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The people of South Africa are highly diverse. South Africa is ranked sixth out of the worlds seventeenÂ mega diverse countries. Black Africans make up more than three-quarters of the population, but come from several different ethnic backgrounds. Most whites are Afrikaans speakers of Dutch, German, and French Huguenot ancestry, but there is a substantial English speaking white minority. The remainder of the population is Asian, largely of Indian descent, and people of mixed race.
Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the Far East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority.
The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care.
ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo Mbeki resigned, and Kgalema Motlanthe, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob Zuma became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009. In January 2011, South Africa assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 terms.
Current Status of South Africa
South Africa's economy, the largest on the continent, is diverse as well. Although only about 12% of the country's land is suitable for agriculture South Africa produces wine, wool, maize and other agricultural products for export.
South Africa is the world's leading producer of gold, platinum, and chromium.
Major industrial sectors include automobile assembly, chemicals, textiles, foodstuffs, and iron and steel production.
South African cell phone companies and other firms are active all through Africa, and SABMiller, formerly South African Breweries, operates on a global scale.
The country's stock exchange is among the 20 largest in the world, and South Africa is one of the few countries on the continent to rank as an upper middle income country.
The country ranks as one of the most unequal societies in the world in terms of income distribution.
The majority of black South Africans live in poverty, and South Africa's cities are surrounded by vast informal housing settlements known as "townships."
Shortages of water, electricity, and other social services in the townships have contributed to growing tensions, as evidenced by a rise in township protests in recent years.
The nation of SA is ranked as an upper-middle income nation by the World Bank, which makes the countryside one of the only four countries in Africa stood in this category (the others being Botswana, Gabon and Mauritius). About a quarter of the population is unemployed and about the equal proportion lives on less than US $1.25 a day.
Advanced development is localized around four areas: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Pretoria-Johannesburg. Ahead of these four economic centers, development is minor and poverty is still widespread.
Consequently, majority of the South Africans are poor, however, recently the key marginal areas are having rapid growth. Those areas include Rustenburg area, Nelspruit area, Bloemfontein, Mossel Bay Plettenberg Bay, Cape West Coast, and the KwaZula-Natal North Coast.
South Africa's Current Status
Capital : Pretoria (executive)
Cape Town (legislative)
Ethnic groups: 79.6% Black
Area : Total 1,221,037 km2 (25th)
471,443 sq mi
GDP (PPP) : Total $555.134 billion (2011)
Per capita $10,973
GDP (nominal) Total $408.074 billion (2011)
Per capita $8,066
Currency : South African Rand (ZAR)
National Flag:South Africa
Two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band that splits into a horizontal Y, the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side; the Y embraces a black isosceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes; the flag colors do not have any official symbolism, but the Y stands for the "convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity"; black, yellow, and green are found on the flag of the African National Congress, while red, white, and blue are the colors in the flags of the Netherlands and the UK, whose settlers ruled South Africa during the colonial era
Provinces of South Africa
At the end of apartheid in 1994, the "independent" and "semi-independent" Bantustans were abolished, as were the four original provinces (Cape, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal), and nine new provinces were created. Each province 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.
NATIONALITY: South African
Ethnic groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)
Languages: IsiZulu (official) 23.82%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.64%, Afrikaans (official) 13.35%, Sepedi (official) 9.39%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.93%, Xitsonga (official) 4.44%, siSwati (official) 2.66%, Tshivenda (official) 2.28%, isiNdebele (official) 1.59%, other 0.5% (2001 census)
According to the 2001 national census
Christians accounted for 79.8%
Zion Christian (11.1%)
Pentecostal (Charismatic) (8.2%)
Roman Catholic (7.1%)
Dutch Reformed (Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk); 6.7%
Members of other Christian churches accounted for another 36% of the population.
Muslims accounted for 1.5%
Traditional African religion 0.3%
No religious affiliation 15.1%
Population: 48,810,427 (July 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world:Â 26
0-14 years:Â 28.4% (male 6,955,602/ female 6,914,246)
15-64 years:Â 65.7% (male 16,172,553/ female 15,902,889)
65> years:Â 5.9% (male 1,151,510/ female 1,713,627) (2012 est.)
Total:Â 25.3 years
Male:Â 25 years
Female:Â 25.6 years (2012 est.)
Population Growth Rate: -0.412% (2012 est)
Country comparison to the world:Â 216
Birth Rate: 19.32 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death Rate: 17.23 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Urban population:Â 62% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization:Â 1.2% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
At birth:Â 1.02 male(s)/female
Under 15 years:Â 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years:Â 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over:Â 0.67 male(s)/female
Total population: Â 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Life Expectancy at birth:
Total population:Â 49.41 years
Country comparison to the world:Â 220
Male:Â 50.34 years
Female:Â 48.45 years (2012 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Total:Â 42.67 deaths/1,000 live births
Country comparison to the world:Â 53
Male:Â 46.54 deaths/1,000 live births
Female:Â 38.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
8.5% of GDP (2009)
Country comparison to the world:Â 45
Physician density: 0.77 physicians/1,000 population (2004)
Hospital Bed density: 2.84 beds/1,000 population (2005)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 17.8% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world:Â 4
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 5.6 million (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world:Â 1
HIV/AIDS death: 310,000 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 1
Education Expenditure: 5.4% of GDP (2009)
Country comparison to the world:Â 45
Literacy :Definition:Â age 15 and over can read and write
Total population:Â 86.4%
Female:Â 85.7% (2003 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
Country comparison to the world:Â 3
Female:Â 52.5% (2009)
Conventional Long Form:Â Republic Of South Africa
Conventional Short Form:Â South Africa
Former:Â Union Of South Africa
Government type: Republic
Capital: Pretoria (administrative capital)
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape
Independence: 31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared); 27 April 1994 (majority rule)
National Holiday: Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Constitution: 10 December 1996; note - certified by the Constitutional Court 4 December 1996; was signed by then President MANDELA 10 December 1996; and entered into effect 4 February 1997
Legal System: mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and customary law
Chief of state:Â President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government:Â President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009)
Cabinet:Â Cabinet appointed by the president
Elections:Â president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
Election results:Â Jacob ZUMA elected president; National Assembly vote - Jacob ZUMA 277, Mvume DANDALA 47, other 76
Bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Council of Provinces (90 seats; 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities) and the National Assembly (400 seats; members elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
Elections:Â National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held on 22 April 2009 (next to be held in April 2014)
election results:Â National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 65.9%, DA 16.7%, COPE 7.4%, IFP 4.6%, other 5.4%; seats by party - ANC 264, DA 67, COPE 30, IFP 18, other 21
Judicial Branch: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts
Political Parties and Leaders: African Christian Democratic Party or ACDP [Kenneth MESHOE]; African National Congress or ANC [Jacob ZUMA]; Congress of the People or COPE [Mosiuoa LEKOTA]; Democratic Alliance or DA [Helen ZILLE]; Freedom Front Plus or FF+ [Pieter MULDER]; Independent Democrats or ID [Patricia DE LILLE]; Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI]; Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC [Motsoko PHEKO]; United Christian Democratic Party or UCDP [Lucas MANGOPE]; United Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]
4.127 million (2011)
Country comparison to the world:Â 43
Telephones - mobile cellular: 64 million (2011)
Country comparison to the world:Â 21
General assessment:Â the system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic:Â combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 140 telephones per 100 persons; consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
International:Â country code - 27; the SAT-3/WASC and SAFE fiber-optic submarine cable systems connect South Africa to Europe and Asia; the EASSy fiber-optic cable system connects with Europe and North America; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)
Internet Country Code: .za
Internet users: 4.42 million (2009)
Country comparison to the world:Â 54
AIRPORTS: 567 (2012)
country comparison to the world:Â 11
Airports- with Paved runways:
over 3,047 m:Â 11
2,438 to 3,047 m:Â 6
1,524 to 2,437 m:Â 53
914 to 1,523 m:Â 66
under 914 m:Â 9 (2012)
Airports- with Unpaved runways:
2,438 to 3,047 m:Â 1
1,524 to 2,437 m:Â 29
914 to 1,523 m:Â 260
under 914 m:Â 132 (2012)
PIPELINES: condensate 11 km; gas 908 km; oil 980 km; refined products 1,382 km (2010)
total:Â 20,192 km
country comparison to the world:Â 14
Narrow gauge:Â 19,756 km
1.065-m gauge (8,271 km electrified);
0.750-m gauge: 122km
0.610-m gauge: 314 km
Total:Â 362,099 km
Country comparison to the world:Â 18
Paved:Â 73,506 km (includes 239 km of expressways)
Unpaved:Â 288,593 km (2002)
country comparison to the world:Â 136
Ports and terminals: Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay
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 Mozambique border 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) 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 in South Africa is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as âˆ’15 Â°C (5 Â°F). The deep interior has the hottest temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 Â°C (125.06 Â°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 48.8C at Vioolsdrif in January 1993.
The Protea, national flower of South Africa Fynbos, a floral kingdom unique to South Africa, is found near Cape Town.The Blue Crane is the national bird of South Africa.
Languages of South Africa
South Africa has eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. In this regard it is third only to Bolivia and India in number. While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2001 National Census, the three most spoken first home languages are Zulu (23.8%), Xhosa (17.6%), and Afrikaans (13.3%). Despite the fact that English is recognized as the language of commerce and science, it was spoken by only 8.2% of South Africans at home in 2001, a slight decline from the comparable figure in 1996 (8.6%)
The impact of AIDS has caused a fall in life expectancy.
The spread of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a major problem in South Africa, with up to 31% of pregnant women found to be HIV infected in 2005 and the infection rate among adults estimated at 20%. The link between HIV, a virus spread primarily by sexual contact, and AIDS was long denied by prior president Thabo Mbeki and then health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who insisted that the many deaths in the country are due to malnutrition, and hence poverty, and not HIV. 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.
In 2007, in response to international pressure, the government made efforts to fight AIDS. In September 2008 Thabo Mbeki was recalled by the ANC and chose to resign and Kgalema Motlanthe was appointed for the interim. One of Motlanthe's first actions was to replace Minister Tshabalala-Msimang with Barbara Hogan who immediately started working to improve the Government's approach to AIDS. After the 2009 General Elections, President Jacob Zuma appointed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the new minister and committed his government to increasing funding for and widening the scope of AIDS treatment.
AIDS affects mainly those who are sexually active and is far more prevalent in the black population than it is among racial minorities. Most deaths are experienced by economically active individuals, resulting in many families losing their primary wage earners. This has resulted 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. Many elderly people also lose the support from lost younger members of their family. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, South Africa has an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV - more than any other country in the world.
South Africa has a 3 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 is a pre-primary foundation year. Primary schools span the first seven years of schooling. High School education spans a further five years. The Senior Certificate 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 ("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. Public institutions are usually English medium, although instruction may take place in Afrikaans as well. There are also a large number of other educational institutions in South Africa - some are local campuses of foreign universities, some conduct classes for students who write their exams at the distance-education University of South Africa and some offer unaccredited or non-accredited diplomas. Both public and private universities and colleges register with the Department of Higher Education and Training and are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Rankings of universities and business schools in South Africa are largely based on international university rankings, because there have not as yet been published any specifically South African rankings.
Under apartheid, schools for blacks 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 laborers. In 2004 South Africa started reforming its higher education system, merging and incorporating small universities into larger institutions, and renaming all higher education institutions "university" in order to redress these imbalances.
Public expenditure on education was at 5.4% of the 2002-05 GDP.