Snapshot of South Africa


South Africa is located on the southern tip of Africa. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Mozambique all border South Africa to the north. Lesotho is a country which is landlocked inside South Africa.

Land Area:

South Africa covers approximately 1.2 million square miles.


The landscape of South Africa displays significant variation. There are plateaus, savannas, deserts, mountains, and coastal plains.


The weather in South Africa is quite pleasant. The climate is similar to that of southern California.


There are 38 million people living in South Africa. Three-quarters of South Africans are black, and 14% are white.


South Africa has ten official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhsa, and Zulu.


Most South Africans are Christian. Other religions include: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and traditional African faiths.

Major Cities:

South Africa has three branches of government and a capital city for each. The administrative capital of South Africa is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town, and the judicial capital is Bloemfontein. Other large cities in South Africa are Durban, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth.


The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, and in 1934 South Africa became a sovereign

state within British empire. In 1948, the National Party took control of government and began enforcing a system of racial segregation called "apartheid" (separateness). The system of governance strictly limited the political, economic, and social rights of the black South African majority. The African Nation Congress (ANC) is a political movement that was formed to counter the apartheid government. Nelson Mandela and many other leaders of the anti-apartheid movement were imprisoned. In 1991, the Group Areas Act, Land Acts, and the Population Registration Act abolished the pillars of apartheid. Mandela was released from prison and a nonracial, democratic constitution came into effect on April 27, 1994. Two weeks later, Mandela, the winner of South Africa’s first nonracial election, was installed as president. President Mandela signed a new constitution into law on December 10, 1996, and it entered into

force on February 3, 1997.


The economy of South Africa is highly industrialized, but displays great inequalities of wealth and income resulting from earlier apartheid policies. South Africa has rich mineral resources. It is the largest producer and exporter of gold in the world. South Africa is a net exporter of agricultural products. Important crops include: citrus and deciduous fruits, corn, wheat, dairy products, sugarcane, tobacco, wine, and wool. South Africa also boasts highly developed manufacturing, and is a world leader in the production of synthetic fuels and mining equipment. A modern telecommunications and transportation infrastructure aids the South African economy.

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