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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 ''*sunþaz'' ("south" ...
ernmost
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic reg ...
of the
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 adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
n
continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, these seven regions are: ...
, variably defined by
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 and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφ ...
or
geopolitics Geopolitics (from Greek γῆ ''gê'' "earth, land" and πολιτική ''politikḗ'' "politics") is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usually refers to c ...
, and including several countries. The term ''southern Africa'' or ''Southern Africa'', generally includes
Angola | national_anthem = "Angola Avante"() | image_map = | map_caption = | capital = Luanda | religion = | religion_year = 2015 | religion_ref = | coordinates = | largest_city = capital | official_la ...
,
Botswana Botswana (, also ), officially the Republic of Botswana ( tn|Lefatshe la Botswana|label=Setswana; Kalanga: ''Hango yeBotswana''), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its terri ...
,
Eswatini Eswatini ( ; ss|eSwatini ), officially the Kingdom of Eswatini ( ss|Umbuso weSwatini|links=no), sometimes written in English as eSwatini, and formerly and still commonly known in English as Swaziland ( ; officially renamed in 2018), is a land ...
(formerly known as Swaziland),
Lesotho Lesotho (, ), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho ( st|Naha ea Lesotho), is an enclaved country within the border of South Africa. It is by far the largest of the world's three independent states completely surrounded by the territory of another ...
,
Malawi Malawi (; or aláwi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northeast, and Mozambique to the e ...
,
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 to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and ...
,
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and eas ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 59 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital cities: e ...
,
Zambia Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia (Tonga: ''Cisi ca Zambia''; Nyanja: ''Dziko la Zambia''), is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern and East Africa. Its neighbours are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ...
, and
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambi ...

Zimbabwe
, though Angola and Zambia may be included in
Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the African continent comprising various countries according to different definitions. Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the C ...

Central Africa
and Malawi and Mozambique in
East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the African continent, defined by geography. In the United Nations Statistics Division scheme of geographic regions, 19* territories make up Eastern Africa: *Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwand ...
.


Definitions and usage

Another geographic delineation for the region is the portion of Africa south of the Cunene and
Zambezi The Zambezi River (also spelled Zambeze and Zambesi) is the 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 basin is , slightly less than half of ...

Zambezi
Rivers : South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, 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 SACU

In the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
schemeA scheme is a systematic plan for the implementation of a certain idea. Scheme or schemer may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''The Scheme'' (TV series), a BBC Scotland documentary series * The Scheme (band), an English pop band * ''The Scheme'' ...
of geographic regions, five states constitute Southern Africa: * * (Swaziland) * * * The
Southern African Customs Union Members of the SACU The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is a customs union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. Its headquarters are in the Namibian capital, ...

Southern African Customs Union
(SACU), created in 1969, also comprises the five states in the 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 cooperatio ...
(SADC) was established in 1980 to facilitate co-operation in the region. It includes: * * * * * (Swaziland) * * * * * * * * * * *


General usages

The region is sometimes reckoned to include other territories: * – part of
Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the African continent comprising various countries according to different definitions. Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the C ...

Central Africa
in the UN scheme. * , , , , , , , , , – part of
Eastern Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the African continent, defined by geography. In the United Nations Statistics Division scheme of geographic regions, 19* territories make up Eastern Africa: *Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwand ...
in the UN scheme. The
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french: RD Congo), the DROC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and historically Zaire, is a country in ...
and
Tanzania Tanzania (;This approximates the Kiswahili pronunciation. However, is also heard in English. ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw|Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes regio ...
are more commonly reckoned in Central and Eastern Africa respectively but are occasionally 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 trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. The Food and Agricult ...
and
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other herbs. Grasslands occur naturally ...
s to
desert upright=1.5|alt=see caption|Sand dunes in the [[Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the [[United Arab Emirates A desert is a barren area of [[landscape where little [[precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for ...
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 and the platinum group elements, [[chromium, [[vanadium, and [[cobalt, as well as [[uranium, [[gold, [[copper, [[titanium, [[iron, [[manganese, [[silver, [[beryllium, and [[diamonds. Southern Africa is set apart from other
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries and territories that are fully or partially so ...
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 in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economy over time. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of increase in real gross domes ...
. 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 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 a population of 2,019 ...
, 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 of Southern Africa. It encompasses most of Limpopo Province and a small part of the North West Province of South Africa, the Central and North-Eas ...

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. It consists of a hard, erosion-resistant quartzite metamorphic rock, over which several north-flowing rivers form waterfalls, which acc ...
and
Northern Cape The Northern Cape ( af|Noord-Kaap; tn|Kapa Bokone) is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok Nationa ...
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°) an ...
, a
Mediterranean climate The coastal Mediterranean region of Costa Brava, Catalonia.html"_style="text-decoration:_none;"class="mw-redirect"_title="Costa_Brava,_[[Catalonia">Costa_Brava,_[[Catalonia,_[[Spain_ A_Mediterranean_climate__or_dry_summer_c_...
,_[[oceanic_climate.html" ;"title="Catalonia, [[Spain">Catalonia.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Costa Brava, [[Catalonia">Costa Brava, [[Catalonia, [[Spain A Mediterranean climate or dry summer c ...
, [[oceanic climate">highland subtropical, oceanic, desert and [[semi-arid 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 desert in southern Africa. The name is of Khoekhoegowab origin and means "vast place". According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, an ...
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 datum and a point or object. The exact definition and reference datum varies according to the context ( ...
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 African inland plateau which has an altitude above roughly 1500 m, but below 2100 m, thus excluding the Lesotho mountain regions to the south-east of t ...
,
Lesotho Lesotho (, ), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho ( st|Naha ea Lesotho), is an enclaved country within the border of South Africa. It is by far the largest of the world's three independent states completely surrounded by the territory of another ...
and much of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The
prairie Wheatfield intersection in the Southern Saskatchewan prairies, Canada. Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and ...
region of central and northeast South Africa, Zimbabwe and parts of Zambia is known are known as the [[veldt, divided into the
Bushveld The Bushveld (from af|bosveld, af|bos 'bush' and af|veld) is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa. It encompasses most of Limpopo Province and a small part of the North West Province of South Africa, the Central and North-Eas ...

Bushveld
and
Highveld The Highveld (Afrikaans: ''Hoëveld'', where ''veld'' means "field") is the portion of the South African inland plateau which has an altitude above roughly 1500 m, but below 2100 m, thus excluding the Lesotho mountain regions to the south-east of t ...
regions. The [[Western Cape has a [[Mediterranean vegetation and climate, including the unique [[fynbos, grading eastward into an oceanic climate along the [[Garden Route to [[Port Elizabeth and [[East London, South Africa. The Namib and [[Kalahari 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. In addition, the [[Drakensberg and [[Eastern Highlands 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 to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and ...
in the north and [[Kwazulu Natal 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 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 basin is , slightly less than half of ...

Zambezi
and [[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 scans, of a virtual [[Human skull|skull shape of the last common human ancestor to [[modern humans/''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 Africa|East and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 59 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital cities: e ...
.


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 [[exports including [[platinum, [[diamonds, [[gold, [[copper, [[cobalt, [[chromium and [[uranium, Southern Africa still faces some of the problems of that the rest 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 economies and captured growing markets across Africa. However, since the 1990s these industries have struggled in the face of [[globalisation and cheaper imports from [[China, leading to job losses particularly in [[heavy industry, gold mining and [[textiles. Zimbabwe in particular has seen significant [[de-industrialisation as a result of factors both domestic and foreign. While [[colonialism has left its mark on the development over the course of history, today [[poverty, [[political corruption|corruption, and [[HIV/[[AIDS are some of the biggest factors impeding economic growth. In addition, South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, face high emigration among their [[skilled workers 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 59 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital cities: e ...
with an estimated 46,963MW, [[Zesco in Zambia with 2,877MW and [[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, [[STEM sciences and [[research and development.


Environment

Southern Africa has a wide diversity of ecoregions including
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other herbs. Grasslands occur naturally ...
, [[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


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 [[AIDS in Africa|the 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, [[Msunduzi Local Municipality|Msunduzi (Durban Metro) 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 2020, parts of the region suffered from a [[2018–20 Southern Africa drought|period of drought.


See also

*[[Kalahari *[[Southeast Africa *
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries and territories that are fully or partially so ...
*[[North Africa *[[West Africa *
East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the African continent, defined by geography. In the United Nations Statistics Division scheme of geographic regions, 19* territories make up Eastern Africa: *Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwand ...


References


Further reading

* {{Authority control [[Category:Southern Africa| [[Category:Regions of Africa