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South Africa Country Information

 
South Africa
Flag of South Africa
Map of South Africa
Introduction South Africa
Background:
Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in black majority rule.
Geography South Africa
Location:
Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Geographic coordinates:
29 00 S, 24 00 E
Map references:
Africa
Area:
total: 1,219,912 sq km
land: 1,219,912 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)
Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 4,862 km
border countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km
Coastline:
2,798 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin
Climate:
mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights
Terrain:
vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m
Natural resources:
gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas
Land use:
arable land: 12.1%
permanent crops: 0.79%
other: 87.11% (2005)
Irrigated land:
14,980 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
50 cu km (1990)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 12.5 cu km/yr (31%/6%/63%)
per capita: 264 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
prolonged droughts
Environment - current issues:
lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland
People South Africa
Population:
48,782,756
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.2% (male 7,147,151/female 7,120,183)
15-64 years: 65.5% (male 16,057,340/female 15,889,750)
65 years and over: 5.3% (male 1,050,287/female 1,518,044) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 24.2 years
male: 23.8 years
female: 24.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.828% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
20.23 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
16.94 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
4.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there is an increasing flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and Botswana in search of better economic opportunities (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 45.11 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 49.47 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 40.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 48.89 years
male: 49.63 years
female: 48.15 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.43 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
21.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5.3 million (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
370,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever and malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality:
noun: South African(s)
adjective: South African
Ethnic groups:
black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)
Religions:
Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)
Languages:
IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 87%
female: 85.7% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2004)
Education expenditures:
5.4% of GDP (2006)
Government South Africa
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa
former: Union of South Africa
abbreviation: RSA
Government type:
republic
Capital:
name: Pretoria (administrative capital)
geographic coordinates: 25 42 S, 28 13 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cape Town (legislative capital); Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape
Independence:
31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared) 27 April 1994 (majority rule)
National holiday:
Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Constitution:
10 December 1996; this new constitution was certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996, was signed by then President MANDELA on 10 December 1996, and entered into effect on 4 February 1997
Legal system:
based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 25 September 2008); Executive Deputy President Baleka MBETE (since 25 September 2008); note - Thabo MBEKI resigned as president effective 25 September 2008; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 25 September 2008); Executive Deputy President Baleka MBETE (since 25 September 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 25 September 2008 (next to be held in April 2009); note - Kgalema MOTLANTHE is serving out the term of Thabo MBEKI
election results: Kgalema MOTLANTHE elected president; National Assembly vote - Kgalema MOTLANTHE 269, Joe SEREMANE 50, other 41; note - Thabo MBEKI resigned as president effective 25 September 2008, Kgalema MOTLANTHE is serving the remainder of his term
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms) and the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities); note - following the implementation of the new constitution on 4 February 1997, the former Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution's responsibilities have been changed somewhat by the new constitution
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held on 14 April 2004 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 69.7%, DA 12.4%, IFP 7%, UDM 2.3%, NNP 1.7%, ACDP 1.6%, other 5.3%; seats by party - ANC 279, DA 50, IFP 28, UDM 9, NNP 7, ACDP 6, other 21; National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts
Political parties and leaders:
African Christian Democratic Party or ACDP [Kenneth MESHOE]; African National Congress or ANC [Jacob ZUMA]; Democratic Alliance or DA [Helen ZILLE]; Freedom Front Plus or FF+ [Pieter MULDER]; Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI]; New National Party or NNP; Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC [Motsoko PHEKO]; United Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Congress of South African Trade Unions or COSATU [Zwelinzima VAVI, general secretary]; South African Communist Party or SACP [Blade NZIMANDE, general secretary]; South African National Civics Organization or SANCO [Mlungisi HLONGWANE, national president]
note: note - COSATU and SACP are in a formal alliance with the ANC
International organization participation:
ACP, AfDB, AU, BIS, C, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, NSG, OPCW, PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Welile Augustine NHLAPO
chancery: 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-4400
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1607
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Eric BOST
embassy: 877 Pretorius Street, Pretoria
mailing address: P. O. Box 9536, Pretoria 0001
telephone: [27] (12) 342-1048
FAX: [27] (12) 342-2244
consulate(s) general: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg
Flag description:
two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band that splits into a horizontal Y, the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side; the Y embraces a black isosceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes
Economy South Africa
Economy - overview:
South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth has been robust since 2004, as South Africa has reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$467.8 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$282.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.1% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$9,700 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.2%
industry: 31.3%
services: 65.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
20.49 million economically active (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 26%
services: 65% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate:
24.3% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:
50% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 44.7% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
65 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
20.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $83.47 billion
expenditures: $82.02 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:
31.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products:
corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
Industries:
mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair
Industrial production growth rate:
4.4% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
264 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 93.5%
hydro: 1.1%
nuclear: 5.5%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
241.4 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - exports:
13.42 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
11.32 billion kWh (2007)
Oil - production:
200,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption:
519,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports:
217,700 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
319,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
15 million bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production:
2.11 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
2.11 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
27.16 million cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$20.63 billion (2007 est.)
Exports:
$76.19 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment
Exports - partners:
US 11.9%, Japan 11.1%, Germany 8%, UK 7.7%, China 6.6%, Netherlands 4.5% (2007)
Imports:
$81.89 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
Germany 10.9%, China 10%, Spain 8.2%, US 7.2%, Japan 6.1%, UK 4.5%, Saudi Arabia 4.2% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$700 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$32.94 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt - external:
$39.78 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$93.51 billion (2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$53.98 billion (2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$842 billion (January 2008)
Currency (code):
rand (ZAR)
Currency code:
ZAR
Exchange rates:
rand per US dollar - 7.05 (2007), 6.7649 (2006), 6.3593 (2005), 6.4597 (2004), 7.5648 (2003)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications South Africa
Telephones - main lines in use:
4.642 million (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
42.3 million (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 100 telephones per 100 persons; consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international: country code - 27; the SAT-3/WASC and SAFE fiber optic cable systems connect in South Africa providing connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios:
17 million (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:
6 million (2000)
Internet country code:
.za
Internet hosts:
1.088 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
150 (2001)
Internet users:
5.1 million (2005)
Transportation South Africa
Airports:
728 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 146
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 51
914 to 1,523 m: 67
under 914 m: 13 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 582
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 300
under 914 m: 248 (2007)
Heliports:
1 (2007)
Pipelines:
condensate 100 km; gas 1,177 km; oil 992 km; refined products 1,379 km (2007)
Railways:
total: 20,872 km
narrow gauge: 20,436 km 1.065-m gauge (8,931 km electrified); 436 km 0.610-m gauge (2006)
Roadways:
total: 362,099 km
paved: 73,506 km (includes 239 km of expressways)
unpaved: 288,593 km (2002)
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1000 GRT or over) 27,103 GRT/29,651 DWT
by type: container 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Denmark 1)
registered in other countries: 8 (Bahamas 1, NZ 1, Seychelles 1, St Vincent and the Grenadines 1, UK 4) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay
Military South Africa
Military branches:
South African National Defense Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Military Intelligence, Military Health Services (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; women have a long history of military service in noncombat roles dating back to World War I (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 11,622,507
females age 16-49: 11,501,537 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 6,042,498
females age 16-49: 5,471,103 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 529,201
female: 522,678 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.7% of GDP (2006)
Military - note:
with the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule, former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces were integrated into the South African National Defense Force (SANDF); as of 2003 the integration process was considered complete
Transnational Issues South Africa
Disputes - international:
South Africa has placed military along the border to apprehend the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political persecution; as of January 2007, South Africa also supports large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (33,000), Somalia (20,000), Burundi (6,500), and other states in Africa (26,000); managed dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River; in 2006, Swazi king advocates resort to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 10,772 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 7,818 (Somalia); 5,759 (Angola) (2007)
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation; women and girls are trafficked internally - and occasionally to European and Asian countries - for sexual exploitation; women from other African countries are trafficked to South Africa and, less frequently, onward to Europe for sexual exploitation; men and boys are trafficked from neighboring countries for forced agricultural labor; Asian and Eastern European women are trafficked to South Africa for debt-bonded sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - South Africa is on the Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year for its failure to show increasing efforts to address trafficking; the government provided inadequate data in 2007 on trafficking crimes investigated or prosecuted, or on resulting convictions or sentences; it also did not provide information on its efforts to protect victims of trafficking; the country continues to deport and/or prosecute suspected foreign victims without providing appropriate protective services (2008)
Illicit drugs:
transshipment center for heroin, hashish, and cocaine, as well as a major cultivator of marijuana in its own right; cocaine and heroin consumption on the rise; world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries, but increasingly producing its own synthetic drugs for domestic consumption; attractive venue for money launderers given the increasing level of organized criminal and narcotics activity in the region and the size of the South African economy

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008


 

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