* Southern Ndebele
* Southern Sotho
ETHNIC GROUPS (2014 )
* 80.2% Black
* 8.4% White
* 2.5% Asian
Religion in South Africa _
Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
• DEPUTY PRESIDENT
• UPPER HOUSE
• LOWER HOUSE
INDEPENDENCE FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM
31 May 1910
11 December 1931
31 May 1961
• CURRENT CONSTITUTION
4 February 1997
1,221,037 km2 (471,445 sq mi) (24th )
• WATER (%)
• 2015 ESTIMATE
54,956,900 (25th )
• 2011 CENSUS
42.4/km2 (109.8/sq mi) (169th )
GDP (PPP )
$742.461 billion (30th )
• PER CAPITA
$13,321 (90th )
$326.541 billion (35th )
• PER CAPITA
$5,859 (88th )
medium · 116th
South African rand
South African rand (ZAR )
SAST (UTC +2)
DRIVES ON THE
ISO 3166 CODE
SOUTH AFRICA, officially the REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA (RSA), is the
southernmost country in
Africa . It is bounded on the south by 2,798
kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern
Africa stretching along
South Atlantic and Indian Oceans ; on the north by the
neighbouring countries of
Botswana , and
Zimbabwe ; and on
the east and northeast by
Swaziland ; and surrounds the
Lesotho . South
Africa is the 25th-largest country in the
world by land area, and with close to 56 million people , is the
world's 24th-most populous nation . It is the southernmost country on
the mainland of the
Old World or the
Eastern Hemisphere . About 80
South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry,
divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu
languages , nine of which have official status. The remaining
population consists of
Africa 's largest communities of European
(white ), Asian (Indian ), and multiracial (coloured ) ancestry.
Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of
cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is
reflected in the constitution 's recognition of 11 official languages,
which is among the highest number of any country in the world. Two of
these languages are of European origin:
Afrikaans developed from Dutch
and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South
Africans; English reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is
commonly used in public and commercial life, though it is
fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. The country is one of the
Africa never to have had a coup d\'état , and regular
elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast
majority of black
South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.
During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its
rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a
large role in the country's recent history and politics. The National
Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalising previous racial
segregation. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the
African National Congress
African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists both
inside and outside the country, discriminatory laws began to be
repealed or abolished from 1990 onwards.
Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political
representation in the country's democracy , which comprises a
parliamentary republic and nine provinces . South
Africa is often
referred to as the "
Rainbow Nation " to describe the country's
multicultural diversity, especially in the wake of apartheid. The
World Bank classifies South
Africa as an upper-middle-income economy,
and a newly industrialised country . Its economy is the
second-largest in Africa, and the 34th-largest in the world. In terms
of purchasing power parity , South
Africa has the seventh-highest per
capita income in Africa. However, poverty and inequality remain
widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and
living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South
been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and
maintains significant regional influence.
* 1 Name
* 2 History
* 2.1 Prehistoric finds
* 2.3 Portuguese contacts
* 2.4 Dutch colonisation
* 2.5 British colonisation
* 2.5.1 Independence
* 2.5.2 Beginning of apartheid
* 2.6.1 End of apartheid
* 3 Geography
* 3.1 Climate
* 3.2 Biodiversity
* 3.2.1 Animals
* 3.2.2 Fungi
* 3.2.3 Plants
* 3.3 Conservation issues
* 4 Politics and government
* 4.1 Law
* 4.2 Foreign relations
* 4.3 Military
* 4.4 Administrative divisions
* 5 Economy
* 5.1 Labour market
* 5.2 Science and technology
Water supply and sanitation
* 6 Demographics
* 6.1 Languages
* 6.2 Urban centres
* 6.3 Religion
* 7 Culture
* 7.1 Arts
* 7.2 Popular culture
* 7.3 Cuisine
* 7.4 Sports
* 8 Education
* 9 Health
* 9.1 HIV/
* 10 See also
* 11 Notes
* 12 References
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
See also: Official names of South
The name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic
location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation the country was
Union of South Africa in English, reflecting its origin from
the unification of four formerly separate British colonies. Since 1961
the long form name in English has been the "
Republic of South Africa".
In Dutch the country was named _Republiek van Zuid-Afrika_, replaced
in 1983 by the
Afrikaans _Republiek van Suid-Afrika_. Since 1994 the
Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages
_Mzansi_, derived from the Xhosa noun _umzantsi_ meaning "south", is
a colloquial name for South Africa, while some Pan-Africanist
political parties prefer the term "
Main article: History of South
Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological and human
fossil sites in the world. Extensive fossil remains have been
recovered from a series of caves in
Gauteng Province . The area is a
World Heritage site
World Heritage site and has been termed the Cradle of Humankind
. The sites include
Sterkfontein , which is one of the richest hominin
fossil sites in the world. Other sites include
Swartkrans , Gondolin
Coopers Cave and
Malapa . The first hominin fossil
discovered in Africa, the
Taung Child was found near
Taung in 1924.
Further hominin remains have been recovered from the sites of
Limpopo , Cornelia and
Florisbad in the
Free State ,
Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal,
Klasies River Mouth in eastern Cape and
Pinnacle Point , Elandsfontein and Die Kelders Cave in Western Cape.
These sites suggest that various hominid species existed in South
Africa from about three million years ago starting with
Australopithecus africanus _. These were succeeded by various
species, including _
Australopithecus sediba _, _
Homo ergaster _, _Homo
erectus _, _
Homo rhodesiensis _, _
Homo helmei _, _
Homo naledi _ and
modern humans, _
Homo sapiens _.
Modern humans have inhabited Southern
Africa for at least 170,000 years.
Vaal River valley, pebble tools have been located.
Mapungubwe Hill, the site of the former capital of the Kingdom
Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using
agriculturists and herdsmen , were already present south of the
Limpopo River (now the northern border with
Botswana and Zimbabwe) by
the 4th or 5th century CE. (See
Bantu expansion .) They displaced,
conquered and absorbed the original
Khoisan speakers, the
San peoples. The Bantu slowly moved south. The earliest ironworks in
KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around
1050. The southernmost group was the
Xhosa people , whose language
incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan
people. The Xhosa reached the
Great Fish River , in today's Eastern
Cape Province . As they migrated, these larger
Iron Age populations
displaced or assimilated earlier peoples. In
Mpumalanga , several
stone circles have been found along with the stone arrangement that
has been named Adam's Calendar.
At the time of European contact, the dominant ethnic group were
Bantu-speaking peoples who had migrated from other parts of Africa
about one thousand years before. The two major historic groups were
the Xhosa and Zulu peoples .
In 1487, the Portuguese explorer
Bartolomeu Dias led the first
European voyage to land in southern Africa. On 4 December, he landed
Walfisch Bay (now known as Walvis Bay in present-day Namibia). This
was south of the furthest point reached in 1485 by his predecessor,
the Portuguese navigator
Diogo Cão (Cape Cross, north of the bay).
Dias continued down the western coast of southern Africa. After 8
January 1488, prevented by storms from proceeding along the coast, he
sailed out of sight of land and passed the southernmost point of
Africa without seeing it. He reached as far up the eastern coast of
Africa as, what he called, _Rio do Infante_, probably the present-day
Groot River , in May 1488, but on his return he saw the Cape, which he
first named _Cabo das Tormentas_ (Cape of Storms). His King, John II ,
renamed the point _Cabo da Boa Esperança_, or
Cape of Good Hope , as
it led to the riches of the East Indies. Dias' feat of navigation was
later immortalised in
Luís de Camões ' Portuguese epic poem, _The
Lusiads _ (1572).
History of Cape Colony and
Dutch Cape Colony Charles
Davidson Bell 's 19th-century painting of
Jan van Riebeeck , who
founded the first European settlement in South Africa, arrives in
Table Bay in 1652.
By the early 17th century, Portugal's maritime power was starting to
decline, and English and Dutch merchants competed to oust Lisbon from
its lucrative monopoly on the spice trade. Representatives of the
British East India Company did call sporadically at the Cape in search
of provisions as early as 1601, but later came to favour Ascension
St. Helena as alternative ports of refuge. Dutch interest
was aroused after 1647, when two employees of the Dutch East India
Company (VOC ) were shipwrecked there for several months. The sailors
were able to survive by obtaining fresh water and meat from the
natives. They also sowed vegetables in the fertile soil. Upon their
return to Holland they reported favourably on the Cape's potential as
a "warehouse and garden" for provisions to stock passing ships for
In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape sea
Jan van Riebeeck established a victualing station at the Cape
of Good Hope , at what would become
Cape Town , on behalf of the Dutch
India Company. In time, the Cape become home to a large
population of _"vrijlieden"_, also known as _"vrijburgers"_ (free
citizens), former Company employees who stayed in Dutch territories
overseas after serving their contracts. Dutch traders also imported
thousands of slaves to the fledgling colony from
Madagascar , and parts of eastern Africa. Some of the earliest mixed
race communities in the country were later formed through unions
between vrijburgers, their slaves, and various indigenous peoples.
This led to the development of a new ethnic group, the Cape Coloureds
, most of whom adopted the
Dutch language and Christian faith.
The eastward expansion of Dutch colonists ushered in a series of wars
with the southwesterly migrating Xhosa tribe, as both sides competed
for the pastureland necessary to graze their cattle near the Great
Fish River . Vrijburgers who became independent farmers on the
frontier were known as _
Boers _, with some adopting semi-nomadic
lifestyles being denoted as _trekboers _. The
Boers formed loose
militias, which they termed _commandos_, and forged alliances with
Khoisan groups to repel Xhosa raids. Both sides launched bloody but
inconclusive offensives, and sporadic violence, often accompanied by
livestock theft, remained common for several decades.
Great Britain occupied
Cape Town between 1795 and 1803 to prevent it
from falling under the control of the French First
Republic , which
had invaded the
Low Countries . Despite briefly returning to Dutch
rule under the Batavian
Republic in 1803, the Cape was occupied again
by the British in 1806. Following the end of the
Napoleonic Wars , it
was formally ceded to
Great Britain and became an integral part of the
British Empire . British immigration to South
Africa began around
1818, subsequently culminating in the arrival of the
1820 Settlers .
The new colonists were induced to settle for a variety of reasons,
namely to increase the size of the European workforce and to bolster
frontier regions against Xhosa incursions. Depiction of a Zulu
attack on a
Boer camp in February 1838
In the first two decades of the 19th century, the
Zulu people grew in
power and expanded their territory under their leader,
Shaka's warfare led indirectly to the
Mfecane ("crushing") that
devastated and depopulated the inland plateau in the early 1820s. An
offshoot of the Zulu, the Matabele people created a larger empire that
included large parts of the highveld under their king
During the early 1800s, many Dutch settlers departed from the Cape
Colony , where they had been subjected to British control. They
migrated to the future Natal,
Orange Free State , and Transvaal
Boers founded the
Boer Republics : the South African
Republic (now Gauteng, Limpopo,
Mpumalanga and North West provinces)
Orange Free State (Free State).
The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior
Mineral Revolution and increased economic growth and
immigration . This intensified British efforts to gain control over
the indigenous peoples. The struggle to control these important
economic resources was a factor in relations between Europeans and the
indigenous population and also between the
Boers and the British.
The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the
British Empire and
the Zulu Kingdom. Following Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction
of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort,
coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African
kingdoms, tribal areas and
Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874,
Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South
Africa as High Commissioner
British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the
obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South
Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. The Zulu
nation spectacularly defeated the British at the Battle of Isandlwana
. Eventually though the war was lost resulting in the end of the Zulu
Boers in combat (1881)
Boer Republics successfully resisted British encroachments during
Boer War (1880–1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics,
which were well suited to local conditions. The British returned with
greater numbers, more experience, and new strategy in the Second Boer
War (1899–1902) but suffered heavy casualties through attrition ;
nonetheless, they were ultimately successful.
Within the country, anti-British policies among white South Africans
focused on independence. During the Dutch and British colonial years,
racial segregation was mostly informal, though some legislation was
enacted to control the settlement and movement of native people,
Native Location Act of 1879 and the system of pass laws
Eight years after the end of the Second
Boer War and after four years
of negotiation, an act of the British Parliament (South
1909 ) granted nominal independence, while creating the Union of South
Africa on 31 May 1910. The Union was a dominion that included the
former territories of the Cape and Natal colonies, as well as the
Orange Free State and Transvaal .
The Natives\' Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of
land by blacks; at that stage natives controlled only 7% of the
country. The amount of land reserved for indigenous peoples was later
In 1931 the union was fully sovereign from the
United Kingdom with
the passage of the Statute of Westminster , which abolished the last
powers of the British Government on the country. In 1934, the South
African Party and National Party merged to form the United Party ,
seeking reconciliation between Afrikaners and English-speaking
"Whites". In 1939 the party split over the entry of the Union into
World War II as an ally of the
United Kingdom , a move which the
National Party followers strongly opposed.
Beginning Of Apartheid
"For use by white persons" – apartheid sign
In 1948, the National Party was elected to power. It strengthened the
racial segregation begun under Dutch and British colonial rule. The
Nationalist Government classified all peoples into three races and
developed rights and limitations for each. The white minority (less
than 20% ) controlled the vastly larger black majority. The legally
institutionalised segregation became known as _apartheid _. While
whites enjoyed the highest standard of living in all of Africa,
First World Western nations, the black majority remained
disadvantaged by almost every standard, including income, education,
housing, and life expectancy. The
Freedom Charter , adopted in 1955 by
Congress Alliance , demanded a non-racial society and an end to
On 31 May 1961, the country became a republic following a referendum
in which white voters narrowly voted in favour thereof (the
British-dominated Natal province rallied against the issue). Queen
Elizabeth II was stripped of the title Queen of South Africa, and the
last Governor-General , namely
Charles Robberts Swart , became State
President . As a concession to the
Westminster system , the presidency
remained parliamentary appointed and virtually powerless until P. W.
Botha 's Constitution Act of 1983 , which (intact in these regards)
eliminated the office of Prime Minister and instated a near-unique
"strong presidency" responsible to parliament . Pressured by other
Commonwealth of Nations countries, South
Africa withdrew from the
organisation in 1961, and rejoined it only in 1994.
Despite opposition both within and outside the country, the
government legislated for a continuation of apartheid . The security
forces cracked down on internal dissent, and violence became
widespread, with anti-apartheid organisations such as the African
National Congress , the Azanian People\'s Organisation , and the
Pan-Africanist Congress carrying out guerrilla warfare and urban
sabotage . The three rival resistance movements also engaged in
occasional inter-factional clashes as they jockeyed for domestic
Apartheid became increasingly controversial, and several
countries began to boycott business with the South African government
because of its racial policies. These measures were later extended to
international sanctions and the divestment of holdings by foreign
F. W. de Klerk and
Nelson Mandela shake hands in
In the late 1970s, South
Africa initiated a programme of nuclear
weapons development . In the following decade, it produced six
deliverable nuclear weapons.
End Of Apartheid
Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith , signed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Harry Schwarz in 1974, enshrined the principles of peaceful
transition of power and equality for all, the first of such agreements
by black and white political leaders in South Africa. Ultimately, F.
W. de Klerk opened bilateral discussions with
Nelson Mandela in 1993
for a transition of policies and government.
In 1990 the National Party government took the first step towards
dismantling discrimination when it lifted the ban on the African
National Congress and other political organisations. It released
Nelson Mandela from prison after twenty-seven years' serving a
sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed. With approval
from a predominantly white referendum, the government repealed
apartheid legislation. South
Africa also destroyed its nuclear arsenal
and acceded to the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty . South Africa
held its first universal elections in 1994 , which the ANC won by an
overwhelming majority. It has been in power ever since. The country
Commonwealth of Nations and became a member of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Nelson Mandela ,
first black African President of
Republic of South
In post-apartheid South
Africa , unemployment has been extremely high
as the country has struggled with many changes. While many blacks have
risen to middle or upper classes, the overall unemployment rate of
blacks worsened between 1994 and 2003. Poverty among whites,
previously rare, increased. In addition, the current government has
struggled to achieve the monetary and fiscal discipline to ensure both
redistribution of wealth and economic growth. Since the ANC-led
government took power, the United Nations
Human Development Index
Human Development Index of
Africa has fallen, while it was steadily rising until the
mid-1990s. Some may be attributed to the HIV/
AIDS pandemic , and the
failure of the government to take steps to address it in the early
In May 2008, riots left over sixty people dead. The Centre on
Housing Rights and Evictions estimates over 100,000 people were driven
from their homes. The targets were mainly migrants and refugees
seeking asylum, but a third of the victims were South African
citizens. In a 2006 survey, the South African Migration Project
South Africans are more opposed to immigration than
anywhere else in the world. The United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees in 2008 reported over 200,000 refugees applied for asylum in
South Africa, almost four times as many as the year before. These
people were mainly from
Zimbabwe , though many also come from Burundi
Republic of the Congo,
Rwanda , Eritrea,
Somalia . Competition over jobs, business opportunities, public
services and housing has led to tension between refugees and host
communities. While xenophobia is still a problem, recent violence has
not been as widespread as initially feared.
Geography of South Africa A map of South Africa
showing the main topographic features: the Central Plateau edged by
the Great Escarpment , and the
Cape Fold Belt in the south-west corner
of the country Important geographical regions in South Africa.
The thick line traces the course of the Great Escarpment which edges
the central plateau. The eastern portion of this line, coloured red,
is known as the
Drakensberg . The Escarpment rises to its highest
point, at over 3000 m, where the
Drakensberg forms the border between
Lesotho . None of the regions indicated on the map
has a sharp well-defined border, except where the Escarpment, or a
range of mountains forms a clear dividing line between two regions.
Some of the better known regions are coloured in; the others are
simply indicated by their names, as they would be in an atlas.
Africa is located at the southernmost region of Africa, with a
long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and along
two oceans (the
South Atlantic and the Indian). At 1,219,912 km2
(471,011 sq mi), South
Africa is the 25th-largest country in the
world and is comparable in size to
Mafadi in the
Drakensberg at 3,450 m (11,320 ft) is the highest peak in South
Africa. Excluding the
Prince Edward Islands , the country lies between
latitudes 22° and 35°S , and longitudes 16° and 33°E .
The interior of South
Africa consists of a vast, in most places
almost flat, plateau with an altitude of between 1,000 m (3,300 ft)
and 2,100 m (6,900 ft), highest in the east and sloping gently
downwards towards the west and north, and slightly less noticeably so
to the south and south-west. This plateau is surrounded by the Great
Escarpment whose eastern, and highest, stretch is known as the
The south and south-western parts of the plateau (at approximately
1100–1800 m above sea level), and the adjoining plain below (at
approximately 700–800 m above sea level – see map on the right) is
known as the Great
Karoo , which consists of sparsely populated
scrubland. To the north the Great
Karoo fades into the even drier and
more arid Bushmanland, which eventually becomes the
Kalahari desert in
the very north-west of the country. The mid-eastern, and highest part
of the plateau is known as the
Highveld . This relatively well-watered
area is home to a great proportion of the country’s commercial
farmlands, and contains its largest conurbation (
Gauteng Province ).
To the north of
Highveld , from about the 25° 30' S line of latitude,
the plateau slopes downwards into the
Bushveld , which ultimately
gives way to the
Limpopo lowlands or
Lowveld . Flat topped hills
Karoo Koppies) are highly characteristic of the southern and
Karoo landscape. These hills are capped by hard, erosion
resistant dolerite sills . This is solidified lava that was forced
under high pressure between the horizontal strata of the sedimentary
rocks that make up most of the Karoo’s geology about 180 million
years ago. Since then Southern
Africa has undergone a prolonged period
of erosion removing the relatively soft
Karoo rocks, except where they
are protected by a cap of dolerite. This photograph was taken near
Cradock in the Eastern Cape.
The coastal belt, below the Great Escarpment, moving clockwise from
the northeast, consists of the
Limpopo Lowveld, which merges into the
Mpumalanga Lowveld, below the
Drakensberg (the eastern
portion of the Great Escarpment). This is hotter, drier and less
intensely cultivated than the
Highveld above the escarpment. The
Kruger National Park , located in the provinces of
Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, occupies a large portion of
Lowveld covering 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi.) South
Lowveld the annual rainfall increases as one enters
KwaZulu-Natal Province , which, especially near the coast, is
subtropically hot and humid. The
KwaZulu-Natal – Lesotho
international border is formed by the highest portion of the Great
Drakensberg , which reaches an altitude of over 3,000 m
(9,800 ft). The climate at the foot of this part of the Drakensberg
Drakensberg , the eastern and highest portion of
the Great Escarpment which surrounds the east, south and western
borders of the central plateau of Southern
The coastal belt below the south and south-western stretches of the
Great Escarpment contains several ranges of Cape Fold Mountains which
run parallel to the coast, separating the Great Escarpment from the
ocean. (These parallel ranges of fold mountains are shown on the
map, above left. Note the course of the Great Escarpment to the north
of these mountain ranges.) The land (at approximately 400–500 m
above sea level) between two of these ranges of fold mountains in the
south (i.e. between the Outeniqua and Langeberg ranges to the south
Swartberg range to the north) is known as the Little
which consists of semi-desert scrubland similar to that of the Great
Karoo, except that its northern strip along the foothills of the
Swartberg Mountains, has a somewhat higher rainfall and is therefore
more cultivated than the Great Karoo. The Little
historically, and still, famous for its ostrich farming around the
Oudtshoorn . The lowland area (700–800 m above sea level) to
the north of the
Swartberg mountain range up to the Great Escarpment
is the lowland part of the Great
Karoo (see map at top right), which
is climatically and botanically almost indistinguishable from the
Karoo above the Great Escarpment. The narrow coastal strip between the
most seaward Cape Fold Mountain range (i.e., the Langeberg–Outeniqua
mountains) and the ocean has a moderately high year-round rainfall,
especially in the George-Knysna-Plettenberg Bay region, which is known
Garden Route . It is famous for the most extensive areas of
indigenous forests in South
Africa (a generally forest-poor country).
In the south-west corner of the country the
Cape Peninsula forms the
southernmost tip of the coastal strip which borders the Atlantic
Ocean, and ultimately terminates at the country’s border with
Namibia at the
Orange River . The
Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean
climate , making it and its immediate surrounds the only portion of
Africa south of the Sahara which receives most of its rainfall in
winter. The greater
Cape Town metropolitan area is situated on the
Cape Peninsula and is home to 3.7 million people according to the 2011
population census. It is the country's legislative capital.
Spring flowers in
The coastal belt to the north of the
Cape Peninsula is bounded on the
west by the Atlantic Ocean and the first row of north-south running
Cape Fold Mountains to the east. The Cape Fold Mountains peter out at
about the 32° S line of latitude, after which the coastal plain is
bounded by the Great Escarpment itself. The most southerly portion of
this coastal belt is known as the
Swartland and Malmesbury Plain,
which is an important wheat growing region, relying on winter rains.
The region further north is known as
Namaqualand , which becomes more
and more arid as one approaches the
Orange River . The little rain
that falls, tends to fall in winter, which results in one of the
world’s most spectacular displays of flowers carpeting huge
stretches of veld in spring (August–September). Cape Floral
Region Protected Areas .
Africa also has one possession, the small sub-Antarctic
archipelago of the Prince Edward Islands, consisting of Marion Island
(290 km2 or 110 sq mi) and
Prince Edward Island (45 km2 or 17 sq mi)
(not to be confused with the Canadian province of the same name ).
Main article: Climate of South
Africa Köppen climate types of
Africa has a generally temperate climate , due in part to being
surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its
location in the climatically milder
Southern Hemisphere and due to the
average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the
equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic
influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones
range from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest
northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the
Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South
between June and August.
The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the
Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the
famous fynbos biome of shrubland and thicket . This area also produces
much of the wine in South Africa. This region is also particularly
known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The
severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope
particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further
east on the south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly
throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is
popularly known as the
Garden Route .
Free State is particularly flat because it lies centrally on the
high plateau. North of the
Vaal River , the
Highveld becomes better
watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat.
Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1,740 m (5,709 ft)
and receives an annual rainfall of 760 mm (29.9 in). Winters in this
region are cold, although snow is rare.
Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern
escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in
winter. The coldest place on mainland South
Africa is Sutherland in
Roggeveld Mountains , where midwinter temperatures can
reach as low as −15 °C (5 °F). The
Prince Edward Islands have
colder average annual temperatures, but Sutherland has colder
extremes. The deep interior of mainland South
Africa has the hottest
temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 °C (125.06 °F) was recorded in
1948 in the
Kalahari near Upington , but this
temperature is unofficial and was not recorded with standard
equipment, the official highest temperature is 48.8 °C (119.84 °F)
at Vioolsdrif in January 1993.
See also: Wildlife of South
Africa and Protected areas of South
Africa signed the Rio
Convention on Biological Diversity on 4
June 1994, and became a party to the convention on 2 November 1995.
It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and
Action Plan , which was received by the convention on 7 June 2006.
The country is ranked sixth out of the world's seventeen megadiverse
South African giraffe ,
Kruger National Park
Numerous mammals are found in the bushveld including Transvaal lions
, African leopards , South African cheetahs , southern white rhinos ,
blue wildebeest , kudus , impalas , hyenas , hippopotamuses and South
African giraffes . A significant extent of the bushveld exists in the
Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game
Reserve , as well as in the far north in the
Waterberg Biosphere .
Africa houses many endemic species , among them the critically
endangered riverine rabbit (_Bunolagus monticullaris_) in the Karoo.
Up to 1945, more than 4900 species of fungi (including lichen-forming
species) had been recorded. In 2006, the total number of fungi which
occur in South
Africa was conservatively estimated at about 200,000
species, but that did not take into account fungi associated with
insects. If correct, then the number of South African fungi dwarfs
that of its plants. In at least some major South African ecosystems,
an exceptionally high percentage of fungi are highly specific in terms
of the plants with which they occur. The country's biodiversity
strategy and action plan does not mention fungi (including
Sub-tropical forest near
Lowveld vegetation of
Kruger National Park
With more than 22,000 different higher plants , or about 9% of all
the known species of plants on Earth, South
Africa is particularly
rich in plant diversity. The most prevalent biome in South
the grassland, particularly on the Highveld, where the plant cover is
dominated by different grasses , low shrubs, and acacia trees , mainly
camel-thorn and whitethorn. Vegetation becomes even more sparse
towards the northwest due to low rainfall . There are several species
of water-storing succulents like aloes and euphorbias in the very hot
Namaqualand area. The grass and thorn savannah turns slowly
into a bush savannah towards the north-east of the country, with
denser growth. There are significant numbers of baobab trees in this
area, near the northern end of
Kruger National Park .
The fynbos biome, which makes up the majority of the area and plant
life in the
Cape floristic region , one of the six floral kingdoms, is
located in a small region of the
Western Cape and contains more than
9,000 of those species, making it among the richest regions on earth
in terms of plant diversity. Most of the plants are evergreen
hard-leaf plants with fine, needle-like leaves, such as the
sclerophyllous plants. Another uniquely South African flowering plant
group is the genus
Protea . There are around 130 different species of
Protea in South Africa.
Africa has a great wealth of flowering plants, only 1% of
Africa is forest, almost exclusively in the humid coastal plain
KwaZulu-Natal , where there are also areas of Southern Africa
mangroves in river mouths. There are even smaller reserves of forests
that are out of the reach of fire, known as montane forests .
Plantations of imported tree species are predominant, particularly the
non-native eucalyptus and pine .
Africa has lost a large area of natural habitat in the last
four decades, primarily due to overpopulation, sprawling development
patterns and deforestation during the 19th century. South
one of the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to
invasion by alien species with many (e.g. black wattle , Port Jackson
willow , _
Hakea _, _
Lantana _ and _
Jacaranda _) posing a significant
threat to the native biodiversity and the already scarce water
resources. The original temperate forest found by the first European
settlers was exploited ruthlessly until only small patches remained.
Currently, South African hardwood trees like real yellowwood
(_Podocarpus latifolius_), stinkwood (_Ocotea bullata_), and South
African black ironwood (_Olea laurifolia_) are under government
protection. Statistics from the South African Environmental Affairs
department show a record 1215 rhinos have been killed in 2014.
Climate change is expected to bring considerable warming and drying
to much of this already semi-arid region , with greater frequency and
intensity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves , flooding and
drought. According to computer generated climate modelling produced by
the South African National Biodiversity Institute parts of southern
Africa will see an increase in temperature by about one degree Celsius
along the coast to more than four degrees Celsius in the already hot
hinterland such as the
Northern Cape in late spring and summertime by
Cape Floral Kingdom , been identified as one of the global
biodiversity hotspots , it will be hit very hard by climate change.
Drought, increased intensity and frequency of fire and climbing
temperatures are expected to push many rare species towards
extinction. Biodiversity of South
Africa King protea , national
Cape Floristic Region
Blue crane , national
bird Flowers in the
West Coast National Park
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Main articles: Government of South
Africa , Politics of South Africa
, Law of South
Africa , and Human rights in South
Buildings in Pretoria, seat of the executive Houses of
Parliament in Cape Town, seat of the legislature
Africa is a parliamentary republic , although unlike most such
republics the President is both head of state and head of government ,
and depends for his tenure on the confidence of Parliament . The
executive, legislature and judiciary are all subject to the supremacy
of the Constitution , and the superior courts have the power to strike
down executive actions and acts of Parliament if they are
The National Assembly , the lower house of Parliament, consists of
400 members and is elected every five years by a system of party-list
proportional representation . The
National Council of Provinces , the
upper house, consists of ninety members, with each of the nine
provincial legislatures electing ten members.
After each parliamentary election, the National Assembly elects one
of its members as President; hence the President serves a term of
office the same as that of the Assembly, normally five years. No
President may serve more than two terms in office. The President
appoints a Deputy President and Ministers , who form the Cabinet which
consists of Departments and Ministries . The President and the Cabinet
may be removed by the National Assembly by a motion of no confidence .
Jacob Zuma ,
President of South Africa since 2009
In the most recent election , held on 7 May 2014, the African
National Congress (ANC) won 62.2% of the vote and 249 seats, while the
main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) won 22.2% of the vote
and 89 seats. The
Economic Freedom Fighters
Economic Freedom Fighters , founded by Julius Malema
, the former President of the ANC's Youth Wing who was later expelled
from the ANC, won 6.4% of the vote and 25 seats. The ANC has been the
governing political party in South
Africa since the end of apartheid .
Africa has no legally defined capital city. The fourth chapter
Constitution of South Africa , states that "The seat of
Parliament is Cape Town, but an Act of Parliament enacted in
accordance with section 76(1) and (5) may determine that the seat of
Parliament is elsewhere." The country's three branches of government
are split over different cities.
Cape Town , as the seat of
Parliament, is the legislative capital;
Pretoria , as the seat of the
President and Cabinet, is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein
, as the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal, is the judicial capital,
while the Constitutional Court of South
Africa sits in
Most foreign embassies are located in Pretoria.
Since 2004, South
Africa has had many thousands of popular protests,
some violent, making it, according to one academic, the "most
protest-rich country in the world". There have been a number of
incidents of political repression as well as threats of future
repression in violation of this constitution leading some analysts and
civil society organisations to conclude that there is or could be a
new climate of political repression, or a decline in political
In 2008, South
Africa placed 5th out of 48 sub-Saharan African
countries on the
Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Ibrahim Index of African Governance . South Africa
scored well in the categories of
Rule of Law
Rule of Law , Transparency &
Corruption and Participation & Human Rights, but was let down by its
relatively poor performance in Safety "> Constitutional Court in
Constitution of South Africa is the supreme rule of law in the
country. The primary sources of
South African law are Roman-Dutch
mercantile law and personal law with
English Common law
English Common law , as imports
of Dutch settlements and
British colonialism . The first European
based law in South
Africa was brought by the Dutch East
and is called Roman-Dutch law. It was imported before the codification
of European law into the
Napoleonic Code and is comparable in many
Scots law . This was followed in the 19th century by English
law , both common and statutory . Starting in 1910 with unification,
Africa had its own parliament which passed laws specific for
South Africa, building on those previously passed for the individual
The judicial system consists of the magistrates\' courts , which hear
lesser criminal cases and smaller civil cases; the High Courts , which
are courts of general jurisdiction for specific areas; the Supreme
Court of Appeal , which is the highest court in all but constitutional
matters; and the Constitutional Court , which hears only
constitutional matters. Soweto Pride 2012 participants protest
against violence against lesbians. Human Rights in the country are
widely positivized into laws but some groups still are socially
discriminated. It is the first country in
Africa recognizing same sex
Nearly 50 murders are committed each day in South Africa. In the
year ended March 2014 there were 17,068 murders and the murder rate
was 32.2 per 100,000 - about five times higher than the global average
of 6 per 100,000. Middle-class
South Africans seek security in gated
communities . The private security industry in South
Africa is the
largest in the world, with nearly 9,000 registered companies and
400,000 registered active private security guards, more than the South
African police and army combined. Many emigrants from South Africa
also state that crime was a big motivator for them to leave. Crime
against the farming community has continued to be a major problem.
It is estimated that 500,000 women are raped in South
year with the average woman more likely to be raped than complete
secondary school. A 2009 survey found one in four South African men
admitted to raping someone and another survey found one in three
women out of 4000 surveyed women said they had been raped in the past
year. Rapes are also perpetrated by children (some as young as ten).
Child and baby rape incidences are some of the highest in the world,
largely as a result of the virgin cleansing myth , and a number of
high-profile cases (sometimes as young as eight months ) have outraged
Main article: Foreign relations of South
Africa Leaders of the
BRICS nations at the G-20 summit in
Hangzhou , 2016
As the Union of South Africa, the country was a founding member of
the United Nations. The then Prime Minister
Jan Smuts wrote the
preamble to the United Nations Charter . South
Africa is one of the
founding members of the
African Union (AU), and has the second largest
economy of all the members . It is also a founding member of the AU's
New Partnership for Africa\'s Development (NEPAD).
Africa has played a key role as a mediator in African conflicts
over the last decade, such as in
Burundi , the Democratic
Congo , the
Comoros , and Zimbabwe. After apartheid ended, South
Africa was readmitted to the
Commonwealth of Nations . The country is
a member of the
Group of 77 and chaired the organisation in 2006.
Africa is also a member of the Southern African Development
South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone , Southern
African Customs Union ,
Antarctic Treaty System , World Trade
International Monetary Fund ,
G8+5 , and the Port
Management Association of Eastern and Southern
South African President
Jacob Zuma and Chinese President Hu Jintao
upgraded bilateral ties between the two countries on 24 August 2010,
when they signed the Beijing Agreement, which elevated South Africa's
earlier "strategic partnership" with
China to the higher level of
"comprehensive strategic partnership" in both economic and political
affairs, including the strengthening of exchanges between their
respective ruling parties and legislatures. In April 2011, South
Africa formally joined the Brazil-Russia-India-
BRICS ) grouping
of countries, identified by President Zuma as the country's largest
trading partners, and also the largest trading partners with
a whole. Zuma asserted that
BRICS member countries would also work
with each other through the UN, the Group of Twenty (G20) and the
Africa (IBSA) forum.
South African National Defence Force SANDF
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was created in 1994,
as an all volunteer force composed of the former South African
Defence Force , the forces of the African nationalist groups (Umkhonto
we Sizwe and Azanian People\'s Liberation Army ), and the former
Bantustan defence forces. The SANDF is subdivided into four branches,
South African Army , the
South African Air Force , the South
African Navy , and the
South African Military Health Service . In
recent years, the SANDF has become a major peacekeeping force in
Africa, and has been involved in operations in Lesotho, the
Republic of the Congo , and Burundi, amongst others. It
has also served in multi-national UN peacekeeping forces such as the
United Nations Force Intervention Brigade for example.
Africa is the only African country to have successfully
developed nuclear weapons. It became the first country (followed by
Ukraine) with nuclear capability to voluntarily renounce and dismantle
its programme and in the process signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty in 1991. South
Africa undertook a nuclear weapons programme in
the 1970s According to former state president
FW de Klerk , the
decision to build a "nuclear deterrent" was taken "as early as 1974
against a backdrop of a Soviet expansionist threat." South
alleged to have conducted a nuclear test over the Atlantic in 1979,
although this is officially denied. Former president FW de Klerk
maintained that South
Africa had "never conducted a clandestine
nuclear test." Six nuclear devices were completed between 1980 and
1990, but all were dismantled before South
Africa signed the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991.
Main article: Provinces of South
Africa Provinces of South
Each of the nine provinces is governed by a unicameral legislature ,
which is elected every five years by party-list proportional
representation . The legislature elects a Premier as head of
government, and the Premier appoints an Executive Council as a
provincial cabinet. The powers of provincial governments are limited
to topics listed in the Constitution; these topics include such fields
as health, education, public housing and transport.
The provinces are in turn divided into 52 districts : 8 metropolitan
and 44 district municipalities . The district municipalities are
further subdivided into 226 local municipalities . The metropolitan
municipalities, which govern the largest urban agglomerations, perform
the functions of both district and local municipalities.
Annual per capita personal income by race group in South Africa
relative to white levels Main article: Economy of South
The JSE is the largest stock exchange on the African continent.
Africa has a mixed economy , the second largest in
Nigeria . It also has a relatively high GDP per capita compared to
other countries in Sub-Saharan
Africa ($11,750 at PPP as of 2012).
Despite this, South
Africa is still burdened by a relatively high rate
of poverty and unemployment, and is also ranked in the top 10
countries in the world for income inequality , measured by the Gini
Unlike most of the world's poor countries, South
Africa does not have
a thriving informal economy . Only 15% of South African jobs are in
the informal sector , compared with around half in
Brazil and India
and nearly three-quarters in Indonesia. The OECD attributes this
difference to South Africa's widespread welfare system. World Bank
research shows that South
Africa has one of the widest gaps between
GNP versus its
Human Development Index
Human Development Index ranking, with only
Botswana showing a larger gap.
After 1994 government policy brought down inflation, stabilised
public finances, and some foreign capital was attracted, however
growth was still subpar. From 2004 onward economic growth picked up
significantly; both employment and capital formation increased.
During the presidency of Jacob Zuma, the government has begun to
increase the role of state-owned enterprises. Some of the biggest
state-owned companies are Eskom, the electric power monopoly, South
African Airways (SAA), and Transnet, the railroad and ports monopoly.
Some of these state-owned companies have not been profitable, such as
SAA, which has required bailouts totaling 30 billion rand ($2.3
billion) over 20 years.
Africa is a popular tourist destination , and a substantial
amount of revenue comes from tourism. Illegal immigrants are involved
in informal trading. Many immigrants to South
Africa continue to live
in poor conditions, and the immigration policy has become increasingly
restrictive since 1994.
Principal international trading partners of South Africa—besides
other African countries—include Germany, the United States, China,
United Kingdom and Spain.
The South African agricultural industry contributes around 10% of
formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa,
as well as providing work for casual labourers and contributing around
2.6% of GDP for the nation. Due to the aridity of the land, only
13.5% can be used for crop production, and only 3% is considered high
In August 2013, South
Africa was ranked as the top African Country of
the Future by
FDi magazine based on the country's economic potential,
labour environment, cost-effectiveness, infrastructure, business
Foreign direct investment Strategy.
The FSI ranks South
Africa as the 36th safest tax haven in the world,
ahead of the
Philippines but behind the Bahamas .
Workers packing pears for export in the Ceres valley
During 1995–2003, the number of formal jobs decreased and informal
jobs increased; overall unemployment worsened.
Black Economic Empowerment policies have drawn
criticism from Neva Makgetla, lead economist for research and
information at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, for focusing
"almost exclusively on promoting individual ownership by black people
(which) does little to address broader economic disparities, though
the rich may become more diverse." Official affirmative action
policies have seen a rise in black economic wealth and an emerging
black middle class. Other problems include state ownership and
interference, which impose high barriers to entry in many areas.
Restrictive labour regulations have contributed to the unemployment
Along with many African nations, South
Africa has been experiencing a
"brain drain " in the past 20 years. This is believed to be
potentially damaging for the regional economy, and is almost
certainly detrimental for the well-being of those reliant on the
healthcare infrastructure. The skills drain in South
Africa tends to
demonstrate racial contours given the skills distribution legacy of
Africa and has thus resulted in large white South African
communities abroad. However, the statistics which purport to show a
brain drain are disputed and also do not account for repatriation and
expiry of foreign work contracts. According to several surveys there
has been a reverse in brain drain following the global financial
crisis of 2008-2009 and expiration of foreign work contracts. In the
first quarter of 2011, confidence levels for graduate professionals
were recorded at a level of 84% in a PPS survey.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Main article: Science and technology in South
Shuttleworth in space
Several important scientific and technological developments have
originated in South Africa. The first human-to-human heart transplant
was performed by cardiac surgeon
Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur
Hospital in December 1967,
Max Theiler developed a vaccine against
Allan McLeod Cormack pioneered x-ray computed tomography
Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy
techniques. With the exception of that of Barnard, all of these
advancements were recognised with Nobel Prizes.
Sydney Brenner won
most recently, in 2002, for his pioneering work in molecular biology .
Mark Shuttleworth founded an early Internet security company
that was subsequently bought out by world-leader
VeriSign . Despite
government efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in biotechnology, IT
and other high technology fields, no other notable groundbreaking
companies have been founded in South Africa. It is the expressed
objective of the government to transition the economy to be more
reliant on high technology, based on the realisation that South Africa
cannot compete with Far Eastern economies in manufacturing, nor can
the republic rely on its mineral wealth in perpetuity.
Africa has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. It
Southern African Large Telescope , the largest optical
telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. South
Africa is currently
Karoo Array Telescope as a pathfinder for the €1.5
Square Kilometre Array project. On 25 May 2012 it was
announced that hosting of the Square Kilometer Array Telescope will be
split over both the South African and the Australia/
New Zealand sites.
WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION
Water supply and sanitation in South
After the end of
Apartheid South Africa's newly elected government
struggled with the then growing service and backlogs with respect to
Water supply and
Sanitation developed. The government thus
made a strong commitment to high service standards and to high levels
of investment subsidies to achieve those standards. Since then, the
country has made some progress with regard to improving access to
water supply: It reached universal access to an improved water source
in urban areas, and in rural areas the share of those with access
increased from 66% to 79% from 1990 to 2010.
Africa also has a strong water industry with a track record in
innovation. However, much less progress has been achieved on
sanitation: Access increased only from 71% to 79% during the same
period. Significant problems remain concerning the financial
sustainability of service providers, leading to a lack of attention to
maintenance. The uncertainty about the government's ability to sustain
funding levels in the sector is also a concern. Two distinctive
features of the South African water sector are the policy of free
basic water and the existence of water boards, which are bulk water
supply agencies that operate pipelines and sell water from reservoirs
In May 2014 it was announced that Durban's Water and Sanitation
Department won the
Stockholm Industry Water Award "for its
transformative and inclusive approach", calling it "one of the most
progressive utilities in the world". The city has connected 1.3
million additional people to piped water and provided 700,000 with
access to toilets in 14 years. It also was South Africa's first
municipality to put free basic water for the poor into practice.
Furthermore, it has promoted
Rainwater harvesting and mini hydropower.
Demographics of South Africa Migrations that
formed the modern
Rainbow Nation Map of population density in
Africa is a nation of about 55 million (2016) people of diverse
origins, cultures, languages, and religions. The last census was held
in 2011. South
Africa is home to an estimated 5 million illegal
immigrants , including some 3 million Zimbabweans. A series of
anti-immigrant riots occurred in South
Africa beginning on 11 May
Africa asks people to describe themselves in the
census in terms of five racial population groups. The 2011 census
figures for these groups were Black African at 79.2%, White at 8.9%,
Coloured at 8.9%, Asian at 2.5%, and Other/Unspecified at 0.5%. :21
The first census in South
Africa in 1911 showed that whites made up
22% of the population; it declined to 16% in 1980.
Africa hosts a sizeable refugee and asylum seeker population.
According to the _World Refugee Survey 2008_, published by the US
Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this population numbered
approximately 144,700 in 2007. Groups of refugees and asylum seekers
numbering over 10,000 included people from
Zimbabwe (48,400), The
Republic of the Congo (24,800), and
These populations mainly lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape
Town, and Port Elizabeth. Many refugees have now also started to work
and live in rural areas in provinces such as
KwaZulu-Natal and the
Eastern Cape .
Languages of South Africa A map showing the
dominant South African languages .
Afrikaans English Ndebele Xhosa Zulu Northern
Sotho Tswana Swazi Venda Tsonga None dominant
Africa has eleven official languages:
Afrikaans , English ,
Northern Sotho , Sotho , Swazi , Tswana , Tsonga , Venda ,
Xhosa , and Zulu . In this regard it is third only to
India in number. While all the languages are formally equal, some
languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2011 census,
the three most spoken first languages are Zulu (22.7%), Xhosa (16.0%),
Afrikaans (13.5%). Despite the fact that English is recognised as
the language of commerce and science, it ranked fourth, and was listed
as the first language of only 9.6% of
South Africans in 2011 but
remains the de facto lingua franca of the nation.
The country also recognises several unofficial languages, including
Fanagalo , Khoe , Lobedu , Nama , Northern Ndebele , Phuthi , and
South African Sign Language . These unofficial languages may be used
in certain official uses in limited areas where it has been determined
that these languages are prevalent.
Many of the unofficial languages of the San and
contain regional dialects stretching northwards into
Botswana, and elsewhere. These people, who are a physically distinct
population from other Africans, have their own cultural identity based
on their hunter-gatherer societies. They have been marginalised to a
great extent, and the remainder of their languages are in danger of
becoming extinct .
South Africans also speak
European languages , including
Portuguese (also spoken by black Angolans and Mozambicans ), German ,
and Greek , while some Asians in South
Asian languages ,
such as Gujarati , Hindi , Tamil , Telugu , and Urdu . French is
spoken in South
Africa by migrants from Francophone
Largest cities or towns in South Africa
EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality
City of Tshwane
Nelson Mandela Bay
Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality
Polokwane Local Municipality
Religion in South Africa Nederduits Gereformeerde
Sangoma performing a traditional baptism
in Alexandra ,
According to the 2001 census, Christians accounted for 79.8% of the
population, with a majority of them being members of various
Protestant denominations (broadly defined to include syncretic African
initiated churches ) and a minority of
Roman Catholics and other
Christians. Christian category includes Zion Christian (11.1%),
Pentecostal (Charismatic ) (8.2%), Roman Catholic (7.1%), Methodist
(6.8%), Dutch Reformed (_Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk_; 6.7%),
Anglican (3.8%). Members of remaining Christian churches accounted for
another 36% of the population. Muslims accounted for 1.5% of the
population, Hindus 1.2%, traditional African religion 0.3% and Judaism
0.2%. 15.1% had no religious affiliation, 0.6% were other and 1.4%
African initiated churches formed the largest of the Christian
groups. It was believed that many of the persons who claimed no
affiliation with any organised religion adhered to traditional African
religion . There are an estimated 200,000 indigenous traditional
healers in South Africa, and up to 60% of
South Africans consult these
healers, generally called sangomas or inyangas . These healers use a
combination of ancestral spiritual beliefs and a belief in the
spiritual and medicinal properties of local fauna and flora, commonly
known as muti , to facilitate healing in clients. Many peoples have
syncretic religious practices combining Christian and indigenous
South African Muslims comprise mainly those who are described as
Coloureds and those who are described as Indians . They have been
joined by black or white South African converts as well as others from
other parts of Africa. South African Muslims claim that their faith
is the fastest-growing religion of conversion in the country, with the
number of black Muslims growing sixfold, from 12,000 in 1991 to 74,700
Africa is also home to a substantial Jewish population ,
descended from European Jews who arrived as a minority among other
European settlers. This population peaked in the 1970s at 120,000,
though only around 67,000 remain today, the rest having emigrated.
Even so, these numbers make the Jewish community in South
twelfth largest in the world.
Ethnic Indian Hindus form another significant portion of the
Main article: Culture of South
Africa Decorated houses,
The South African black majority still has a substantial number of
rural inhabitants who lead largely impoverished lives. It is among
these people that cultural traditions survive most strongly; as blacks
have become increasingly urbanised and Westernised , aspects of
traditional culture have declined. Members of the middle class, who
are predominantly white but whose ranks include growing numbers of
black, coloured and Indian people, have lifestyles similar in many
respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and
South African Scout Association was one of the first youth
organisations to open its doors to youth and adults of all races in
South Africa. This happened on 2 July 1977 at a conference known as
Eland , rock painting ,
South African art includes the oldest art objects in the world, which
were discovered in a South African cave, and dated from 75,000 years
ago. The scattered tribes of
Khoisan peoples moving into South Africa
from around 10000 BC had their own fluent art styles seen today in a
multitude of cave paintings. They were superseded by Bantu /Nguni
peoples with their own vocabularies of art forms. New forms of art
evolved in the mines and townships: a dynamic art using everything
from plastic strips to bicycle spokes. The Dutch-influenced folk art
Trekboers and the urban white artists earnestly
following changing European traditions from the 1850s onwards also
contributed to this eclectic mix, which continues to evolve today.
South African literature emerged from a unique social and political
history. One of the first well known novels written by a black author
in an African language was Solomon Thekiso Plaatje 's _Mhudi_, written
in 1930. During the 1950s, _Drum _ magazine became a hotbed of
political satire, fiction, and essays, giving a voice to urban black
Notable white South African authors include
Alan Paton , who
published the acclaimed novel
Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948. Nadine
Gordimer became the first South African to be awarded the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1991. Her most famous novel, July\'s People , was
released in 1981. J.M. Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in
2003. When awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy stated that Coetzee
"in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the
The plays of
Athol Fugard have been regularly premiered in fringe
theatres in South Africa, London (The
Royal Court Theatre ) and New
Olive Schreiner 's _
The Story of an African Farm _ (1883) was a
revelation in Victorian literature: it is heralded by many as
introducing feminism into the novel form.
Breyten Breytenbach was jailed for his involvement with the guerrilla
movement against apartheid.
Andre Brink was the first
to be banned by the government after he released the novel _A Dry
White Season _.
The South African media sector is large, and South
Africa is one of
Africa's major media centres. While South Africa's many broadcasters
and publications reflect the diversity of the population as a whole,
the most commonly used language is English. However, all ten other
official languages are represented to some extent or another.
There is great diversity in South African music . Black musicians
have developed a unique style called
Kwaito is said to have
taken over radio, television, and magazines. Of note is Brenda Fassie
, who launched to fame with her song "Weekend Special", which was sung
in English. More famous traditional musicians include Ladysmith Black
Mambazo , while the
Soweto String Quartet performs classic music with
an African flavour. South
Africa has produced world-famous jazz
Hugh Masekela ,
Jonas Gwangwa ,
Abdullah Ibrahim ,
Miriam Makeba ,
Jonathan Butler ,
Chris McGregor , and Sathima Bea
Afrikaans music covers multiple genres, such as the
Steve Hofmeyr , the punk rock band
Jeremy Loops .
Although few South African film productions are known outside South
Africa itself, many foreign films have been produced about South
Africa. Arguably, the most high-profile film portraying South Africa
in recent years was _
District 9 _. Other notable exceptions are the
Tsotsi _, which won the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film
78th Academy Awards in 2006 as well as _U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha
_, which won the
Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film
Festival . In 2015, Oliver Hermanus film The Endless River became the
first South African film selected for the Venice Film Festival.
South African cuisine Meat on a traditional South
South African culture is diverse; foods from many cultures are
enjoyed by all and especially marketed to tourists who wish to sample
the large variety of South African cuisine. In addition to food, music
and dance feature prominently.
South African cuisine is heavily meat-based and has spawned the
distinctively South African social gathering known as a _braai _, or
barbecue . South
Africa has also developed into a major wine producer,
with some of the best vineyards lying in valleys around
Main article: Sport in South
South Africa's most popular sports are soccer , rugby and cricket .
Other sports with significant support are swimming, athletics, golf,
boxing, tennis, ringball , and netball . Although soccer commands the
greatest following among the youth, other sports like basketball,
surfing and skateboarding are increasingly popular.
Soccer players who have played for major foreign clubs include Steven
Lucas Radebe and
Philemon Masinga ,
Benni McCarthy , Aaron
Mokoena , and
Delron Buckley . South
Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World
Cup , and FIFA president
Sepp Blatter awarded South
Africa a grade 9
out of 10 for successfully hosting the event. The
a bus parade after winning the
2007 Rugby World Cup
Famous boxing personalities include Baby Jake
Jacob Matlala , Vuyani
Welcome Ncita ,
Dingaan Thobela ,
Gerrie Coetzee and Brian
Jordy Smith won the 2010 Billabong J-Bay
competition making him the no 1 ranked surfer in the world. South
Formula One motor racing's 1979 world champion Jody
Scheckter . Famous current cricket players include
AB de Villiers ,
Hashim Amla ,
Dale Steyn ,
Vernon Philander ,
Faf du Plessis etc. Most
of them also participate in the
Indian Premier League .
Africa has also produced numerous world class rugby players,
Francois Pienaar ,
Joost van der Westhuizen ,
Danie Craven ,
Frik du Preez ,
Naas Botha and
Bryan Habana . South
Africa hosted and
1995 Rugby World Cup and won the
2007 Rugby World Cup in
France . It followed the
1995 Rugby World Cup by hosting the 1996
African Cup of Nations , with the national team going on to win the
tournament. It also hosted the 2003
Cricket World Cup , the 2007 World
Twenty20 Championship . South
Africa has also won the inaugural
edition of the
1998 ICC KnockOut Trophy by defeating West Indies in
Africa team also went onto win the inaugural edition
of the Blind
Cricket World Cup in 1998.
In 2004, the swimming team of
Roland Schoeman ,
Lyndon Ferns , Darian
Ryk Neethling won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in
Athens, simultaneously breaking the world record in the 4x100
Penny Heyns won Olympic Gold in the 1996 Atlanta
Olympic Games . In 2012
Oscar Pistorius became the first double
amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympic Games in London. In golf,
Gary Player is generally regarded as one of the greatest golfers of
all time, having won the Career Grand Slam , one of five golfers to
have done so. Other South African golfers to have won major
Bobby Locke ,
Ernie Els ,
Retief Goosen , Tim
Trevor Immelman ,
Louis Oosthuizen and
Charl Schwartzel .
Main article: Education in South
Africa Schoolchildren in
The adult literacy rate in 2007 was 88.7%. South
Africa has a 3 tier
system of education starting with primary school, followed by high
school and tertiary education in the form of (academic) universities
and universities of technology. Learners have twelve years of formal
schooling, from grade 1 to 12. Grade R is a pre-primary foundation
year. Primary schools span the first seven years of schooling. High
School education spans a further five years. The Senior Certificate
examination takes place at the end of grade 12 and is necessary for
tertiary studies at a South African university .
Public universities in South
Africa are divided into three types:
traditional universities, which offer theoretically oriented
university degrees; universities of technology ("Technikons "), which
offer vocational oriented diplomas and degrees; and comprehensive
universities, which offer both types of qualification. There are 23
public universities in South Africa: 11 traditional universities, 6
universities of technology and 6 comprehensive universities.
Under apartheid, schools for blacks were subject to discrimination
through inadequate funding and a separate syllabus called _Bantu
Education _ which was only designed to give them sufficient skills to
work as labourers. In 2004 South
Africa started reforming its higher
education system, merging and incorporating small universities into
larger institutions, and renaming all higher education institutions
"university" to redress these imbalances. By 2015, 1.4 million
students in higher education have benefited from a financial aid
scheme which was promulgated in 1999.
Public expenditure on education was at 5.4% of the 2002–05 GDP.
Main article: Health in South
AIDS has caused a fall in
According to the
South African Institute of Race Relations , the life
expectancy in 2009 was 71 years for a white South African and 48 years
for a black South African. The healthcare spending in the country is
about 9% of GDP.
Only 16% of the population is covered by medical schemes. About 20%
use private healthcare. The rest pay "out of pocket " or through
hospital cash plans. The three dominant hospital groups, Mediclinic,
Life Healthcare and Netcare, together control 75% of the market.
About 84% of the population depend on the public healthcare system,
which is beset with chronic human resource shortages and limited
Africa is home to the third largest hospital in the world, the
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital .
Main article: HIV/
AIDS in South
According to the 2015 UN
AIDS Report, South
Africa has an estimated 7
million people living with HIV – more than any other country in the
world. A 2008 study revealed that HIV/
AIDS infection in South Africa
is distinctly divided along racial lines: 13.6% of blacks are
HIV-positive, whereas only 0.3% of whites have the disease. Most
deaths are experienced by economically active individuals, resulting
AIDS orphans who in many cases depend on the state for care
and financial support. It is estimated that there are 1,200,000
orphans in South Africa.
The link between HIV, a virus spread primarily by sexual contact, and
AIDS was long denied by prior president
Thabo Mbeki and then health
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang , who insisted that the many deaths
in the country are due to malnutrition , and hence poverty, and not
HIV. In 2007, in response to international pressure, the government
made efforts to fight AIDS. After the 2009 General Elections ,
Jacob Zuma appointed Dr
Aaron Motsoaledi as the new minister
and committed his government to increasing funding for and widening
the scope of
* Book: South
Index of South Africa-related articles
* Outline of South
* ^ The Khoi , Nama and San languages, South African Sign Language
, German, Greek, Gujarati , Hindi , Portuguese, Telugu , Tamil , Urdu
, Arabic, Hebrew , Sanskrit and "other languages used for religious
purposes in South Africa" have a special status (Chapter 1, Article 6
of the South African Constitution).
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