. Some of the earliest mixed race communities in the country were formed through unions between vrijburgers, their slaves, and various indigenous peoples. This led to the development of a new ethnic group, the Cape Coloureds, most of whom adopted the Dutch language and Christian faith.
The eastward expansion of Dutch colonists ushered in a series of wars with the southwesterly migrating Xhosa tribe, known as the Xhosa Wars, as both sides competed for the pastureland necessary to graze their cattle near the Great Fish River. Vrijburgers who became independent farmers on the frontier were known as Boers, with some adopting semi-nomadic lifestyles being denoted as trekboers. The Boers formed loose militias, which they termed commandos, and forged alliances with Khoisan groups to repel Xhosa raids. Both sides launched bloody but inconclusive offensives, and sporadic violence, often accompanied by livestock theft, remained common for several decades.
Great Britain occupied Cape Town between 1795 and 1803 to prevent it from falling under the control of the French First Republic, which had invaded the Low Countries. Despite briefly returning to Dutch rule under the Batavian Republic in 1803, the Cape was occupied again by the British in 1806. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it was formally ceded to Great Britain and became an integral part of the British Empire. British immigration to South Africa began around 1818, subsequently culminating in the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. The new colonists were induced to settle for a variety of reasons, namely to increase the size of the European workforce and to bolster frontier regions against Xhosa incursions.
In the first two decades of the 19th century, the Zulu people grew in power and expanded their territory under their leader, Shaka. Shaka's warfare indirectly led to the Mfecane ("crushing"), in which 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 people were killed and the inland plateau was devastated and depopulated in the early 1820s. An offshoot of the Zulu, the Matabele people created a larger empire that included large parts of the highveld under their king Mzilikazi.
During the early 1800s, many Dutch settlers departed from the Cape Colony, where they had been subjected to British control. They migrated to the future Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal regions. The Boers founded the Boer Republics: the South African Republic (now Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces), the Natalia Republic (KwaZulu-Natal), and the Orange Free State (Free State).
The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior started the Mineral Revolution and increased economic growth and immigration. This intensified British efforts to gain control over the indigenous peoples. The struggle to control these important economic resources was a factor in relations between Europeans and the indigenous population and also between the Boers and the British.
The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. Following Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the Boers and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. The Zulu nation defeated the British at the Battle of Isandlwana. Eventually, though, the war was lost, resulting in the termination of the Zulu nation's independence.
The Boer Republics successfully resisted British encroachments during the First Boer War (1880–1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics, which were well suited to local conditions. The British returned with greater numbers, more experience, and new strategy in the Second Boer War (1899–1902) but suffered heavy casualties through attrition; nonetheless, they were ultimately successful.
Within the country, anti-British policies among white South Africans focused on independence. During the Dutch and British colonial years, racial segregation was mostly informal, though some legislation was enacted to control the settlement and movement of native people, including the Native Location Act of 1879 and the system of pass laws.
Eight years after the end of the Second Boer War and after four years of negotiation, an act of the British Parliament (South Africa Act 1909) granted nominal independence, while creating the Union of South Africa on 31 May 1910. The Union was a dominion that included the former territories of the Cape, Transvaal and Natal colonies, as well as the Orange Free State republic.
The Natives' Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of land by blacks; at that stage natives controlled only 7% of the country. The amount of land reserved for indigenous peoples was later marginally increased.
In 1931, the union was fully sovereign from the United Kingdom with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, which abolished the last powers of the British Government on the country. In 1934, the South African Party and National Party merged to form the United Party, seeking reconciliation between Afrikaners and English-speaking whites. In 1939, the party split over the entry of the Union into World War II as an ally of the United Kingdom, a move which the National Party followers strongly opposed.
In 1948, the National Party was elected to power. It strengthened the racial segregation begun under Dutch and British colonial rule. Taking Canada's Indian Act as a framework, the nationalist government classified all peoples into three races and developed rights and limitations for each. The white minority (less than 20%) controlled the vastly larger black majority. The legally institutionalized segregation became known as apartheid. While whites enjoyed the highest standard of living in all of Africa, comparable to First World Western nations, the black majority remained disadvantaged by almost every standard, including income, education, housing, and life expectancy. The Freedom Charter, adopted in 1955 by the Congress Alliance, demanded a non-racial society and an end to discrimination.
On 31 May 1961, the country became a republic following a referendum in which white voters narrowly voted in favour thereof (the British-dominated Natal province rallied against the issue). Queen Elizabeth II was stripped of the title Queen of South Africa, and the last Governor-General, Charles Robberts Swart, became State President. As a concession to the Westminster system, the presidency remained parliamentary-appointed and virtually powerless until P. W. Botha's Constitution Act of 1983, which eliminated the office of Prime Minister and instated a near-unique "strong presidency" responsible to parliament. Pressured by other Commonwealth of Nations countries, South Africa withdrew from the organisation in 1961, and rejoined it only in 1994.
Despite opposition both within and outside the country, the government legislated for a continuation of apartheid. The security forces cracked down on internal dissent, and violence became widespread, with anti-apartheid organisations such as the African National Congress (ANC), the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO), and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) carrying out guerrilla warfare and urban sabotage. The three rival resistance movements also engaged in occasional inter-factional clashes as they jockeyed for domestic influence. Apartheid became increasingly controversial, and several countries began to boycott business with the South African government because of its racial policies. These measures were later extended to international sanctions and the divestment of holdings by foreign investors.
In the late 1970s, South Africa initiated a programme of nuclear weapons development. In the following decade, it produced six deliverable nuclear weapons.
The Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith, signed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Harry Schwarz in 1974, enshrined the principles of peaceful transition of power and equality for all, the first of such agreements by black and white political leaders in South Africa. Ultimately, FW de Klerk opened bilateral discussions with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for a transition of policies and government.
In 1990, the National Party government took the first step towards dismantling discrimination when it lifted the ban on the ANC and other political organisations. It released Nelson Mandela from prison after 27 years' serving a sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed. With approval from the white electorate in a 1992 referendum, the government continued negotiations to end apartheid. South Africa also destroyed its nuclear arsenal and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. South Africa held its first universal elections in 1994, which the ANC won by an overwhelming majority. It has been in power ever since. The country rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations and became a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In post-apartheid South Africa, unemployment has been extremely high as the country has struggled with many changes. While many blacks have risen to middle or upper classes, the overall unemployment rate of black people worsened between 1994 and 2003 by official metrics, but declined significantly using expanded definitions. Poverty among whites, previously rare, increased. In addition, the current government has struggled to achieve the monetary and fiscal discipline to ensure both redistribution of wealth and economic growth. The United Nations (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) of South Africa fell from 1995 to 2005, while it was steadily rising until the mid-1990s, before recovering its 1995 peak in 2013. This is in large part attributable to the South African HIV/AIDS pandemic which saw South African life expectancy fall from a high point of 62.25 years in 1992 to a low of 52.57 in 2005, and the failure of the government to take steps to address it in the early years.
In May 2008, riots left over 60 people dead. The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates over 100,000 people were driven from their homes. The targets were mainly legal and illegal migrants and refugees seeking asylum, but a third of the victims were South African citizens. In a 2006 survey, the South African Migration Project concluded that South Africans are more opposed to immigration than anywhere else in the world. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2008 reported over 200,000 refugees applied for asylum in South Africa, almost four times as many as the year before. These people were mainly from Zimbabwe, though many also come from Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. Competition over jobs, business opportunities, public services and housing has led to tension between refugees and host communities. While xenophobia is still a problem, recent violence has not been as widespread as initially feared. Nevertheless, as South Africa continues to grapple with racial issues, one of the proposed solutions has been to pass legislation, such as the pending Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, to uphold South Africa's ban on racism and commitment to equality.
South Africa is located at the southernmost region of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and along two oceans (the South Atlantic and the Indian). At 1,219,912 km2 (471,011 sq mi), according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world. It is about the same size as Colombia, twice the size of France, three times as big as Japan, four times the size of Italy and five times the size of the United Kingdom.
Mafadi in the Drakensberg at 3,450 m (11,320 ft) is the highest peak in South Africa. Excluding the Prince Edward Islands, the country lies between latitudes 22° and 35°S, and longitudes 16° and 33°E.
The interior of South Africa consists of a vast, in most places almost flat, plateau with an altitude of between 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and 2,100 m (6,900 ft), highest in the east and sloping gently downwards towards the west and north, and slightly less noticeably so to the south and south-west. This plateau is surrounded by the Great Escarpment whose eastern, and highest, stretch is known as the Drakensberg.
The south and south-western parts of the plateau (at approximately 1100–1800 m above sea level), and the adjoining plain below (at approximately 700–800 m above sea level – see map on the right) is known as the Great Karoo, which consists of sparsely populated scrubland. To the north the Great Karoo fades into the even drier and more arid Bushmanland, which eventually becomes the Kalahari desert in the very north-west of the country. The mid-eastern, and highest part of the plateau is known as the Highveld. This relatively well-watered area is home to a great proportion of the country's commercial farmlands, and contains its largest conurbation (Gauteng). To the north of Highveld, from about the 25° 30' S line of latitude, the plateau slopes downwards into the Bushveld, which ultimately gives way to the Limpopo lowlands or Lowveld.
The coastal belt, below the Great Escarpment, moving clockwise from the northeast, consists of the Limpopo Lowveld, which merges into the Mpumalanga Lowveld, below the Mpumalanga Drakensberg (the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment). This is hotter, drier and less intensely cultivated than the Highveld above the escarpment. The Kruger National Park, located in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, occupies a large portion of the Lowveld covering 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi.)  South of the Lowveld the annual rainfall increases as one enters KwaZulu-Natal Province, which, especially near the coast, is subtropically hot and humid. The KwaZulu-Natal–Lesotho international border is formed by the highest portion of the Great Escarpment, or Drakensberg, which reaches an altitude of over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). The climate at the foot of this part of the Drakensberg is temperate.
The coastal belt below the south and south-western stretches of the Great Escarpment contains several ranges of Cape Fold Mountains which run parallel to the coast, separating the Great Escarpment from the ocean. (These parallel ranges of fold mountains are shown on the map, above left. Note the course of the Great Escarpment to the north of these mountain ranges.) The land (at approximately 400–500 m above sea level) between two of these ranges of fold mountains in the south (i.e. between the Outeniqua and Langeberg ranges to the south and the Swartberg range to the north) is known as the Little Karoo, which consists of semi-desert scrubland similar to that of the Great Karoo, except that its northern strip along the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains, has a somewhat higher rainfall and is therefore more cultivated than the Great Karoo. The Little Karoo is historically, and still, famous for its ostrich farming around the town of Oudtshoorn. The lowland area (700–800 m above sea level) to the north of the Swartberg mountain range up to the Great Escarpment is the lowland part of the Great Karoo (see map at top right), which is climatically and botanically almost indistinguishable from the Karoo above the Great Escarpment. The narrow coastal strip between the most seaward Cape Fold Mountain range (i.e., the Langeberg–Outeniqua mountains) and the ocean has a moderately high year-round rainfall, especially in the George-Knysna-Plettenberg Bay region, which is known as the Garden Route. It is famous for the most extensive areas of indigenous forests in South Africa (a generally forest-poor country).
In the south-west corner of the country, the Cape Peninsula forms the southernmost tip of the coastal strip which borders the Atlantic Ocean, and ultimately terminates at the country's border with Namibia at the Orange River. The Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate, making it and its immediate surrounds the only portion of Africa south of the Sahara which receives most of its rainfall in winter. The greater Cape Town metropolitan area is situated on the Cape Peninsula and is home to 3.7 million people according to the 2011 population census. It is the country's legislative capital.
The coastal belt to the north of the Cape Peninsula is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and the first row of north-south running Cape Fold Mountains to the east. The Cape Fold Mountains peter out at about the 32° S line of latitude, after which the coastal plain is bounded by the Great Escarpment itself. The most southerly portion of this coastal belt is known as the Swartland and Malmesbury Plain, which is an important wheat growing region, relying on winter rains. The region further north is known as Namaqualand, which becomes more and more arid as one approaches the Orange River. The little rain that falls tends to fall in winter, which results in one of the world's most spectacular displays of flowers carpeting huge stretches of veld in spring (August–September).
South Africa also has one possession, the small sub-Antarctic archipelago of the Prince Edward Islands, consisting of Marion Island (290 km2 or 110 sq mi) and Prince Edward Island (45 km2 or 17 sq mi) (not to be confused with the Canadian province of the same name).
South Africa has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder Southern Hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones range from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the border with Mozambique and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.
The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous fynbos biome of shrubland and thicket. This area also produces much of the wine in South Africa. This region is also particularly known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is popularly known as the Garden Route.
The Free State is particularly flat because it lies centrally on the high plateau. North of the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat. Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1,740 m (5,709 ft) above sea level and receives an annual rainfall of 760 mm (29.9 in). Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare.
The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. The coldest place on mainland South Africa is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as −15 °C (5 °F). The Prince Edward Islands have colder average annual temperatures, but Sutherland has colder extremes. The deep interior of mainland South Africa has the hottest temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 °C (125.06 °F) was recorded in 1948 in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington, but this temperature is unofficial and was not recorded with standard equipment, the official highest temperature is 48.8 °C (119.84 °F) at Vioolsdrif in January 1993.
South Africa signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 4 June 1994, and became a party to the convention on 2 November 1995. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 7 June 2006. The country is ranked sixth out of the world's seventeen megadiverse countries.
Numerous mammals are found in the Bushveld including lions, African leopards, South African cheetahs, southern white rhinos, blue wildebeest, kudus, impalas, hyenas, hippopotamuses and South African giraffes. A significant extent of the Bushveld exists in the north-east including Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, as well as in the far north in the Waterberg Biosphere. South Africa houses many endemic species, among them the critically endangered riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticullaris) in the Karoo.
Up to 1945, more than 4900 species of fungi (including lichen-forming species) had been recorded. In 2006, the number of fungi in South Africa was estimated at about 200,000 species, but did not take into account fungi associated with insects. If correct, then the number of South African fungi dwarfs that of its plants. In at least some major South African ecosystems, an exceptionally high percentage of fungi are highly specific in terms of the plants with which they occur. The country's Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan does not mention fungi (including lichen-forming fungi).
With more than 22,000 different higher plants, or about 9% of all the known species of plants on Earth, South Africa is particularly rich in plant diversity. The most prevalent biome in South Africa is the grassland, particularly on the Highveld, where the plant cover is dominated by different grasses, low shrubs, and acacia trees, mainly camel-thorn (Vachellia erioloba) and whitethorn (V. constricta). Vegetation becomes even more sparse towards the northwest due to low rainfall. There are several species of water-storing succulents, like aloes and euphorbias, in the very hot and dry Namaqualand area. The grass and thorn savannah turns slowly into a bush savannah towards the north-east of the country, with denser growth. There are significant numbers of baobab trees in this area, near the northern end of Kruger National Park.
The fynbos biome, which makes up the majority of the area and plant life in the Cape floristic region, one of the six floral kingdoms, is located in a small region of the Western Cape and contains more than 9,000 of those species, making it among the richest regions on earth in terms of plant diversity. Most of the plants are evergreen hard-leaf plants with fine, needle-like leaves, such as the sclerophyllous plants. Another uniquely South African flowering plant group is the genus Protea. There are around 130 different species of Protea in South Africa.
While South Africa has a great wealth of flowering plants, only 1% of South Africa is forest, almost exclusively in the humid coastal plain of KwaZulu-Natal, where there are also areas of Southern Africa mangroves in river mouths. There are even smaller reserves of forests that are out of the reach of fire, known as montane forests. Plantations of imported tree species are predominant, particularly the non-native eucalyptus and pine.
South Africa has lost a large area of natural habitat in the last four decades, primarily due to overpopulation, sprawling development patterns and deforestation during the 19th century. South Africa is one of the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to invasion by alien species with many (e.g., black wattle, Port Jackson willow, Hakea, Lantana and Jacaranda) posing a significant threat to the native biodiversity and the already scarce water resources. The original temperate forest found by the first European settlers was exploited ruthlessly until only small patches remained. Currently, South African hardwood trees like real yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius), stinkwood (Ocotea bullata), and South African black ironwood (Olea laurifolia) are under government protection. Statistics from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs show a record 1,215 rhinos have been killed in 2014.
Climate change is expected to bring considerable warming and drying to much of this already semi-arid region, with greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, flooding and drought. According to computer-generated climate modelling produced by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, parts of southern Africa will see an increase in temperature by about 1 °C (1.8 °F) along the coast to more than 4 °C (7.2 °F) in the already hot hinterland such as the Northern Cape in late spring and summertime by 2050. The Cape Floral Kingdom, being identified as one of the global biodiversity hotspots, will be hit very hard by climate change. Drought, increased intensity and frequency of fire, and climbing temperatures are expected to push many rare species towards extinction.
South Africa is a parliamentary republic, although unlike most such republics the President is both head of state and head of government, and depends for his tenure on the confidence of Parliament. The executive, legislature and judiciary are all subject to the supremacy of the Constitution, and the superior courts have the power to strike down executive actions and acts of Parliament if they are unconstitutional.
The National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, consists of 400 members and is elected every five years by a system of party-list proportional representation. The National Council of Provinces, the upper house, consists of ninety members, with each of the nine provincial legislatures electing ten members.
After each parliamentary election, the National Assembly elects one of its members as President; hence the President serves a term of office the same as that of the Assembly, normally five years. No President may serve more than two terms in office. The President appoints a Deputy President and Ministers, who form the Cabinet which consists of Departments and Ministries. The President and the Cabinet may be removed by the National Assembly by a motion of no confidence.
In the most recent election, held on 7 May 2014, the ANC won 62.2% of the vote and 249 seats, while the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) won 22.2% of the vote and 89 seats. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), founded by Julius Malema, the former President of the ANC's Youth Wing (ANC Youth League) who was later expelled from the ANC, won 6.4% of the vote and 25 seats. The ANC has been the governing political party in South Africa since the end of apartheid.
South Africa has no legally defined capital city. The fourth chapter of the Constitution of South Africa, states that "The seat of Parliament is Cape Town, but an Act of Parliament enacted in accordance with section 76(1) and (5) may determine that the seat of Parliament is elsewhere." The country's three branches of government are split over different cities. Cape Town, as the seat of Parliament, is the legislative capital; Pretoria, as the seat of the President and Cabinet, is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein, as the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal, is the judicial capital, while the Constitutional Court of South Africa sits in Johannesburg. Most foreign embassies are located in Pretoria.
Since 2004, South Africa has had many thousands of popular protests, some violent, making it, according to one academic, the "most protest-rich country in the world". There have been a number of incidents of political repression as well as threats of future repression in violation of the constitution, leading some analysts and civil society organisations to conclude that there is or could be a new climate of political repression, or a decline in political tolerance.
In 2008, South Africa placed 5th out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. South Africa scored well in the categories of Rule of Law, Transparency & Corruption, and Participation & Human Rights, but was let down by its relatively poor performance in Safety & Security. In November 2006, South Africa became the first African country to legalise same-sex marriage.
The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme rule of law in the country. The primary sources of South African law are Roman-Dutch mercantile law and personal law with English Common law, as imports of Dutch settlements and British colonialism. The first European based law in South Africa was brought by the Dutch East India Company and is called Roman-Dutch law. It was imported before the codification of European law into the Napoleonic Code and is comparable in many ways to Scots law. This was followed in the 19th century by English law, both common and statutory. After unification in 1910, South Africa had its own parliament which passed laws specific for South Africa, building on those previously passed for the individual member colonies.
The judicial system consists of the magistrates' courts, which hear lesser criminal cases and smaller civil cases; the High Court, which has divisions that serve as the courts of general jurisdiction for specific areas; the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court, which is the highest court.
Nearly 50 murders are committed each day in South Africa. In the year ended March 2014, there were 17,068 murders and the murder rate was 32.2 per 100,000 – about five times higher than the global average of 6 per 100,000. Middle-class South Africans seek security in gated communities. The private security industry in South Africa is the largest in the world, with nearly 9,000 registered companies and 400,000 registered active private security guards, more than the South African police and army combined. Many emigrants from South Africa also state that crime was a major factor in their decision to leave. Crime against the farming community has continued to be a major problem.
South Africa has a high rape rate, with 43,195 rapes reported in 2014/15, and an unknown number of sexual assaults going unreported. A 2009 survey found one in four South African men admitted to raping someone and another survey found one in three women out of 4,000 surveyed said they had been raped in the past year. Rapes are also perpetrated by children (some as young as ten). The incidence of child and infant rape is among the highest in the world, largely as a result of the virgin cleansing myth, and a number of high-profile cases (sometimes as young as eight months) have outraged the nation.
As the Union of South Africa, the country was a founding member of the UN. The then Prime Minister Jan Smuts wrote the preamble to the UN Charter. South Africa is one of the founding members of the African Union (AU), and has the second largest economy of all the members. It is also a founding member of the AU's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
South Africa has played a key role as a mediator in African conflicts over the last decade, such as in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Comoros, and Zimbabwe. After apartheid ended, South Africa was readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations. The country is a member of the Group of 77 and chaired the organisation in 2006. South Africa is also a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), G20, G8+5, and the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma and former Chinese President Hu Jintao upgraded bilateral ties between the two countries on 24 August 2010, when they signed the Beijing Agreement, which elevated South Africa's earlier "strategic partnership" with China to the higher level of "comprehensive strategic partnership" in both economic and political affairs, including the strengthening of exchanges between their respective ruling parties and legislatures. In April 2011, South Africa formally joined the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRICS) grouping of countries, identified by Zuma as the country's largest trading partners, and also the largest trading partners with Africa as a whole. Zuma asserted that BRICS member countries would also work with each other through the UN, the Group of Twenty (G20) and the India, Brazil South Africa (IBSA) forum.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was created in 1994, as an all-volunteer military composed of the former South African Defence Force, the forces of the African nationalist groups (Umkhonto we Sizwe and Azanian People's Liberation Army), and the former Bantustan defence forces. The SANDF is subdivided into four branches, the South African Army, the South African Air Force, the South African Navy, and the South African Military Health Service. In recent years, the SANDF has become a major peacekeeping force in Africa, and has been involved in operations in Lesotho, the DRC, and Burundi, amongst others. It has also served in multinational UN peacekeeping forces such as the UN Force Intervention Brigade for example.
South Africa is the only African country to have successfully developed nuclear weapons. It became the first country (followed by Ukraine) with nuclear capability to voluntarily renounce and dismantle its programme and in the process signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991. South Africa undertook a nuclear weapons programme in the 1970s According to former state president FW de Klerk, the decision to build a "nuclear deterrent" was taken "as early as 1974 against a backdrop of a Soviet expansionist threat." South Africa is alleged to have conducted a nuclear test over the Atlantic in 1979, although this is officially denied. Former president, FW de Klerk, maintained that South Africa had "never conducted a clandestine nuclear test." Six nuclear devices were completed between 1980 and 1990, but all were dismantled before South Africa signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991.
Each of the nine provinces is governed by a unicameral legislature, which is elected every five years by party-list proportional representation. The legislature elects a Premier as head of government, and the Premier appoints an Executive Council as a provincial cabinet. The powers of provincial governments are limited to topics listed in the Constitution; these topics include such fields as health, education, public housing and transport.
The provinces are in turn divided into 52 districts: 8 metropolitan and 44 district municipalities. The district municipalities are further subdivided into 226 local municipalities. The metropolitan municipalities, which govern the largest urban agglomerations, perform the functions of both district and local municipalities.
|Province||Provincial capital||Largest city||Area (km2)||Population (2016)|
|Eastern Cape||Bhisho||Port Elizabeth||168,966||6,996,976|
|Western Cape||Cape Town||Cape Town||129,462||6,279,730|
South Africa has a mixed economy, the second largest in Africa after Nigeria. It also has a relatively high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita compared to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa (US$11,750 at purchasing power parity as of 2012). Despite this, South Africa is still burdened by a relatively high rate of poverty and unemployment, and is also ranked in the top ten countries in the world for income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient.
Unlike most of the world's poor countries, South Africa does not have a thriving informal economy. Only 15% of South African jobs are in the informal sector, compared with around half in Brazil and India and nearly three-quarters in Indonesia. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) attributes this difference to South Africa's widespread welfare system. World Bank research shows that South Africa has one of the widest gaps between per capita GDP versus its Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, with only Botswana showing a larger gap.
After 1994, government policy brought down inflation, stabilised public finances, and some foreign capital was attracted, however growth was still subpar. From 2004 onward, economic growth picked up significantly; both employment and capital formation increased. During the presidency of Jacob Zuma, the government increased the role of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Some of the biggest SOEs are Eskom, the electric power monopoly, South African Airways (SAA), and Transnet, the railroad and ports monopoly. Some of these SOEs have not been profitable, such as SAA, which has required bailouts totaling R30 billion ($2.25 billion) over 20 years.
Principal international trading partners of South Africa—besides other African countries—include Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain.
The South African agricultural industry contributes around 10% of formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa, as well as providing work for casual labourers and contributing around 2.6% of GDP for the nation. Due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5% can be used for crop production, and only 3% is considered high potential land.
In August 2013, South Africa was ranked as the top African Country of the Future by fDi magazine based on the country's economic potential, labour environment, cost-effectiveness, infrastructure, business friendliness, and foreign direct investment strategy.
The Financial Secrecy Index (FDI) ranks South Africa as the 50th safest tax haven in the world.
During 1995–2003, the number of formal jobs decreased and informal jobs increased; overall unemployment worsened.
The government's Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policies have drawn criticism from Neva Makgetla, lead economist for research and information at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, for focusing "almost exclusively on promoting individual ownership by black people [which] does little to address broader economic disparities, though the rich may become more diverse." Official affirmative action policies have seen a rise in black economic wealth and an emerging black middle class. Other problems include state ownership and interference, which impose high barriers to entry in many areas. Restrictive labour regulations have contributed to the unemployment malaise.
Along with many African nations, South Africa has been experiencing a "brain drain" in the past 20 years. and is almost certainly detrimental for the wellbeing of those reliant on the healthcare infrastructure. The skills drain in South Africa tends to demonstrate racial contours given the skills distribution legacy of South Africa and has thus resulted in large white South African communities abroad. However, the statistics which purport to show a brain drain are disputed and also do not account for repatriation and expiry of foreign work contracts. According to several surveys, there has been a reverse in brain drain following the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 and expiration of foreign work contracts. In the first quarter of 2011, confidence levels for graduate professionals were recorded at a level of 84% in a Professional Provident Society (PPS) survey. Illegal immigrants are involved in informal trading. Many immigrants to South Africa continue to live in poor conditions, and the immigration policy has become increasingly restrictive since the year 1994.
Several important scientific and technological developments have originated in South Africa. The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in December 1967, Max Theiler developed a vaccine against yellow fever, Allan McLeod Cormack pioneered X-ray computed tomography (CT scan), and Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy techniques. With the exception of that of Barnard, all of these advancements were recognised with Nobel Prizes. Sydney Brenner won most recently, in 2002, for his pioneering work in molecular biology.
Mark Shuttleworth founded an early Internet security company Thawte, that was subsequently bought out by world-leader VeriSign. Despite government efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in biotechnology, information technology and other high technology fields, no other notable groundbreaking companies have been founded in South Africa. It is the expressed objective of the government to transition the economy to be more reliant on high technology, based on the realisation that South Africa cannot compete with Far Eastern economies in manufacturing, nor can the republic rely on its mineral wealth in perpetuity.
South Africa has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. It hosts the Southern African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. South Africa is currently building the Karoo Array Telescope as a pathfinder for the €1.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project. On 25 May 2012, it was announced that hosting of the Square Kilometer Array Telescope will be split over both the South African and the Australia and New Zealand sites.
Two distinctive features of the South African water sector are the policy of free basic water and the existence of water boards, which are bulk water supply agencies that operate pipelines and sell water from reservoirs to municipalities. These features have led to significant problems concerning the financial sustainability of service providers, leading to a lack of attention to maintenance. Following the end of apartheid, the country had made improvements in the levels of access to water as those with access increased from 66% to 79% from 1990 to 2010. Sanitation access increased from 71% to 79% during the same period. However, water supply and sanitation in South Africa has come under increasing pressure in recent years despite a commitment made by the government to improve service standards and provide investment subsidies to the water industry.
The eastern parts of South Africa suffer from periodic droughts linked to the El Niño weather phenomenon. In early 2018, Cape Town, which has different weather patterns to the rest of the country, faced a water crisis as the city's water supply was predicted to run dry before the end of June. Water-saving measures were in effect that required each citizen to use less than 50 litres (13 US gal) a day.
South Africa is a nation of about 55 million (2016) people of diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions. The last census was held in 2011, with a more recent intercensal national survey conducted in 2016. South Africa is home to an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants, including some 3 million Zimbabweans. A series of anti-immigrant riots occurred in South Africa beginning on 11 May 2008.
Statistics South Africa asks people to describe themselves in the census in terms of five racial population groups. The 2011 census figures for these groups were: Black African at 79.2%, White at 8.9%, Coloured at 8.9%, Asian at 2.5%, and Other/Unspecified at 0.5%.:21 The first census in South Africa in 1911 showed that whites made up 22% of the population; this had declined to 16% by 1980.
South Africa hosts a sizeable refugee and asylum seeker population. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this population numbered approximately 144,700 in 2007. Groups of refugees and asylum seekers numbering over 10,000 included people from Zimbabwe (48,400), the DRC (24,800), and Somalia (12,900). These populations mainly lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth.
South Africa has 11 official languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, and Southern Ndebele (in order of first language speakers). In this regard it is fourth only to Bolivia, India, and Zimbabwe in number. While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2011 census, the three most spoken first languages are Zulu (22.7%), Xhosa (16.0%), and Afrikaans (13.5%). Despite the fact that English is recognised as the language of commerce and science, it is ranked fourth, and was listed as the first language of only 9.6% of South Africans in 2011; but it remains the de facto lingua franca of the nation.
The country also recognises several unofficial languages, including Fanagalo, Khoe, Lobedu, Nama, Northern Ndebele, Phuthi, and South African Sign Language. These unofficial languages may be used in certain official uses in limited areas where it has been determined that these languages are prevalent.
Many of the unofficial languages of the San and Khoikhoi people contain regional dialects stretching northwards into Namibia and Botswana, and elsewhere. These people, who are a physically distinct population from other Africans, have their own cultural identity based on their hunter-gatherer societies. They have been marginalised to a great extent, and the remainder of their languages are in danger of becoming extinct.
White South Africans may also speak European languages, including Italian, Portuguese (also spoken by black Angolans and Mozambicans), German, and Greek, while some Indian South Africans speak Indian languages, such as Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. French is spoken in South Africa by migrants from Francophone Africa.
According to the 2001 census, Christians accounted for 79.8% of the population, with a majority of them being members of various Protestant denominations (broadly defined to include syncretic African initiated churches) and a minority of Roman Catholics and other Christians. Christian category includes Zion Christian (11.1%), Pentecostal (Charismatic) (8.2%), Roman Catholic (7.1%), Methodist (6.8%), Dutch Reformed (Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk; 6.7%), and Anglican (3.8%). Members of remaining Christian churches accounted for another 36% of the population. Muslims accounted for 1.5% of the population, Hindus 1.2%, traditional African religion 0.3% and Judaism 0.2%. 15.1% had no religious affiliation, 0.6% were "other" and 1.4% were "unspecified."
African initiated churches formed the largest of the Christian groups. It was believed that many of the persons who claimed no affiliation with any organised religion adhered to traditional African religion. There are an estimated 200,000 indigenous traditional healers in South Africa, and up to 60% of South Africans consult these healers, generally called sangomas or inyangas. These healers use a combination of ancestral spiritual beliefs and a belief in the spiritual and medicinal properties of local fauna and flora, commonly known as muti, to facilitate healing in clients. Many peoples have syncretic religious practices combining Christian and indigenous influences.
South African Muslims comprise mainly of those who are described as Coloureds and those who are described as Indians. They have been joined by black or white South African converts as well as others from other parts of Africa. South African Muslims claim that their faith is the fastest-growing religion of conversion in the country, with the number of black Muslims growing sixfold, from 12,000 in 1991 to 74,700 in 2004.
South Africa is also home to a substantial Jewish population, descended from European Jews who arrived as a minority among other European settlers. This population peaked in the 1970s at 120,000, though only around 67,000 remain today, the rest having emigrated, mostly to Israel. Even so, these numbers make the Jewish community in South Africa the twelfth largest in the world.
The South African black majority still has a substantial number of rural inhabitants who lead largely impoverished lives. It is among these people that cultural traditions survive most strongly; as blacks have become increasingly urbanised and Westernised, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white but whose ranks include growing numbers of black, coloured and Indian people, have lifestyles similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australasia.
South African art includes the oldest art objects in the world, which were discovered in a South African cave, and dated from 75,000 years ago. The scattered tribes of Khoisan peoples moving into South Africa from around 10000 BC had their own fluent art styles seen today in a multitude of cave paintings. They were superseded by Bantu/Nguni peoples with their own vocabularies of art forms. New forms of art evolved in the mines and townships: a dynamic art using everything from plastic strips to bicycle spokes. The Dutch-influenced folk art of the Afrikaner trekboers and the urban white artists, earnestly following changing European traditions from the 1850s onwards, also contributed to this eclectic mix which continues to evolve today.
South African literature emerged from a unique social and political history. One of the first well known novels written by a black author in an African language was Solomon Thekiso Plaatje's Mhudi, written in 1930. During the 1950s, Drum magazine became a hotbed of political satire, fiction, and essays, giving a voice to urban black culture.
Notable white South African authors include Alan Paton, who published the novel Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948. Nadine Gordimer became the first South African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1991. JM Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 2003. When awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy stated that Coetzee "in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider."
The plays of Athol Fugard have been regularly premiered in fringe theatres in South Africa, London (Royal Court Theatre) and New York. Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm (1883) was a revelation in Victorian literature: it is heralded by many as introducing feminism into the novel form.
Breyten Breytenbach was jailed for his involvement with the guerrilla movement against apartheid. André Brink was the first Afrikaner writer to be banned by the government after he released the novel A Dry White Season.
The South African media sector is large, and South Africa is one of Africa's major media centres. While South Africa's many broadcasters and publications reflect the diversity of the population as a whole, the most commonly used language is English. However, all ten other official languages are represented to some extent or another.
There is great diversity in South African music. Black musicians have developed a unique style called Kwaito, that is said to have taken over radio, television, and magazines. Of note is Brenda Fassie, who launched to fame with her song "Weekend Special", which was sung in English. More famous traditional musicians include Ladysmith Black Mambazo, while the Soweto String Quartet performs classic music with an African flavour. South Africa has produced world-famous jazz musicians, notably Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, Jonathan Butler, Chris McGregor, and Sathima Bea Benjamin. Afrikaans music covers multiple genres, such as the contemporary Steve Hofmeyr, the punk rock band Fokofpolisiekar and the singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops. South African popular musicians that have found international success include Johnny Clegg, as well as Seether.
Although few South African film productions are known outside South Africa itself, many foreign films have been produced about South Africa. Arguably, the most high-profile film portraying South Africa in recent years was District 9. Other notable exceptions are the film Tsotsi, which won the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006, as well as U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha, which won the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival. In 2015, the Oliver Hermanus film The Endless River became the first South African film selected for the Venice Film Festival.
South African cuisine is diverse; foods from many cultures are enjoyed by all and especially marketed to tourists who wish to sample the large variety.
South African cuisine is heavily meat-based and has spawned the distinctively South African social gathering known as the braai, a variation of the barbecue. South Africa has also developed into a major wine producer, with some of the best vineyards lying in valleys around Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Barrydale.
South Africa's most popular sports are soccer, rugby and cricket. Other sports with significant support are swimming, athletics, golf, boxing, tennis, ringball, and netball. Although soccer commands the greatest following among the youth, other sports like basketball, surfing and skateboarding are increasingly popular.
Soccer players who have played for major foreign clubs include Steven Pienaar, Lucas Radebe and Philemon Masinga, Benni McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena, and Delron Buckley. South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter awarded South Africa a grade 9 out of 10 for successfully hosting the event.
Famous boxing personalities include Baby Jake Jacob Matlala, Vuyani Bungu, Welcome Ncita, Dingaan Thobela, Gerrie Coetzee and Brian Mitchell. Durban surfer Jordy Smith won the 2010 Billabong J-Bay Open making him the highest ranked surfer in the world. South Africa produced Formula One motor racing's 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter. Famous current cricket players include AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, and Faf du Plessis; most also participate in the Indian Premier League.
South Africa has also produced numerous world class rugby players, including Francois Pienaar, Joost van der Westhuizen, Danie Craven, Frik du Preez, Naas Botha, and Bryan Habana. South Africa hosted and won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and won the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. It followed the 1995 Rugby World Cup by hosting the 1996 African Cup of Nations, with the national team, the Springboks, going on to win the tournament. It also hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 World Twenty20 Championship. South Africa's national cricket team, the Proteas, has also won the inaugural edition of the 1998 ICC KnockOut Trophy by defeating West Indies in the final. South Africa's national blind cricket team also went on to win the inaugural edition of the Blind Cricket World Cup in 1998.
In 2004, the swimming team of Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Athens, simultaneously breaking the world record in the 4×100 freestyle relay. Penny Heyns won Olympic Gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. In 2012, Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympic Games in London. In golf, Gary Player is generally regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, having won the Career Grand Slam, one of five golfers to have done so. Other South African golfers to have won major tournaments include Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
The adult literacy rate in 2007 was 88.7%. South Africa has a three-tier system of education starting with primary school, followed by high school and tertiary education in the form of (academic) universities and universities of technology. Learners have twelve years of formal schooling, from grade 1 to 12. Grade R, or grade 0, is a pre-primary foundation year. Primary schools span the first seven years of schooling. High school education spans a further five years. The National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination takes place at the end of grade 12 and is necessary for tertiary studies at a South African university.
Public universities in South Africa are divided into three types: traditional universities, which offer theoretically oriented university degrees; universities of technology (formerly called "technikons"), which offer vocational oriented diplomas and degrees; and comprehensive universities, which offer both types of qualification. There are 23 public universities in South Africa: 11 traditional universities, 6 universities of technology and 6 comprehensive universities.
Under apartheid, schools for black people were subject to discrimination through inadequate funding and a separate syllabus called Bantu Education which was only designed to give them sufficient skills to work as labourers.
In 2004, South Africa started reforming its tertiary education system, merging and incorporating small universities into larger institutions, and renaming all tertiary education institutions "university". By 2015, 1.4 million students in higher education have benefited from a financial aid scheme which was promulgated in 1999.
According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, the life expectancy in 2009 was 71 years for a white South African and 48 years for a black South African. The healthcare spending in the country is about 9% of GDP.
About 20% of the population uses private healthcare. Only 16% of the population is covered by medical aid schemes. The rest pay for private care "out of pocket" or through in-hospital-only plans. The three dominant hospital groups, Mediclinic, Life Healthcare and Netcare, together control 75% of the private hospital market.
According to the 2015 UNAIDS Report, South Africa has an estimated 7 million people living with HIV – more than any other country in the world. A 2008 study revealed that HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa is distinctly divided along racial lines: 13.6% of blacks are HIV-positive, whereas only 0.3% of whites have the disease. Most deaths are experienced by economically active individuals, resulting in many AIDS orphans who in many cases depend on the state for care and financial support. It is estimated that there are 1,200,000 orphans in South Africa.
The link between HIV, a virus spread primarily by sexual contact, and AIDS was long denied by former president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who insisted that the many deaths in the country are due to malnutrition, and hence poverty, and not HIV. In 2007, in response to international pressure, the government made efforts to fight AIDS.
After the 2009 general elections, former president Jacob Zuma appointed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the new health minister and committed his government to increasing funding for and widening the scope of HIV treatment, and by 2015, South Africa had made significant progress, with the widespread availability of antiretroviral drugs resulted in an increase in life expectancy from 52.1 years to 62.5 years.
Southern Africa is home to the other of sub-Saharan Africa's regional powers: South Africa. South Africa is more than just a regional power; it is currently the most developed and economically powerful country in Africa, and now it is able to use that influence in Africa more than during the days of apartheid (white rule), when it was ostracised.
Mzansi is another black urban vernacular term popular with the youth and standing for South Africa.
uMzantsi in Xhosa means 'south', Mzansi means this country, South Africa
In 1929, during a brief visit to the Transvaal, I myself found a number of pebble tools in some of the terrace gravels of the Vaal River, and similar finds have been recorded by Wayland, who visited South Africa, and by van Riet Lowe and other South African prehistorians.
On 5 October 1960 a referendum was held in which White voters were asked "Do you support a republic for the Union?" – 52 percent voted 'Yes'.
Others pointed out that the repeal of the Population Registration Act in 1991 removed any legal basis for specifying 'race'. The Identification Act of 1997 makes no mention of race. On the other hand, the Employment Equity Act speaks of 'designated groups' being 'black people, women and people with disabilities'. The Act defines 'black' as referring to 'Africans, coloureds and Indians'. Apartheid and the racial identification which underpinned it explicitly linked race with differential access to resources and power. If the post-apartheid order was committed to remedying this, race would have to be included in surveys and censuses, so that progress in eradicating the consequences of apartheid could be measured and monitored. This was the reasoning that led to a 'self-identifying' question about 'race' or 'population group' in both the 1996 and 2001 population censuses, and in Statistics SA's household survey programme.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010. The bidding process for hosting the tournament finals was open only to African nations. In 2004, the international football federation, FIFA, selected South Africa over Egypt and Morocco to become the first African nation to host the finals.The matches were played in 10 stadiums in nine host cities around the country, with the opening and final played at the Soccer City stadium in South Africa's largest city, Johannesburg. Thirty-two teams were selected for participation via a worldwide qualification tournament that began in August 2007. In the first round of the tournament finals, the teams competed in round-robin groups of four teams for points, with the top two teams in each group proceeding. These 16 teams advanced to the knockout stage, where three rounds of play decided which teams would participate in the final.
In the final, Spain, the European champions, defeated the Netherlands (third-time losing finalists) 1–0 after extra time, with Andrés Iniesta's goal in the 116th minute giving Spain their first world title. Spain became the eighth nation to win the tournament and the first European nation to win a World Cup hosted outside its home continent: all previous World Cups held outside Europe had been won by South American nations. They are also the only national team since 1978 to win a World Cup after losing a game in the group stage. As a result of their win, Spain represented the World in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. Host nation South Africa and both 2006 World Cup finalists Italy and France were all eliminated in the first round of the tournament. It was the first time that the hosts had been eliminated in the first round. New Zealand, with their three draws, were the only undefeated team in the tournament, but they were also eliminated in the first round.Afrikaans
Afrikaans (UK: , US: ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It evolved from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland (Hollandic dialect) spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa, where it gradually began to develop distinguishing characteristics in the course of the 18th century. Hence, it is a daughter language of Dutch, and was previously referred to as "Cape Dutch" (a term also used to refer collectively to the early Cape settlers) or "kitchen Dutch" (a derogatory term used to refer to Afrikaans in its earlier days). However, it is also variously described as a creole or as a partially creolised language. The term is ultimately derived from Dutch Afrikaans-Hollands meaning "African Dutch".
Although Afrikaans has adopted words from other languages, including German and the Khoisan languages, an estimated 90 to 95% of the vocabulary of Afrikaans is of Dutch origin. Therefore, differences with Dutch often lie in the more analytic morphology and grammar of Afrikaans, and a spelling that expresses Afrikaans pronunciation rather than standard Dutch. There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form.With about 7 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13.5% of the population, it is the third-most-spoken language in the country. It has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all the 11 official languages of South Africa, and is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language. It is the majority language of the western half of South Africa—the provinces of the Northern Cape and Western Cape—and the first language of 75.8% of Coloured South Africans (4.8 million people), 60.8% of White South Africans (2.7 million); 4.6% of Asian South Africans (58,000 people), and 1.5% of Black South Africans (600,000 people).In addition, many native speakers of Bantu languages and English also speak Afrikaans as a second language. It is taught in schools, with about 10.3 million second-language students. One reason for the expansion of Afrikaans is its development in the public realm: it is used in newspapers, radio programs, TV, and several translations of the Bible have been published since the first one was completed in 1933.In neighbouring Namibia, Afrikaans is widely spoken as a second language and used as a lingua franca, while as a native language it is spoken in 10.4% of households, mainly concentrated in the capital Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and the southern regions of Hardap and ǁKaras. It, along with German, was among the official languages of Namibia until the country became independent in 1990, 25% of the population of Windhoek spoke Afrikaans at home. Both Afrikaans and German are recognised regional languages in Namibia, although only English has official status within the government.
Estimates of the total number of Afrikaans speakers range between 15 and 23 million.Apartheid
Apartheid (South African English: ; Afrikaans: [aˈpartɦəit], segregation; lit. "separateness") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap (or white supremacy), which encouraged state repression of Black African, Coloured, and Asian South Africans for the benefit of the nation's minority white population. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid continue to the present day.Broadly speaking, apartheid was delineated into petty apartheid, which entailed the segregation of public facilities and social events, and grand apartheid, which dictated housing and employment opportunities by race. Prior to the 1940s, some aspects of apartheid had already emerged in the form of minority rule by White South Africans and the socially enforced separation of Black South Africans from other races, which later extended to pass laws and land apportionment. Apartheid was adopted as a formal policy by the South African government after the election of the National Party (NP) at the 1948 general election.A codified system of racial stratification began to take form in South Africa under the Dutch Empire in the late-eighteenth century, although informal segregation was present much earlier due to social cleavages between Dutch colonists and a creolised, ethnically diverse slave population. With the rapid growth and industrialisation of the British Cape Colony in the nineteenth century, racial policies and laws became increasingly rigid. Cape legislation that discriminated specifically against Black South Africans began appearing shortly before 1900. The policies of the Boer republics were also racially exclusive; for instance, the Transvaal's constitution barred Black and Coloured participation in church and state.The first apartheid law was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949, followed closely by the Immorality Amendment Act of 1950, which made it illegal for most South African citizens to marry or pursue sexual relationships across racial lines. The Population Registration Act, 1950 classified all South Africans into one of four racial groups based on appearance, known ancestry, socioeconomic status, and cultural lifestyle: "Black", "White", "Coloured", and "Indian", the last two of which included several sub-classifications. Places of residence were determined by racial classification. From 1960–1983, 3.5 million Non-White South Africans were removed from their homes and forced into segregated neighbourhoods, in one of the largest mass evictions in modern history. Most of these targeted removals were intended to restrict the Black population to ten designated "tribal homelands", also known as bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government announced that relocated persons would lose their South African citizenship as they were absorbed into the bantustans.Apartheid sparked significant international and domestic opposition, resulting in some of the most influential global social movements of the twentieth century. It was the target of frequent condemnation in the United Nations and brought about an extensive arms and trade embargo on South Africa. During the 1970s and 1980s, internal resistance to apartheid became increasingly militant, prompting brutal crackdowns by the National Party government and protracted sectarian violence that left thousands dead or in detention. Some reforms of the apartheid system were undertaken, including allowing for Indian and Coloured political representation in parliament, but these measures failed to appease most activist groups.Between 1987–1993, the National Party entered into bilateral negotiations with the African National Congress, the leading anti-apartheid political movement, for ending segregation and introducing majority rule. In 1990, prominent ANC figures such as Nelson Mandela were released from prison. Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991, pending fully democratic, multiracial elections set for April 1994.BRICS
BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC" (or "the BRICs"), before the induction of South Africa in 2011. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs; all are members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. China hosted the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen on September 2017, while South Africa hosted the most recent 10th BRICS summit in July 2018. The term does not include countries such as South Korea, Mexico and Turkey for which other acronyms and group associations were later created.
In 2015, the five BRICS countries represent over 3.1 billion people, or about 41% of the world population; four out of five members (excluding South Africa at #24) are in the top 10 of the world by population. As of 2018, these five nations have a combined nominal GDP of US$18.6 trillion, about 23.2% of the gross world product, combined GDP (PPP) of around US$40.55 trillion (32% of World's GDP PPP) and an estimated US$4.46 trillion in combined foreign reserves. Overall the BRICS are forecasted to expand 4.6% in 2016, from an estimated growth of 3.9% in 2015. The World Bank expected BRICS growth to increase to 5.3% in 2017.
The BRICS have received both praise and criticism from numerous commentators. Bilateral relations among BRICS nations have mainly been conducted on the basis of non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit.Cape Town
Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad [ˈkɑːpstat]; Xhosa: iKapa; Dutch: Kaapstad; South Sotho: Motse Kapa) is the oldest city in South Africa, colloquially named the Mother City. It is the legislative capital of South Africa and primate city of the Western Cape province. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality.
The Parliament of South Africa sits in Cape Town. The other two capitals are located in Pretoria (the administrative capital where the Presidency is based) and Bloemfontein (the judicial capital where the Supreme Court of Appeal is located). The city is known for its harbour, for its natural setting in the Cape Floristic Region, and for landmarks such as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is home to 64% of the Western Cape's population. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates to South Africa. The city was named the World Design Capital for 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. In 2014, Cape Town was named the best place in the world to visit by both The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph.Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town, as the oldest urban area in South Africa, was developed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Jan van Riebeeck's arrival on 6 April 1652 established Dutch Cape Colony, the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Cape Town outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa.Durban
Durban (Zulu: eThekwini, from itheku meaning "bay/lagoon") is the third most populous city in South Africa—after Johannesburg and Cape Town—and the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Located on the east coast of South Africa, Durban is famous for being the busiest port in the country. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches. Durban forms part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, which includes neighboring towns and has a population of about 3.44 million, making the combined municipality one of the biggest cities on the Indian Ocean coast of the African continent. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. In 2015, Durban was recognised as one of the New7Wonders Cities (along with Vigan, Doha, La Paz, Havana, Beirut, and Kuala Lumpur).HuffPost
HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post and sometimes abbreviated HuffPo) is an American news and opinion website and blog, with localized and international editions. The magazine is edited from a liberal political perspective. It was founded in 2005 by Andrew Breitbart, Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti. The site offers news, satire, blogs, and original content and covers politics, business, entertainment, environment, technology, popular media, lifestyle, culture, comedy, healthy living, women's interests, and local news.
The Huffington Post was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet, blog, and an alternative to news aggregators such as the Drudge Report. On February 7, 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for US$315 million, making Arianna Huffington editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group. The site later became part of Verizon Communications, which purchased AOL on May 12, 2015 for US$4.4 billion.In July 2012, The Huffington Post was ranked No. 1 on the 15 Most Popular Political Sites list by eBizMBA Rank, which bases its list on each site's Alexa Global Traffic Rank and U.S. Traffic Rank from both Compete and Quantcast. In 2012, The Huffington Post became the first commercially run United States digital media enterprise to win a Pulitzer Prize.Johannesburg
Johannesburg (; Afrikaans: [jʊəˈɦanəsbœrχ]; also known as Jozi, Jo'burg, and eGoli) is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa's three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.
The metropolis is an alpha global city as listed by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. In 2011, the population of the city of Johannesburg was 4,434,827, making it the most populous city in South Africa. In the same year, the population of Johannesburg's urban agglomeration was put at 7,860,781. The land area of the municipal city (1,645 km2 (635 sq mi)) is large in comparison with those of other major cities, resulting in a moderate population density of 2,364/km2 (6,120/sq mi).
The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. The city is commonly interpreted as the modern day El Dorado due to the extremely large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand. In ten years, the population grew to 100,000 inhabitants.
A separate city from the late 1970s until 1994, Soweto is now part of Johannesburg. Originally an acronym for "South-Western Townships", Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, populated mostly by native African workers from the gold mining industry. Soweto, although eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, had been separated as a residential area for Blacks, who were not permitted to live in Johannesburg proper. Lenasia is predominantly populated by English-speaking South Africans of Indian descent. These areas were designated as non-white areas in accordance with the segregationist policies of the South African government known as Apartheid.Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; Hindustani: [ˈmoːɦəndaːs ˈkərəmtʃənd ˈɡaːndʱi] (listen); 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā (Sanskrit: "high-souled", "venerable") was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa – is now used worldwide. In India, he was also called Bapu, a term that he preferred (Gujarati: endearment for father, papa) and Gandhi ji, and is known as the Father of the Nation.Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.Gandhi led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and political protest.
Gandhi's vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism, however, was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India. Eventually, in August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan. Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest. Captured along with many of his co-conspirators and collaborators, Godse and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte were tried, convicted and executed while many of their other accomplices were given prison sentences.
Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.Namibia
Namibia ( (listen), ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River (essentially a small bulge in Botswana to achieve a Botswana/Zambia micro-border) separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Namibia, the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, was inhabited since early times by the San, Damara, and Nama peoples. Around the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu groups, one of which is known as the Ovambo people, have dominated the population of the country; since the late 19th century, they have constituted a majority.
In 1878, the Cape of Good Hope, then a British colony, had annexed the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands; these became an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910. In 1884 the German Empire established rule over most of the territory as a protectorate (Schutzgebiet). It began to develop infrastructure and farming and maintained this German colony until 1915, when South African forces defeated its military. In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated the country to the United Kingdom, under administration by South Africa. It imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules.
From 1948, with the National Party elected to power, South Africa applied apartheid also to what was then known as South West Africa.
In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule. In 1973 the UN recognised the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people; the party is dominated by the Ovambo, who are a large plurality in the territory. Following continued guerrilla warfare, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990. However, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.
Namibia has a population of 2.6 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals – form the basis of its economy. The large, arid Namib Desert has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world.Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.
A Xhosa, Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in Mvezo, British South Africa. He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. There he became involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding its Youth League in 1944. After the National Party's white-only government established apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, he and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Mandela was appointed President of the ANC's Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state following the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison. Amid growing domestic and international pressure, and with fears of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country's racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Economically, Mandela's administration retained its predecessor's liberal framework despite his own socialist beliefs, also introducing measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and served as Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He declined a second presidential term, and in 1999 was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the far-left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid's supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours—including the Nobel Peace Prize—and became the subject of a cult of personality. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, and described as the "Father of the Nation".President of South Africa
The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under the Constitution of South Africa. From 1961 to 1994, the head of state was called the State President.
The President is elected by the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, and is usually the leader of the largest party, which has been the African National Congress since the first non-racial elections were held on 27 April 1994. The Constitution limits the president's time in office to two five-year terms. The first president to be elected under the new constitution was Nelson Mandela. The incumbent is Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected by the National Assembly on 15 February 2018 following the resignation of Jacob Zuma.
Under the interim constitution (valid from 1994 to 1996), there was a Government of National Unity, in which a Member of Parliament (MP) from the largest opposition party was entitled to a position as Deputy President. Along with Thabo Mbeki, the last State President, F. W. de Klerk also served as Deputy President, in his capacity as the leader of the National Party which was the second-largest party in the new Parliament. But De Klerk later resigned and went into opposition with his party. A voluntary coalition government continues to exist under the new constitution (adopted in 1996), although there have been no appointments of opposition politicians to the post of Deputy President.
The President is required to be a member of the National Assembly at the time of his election. Upon his election, he immediately resigns his seat for the duration of his term. The President may be removed either by a motion of no-confidence or an impeachment trial.Pretoria
Pretoria (; Xhosa: E-Pitoli) is a city in the northern part of Gauteng province in South Africa. It straddles the Apies River and has spread eastwards into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the seat of the administrative branch of government (Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital), and of foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria has a reputation for being an academic city with three universities, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Human Sciences Research Council. The city also hosts the National Research Foundation and the South African Bureau of Standards making the city a hub for research. Pretoria is the central part of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality which was formed by the amalgamation of several former local authorities including Centurion and Soshanguve. There have been proposals to change the name of Pretoria itself to Tshwane, and the proposed name change has caused some public controversy.
Pretoria is named after the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, and within South Africa sometimes called the "Jacaranda City" due to the thousands of jacaranda trees planted in its streets, parks and gardens.Second Boer War
The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms.
The war started with the British overconfident and under-prepared. The Boers were well armed and struck first, besieging Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mahikeng in early 1900, and winning important battles at Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg. Staggered, the British brought in large numbers of soldiers and fought back. General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. They relieved the three besieged cities, and invaded the two Boer republics in late 1900. The onward marches of the British Army, well over 400,000 men, were so overwhelming that the Boers did not fight staged battles in defense of their homeland.
The British seized control of all of the Orange Free State and Transvaal, as the civilian leadership went into hiding or exile. In conventional terms, the war was over. The British officially annexed the two countries in 1900. Back home, Britain's Conservative government wanted to capitalize on this success and use it to maneuver an early general election, dubbed a "khaki election" to give the government another six years of power in London. British military efforts were aided by Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal and some native African allies, and further supported by volunteers from the British Empire, including Southern Africa, the Australian colonies, Canada, India and New Zealand. All other nations were neutral, but public opinion was largely hostile to the British. Inside the UK and its Empire there also was significant opposition to the Second Boer War.
The Boers refused to surrender. They reverted to guerrilla warfare under new generals Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, Christiaan de Wet and Koos de la Rey. Two years of surprise attacks and quick escapes followed. As guerrillas without uniforms, the Boer fighters easily blended into the farmlands, which provided hiding places, supplies, and horses.
The UK's response to guerilla warfare was to set up complex nets of block houses, strong points, and barbed wire fences, partitioning off the entire conquered territory. In addition, civilian farms and live stock were destroyed in the scorched earth strategy. Survivors were forced into concentration camps. Very large proportions of these civilians died of hunger and disease, especially the children.
British mounted infantry units systematically tracked down the highly mobile Boer guerrilla units. The battles at this stage were small operations. Few died during combat, though many of disease. The war ended in surrender and British terms with the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. Both former republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910, as part of the British Empire.South Africa national cricket team
The South African national cricket team, nicknamed the Proteas (after South Africa's national flower, Protea cynaroides, commonly known as the "king protea"), is administered by Cricket South Africa. South Africa is a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) with Test, One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) status.
South Africa entered first-class and international cricket at the same time when they hosted an England cricket team in the 1888–89 season. At first, the team was no match for Australia or England but, having gained in experience and expertise, they were able to field a competitive team in the first decade of the 20th century. The team regularly played against Australia, England and New Zealand through to the 1960s, by which time there was considerable opposition to the country's apartheid policy and an international ban was imposed by the ICC, commensurate with actions taken by other global sporting bodies. When the ban was imposed, South Africa had developed to a point where its team including Eddie Barlow, Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter was arguably the best in the world and had just outplayed Australia.
The ban remained in place until 1991 and South Africa could then play against India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies for the first time. The team since reinstatement has mostly been strong and has at times held number one positions in international rankings but has lacked success in organised tournaments. Outstanding players since reinstatement have included Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla.South Africa national football team
The South Africa men's national football team represents South Africa in association football and is controlled by the South African Football Association, the governing body for football in South Africa. South Africa's home ground is FNB Stadium, so named due to a naming rights deal, in Johannesburg. The team is currently under the charge of Stuart Baxter, who was appointed as coach on 5 April 2017. The team's greatest achievement was winning the Africa Cup of Nations at home in 1996.
Having played their first match in 1924, they returned to the world stage in 1992, after 16 years of being banned from FIFA, and 40 years of effective suspension due to the apartheid system. South Africa became the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup when it was granted host status for the 2010 edition. The team's Siphiwe Tshabalala was also the first player to score in this World Cup during the opening game against Mexico, which was followed by an iconic Macarena-style goal celebration from five South African players. Despite defeating France 2–1 in their final game of the Group Stage, they failed to progress from the first round of the tournament, becoming the first host nation in the history of the FIFA World Cup to exit in the group stage. Despite this, the team ranked 20th out of 32 sides, ranking higher than 12 teams who qualified.South Africa national rugby union team
The South Africa national rugby union team, commonly known as the Springboks, is governed by the South African Rugby Union. The Springboks play in green and gold jerseys with white shorts, and their emblems are the Springbok and the King Protea. The team has been representing South Africa in international rugby union since 30 July 1891, when they played their first test match against a British Isles touring team.
Although South Africa was instrumental in the creation of the Rugby World Cup competition, the Springboks did not compete in the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991 because of anti-apartheid sporting boycotts of South Africa. The team made its World Cup debut in 1995, when the newly democratic South Africa hosted the tournament. The Springboks defeated the All Blacks 15–12 in the final, which is now remembered as one of the greatest moments in South Africa's sporting history, and a watershed moment in the post-Apartheid nation-building process. South Africa regained their title as champions 12 years later, when they defeated England 15–6 in the 2007 final. As a result of the 2007 World Cup tournament the Springboks were promoted to first place in the IRB World Rankings, a position they held until July the following year when New Zealand regained the top spot. They were named 2008 World Team of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.The Springboks also compete in the annual Rugby Championship (formerly the Tri-Nations), along with southern-hemisphere counterparts Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. They have won this championship on three occasions in sixteen years. They also play Test matches against the various rugby-playing nations. Their position in the World Rugby Rankings has varied between the No. 1 and No. 7 positions.Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa (Dutch: Unie van Zuid-Afrika, Afrikaans: Unie van Suid-Afrika pronunciation ) is the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony. It included the territories that were formerly a part of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
Following the First World War, the Union of South Africa was granted the administration of South West Africa (now known as Namibia) as a League of Nations mandate. It became treated in most respects as another province of the Union, but it never was formally annexed.
Like Canada and Australia, the Union of South Africa was a self-governing autonomous dominion of the British Empire. Its independence from the United Kingdom was confirmed in the Balfour Declaration 1926 and the Statute of Westminster 1931. It was governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with the Crown being represented by a governor-general. The Union came to an end with the enactment of the constitution of 1961, by which it became a republic and temporarily left the Commonwealth.White South Africans
White South Africans are South Africans descended from any of the white racial or ethnic groups of Europe. In linguistic, cultural and historical terms, they are generally divided into the Afrikaans-speaking descendants of the Dutch East India Company's original settlers, known as Afrikaners, and the Anglophone descendants of predominantly British colonists. In 2016, 57.9% were native Afrikaans speakers, 40.2% were native English speakers, and 1.9% spoke another language as their mother tongue, such as Portuguese or German. White South Africans are by far the largest European-descended population group in Africa.
White South Africans differ significantly from other White African groups, because they have a sense of separate cultural identity, as in the case of the Afrikaners, who established a distinct language, culture and faith.
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