South Africa

Map

South Africa Terrain: vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain;

Natural Resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas;

Natural Hazards: prolonged droughts

volcanism: the volcano forming Marion Island in the Prince Edward Islands, which last erupted in 2004, is South Africa’s only active volcano;

Population: 48,601,098 (July 2013 est.)
note: Statistics South Africa (the national statistical agency of South Africa) estimates the country’s mid-year 2013 total population to be 52,981,991, which takes into account the findings of South Africa’s 2011 census; estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

Factbook

Introduction: Background

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 term.

People and Society

Population 48,810,427 (July 2012 est.)
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Languages IsiZulu (official) 23.82%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.64%, Afrikaans (official) 13.35%, Sepedi (offcial) 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)
Religions Protestant 36.6% (Zionist Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%), Catholic 7.1%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)
Median Age total: 25 years
male: 24.7 years
female: 25.3 years (2011 est.)
Age Structure 0-14 years: 28.5% (male 6,998,726/female 6,959,542)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 16,287,314/female 15,972,046)
65 years and over: 5.7% (male 1,125,709/female 1,660,694) (2011 est.)

Government

Government Type republic
Capital name: Pretoria (administrative capital)
geographic coordinates: 25 42 S, 28 13 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cape Town (legislative capital); Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
Legal System mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and customary law

Geography

Location Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Area – Comparative slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Area total: 1,219,090 sq km
land: 1,214,470 sq km
water: 4,620 sq km
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)
Climate mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights
Terrain vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Natural Hazards prolonged droughts
volcanism: the volcano forming Marion Island in the Prince Edward Islands, which last erupted in 2004, is South Africa’s only active volcano
Natural Resources gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

Economy

South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is the 18th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting a relatively efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth was robust from 2004 to 2007 as South Africa reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom, but began to slow in the second half of 2007 due to an electricity crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis’ impact on commodity prices and demand. GDP fell nearly 2% in 2009, but recovered in 2010-11. Unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. State power supplier Eskom encountered problems with aging plants and meeting electricity demand, necessitating “load-shedding” cuts in 2007 and 2008 to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era – especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South Africa’s economic policy is fiscally conservative, focusing on controlling inflation and attaining a budget surplus. The current government largely follows the these prudent policies, but must contend with the impact of the global crisis and is facing growing pressure from special interest groups to use state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas and to increase job growth.
GDP (Official Exchange Rate) $422 billion (2011 est.)
Budget revenues: $104.7 billion
expenditures: $126.5 billion (2011 est.)
Current Account Balance -$16.67 billion (2011 est.)
-$10.12 billion (2010 est.)
Imports – Commodities machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs
Exports – Commodities gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment

Communications

Broadcast Media the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) operates 4 TV stations, 3 are free-to-air and 1 is pay TV; e.tv, a private station, is accessible to more than half the population; multiple subscription TV services provide a mix of local and international channels; well developed mix of public and private radio stations at the national, regional, and local levels; the SABC radio network, state-owned and controlled but nominally independent, operates 18 stations, one for each of the 11 official languages, 4 community stations, and 3 commercial stations; more than 100 community-based stations extend coverage to rural areas (2007)
Internet Users 4.42 million (2009)
Internet Hosts 4.835 million (2011)
Telephones – Mobile Cellular 50.372 million (2010)
Telephones – Main Lines in Use 4.225 million (2010)

Transportation
Airports 578 (2010)
Heliports 1 (2010)
Roadways total: 362,099 km
paved: 73,506 km (includes 239 km of expressways)
unpaved: 288,593 km (2002)
Ports and Terminals Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay
Merchant Marine total: 4
by type: container 1, petroleum tanker 3
foreign-owned: 1 (Denmark 1)
registered in other countries: 11 (Mexico 1, NZ 1, Seychelles 1, Singapore 3, UK 5) (2010)

Military
Manpower Fit for Military Service males age 16-49: 7,617,063
females age 16-49: 6,476,264 (2010 est.)

Transitional Issues
Disputes – International South Africa has placed military along the border to apprehend the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political persecution; as of January 2007, South Africa also supports large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (33,000), Somalia (20,000), Burundi (6,500), and other states in Africa (26,000); managed dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River; in 2006, Swazi king advocates resort to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa
Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons refugees (country of origin): 10,772 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 7,818 (Somalia); 5,759 (Angola) (2007)