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Southern Africa is the
south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germa ...

south
ernmost
subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth an ...
of the
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n
continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...

continent
, variably defined by
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person t ...

geography
or
geopolitics Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...
, and including between five (minimum extent) to twenty (maximum extent) countries and territories. The five member states of the
Southern African Customs Union The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is a customs union A customs union is generally defined as a type of trade bloc A trade bloc is a type of trade pact, intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization ...

Southern African Customs Union
(SACU) have always been included in Southern Africa.


Definitions and usage

In
political geography Political geography is concerned with the study of both the spatially uneven outcomes of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms o ...
, the term ''Southern Africa'' generally includes
Angola , national_anthem = "Angola Avante "Angola Avante" (, ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Angola
,
Botswana Botswana (, also ), officially the Republic of Botswana ( tn, Lefatshe la Botswana, label=Setswana; Kalanga language, Kalanga: ''Hango yeBotswana''), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 ...

Botswana
, the
Comoros The Comoros,; ar, جزر القمر, ' officially the Union of the Comoros,Comorian languages, Comorian: ''Udzima wa Komori,'' french: Union des Comores, ar, الاتحاد القمري ' is an island country in the Indian Ocean, at the nor ...
,
Eswatini Eswatini ( ; ss, eSwatini ), officially the Kingdom of Eswatini and formerly officially entitled (and still often known) in English as Swaziland ( ; officially renamed in 2018), is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country ...

Eswatini
(formerly known as Swaziland),
Lesotho Lesotho ( , ), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho ( st, Naha ea Lesotho), is an enclaved country surrounded entirely by South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. Wi ...

Lesotho
,
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...

Madagascar
,
Malawi Malawi (; or aláwi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of ...

Malawi
,
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=Mauritian Creole Mauritian Creole or Morisien or formerly Morisyen ( mfe, kreol morisien, links=no ) is a French-based creole language spoken in Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: ...

Mauritius
,
Mayotte Mayotte (french: Mayotte, ; Shimaore language, Shimaore: ''Maore'', ; mg, Maiôty) is an overseas department and region, overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France officially named the Department of Mayotte (Frenc ...

Mayotte
(
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
),
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in Southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-lar ...

Mozambique
,
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
,
Réunion Réunion (french: La Réunion, ; previously ''Île Bourbon''; rcf, label=Réunion Creole, Reunionese Creole, La Rénion) is an island in the Indian Ocean that is an overseas departments and regions of France, overseas department and region of ...

Réunion
(
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
),
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen territories all with a constitutional and histori ...
(
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
), the
Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean (french: Îles Éparses or ''Îles Éparses de l'océan Indien'') consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean, and have constituted the 5th district of the French South ...
(
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
),
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
,
Zambia Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia (Bemba language, Bemba:'' Icalo ca Zambia''; Tonga language (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tonga: ''Cisi ca Zambia''; Lozi language, Lozi: ''Naha ya Zambia''; Chewa language, Nyanja: ''Dziko la Zambia''), ...

Zambia
, and
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individ ...

Zimbabwe
. However, the
United Nations geoscheme for Africa The following is an alphabetical list of subregions in the United Nations geoscheme for Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million squar ...

United Nations geoscheme for Africa
includes the Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean (as a part of the French Southern Territories), Zambia, and Zimbabwe in
Eastern Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
, Angola in
Middle Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the African continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded ...

Middle Africa
(aka Central Africa), and Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (under the name Saint Helena) in
Western Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjac ...

Western Africa
instead. Some atlases include Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in Central Africa instead of Southern or Eastern Africa. Occasionally, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
,
Seychelles Seychelles (; ), officially the Republic of Seychelles (french: link=no, République des Seychelles; Creole: ''La Repiblik Sesel''), is an archipelagic island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country ...

Seychelles
, and
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
have also been included in Southern Africa. In
physical geography Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...
, the geographical delineation for the subregion is the portion of Africa south of the
Cunene
Cunene
and
Zambezi The Zambezi River (also spelled Zambeze and Zambesi) is the List of rivers by length, fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its drainage ba ...

Zambezi
rivers: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the part of Mozambique which lies south of the Zambezi River. That definition is most often used in South Africa for natural sciences and particularly in guide books such as Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, the
Southern African Bird Atlas Project The Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP) was conducted between 1987 and 1991.Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herrmans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (1997) ''The Atlas of Southern African Birds. Vols 1 and 2'', BirdLi ...
and Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. It is not used in political, economic or human geography contexts because the definition cuts Mozambique in two.


UN scheme of geographic regions and the SACU

In the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
scheme
scheme
of geographic regions, five states constitute Southern Africa: * * (Swaziland) * * * The
Southern African Customs Union The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is a customs union A customs union is generally defined as a type of trade bloc A trade bloc is a type of trade pact, intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization ...

Southern African Customs Union
(SACU), created in 1969, also comprises the five states in the
UN subregion
UN subregion
of Southern Africa.


SADC membership

The
Southern African Development Community The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further regional socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperati ...

Southern African Development Community
(SADC) was established in 1980 to facilitate co-operation in the region. It includes: * * * * * (Swaziland) * * * * * * * * * * *


General usage

Other than the UN subregion, these countries and territories are often included in Southern Africa: * * * * * * * * * *
Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean (french: Îles Éparses or ''Îles Éparses de l'océan Indien'') consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean, and have constituted the 5th district of the French South ...
* * The
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
is generally included in Central Africa while
Seychelles Seychelles (; ), officially the Republic of Seychelles (french: link=no, République des Seychelles; Creole: ''La Repiblik Sesel''), is an archipelagic island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country ...

Seychelles
and
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
are more commonly associated with Eastern Africa, but these three countries have occasionally been included in Southern Africa, as they are SADC members.


Geography

The terrain of Southern Africa is varied, ranging from
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

forest
and
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
s to
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
s. The region has both low-lying coastal areas, and mountains. In terms of natural resources, the region has the world's largest resources of
platinum Platinum is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical el ...

platinum
and the platinum group elements,
chromium Chromium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science tha ...

chromium
,
vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal. The elemental metal is rarely found in nature, but once isolated artificially, the formation of an ...

vanadium
, and
cobalt Cobalt is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical element ...

cobalt
, as well as
uranium Uranium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

uranium
,
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
,
copper Copper is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

copper
,
titanium Titanium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...

titanium
,
iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

iron
,
manganese Manganese is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical e ...

manganese
,
silver Silver is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...

silver
,
beryllium Beryllium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science t ...

beryllium
, and
diamonds Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, room temperature and pressure, another solid form of c ...

diamonds
. Southern Africa is set apart from other
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
n regions because of its mineral resources, including copper, diamonds, gold, zinc, chromium, platinum, manganese, iron ore, and coal. Countries in Southern Africa are larger in geographic area, except three smaller landlocked states: Lesotho, Swaziland, and Malawi. The larger states- South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and Angola—all have extensive mineral deposits. These widespread mineral resources make this one of the wealthiest regions of Africa with the greatest potential for
economic growth Economic growth can be defined as the increase or improvement in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economics, economy over time. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of i ...

economic growth
. A chain of mineral resources in Southern Africa stretches from the rich oil fields in northwest Angola, east through the central diamond-mining region in
Huambo Province Huambo is a Provinces of Angola, province of Angola. With an area of 34,270 km2, it is one of the geographically smaller provinces, situated in the Central Region approximately 450 km south east of the capital, Luanda. The province had ...
, and into the
Copper Belt The Copperbelt is a natural region in Central Africa which sits on the border region between northern Zambia and the southern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is known for copper mining. Traditionally, the term ''Copperbelt'' includes the mining ...
region of Zambia and Congo. A region of rich mineral deposits continues to the south called the
Great Dyke The Great Dyke is a linear geological feature that trends nearly north-south through the centre of Zimbabwe passing just to the west of the capital, Harare. It consists of a band of short, narrow ridges and hills spanning for approximately . The hi ...
in central Zimbabwe, through the
Bushveld The Bushveld (from af, bosveld, af, bos 'bush' and af, veld) is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller ...

Bushveld
basin into South Africa. This extends southwest through the
Witwatersrand The Witwatersrand () (locally the Rand or, less commonly, the Reef) is a , north-facing scarp in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of So ...

Witwatersrand
and
Northern Cape The Northern Cape ( af, Noord-Kaap; xh, eMntla-Koloni; tn, Kapa Bokone) is the largest and most sparsely populated province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1) ...
of South Africa toward the southern coast. Mining activity exists across the eastern region. Diamond mining is found in parts of Botswana and along the Namibian coast. Coal can also be found in central Mozambique, Zimbabwe and northeast South Africa.


Climate

The climate of the region is broadly divided into subtropical and temperate regions in the north and south respectively, but also includes
humid subtropical A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cold to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 40° (sometimes 45°) a ...
, a
Mediterranean climate A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degre ...
, highland subtropical, oceanic, desert and
semi-arid A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning ' ...
regions. Except for lower regions of Zambia and interior regions of Namibia and Botswana, the region rarely suffers from extreme heat. In addition to that, the winter presents mostly mild and dry, except in the southwest. Cool southeasterly winds and high humidity bring cool conditions in the winter. Also the
Namib Desert The Namib (; pt, Namibe) is a coastal in . The name is of origin and means "vast place". According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than along the Atlantic coasts of , , and , extending southward from the Carunjamb ...

Namib Desert
is the driest area in the region.
Altitude Altitude or height (also sometimes known as depth) is a distance measurement, usually in the vertical or "up" direction, between a reference and a point or object. The exact definition and reference datum varies according to the context (e.g. ...

Altitude
plays an outsize role in moderating the temperatures of the South African
Highveld The Highveld (Afrikaans: ''Hoëveld'', where ''veld'' means "field") is the portion of the South Africa#Geography, South African inland plateau which has an altitude above roughly 1500 m, but below 2100 m, thus excluding the Lesotho mountain regio ...
,
Lesotho Lesotho ( , ), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho ( st, Naha ea Lesotho), is an enclaved country surrounded entirely by South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. Wi ...

Lesotho
and much of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The
prairie Wheatfield intersection in the Southern Saskatchewan prairies, Canada. Prairies are ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interact ...
region of central and northeast South Africa, Zimbabwe and parts of Zambia is known are known as the
veldt Veld ( or ), also spelled veldt, is a type of wide open rural landscape A landscape is the visible features of an area of , its s, and how they integrate with or man-made features.''New Oxford American Dictionary''. A landscape include ...

veldt
, divided into the
Bushveld The Bushveld (from af, bosveld, af, bos 'bush' and af, veld) is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller ...

Bushveld
and
Highveld The Highveld (Afrikaans: ''Hoëveld'', where ''veld'' means "field") is the portion of the South Africa#Geography, South African inland plateau which has an altitude above roughly 1500 m, but below 2100 m, thus excluding the Lesotho mountain regio ...
regions. The
Western Cape The Western Cape ( af, Wes-Kaap; xh, iNtshona-Koloni) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnation ...
has a
Mediterranean vegetation Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub is a biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The biome is generally characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, although in some areas rainfall may be uniform. Summers are typically hot in l ...
and climate, including the unique
fynbos Fynbos (; meaning fine plants) is a small belt of natural shrubland or Heath (habitat), heathland vegetation located in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. This area is predominantly coastal and mountainous, with a M ...

fynbos
, grading eastward into an oceanic climate along the
Garden Route The Garden Route (Afrikaans File:WIKITONGUES- Alaric speaking Afrikaans.webm, Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana, Z ...
to
Gqeberha Port Elizabeth, officially renamed Gqeberha () and colloquially often referred to as PE, is a major seaport city and the most populous city in the Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape ( xh, eMpuma-Kapa, af, Oos-Kaap, st, Kapa Botjhabela) is one of ...

Gqeberha
and
East London East London is a popularly and informally defined part of London London is the Capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. It stands on the River Thames in south ...
. The Namib and
Kalahari The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the ...
deserts form are arid lands in the centre-west separating the highlands, woodlands, croplands and pastures of wetter and higher East from the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
. In addition, the
Drakensberg The Drakensberg (Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over ...

Drakensberg
and
Eastern Highlands :''"Eastern Highlands" also refers to Eastern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea, and part of the Great Dividing Range, Australia.'' Image:Eastern higlands fromnyanga.jpg, 300px, Northern part of the Eastern Highlands range as seen from Nyang ...
separate the highland areas and coastal plains centered on
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in Southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-lar ...

Mozambique
in the north and
KwaZulu-Natal KwaZulu-Natal (, also referred to as KZN and known as "the garden province"; zu, iKwaZulu-Natali; xh, KwaZulu-Natala; af, KwaZoeloe-Natal) is a province of South Africa that was created in 1994 when the Zulu Zulu may refer to: Zulu people ...
to the south, the latter of which are often prone to flooding every few years. In the east the river systems of the
Zambezi The Zambezi River (also spelled Zambeze and Zambesi) is the List of rivers by length, fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its drainage ba ...

Zambezi
and
Limpopo Limpopo is the northernmost Provinces of South Africa, province of South Africa. It is named after the Limpopo River, which forms the province's western and northern borders. The capital and largest city in the province is Polokwane (formerly ...

Limpopo
basin form natural barriers and sea-lanes between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.


History


Prehistory

East and southern Africa are among the earliest regions where modern humans (Homo sapiens) and their predecessors are believed to have lived. In September 2019, scientists reported the computerized determination, based on 260
CT scan A CT scan or computed tomography scan (formerly known as computed axial tomography or CAT scan) is a medical image, imaging Scientific technique, technique used in radiology to obtain detailed internal images of the body noninvasively for Diagno ...

CT scan
s, of a virtual skull shape of the last common human ancestor to
modern humans Early modern human (EMH) or anatomically modern human (AMH) are terms used to distinguish ''Homo sapiens Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread of , characterized by and large, complex brains. This has enabled ...
/''H. sapiens'', representative of the earliest modern humans, and suggested that modern humans arose between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago through a merging of populations in East and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
.


Kingdom of Mapungubwe


Kingdom of Zimbabwe


Kingdom of Mutapa


Kingdom of Butua


Torwa dynasty


Rozwi Empire


Ndwandwe Kingdom


Zulu Kingdom


Merina Kingdom


Mthethwa Paramountcy


Post-colonial eras


Economy

The region is distinct from the rest of Africa, with a robust mining sector and comparatively developed secondary and tertiary sectors. Additionally many countries (with the exception of Mozambique and Malawi in particular) have relatively well developed infrastructure. Some of its main
export An export in international trade International trade is the exchange of capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase ...

export
s including
platinum Platinum is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical el ...

platinum
,
diamonds Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, room temperature and pressure, another solid form of c ...

diamonds
,
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
,
copper Copper is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

copper
,
cobalt Cobalt is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical element ...

cobalt
,
chromium Chromium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science tha ...

chromium
and
uranium Uranium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

uranium
, Southern Africa still faces some of the problems that the rest of the continent does. Despite this diamond production, has fueled the economies of Botswana and Namibia, for example. Over the 20th century, the region developed a robust manufacturing sector, focused on South Africa and Zimbabwe, which allowed greater prosperity and investments into infrastructure, education and healthcare that elevated both nations into
middle income The middle class is a Social class, class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy. Its usage has often been vague whether defined in terms of job, occupation, income, education or social status. The definition by any author is often chosen f ...
economies and captured growing markets across Africa. However, since the 1990s these industries have struggled in the face of
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which ha ...

globalization
and cheaper imports from
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, leading to job losses particularly in
heavy industry Heavy industry is an industry Industry may refer to: Economics * Industry (economics) In macroeconomics, an industry is a branch of an economy that produces a closely related set of raw materials, goods, or services. For example, one ...
, gold mining and
textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, ...

textile
s. Zimbabwe in particular has seen significant
deindustrialization The former decline_of_the_city's_once_vibrant_Automotive_industry_in_the_United_States.html" ;"title="Decline_of_Detroit.html" ;"title="Detroit.html" ;"title="Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit">Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit is one of the ...
as a result of factors both domestic and foreign. While
colonialism Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...

colonialism
has left its mark on the development over the course of history, today
poverty Poverty is the state of having little material possessions or income In microeconomics, income is the Consumption (economics), consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expresse ...

poverty
,
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying, or deliberately withholding information, or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, ...
, and
HIV The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of ''Lentivirus ''Lentivirus'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, inc ...

HIV
/
AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of ...
are some of the biggest factors impeding economic growth. In addition, South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, face high emigration among their
skilled worker A skilled worker is any Labour (economics), worker who has special skill (labor), skill, training, knowledge which they can then apply to their employment, work. A skilled worker may have attended a college, university or Vocational education, techn ...
s leading to a significant brain drain to western economies and billions lost in human capital flight. The pursuit of economics, economic and politics, political stability is an important part of the region's goals, as demonstrated by the SADC, however complete regional integration remains an elusive target. In terms of economic strength, South Africa is the dominant economy of the region. Generally, mining, agriculture, the public sector and tourism dominate the economies of Southern African countries, apart from South Africa which has mature and flourishing financial, retail, and construction sectors. Zimbabwe maintains a smaller banking and real estate sector along with what remains of its manufacturing industry, despite a protracted economic crisis. Most global banks have their regional offices for Southern Africa based in Johannesburg. Over the years, some the other Southern African nations have invested in economic diversification, and invested public funds into rail, road and air transportation as part of a concerted effort through SADC to boost regional trade and improve communication and transportation. The countries in this region also belong to the Southern Africa Power Pool, which facilitates the development of a competitive electricity market within the SADC region and ensures sustainable energy developments through sound economic, environmental and social practices. The main objective of the power pool is to develop a world class, robust and safe interconnected electrical system across the Southern African Region. According to a report by Southern Africa Power Pool, the three largest producers of electricity in Southern Africa as at 2017, include Eskom in
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
with an estimated 46,963MW, Zesco in Zambia with 2,877MW and Saturday Night Live, SNL of Angola with 2,442MW. Whilst moderately successful by African standards, the region largely lags behind their Asian counterparts in innovation, foreign direct investment, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, STEM sciences and research and development.


Environment

Southern Africa has a wide diversity of ecoregions including
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
, bushveld, karoo, savannah and riparian zones. Even though considerable disturbance has occurred in some regions from habitat loss due to human population density or export-focused development, there remain significant numbers of various wildlife species, including white rhino, lion, African leopard, impala, kudu, blue wildebeest, vervet monkey and elephant. It has complex Plateaus that create massive mountain structures along the South African border. There are numerous environmental issues in Southern Africa, including air pollution and desertification.


Culture


Art


Architecture


Clothing


Cuisine


Music


Religion


Film industry


Demographics and languages

Southern Africa is home to many people. It was initially populated by indigenous or native Africans Bushmen, San, Khoikhoi and Pygmies in widely dispersed concentrations. Due to the Bantu expansion which edged the previous native African peoples to the more remote areas of the region, the majority of African ethnic groups in this region, including the Xhosa people, Xhosa, Zulu people, Zulu, Tsonga people, Tsonga, Swazi people, Swazi, Northern Ndebele people, Northern Ndebele, Southern Ndebele people, Southern Ndebele, Tswana people, Tswana, Sotho people, Sotho, Pedi people, Northern Sotho, Shona people, Northern Mbundu people, Mbundu, Southern Mbundu people, Ovimbundu, Shona people, Shona, Chaga people, Chaga and Sukuma people, Sukuma, speak Bantu languages. The process of colonization and settling resulted in a significant population of native European (Afrikaner, British diaspora in Africa, British, Portuguese Africans, etc.) and Asian descent (Cape Malays, Indian South Africans, etc.) in many southern African countries.


Science and technology

''Further information in the sections of History of science and technology in Africa:'' * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa, Astronomy * History of science and technology in Africa#Central and Southern Africa, Mathematics * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa 2, Medicine * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa 3, Agriculture * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa 4, Textiles * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa 5, Architecture * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa 6, Warfare * History of science and technology in Africa#Southern Africa 7, By country


Agriculture and food security

Some key factors affecting the food security within the regions including political instability, poor governance, droughts, population growth, urbanisation, poverty, low economic growth, inadequate agricultural policies, trade terms and regimes, resource degradation and the HIV/AIDS in Africa, recent increase in HIV/AIDS. These factors vary from country to country. For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has favourable climatic and physical conditions, but performs far below its capacity in food provision due to political instability and poor governance. In contrast, semi-arid countries such as Botswana and Namibia, produce insufficient food, but successfully achieve food security through food imports due to economic growth, political stability and good governance. The Republic of South Africa is a major food producer and exporter in the region. Data on agricultural production trends and food insecurity especially in term of food availability for Southern Africa is readily available through the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Famine Early Warning Systems Network, FEWS NET) and Southern African Development Community (Southern African Development Community, SADC) - Food, Agriculture and Nature Resource Directorate (FARN). However, this data might not fully capture the reality of a region with large urban populations and where food insecurity goes beyond per-capita availability to issues of access and dietary adequacy. Urban food security has been noted as an emerging area of concern in the region, with recent data showing high levels of food insecurity amongst low-income households. In a study of eleven cities in nine countries: Blantyre, Cape Town, Gaborone, Harare, Johannesburg, Lusaka, Maputo, Manzini, Swaziland, Manzini, Maseru, Durban, and Windhoek, only 17% of households were categorized as ‘food-secure’ while more than half (57%) of all households surveyed were found to be ‘severely food-insecure’. Some factors affecting urban food insecurity include climate change with potential impact on agricultural productivity, the expansion of supermarkets in the region, which is changing the way people obtain food in the city, rural-to-urban migration, unemployment, and poverty. The issue of food insecurity in general and urban food insecurity in particular in the region is also characterized by an increased consumption of caloric junk food and processed foods leading to potential increase in the co-existence of undernutrition and dietary-related chronic diseases such as obesity and hypertension. In South Africa for example, while over 50% experience hunger, 61% are overweight or morbidly obese. There is only limited data on the other Southern African countries. From 2018 to 2021, parts of the region suffered from a 2018–2021 Southern African drought, period of drought.


See also

*Central Africa *East Africa *Kalahari Desert *North Africa *Southeast Africa *
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
*West Africa


References


Further reading

* {{Authority control Southern Africa, Regions of Africa