Countries of the World:
Resources about South Africa including maps, facts about the land, people, history,
government, political conditions, and economy.
Economy of South Africa
GDP (2009): $287 billion.
Real GDP growth rate: (2008) 3.7%; (2009) -1.8%; (5-year
GDP per capita (2009): $5,787.
Unemployment (first quarter 2010): 25.2%.
Natural resources: Almost all essential commodities, except
petroleum products and bauxite. It is the only country in
the world that manufactures fuel from coal.
Industry: Types--minerals, mining, motor vehicles and parts,
machinery, textiles, chemicals, fertilizer, information
technology, electronics, other manufacturing, and agro-
Trade (2009): Exports--$71.9 billion; merchandise exports:
minerals and metals, motor vehicles and parts, agricultural
products. Major markets--China, U.S., Japan, Germany, U.K.,
Sub-Saharan Africa. Imports--$75.7 billion: machinery,
transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products,
textiles, and scientific instruments. Major suppliers--
China, Germany, U.S., Saudi Arabia, Japan.
GDP composition (2009): Agriculture and mining (primary
sector)--7%; industry (secondary sector)--20%; services
(tertiary sector)--73%. South Africa is one of the largest
producers of platinum, manganese, gold, and chrome in the
world; also significant coal production.
Geography of South Africa
Area: 1.2 million sq. km. (470,462 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capitals--administrative, Pretoria; legislative, Cape
Town; judicial, Bloemfontein. Other cities--Johannesburg,
Durban, Port Elizabeth.
Terrain: Plateau, savanna, desert, mountains, coastal plains.
Climate: moderate; comparable to southern California.
Government of South Africa
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Independence: The Union of South Africa was created on May
31, 1910; became a sovereign state within British Empire in
1934; became a republic on May 31, 1961; left the
Commonwealth in October 1968; rejoined the Commonwealth in
Constitution: Entered into force February 3, 1997.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state) elected to a
5-year term by the National Assembly. Legislative--bicameral
Parliament consisting of 490 members in two chambers.
National Assembly (400 members) elected by a system of
proportional representation. National Council of Provinces
consisting of 90 delegates (10 from each province) and 10
nonvoting delegates representing local government. Judicial-
-Constitutional Court interprets and decides constitutional
issues; Supreme Court of Appeal is the highest court for
interpreting and deciding nonconstitutional matters.
Administrative subdivisions: Nine provinces: Eastern Cape,
Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North-West,
Northern Cape, Limpopo, Western Cape.
Political parties: African National Congress (ANC),
Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (COPE),
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Pan-African Congress (PAC),
Vryheidsfront Plus/Freedom Front Plus (FF+), United
Democratic Movement (UDM), African Christian Democratic
Party (ACDP), and Azanian Peoples Organization (Azapo).
Suffrage: Citizens and permanent residents 18 and older.
Map of South Africa
This Map of South Africa shows the borders of the country, as
well as rivers, and cities including Pretoria the capital of
South Africa. (Maps from the U.S. State Department)
Official Name of South Africa
The Official Name of South Africa is the Republic of South
Africa. (Facts from the U.S. State Department)
People of South Africa
Nationality: Noun and adjective--South African(s).
Population (2010): 49.99 million. Composition--black 79.4%;
white 9.2%; colored 8.7%; Asian (Indian) 2.7%. (2010 Mid-Year
Population Estimate Report at http://www.statssa.gov.za)
Annual population growth rate (2009): 1.2%.
Languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu,
Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga
(all official languages).
Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African,
Hindu, Muslim, Jewish.
Education: Years compulsory--7-15 years of age for all
children. The South African Schools Act (Act 84), passed by
Parliament in 1996, aims to achieve greater educational
opportunities for black children. This Act mandated a single
syllabus and more equitable funding for schools.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2010)--47 per 1,000 live
births. Life expectancy--55.2 yrs. women; 53.3 yrs. men.
(Health data from 2010 Mid-Year Population Estimate Report:
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