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South Africa
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South Africa

Country Profile

Capital City: Pretoria (administrative) Bloemfontein (Mangaung) (judicial center) Mangaung Local Municipality; (the city's name in seSotho is Mangaung). Cape Town(legislative center)

Other Cities: Johannesburg, Durban (Thekwini), Port Elizabeth

Local Time: UTC +2h

Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the African continent.
Area: 1.2 million sq. km. (470,462 sq. mi). Terrain: Plateau, savanna, desert, mountains, coastal plains. Climate: moderate; similar to southern California.

Border countries
: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

Climate: Mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights


Type: Republic
Independence: 31 May 1910 (from UK); South Africa became a republic in 1961.
Constitution: 1996

Nationality: Noun and adjective--South African(s).
Population (2001, 44.8 million): black 77.8%; white 10.2%; colored 8.7%; Asian (Indian) 2.5%; other 0.8.5%.
Languages: (11 official languages) Sesotho sa Leboa 9.2%, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati (Swazi), Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans 14,4%, English 8.6%, isiNdebele, isiXhosa 17.9%, isiZulu 22.9%.
Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish.


Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)

Natural resources: South Africa is rich of natural resources: Gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas.

Agriculture products: Corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products.

Industries: Mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs.

Exports partners:
USA 12.4%, United Kingdom 12.6%, Japan 9.7%, Germany 6.9%, India 5.3%, Netherlands 4.9% (2004-2005)

Imports partners: Germany 15.5%, China 8.5%, USA 7.5%, United Kingdom 7.0%, Japan 6.9%, Iran 5.5%, France 3.8% (2004-2005) (Source: South African Trade Statistics, Department of Trade and Industry)

Internet Links

Official Sites of South Africa

 South Africa Government

The Parliament of South Africa

South Africa Government Online

Department of Foreign Affairs

Diplomatic Missions
Embassy of the Republic of South Africa

Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations

South African Embassy, Washington DC

Websites of SA Missions

Foreign Representation in South Africa

Stats SA

South African Weather Service

South Africa Maps
Map of South Africa

Map of South Africa

Map of the South Africas Provinces (1995)


South Africa

Background:  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). The resulting Union of South Africa
operated under a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the
races. The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically and ushered in
black majority rule.

Geography South Africa

Location:  Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Geographic coordinates:  29 00 S, 24 00 E

Map references:  Africa

Area:  total: 1,219,912 sq km land: 1,219,912 sq km note: includes Prince
Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island) water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Land boundaries:  total: 4,862 km border countries: Botswana 1,840 km,
Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km,
Zimbabwe 225 km

Coastline:  2,798 km

Maritime claims:  contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of the continental margin exclusive
economic zone: 200 NM

Climate:  mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days,
cool nights

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

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m highest point:
Njesuthi 3,408 m

Natural resources:  gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese,
nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper,
vanadium, salt, natural gas

Land use:  arable land: 12% permanent crops: 1% other: 87% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  13,500 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  prolonged droughts

Environment - current issues:  lack of important arterial rivers or
lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth
in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural
runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil
erosion; desertification

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Antarctic-Environmental
Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals,
Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification,
Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping,
Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection,
Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the
selected agreements

Geography - note:  South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost
completely surrounds Swaziland

People South Africa

Population:  43,647,658 note: South Africa took a census October 1996
that showed a population of 40,583,611 (after an official adjustment for
a 6.8% underenumeration based on a postenumeration survey); 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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates,
and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would
otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 31.6% (male 6,943,761; female 6,849,745) 15-64
years: 63.4% (male 13,377,011; female 14,300,850) 65 years and over: 5%
(male 816,222; female 1,360,069) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  0.02% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  20.63 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  18.86 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -1.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.01
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.6 male(s)/female total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  61.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   45.68 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.38 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  19.94% (2000 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  5.2 million (2000 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  300,000 (2000 est.)

Nationality:  noun: South African(s) adjective: South African

Ethnic groups:  black 75.2%, white 13.6%, Colored 8.6%, Indian 2.6%

Religions:  Christian 68% (includes most whites and Coloreds, about
60% of blacks and about 40% of Indians), Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5% (60%
of Indians), indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%

Languages:  11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele,
Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 85% male: 86% female: 85% (2000 est.)

Government South Africa

Country name:   Republic of South Africa conventional short form:
Government type:  republic

Capital:  Pretoria; note - Cape Town is the legislative center and
Bloemfontein the judicial center

Administrative divisions:  9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng,
KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape, Northern Province
(may have become Limpopo), Western Cape

Independence:  31 May 1910 (from UK)

National holiday:  Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

Constitution:  10 December 1996; this new constitution was certified by
the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996, was signed by then President
MANDELA on 10 December 1996, and entered into effect on 3 February 1997;
it is being implemented in phases

Legal system:  based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; accepts
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June
1999); Executive Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since 17 June 1999); note -
the president is both the chief of state and head of government elections:
president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election
last held 2 June 1999 (next scheduled for sometime between May and July
2004) head of government: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June 1999);
Executive Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since 17 June 1999); note - the
president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet:
president; percent of National Assembly vote - 100% (by acclamation)
note: ANC-IFP is the governing coalition

Legislative branch:  bicameral Parliament consisting of the National
Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system
of proportional representation to serve five-year terms) and 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); note - following the
implementation of the new constitution on 3 February 1997 the former
Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces
with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although
the new institution's responsibilities have been changed somewhat by
the new constitution elections: National Assembly and National Council
of Provinces - last held 2 June 1999 (next to be held by 2 August 2004)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC
66.4%, DP 9.6%, IFP 8.6%, NP 6.9%, UDM 3.4%, ACDP 1.4%, FF 0.8%, other
2.9%; seats by party - ANC 266, DP 38, IFP 34, NP 28, UDM 14, ACDP 6, FF
3, other 11; National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party -
NA%; seats by party - ANC 61, NP 17, FF 4, IFP 5, DP 3

Judicial branch:  Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High
Courts; Magistrate Courts

Political parties and leaders:  African Christian Democratic Party
or ACDP [Kenneth MESHOE, president]; African National Congress or ANC
[Thabo MBEKI, president]; Democratic Alliance (formed from the merger
of the Democratic Party or DP and the New National Party or NP; note -
NP split from DP in 2001) [Anthony LEON]; Freedom Front or FF [Dr. Pieter
MULDER, president]; Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI,
president]; New National Party or NP [Marthinus VAN SCHALKWYK];
Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC [Stanley MOGOBA, president]; United
Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  Congress of South African Trade
Unions or COSATU [Zwelinzima VAVI, general secretary]; South African
Communist Party or SACP [Blade NZIMANDE, general secretary]; South African
National Civics Organization or SANCO [Mlungisi HLONGWANE, national
president]; note - COSATU and SACP are in a formal alliance with the ANC

International organization participation:  ACP, AfDB, BIS, C, CCC,

Diplomatic representation in the US:   Ambassador Makate Sheila SISULU
consulate(s) general:  [1] (202) 232-4400 chancery: 3051 Massachusetts
Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Cameron H. HUME embassy: 877 Pretorius
 P. O. Box 9536, Pretoria 0001 telephone:  Town, Durban, Johannesburg

Flag description:  two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and
blue separated by a central green band which 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 note: prior to 26 April 1994, the
flag was actually four flags in one - three miniature flags reproduced
in the center of the white band of the former flag of the Netherlands,
which had three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and blue;
the miniature flags were a vertically hanging flag of the old Orange Free
State with a horizontal flag of the UK adjoining on the hoist side and a
horizontal flag of the old Transvaal Republic adjoining on the other side

Economy South Africa

Economy - overview:  South Africa is a middle-income, developing country
with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal,
communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that
ranks among the 10 largest in the world, and a modern infrastructure
supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers
throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to cut
into high unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the
apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic
empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime,
corruption, and HIV/AIDS. At the start of 2000, President MBEKI vowed to
promote economic growth and foreign investment, and to reduce poverty by
relaxing restrictive labor laws, stepping up the pace of privatization,
and cutting unneeded governmental spending. The economy slowed in 2001,
largely the result of the slowing of the international economy.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $412 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  2.6% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $9,400 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 3% industry: 31% services: 66%
(2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:  50% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 45.9% (1994)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  59.3 (1993-94)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  5.8% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  17 million economically active (2000)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45%
(1999 est.)

Unemployment rate:  37% (2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $22.6 billion expenditures: $24.7 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA billion (FY02/03)

Industries:  mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold,
chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron
and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs

Industrial production growth rate:  7% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  194.383 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 92.62% hydro: 0.69%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 6.69%

Electricity - consumption:  181.521 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  4.549 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  5.294 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables;
beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products

Exports:  $32.3 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and
minerals, machinery and equipment

Exports - partners:  EU 33%, US 20%, Japan 6%, Mozambique 2.5% (2001 est.)

Imports:  $28.1 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  machinery, foodstuffs and equipment, chemicals,
petroleum products, scientific instruments

Imports - partners:  EU 41%, US 11.4%, Saudi Arabia 7.3%, Japan 7%
(2001 est.)

Debt - external:  $25.5 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $539 million (1999)

Currency:  rand (ZAR)

Currency code:  ZAR

Exchange rates:  rand per US dollar - 11.58786 (January 2002), 8.60918
(2001), 6.93983 (2000), 6.10948 (1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997)

Fiscal year:  1 April - 31 March

Communications South Africa

Telephones - main lines in use:  more than 5 million (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  7.06 million (2001)

Telephone system:  general assessment: the system is the best developed
and most modern in Africa domestic: 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: 2 submarine cables; satellite earth stations -
3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1

Radios:  17 million (2001)

Television broadcast stations:  556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  6 million (2000)

Internet country code:  .za

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  150 (2001)

Internet users:  2.4 million (2001)

Transportation South Africa

Railways:  total: 20,384 km narrow gauge: 20,070 km 1.067-m gauge (9,090
km electrified); 314 km 0.610-m gauge note: in addition, South Africa has
an electrified 1.065-m gauge commuter rail system, with a total length
of 1,254 km, which serves Johannesburg-Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban,
East London, and Port Elizabeth (2001)

Highways:  total: 358,596 km paved: 59,753 km (including 1,927 km of
expressways) unpaved: 298,843 km (1996)

Waterways:  NA

Pipelines:  crude oil 931 km; petroleum products 1,748 km; natural gas
322 km

Ports and harbors:  Cape Town, Durban, East London, Mossel Bay, Port
Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha

Merchant marine:  total: 8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 271,650
GRT/268,604 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here
as a flag
 Denmark 3, Netherlands 1 (2002 est.)  ships by type:
Airports:  740 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 144 over 3,047 m: 9 2,438 to
3,047 m: 5 1,524 to 2,437 m: 47 914 to 1,523 m: 72 under 914 m: 11 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 596 1,524 to 2,437 m: 34 914
to 1,523 m: 304 under 914 m: 258 (2001)

Military South Africa

Military branches:  South African National Defense Force (including Army,
Navy, Air Force, and Medical Services), South African Police Service

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 11,557,242 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 7,031,337
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 466,399
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $1.79 billion (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1.6% (FY01)

Military - note:  the National Defense Force continues to integrate
former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces

Transnational Issues South Africa

Disputes - international:  Swaziland continues to press South Africa into
ceding ethnic Swazi lands in Kangwane region of KwaZulu-Natal province,
that were long ago part of the Swazi Kingdom

Illicit drugs:  transshipment center for heroin, hashish, marijuana,
and possibly cocaine; cocaine consumption on the rise; world's largest
market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India
through various east African countries; illicit cultivation of marijuana

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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