South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa.

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South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It is divided into nine provinces and has 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline.[7][8][9] To the north lie the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; while Lesotho is an enclave surrounded by South African territory.[10] South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world by area and the 24th most populous country with over 51 million people.

South Africa is a multi-ethnic nation and has diverse cultures and languages. Eleven official languages are recognised in the constitution.[9] Two of these languages are of European origin: South African English and Afrikaans, a language which originated mainly from Dutch that is spoken by the majority of white and Coloured South Africans. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fifth most-spoken home language.[9] All ethnic and language groups have political representation in the country's constitutional democracy comprising a parliamentary republic; unlike most parliamentary republics, the positions of head of state and head of government are merged in a parliament-dependent President.

About 80% of the South African population is of black African ancestry,[4] divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status.[9] South Africa also contains the largest communities of European, Asian, and racially mixed ancestry in Africa.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank.[11] It has the largest economy in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world.[12] By purchasing power parity, South Africa has the 5th highest per capita income in Africa. It is considered a newly industrialised country. However, about a quarter of the population is unemployed[13] and lives on less than US $1.25 a day.[14]

History

Prehistoric finds

South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological and human fossil sites in the world.[15][16][17] Extensive fossil remains have been recovered from a series of caves in Gauteng Province. The area is a UNESCO 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 Cave Kromdraai, 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 Makapansgat in 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.[18] These were succeeded by various species, including Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei and modern humans, Homo sapiens.

Mapungubwe Hill, the site of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe

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 fourth or fifth century CE. (See Bantu expansion.) They displaced, conquered and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu slowly moved south. The earliest ironworks in modern-day 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.

Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 170,000 years. At the time of European contact, the dominant indigenous peoples 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.[19] On 4 December, he landed at 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 cost 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.[20] Dias' feat of navigation was later memorialised in Luís de Camões' epic Portuguese poem, The Lusiads (1572).

Colonization

The arrival of Jan van Riebeeck, the first European to settle in South Africa, with Devil's Peak in the background

In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, Jan van Riebeeck established a refreshment station at the Cape of Good Hope, at what would become Cape Town,[21] on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch transported slaves from Indonesia, Madagascar, and India as labour for the colonists in Cape Town. As they expanded east, the Dutch settlers met the southwesterly migrating Xhosa people in the region of the Fish River. A series of wars, called the Cape Frontier Wars, were fought over conflicting land and livestock interests.

The discovery of diamonds, and later gold, was one of the catalysts that triggered the 19th-century conflict known as the Anglo-Boer War, as the Boers (original Dutch, Flemish, German, and French settlers) and the British fought for the control of the South African mineral wealth. Cape Town became a British colony in 1806. European settlement expanded during the 1820s as the Boers and the British 1820 Settlers claimed land in the north and east of the country. Conflicts arose among the Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaner groups who competed for territory.

Great Britain took over the Cape of Good Hope area in 1795, to prevent it from falling under control of the French First Republic, which had invaded the Dutch Republic. Given its standing interests in Australia and India, Great Britain wanted to use Cape Town as an interim port for its merchants' long voyages. The British returned Cape Town to the Dutch Batavian Republic in 1803, the Dutch East India Company having effectively gone bankrupt by 1795.

Depiction of a Zulu attack on a Boer camp in February 1838.

The British finally annexed the Cape Colony in 1806 and continued the frontier wars against the Xhosa; the British pushed the eastern frontier through a line of forts established along the Fish River. They consolidated the territory by encouraging British settlement. Due to pressure of abolitionist societies in Britain, the British parliament stopped its global slave trade with the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807 and then abolished slavery in all its colonies with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

In the first two decades of the 19th century, the Zulu people grew in power and expanded their territory under their leader, Shaka.[22] Shaka's warfare led indirectly to the Mfecane ("crushing") that devastated and depopulated the inland plateau in the early 1820s.[23][24] An offshoot of the Zulu, the Matabele people created a larger empire that included large parts of the highveld under their king Mzilikazi.

During the 1830s, approximately 12,000 Boers (later known as Voortrekkers), departed from the Cape Colony, where they had been subjected to British control. They migrated to the future Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal regions. The Boers founded the Boer Republics: the South African Republic (now Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces) and the Orange Free State (Free State).

The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior started the Mineral Revolution and increased economic growth and immigration. This intensified the European-South African subjugation of the indigenous people. 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.[25]

Boers in combat (1881)

The Boer Republics successfully resisted British encroachments during the First 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; in spite of which 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, including the Native Location Act of 1879 and the system of pass laws.[26][27][28] Power was held by the ethnic European colonists.

After four years of negotiating, the South Africa Act 1909 created the Union of South Africa from the Cape and Natal colonies, as well as the republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal, on 31 May 1910, eight years after the end of the Second Boer War. The newly created Union of South Africa was a British dominion. The Natives' Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of land by blacks; at that stage natives controlled only seven per cent of the country. The amount of land reserved for indigenous peoples was later marginally increased.[29]

In the Boer republics,[30] from as early as the Pretoria Convention (chapter XXVI).[31]

In 1931 the union was effectively granted independence from the United Kingdom with the passage of the Statute of Westminster. 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.

"For use by white persons" – sign from the apartheid era

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 controlled the vastly larger black majority. The legally institutionalised segregation became known as apartheid. While the White minority enjoyed the highest standard of living in all of Africa, comparable to First World Western nations, the Black majority remained disadvantaged by almost every standard, including income, education, housing, and life expectancy.

Republic

On 31 May 1961, following a whites-only referendum, the country became a republic and left the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II ceased to be head of state, and the last Governor-General became State President.

Despite opposition both within and outside the country, the government legislated for a continuation of apartheid. The government harshly oppressed resistance movements, and violence became widespread, with anti-apartheid activists using strikes, marches, protests, and sabotage by bombing and other means. The African National Congress (ANC) was a major resistance movement. Apartheid became increasingly controversial, and some Western nations and institutions began to boycott doing business with South Africa because of its racial policies and oppression of civil rights. International sanctions, divestment of holdings by investors accompanied growing unrest and oppression within South Africa.

F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands in January 1992

In the late 1970s, South Africa began a programme of nuclear weapons development. In the following decade, it produced six deliverable nuclear weapons.[32][33]

The Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith, signed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Harry Schwarz in 1974, enshrined the principles of peaceful transition of power and equality for all, the first of such agreements by acknowledged black and white political leaders in South Africa. Ultimately, F. W. de Klerk negotiated 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 organizations. It released Nelson Mandela from prison after twenty-seven years' serving a sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed. The government repealed apartheid legislation. South Africa 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 rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations.

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.[34] Poverty among whites, previously rare, increased.[35] 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 of South Africa has fallen, while it was steadily rising until the mid-1990s.[36] Some may be attributed to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the failure of the government to take steps to address it in the early years.[37]

In May 2008, riots left over sixty people dead.[38] The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates over 100,000 people were driven from their homes.[39] Migrants and refugees seeking asylum were the targets, but a third of the victims were South African citizens.[38] In a 2006 survey, the South African Migration Project concluded that South Africans are more opposed to immigration than anywhere else in the world.[40] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2008 over 200,000 refugees applied for asylum in South Africa, almost four times as many as the year before.[41] These people were mainly from Zimbabwe, though many also come from Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.[41] Competition over jobs, business opportunities, public services and housing has led to tension between refugees and host communities.[41] While xenophobia is still a problem, recent violence has not been as widespread as initially feared.[41]

Politics

The Union Buildings in Pretoria, seat of the executive

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, seat of the legislature

South 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 unconstitutional.

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. In the most recent election, held on 22 April 2009, the African National Congress (ANC) won 65.9 per cent of the vote and 264 seats, while the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) won 16.7 per cent of the vote and 67 seats. 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. The President and the Cabinet may be removed by the National Assembly by a motion of no confidence.

South Africa has three capital 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.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South African politics have been dominated by the ANC, which has been the dominant party with 60–70 per cent of the vote. The main challenger to the rule of the ANC is the Democratic Alliance. The National Party, which ruled from 1948 to 1994, renamed itself in 1997 to the New National Party, and chose to merge with the ANC in 2005. Other major political parties represented in Parliament are the Congress of the People, which split from the ANC and won 7.4 per cent of the vote in 2009, and the Inkatha Freedom Party, which mainly represents Zulu voters and took 4.6 per cent of the vote in the 2009 election.

Since 2004, the country has had many thousands of popular protests, some violent, making it, according to one academic, the "most protest-rich country in the world".[42] Many of these protests have been organised from the growing shanty towns that surround South African cities.

In 2008, South Africa placed 5th out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. South Africa scored well in the categories of Rule of Law, Transparency & Corruption and Participation & Human Rights, but was let down by its relatively poor performance in Safety & Security. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens.[43] In November 2006, South Africa became the first African country to legalize gay marriage.[44]

Law

The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg

The primary sources of South African law are Roman-Dutch mercantile law and personal law with English Common law, as imports of Dutch settlements and British colonialism.[45] The first European based law in South Africa was brought by the Dutch East India Company and is called Roman-Dutch law. It was imported before the codification of European law into the Napoleonic Code and is comparable in many ways to Scots law. This was followed in the 19th century by English law, both common and statutory. Starting in 1910 with unification, South Africa had its own parliament which passed laws specific for South Africa, building on those previously passed for the individual member colonies. During the years of apartheid, the country's political scene was dominated by figures like B. J. Vorster and P. W. Botha, as well as opposition figures such as Harry Schwarz, Joe Slovo and Helen Suzman.

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.

According to a survey for the period 1998–2000 compiled by the United Nations, South Africa was ranked second for murder and first for assaults and rapes per capita.[46] Nearly 50 murders are committed each day in South Africa.[47] Total crime per capita is 10th out of the 60 countries in the data set.[citation needed] Middle-class South Africans seek security in gated communities.[citation needed] Many emigrants from South Africa also state that crime was a big motivator for them to leave.[48] Crime against the farming community has continued to be a major problem.[49]

It is estimated that 500,000 women are raped in South Africa every year[50] with the average woman more likely to be raped than complete secondary school.[51] A 2009 survey found one in four South African men admitted to raping someone[52] and another survey found one in three women out of 4000 surveyed women said they had been raped in the past year.[53] Rapes are also perpetrated by children (some as young as ten).[54] Child and baby rape incidences are some of the highest in the world and a number of high profile cases have outraged the nation.[55]

Foreign relations

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.[56][57] The country is one of the founding members of the African Union (AU), and has the largest economy of all the members. It is also a founding member of the AU's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). South Africa has played a key role as a mediator in African conflicts over the last decade, such as in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of 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. South Africa is also a member of the Southern African Development Community, South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, Southern African Customs Union, Antarctic Treaty System, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, G20 and G8+5. 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.[58][59] In April 2011, South Africa formally joined the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRICS) grouping of countries, identified by President Zuma as the country's largest trading partners, and also the largest trading partners with Africa as a whole. Zuma asserted that BRICS member countries would also work with each other through the UN, the Group of Twenty (G20) and the India, Brazil South Africa (IBSA) forum.[60]

Military

South African Denel AH-2 Rooivalk attack helicopter

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was created in 1994,[61][62] 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.[61] The SANDF is subdivided into four branches, the South African Army, the South African Air Force, the South African Navy, and the South African Medical Service.[63] In recent years, the SANDF has become a major peacekeeping force in Africa,[64] and has been involved in operations in Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,[64] and Burundi,[64] amongst others. It has also served in multi-national UN peacekeeping forces.

South 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.[65] South Africa undertook a nuclear weapons programme in the 1970s[65] 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."[66] South Africa may have conducted a nuclear test over the Atlantic in 1979,[67] though De Klerk asserted that South Africa had "never conducted a clandestine nuclear test."[66] Six nuclear devices were completed between 1980 and 1990, but all were destroyed before South Africa signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991.[66]

Provinces

Provinces of South Africa

At the end of apartheid in 1994, the "independent" and "semi-independent" Bantustans were abolished, as were the four original provinces (Cape, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal), and nine new provinces were created. Each province 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.

Province Provincial capital Largest city Area (km2)[68] Population (2011)[4]
Eastern Cape Bhisho Port Elizabeth 168,966 6,562,053
Free State Bloemfontein Bloemfontein 129,825 2,745,590
Gauteng Johannesburg Johannesburg 18,178 12,272,263
KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg Durban 94,361 10,267,300
Limpopo Polokwane Polokwane 125,754 5,404,868
Mpumalanga Nelspruit Nelspruit 76,495 4,039,939
North West Mahikeng Rustenburg 104,882 3,509,953
Northern Cape Kimberley Kimberley 372,889 1,145,861
Western Cape Cape Town Cape Town 129,462 5,822,734

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.

Geography

Satellite picture of South Africa

The Drakensberg mountains, the highest mountain range in South Africa

South 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),[69] South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world and is comparable in size to Colombia. 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 is a vast, flat, and sparsely populated scrubland, the Karoo, which is drier towards the northwest along the Namib desert. In contrast, the eastern coastline is lush and well-watered, which produces a climate similar to the tropics.

To the north of Johannesburg, the altitude drops beyond the escarpment of the Highveld, and turns into the lower lying Bushveld, an area of mixed dry forest and an abundance of wildlife. East of the Highveld, beyond the eastern escarpment, the Lowveld stretches towards the Indian Ocean. It has particularly high temperatures, and is also the location of extended subtropical agriculture.

South Africa also has one possession, the small sub-Antarctic archipelago of the Prince Edward Islands, consisting of Marion Island (290 km2/110 sq mi) and Prince Edward Island (45 km2/17 sq mi) (not to be confused with the Canadian province of the same name).

Climate

South 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 Africa occur 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.

The 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.

The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. The coldest place in South Africa is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as −15 °C (5 °F). The deep interior has the hottest temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 °C (125.06 °F) was recorded in 1948 in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington.,[70] but this temperature is unofficial and was not recorded with standard equipment, the official highest temperature is 48.8C at Vioolsdrif in January 1993.[71]

Flora and fauna

South Africa is ranked sixth out of the world's seventeen megadiverse countries,[72] with more than 20,000 different plants, or about 10% of all the known species of plants on Earth, making it particularly rich in plant biodiversity. The most prevalent biome in South Africa is 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 and dry 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.[73]

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 floral biodiversity. The majority of the plants are evergreen hard-leaf plants with fine, needle-like leaves, such as the sclerophyllous plants. Another uniquely South African plant is the protea genus of flowering plants. There are around 130 different species of protea in South Africa.

South African giraffe, Kruger National Park

While South Africa has a great wealth of flowering plants, only 1% of South Africa is forest, almost exclusively in the humid coastal plain of 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. South 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 nineteenth century. South Africa is 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, 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.

Numerous mammals are found in the bushveld including lions, leopards, white rhinos, blue wildebeest, kudus, impalas, hyenas, hippopotamus and giraffes. A significant extent of the bushveld exists in the north-east including Kruger National Park and the Mala Mala Reserve, as well as in the far north in the Waterberg Biosphere. Statistics from South African National Parks show a record 333 rhinos have been killed in 2010.[74]

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[75] 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 2050. The Cape Floral Kingdom has been identified as one of the global biodiversity hotspots since it will be hit very hard by climate change and has such a great diversity of life. Drought, increased intensity and frequency of fire and climbing temperatures are expected to push many of these rare species towards extinction.

South Africa houses many endemic species, among them the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticullaris) in the Karoo.

The Protea, national flower of South AfricaFynbos, a floral kingdom unique to South Africa, is found near Cape TownThe Blue Crane is the national bird of South AfricaA field of flowers in the West Coast National Park

Economy

JSE is the largest stock exchange on the African continent

South Africa has a mixed economy with a high rate of poverty and low GDP per capita. Unemployment is high and South Africa is ranked in the top 10 countries in the world for income inequality,[76][77][78] measured by the Gini coefficient. Unlike most of the world's poor countries, South Africa does not have a thriving informal economy; according to OECD estimates, only 15 per cent of South African jobs are in the shadow economy,[clarification needed] 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.[79] World Bank research shows that South Africa has one of the widest gaps between per capita GNP versus its Human Development Index ranking, with only Botswana showing a larger gap.[80]

After 1994 government policy brought down inflation, stabilised public finances, and some foreign capital was attracted, however growth was still subpar.[81] From 2004 onward economic growth picked up significantly; both employment and capital formation increased.[81]

South Africa is a popular tourist destination, and a substantial amount of revenue comes from tourism.[82] Illegal immigrants are involved in informal trading.[83] Many immigrants to South Africa continue to live in poor conditions, and the immigration policy has become increasingly restrictive since 1994.[84]

Principal international trading partners of South Africa—besides other African countries—include Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain.[85]

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 per cent of GDP for the nation.[86] Due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5 per cent can be used for crop production, and only 3 per cent is considered high potential land.[87]

Labour market

Workers packing pears for export in a packing house in the Ceres valley.

During 1995–2003, the number of formal jobs decreased and informal jobs increased; overall unemployment worsened.[34]

The government's 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."[88] Official affirmative action policies have seen a rise in black economic wealth and an emerging black middle class.[89] Other problems include state ownership and interference, which impose high barriers to entry in many areas.[90] Restrictive labour regulations have contributed to the unemployment malaise.[34]

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,[91][not in citation given][clarification needed] and is almost certainly detrimental for the well-being of those reliant on the healthcare infrastructure.[92] The skills drain in South Africa tends to demonstrate racial contours given the skills distribution legacy of South Africa and has thus resulted in large white South African communities abroad.[93] 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[94][95] 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 per cent in a PPS survey.[96]

Science and technology

Mark 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 Yellow Fever, Allan McLeod Cormack pioneered x-ray Computed tomography, and Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy techniques. These advancements were all (with the exception of that of Barnard) 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 Thawte, 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.

South Africa has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. It hosts the Southern African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. South Africa is currently building the Karoo Array Telescope as a pathfinder for the €1.5 billion Square Kilometer Array project.[97] 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.[98]

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1900 5,014,000
1910 5,842,000 +16.5%
1920 6,953,000 +19.0%
1930 8,580,000 +23.4%
1940 10,341,000 +20.5%
1950 13,310,000 +28.7%
1960 16,385,000 +23.1%
1970 21,794,000 +33.0%
1980 24,261,000 +11.3%
1990 37,944,000 +56.4%
2000 43,686,000 +15.1%
2010[99] 49,991,300 +14.4%
2011[4] 51,770,560 +3.6%

The many migrations that formed the modern Rainbow NationMap of population density in South Africa

 <1 /km2  1–3 /km2  3–10 /km2  10–30 /km2  30–100 /km2  100–300 /km2  300–1000 /km2  1000–3000 /km2  >3000 /km2

South Africa is a nation of about 50 million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions. The last census was held in 2011. Even though the population of South Africa has increased in the past decade,[100][101] the country had an annual population growth rate of −0.412% in 2012 (CIA est.),[102] where the birth rate is higher than the death rate[103] but there is a net emigration rate. South Africa is home to an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants, including some 3 million Zimbabweans.[104][105][106] A series of anti-immigrant riots occurred in South Africa beginning on 11 May 2008.[107][108]

Statistics South Africa provided five racial categories by which people could classify themselves, the last of which, "unspecified/other" drew negligible responses, and these results were omitted.[100] The 2010 midyear estimated figures for the other categories were Black African at 79.4%, White at 9.2%, Coloured at 8.8%, and Indian or Asian at 2.6%.[109] The first census in South Africa in 1911 showed that whites made up 22% of the population; it declined to 16% in 1980.[110]

By far the major part of the population classified itself as African or black, but it is not culturally or linguistically homogeneous. Major ethnic groups include the Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho (South Sotho), Bapedi (North Sotho), Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi and Ndebele, all of which speak Bantu languages.

The Coloured population is mainly concentrated in the Cape region, and come from a combination of ethnic backgrounds including White, Khoi, San, Griqua, Chinese and Malay.[111]

White South Africans are descendants of Dutch, German, French Huguenots, English and other European and Jewish settlers.[111][112] Culturally and linguistically, they are divided into the Afrikaners, who speak Afrikaans, and English-speaking groups. The white population has been on the decrease due to a low birth rate and emigration; as a factor in their decision to emigrate, many cite the high crime rate and the affirmative action policies of the government.[113][114] Since 1994, approximately 440,000 white South Africans have permanently emigrated.[109] Despite high emigration levels, a few immigrants from Europe have settled in the country. By 2005, an estimated 212,000 British citizens were residing in South Africa. By 2011, this number may have grown to 500,000.[115] Some white Zimbabwean emigrated to South Africa. Some of the more nostalgic members of the community are known in popular culture as "Whenwes", because of their nostalgia for their lives in Rhodesia "when we were in Rhodesia".[116]

The Indian population came to South Africa as indentured labourers to work in the sugar plantations in Natal in the late 19th and early 20th century.[111] They came from different parts of the Indian subcontinent, adhered to different religions and spoke different languages.[111] Serious riots in Durban between Indians and Zulus erupted in 1949.[117] There is also a significant group of Chinese South Africans (approximately 100,000 individuals) and Vietnamese South Africans (approximately 50,000 individuals). In 2008, the Pretoria High Court has ruled that Chinese South Africans who arrived before 1994 are to be reclassified as Coloureds. As a result of this ruling, about 12,000–15,000[118] ethnically Chinese citizens who arrived before 1994, numbering 3%–5% of the total Chinese population in the country, will be able to benefit from government BEE policies.[119]

South Africa hosts a sizeable refugee and asylum seeker population. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this population numbered approximately 144,700 in 2007.[120] Groups of refugees and asylum seekers numbering over 10,000 included people from Zimbabwe (48,400), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (24,800), and Somalia (12,900).[120] These populations mainly lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth.[120] Many refugees have now also started to work and live in rural areas in provinces such as Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Religion

Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk in Wolmaransstad

According to the 2001 national census, Christians accounted for 79.8% of the population. This 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 other 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% were unspecified.[85][121][122]

Sangoma/Inyanga performing a traditional baptism on a baby in Alexandra, Johannesburg

African Indigenous 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,[123] 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, in order to facilitate healing in clients. Many peoples have syncretic religious practices combining Christian and indigenous influences.[124]

South African Muslims comprise mainly of 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.[125] 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 in 2004.[125][126]

There is also a Hindu minority from India.[121]

Languages

Map showing dominant South African languages.

 Afrikaans  English  Ndebele  Xhosa  Zulu  Northern Sotho  Sotho  Tswana  Swazi  Venda  Tsonga  None dominant

South Africa has eleven official languages:[127] Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. In this regard it is third only to Bolivia and India in number. While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2001 National Census, the three most spoken first home languages are Zulu (23.8%), Xhosa (17.6%), and Afrikaans (13.3%).[100] Despite the fact that English is recognised as the language of commerce and science, it was spoken by only 8.2% of South Africans at home in 2001, an even lower percentage than in 1996 (8.6%).[100]

The country also recognises several unofficial languages, including Fanagalo, Khoe, Lobedu, Nama, Northern Ndebele, Phuthi, San, and South African Sign Language.[128] These unofficial languages may be used in certain official uses in limited areas where it has been determined that these languages are prevalent. Nevertheless, their populations are not such that they require nationwide recognition.

Many of the "unofficial languages" of the San and Khoikhoi people contain regional dialects stretching northwards into Namibia and 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 many of their languages are in danger of becoming extinct.

Many white South Africans also speak other European languages, such as Portuguese (also spoken by black Angolans and Mozambicans), German, and Greek, while some Asians and Indians in South Africa speak South Asian languages, such as Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, and Telugu. French is spoken in South Africa by migrants from Francophone Africa.

Largest cities

Health

The impact of AIDS has caused a fall in life expectancy.

The spread of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is an alarming problem in South Africa, with up to 31% of pregnant women found to be HIV infected in 2005 and the infection rate among adults estimated at 20%.[129] The link between HIV, a virus spread primarily by sexual contact, and AIDS was long denied by prior president Thabo Mbeki and then health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who insisted that the many deaths in the country are due to malnutrition, and hence poverty, and not HIV.[130] 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.[131]

In 2007, in response to international pressure, the government made efforts to fight AIDS.[132] In September 2008 Thabo Mbeki was recalled by the ANC and chose to resign and Kgalema Motlanthe was appointed for the interim. One of Motlanthe's first actions was to replace Minister Tshabalala-Msimang with Barbara Hogan who immediately started working to improve the Government's approach to AIDS. After the 2009 General Elections, President Jacob Zuma appointed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the new minister and committed his government to increasing funding for and widening the scope of AIDS treatment.[133]

AIDS affects mainly those who are sexually active and is far more prevalent in the black population. Most deaths are people who are also economically active, resulting in many families losing their primary wage earners. This has resulted in many 'AIDS orphans' who in many cases depend on the state for care and financial support.[134] It is estimated that there are 1,200,000 orphans in South Africa.[134] Many elderly people also lose the support from lost younger members of their family. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, South Africa has an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV - more than any other country in the world.[135]

Society and culture

Cuisine

Traditional South African cuisine

Meat on a traditional South African braai

A freshly baked melktert

Sweet koeksisters

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.[citation needed]

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 Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Paarl and Barrydale.[136]

Different lifestyles

Decorated houses, Drakensberg Mountains

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. Urban blacks usually speak English or Afrikaans in addition to their native tongue. There are smaller but still significant groups of speakers of Khoisan languages who are not included in the eleven official languages, but are one of the eight other officially recognised languages. There are small groups of speakers of endangered languages, most of which are from the Khoi-San family, that receive no official status; some groups within South Africa are attempting to promote their use and revival.

Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white but whose ranks include growing numbers of black, coloured and Indian people,[137] have lifestyles similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australasia. Members of the middle class often study and work abroad for greater exposure to the markets of the world.

Zulu dancers

Asians, predominantly of Indian origin, preserve their own cultural heritage, languages and religious beliefs, being either Christian, Hindu or Sunni Muslim and speaking English, with Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil or Gujarati being spoken less frequently, but the majority of Indians being able to understand their mother tongue. The first Indians arrived on the famous Truro ship as indentured labourers in Natal to work the Sugar Cane Fields. There is a much smaller Chinese community in South Africa, although its numbers have increased due to immigration from Republic of China (Taiwan).

South Africa has also had a large influence in the Scouting movement, with many Scouting traditions and ceremonies coming from the experiences of Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting) during his time in South Africa as a military officer in the 1890s. The 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 Quo Vadis.[138]

In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage.

Art

Eland, rock painting, Drakensberg, South Africa

The oldest art objects in the world were discovered in a South African cave. Dating from 75,000 years ago,[139] these small drilled snail shells could have no other function than to have been strung on a string as a necklace. South Africa was one of the cradles of the human species. One of the defining characteristics of our species is the making of art (from Latin 'ars' meaning worked or formed from basic material).

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. In the 20th century, traditional tribal forms of art were scattered and re-melded by the divisive policies of apartheid.

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 of the Afrikaner 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.

Literature

Olive Schreiner

South Africa's unique social and political history have generated a strong group of local writers, with themes that span the days of apartheid to the lives of people in the "new South Africa".

Many of the first black South African authors were missionary-educated, and the majority thus wrote in either English or Afrikaans. 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.

Notable white South African authors include Nadine Gordimer who was, in Seamus Heaney's words, one of "the guerrillas of the imagination", and who became the first South African and the seventh woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. Her most famous novel, July's People, was released in 1981, depicting the collapse of white-minority rule.

J.M. Coetzee was the second South African to win 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 outsider".[140] The press release for the award also cited his "well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brilliance", while focusing on the moral nature of his work.[140]

Athol Fugard, whose plays have been regularly premiered in fringe theatres in South Africa, London (The Royal Court Theatre) and New York. 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.

Alan Paton published the acclaimed novel Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948. He told the tale of a black priest who comes to Johannesburg to find his son, which became an international best-seller. During the 1950s, Drum magazine became a hotbed of political satire, fiction, and essays, giving a voice to urban black culture.

Afrikaans-language writers also began to write controversial material. Breyten Breytenbach was jailed for his involvement with the guerrilla movement against apartheid. Andre Brink was the first Afrikaner writer to be banned by the government after he released the novel A Dry White Season about a white South African who discovers the truth about a black friend who dies in police custody.

J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, was born in Bloemfontein in 1892.

Cinema

While many foreign films have been produced about South Africa (usually involving race relations), few local productions are known outside South Africa itself. One exception was the film The Gods Must Be Crazy in 1980, set in the Kalahari. This is about how life in a traditional community of Bushmen is changed when a Coke bottle, thrown out of an aeroplane, suddenly lands from the sky. The late Jamie Uys, who wrote and directed The Gods Must Be Crazy, also had success overseas in the 1970s with his films Funny People and Funny People II, similar to the TV series Candid Camera in the US. Leon Schuster's You Must Be Joking! films are in the same genre, and hugely popular among South Africans.

Arguably, the most high-profile film portraying South Africa in recent years was District 9. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, a native South African, and produced by Peter Jackson, the action/science-fiction film depicts a sub-class of alien refugees forced to live in the slums of Johannesburg in what many saw as a creative allegory for apartheid. The film was a critical and commercial success worldwide, and was nominated for Best Picture at the 82nd Academy Awards.

Other notable exceptions are the film Tsotsi, which won the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006 as well as U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha, which won the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival.

Media

South Africa has a large mass media sector and 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.

Music

There is great diversity in music from South Africa. Many black musicians who sang in Afrikaans or English during apartheid have since begun to sing in traditional African languages, and have developed a unique style called Kwaito. 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. White and Coloured South African singers are historically influenced by European musical styles. South Africa has produced world-famous jazz musicians, notably Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, Jonathan Butler, Chris McGregor, and Sathima Bea Benjamin. Afrikaans music covers multiple genres, such as the contemporary Steve Hofmeyr and the punk rock band Fokofpolisiekar. Crossover artists such as Verity (internationally recognised for innovation in the music industry) and Johnny Clegg and his bands Juluka and Savuka have enjoyed various success underground, publicly, and abroad.

The South African music scene includes Kwaito, a new music genre that had developed in the mid 80s and has since developed to become the most popular social economical form of representation among the populace. Though some may argue that the political aspects of Kwaito has since diminished after Apartheid, and the relative interest in politics has become a minor aspect of daily life. Some argue that in a sense, Kwaito is in fact a political force that shows activism in its apolitical actions. Today, major corporations like Sony, BMG, and EMI have appeared on the South African scene to produce and distribute Kwaito music. Due to its overwhelming popularity, as well as the general influence of DJs, who are among the top 5 most influential types of people within the country[citation needed], Kwaito has taken over radio, television, and magazines.[141]

Sports

Soccer City during a soccer match between South Africa and Colombia

The Springboks in a bus parade after winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup

South Africa's most popular sports are soccer, rugby and cricket.[142] Other sports with significant support are swimming, athletics, golf, boxing, tennis 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 Pienaar (Tottenham), Lucas Radebe and Philemon Masinga (both formerly of Leeds United), Quinton Fortune (Atlético Madrid and Manchester United), Benni McCarthy (Ajax Amsterdam, F.C. Porto, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United), Aaron Mokoena (Ajax Amsterdam, Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth), and Delron Buckley (Borussia Dortmund). Famous boxing personalities include Baby Jake Jacob Matlala, Vuyani Bungu, Welcome Ncita, Dingaan Thobela, Gerrie Coetzee and Brian Mitchell. Durban Surfer Jordy Smith won the 2010 Billabong J-Bay competition making him the no 1 ranked surfer in the world. South Africa produced Formula One motor racing's 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter. Famous current cricket players include Herschelle Gibbs, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy, etc. Most of them also participate in the Indian Premier League.

South Africa has also produced numerous world class rugby players, including Francois Pienaar, Joost van der Westhuizen, Danie Craven, Frik du Preez, Naas Botha and Bryan Habana. South Africa hosted and won the 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, and it was the host nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was the first time the tournament was held in Africa. FIFA president Sepp Blatter awarded South Africa a grade 9 out of 10 for successfully hosting the event.[143]

In 2004, the swimming team of Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Athens, simultaneously breaking the world record in the 4x100 freestyle relay. 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. Pistorius also won two gold medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games and is the T44 world record holder for the 200 and 400 metres events. The South African team of Pistorius, Arnu Fourie, Zivan Smith and Samkelo Radebe won a gold medal and set a Paralympic record in the 4x100m relay. Fourie also set a world record in the heats of the T44 200 m event and won a bronze medal in the 100 meter event.

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 tournaments include Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel .

Education

School children in Mitchell's Plain

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. [144] Primary schools span the first seven years of schooling.[145] 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.[144]

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. Public institutions are usually English medium, although instruction may take place in Afrikaans as well. There are also a large number of other educational institutions in South Africa – some are local campuses of foreign universities, some conduct classes for students who write their exams at the distance-education University of South Africa and some offer unaccredited or non-accredited diplomas. Both public and private universities and colleges register with the Department of Higher Education and Training and are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Rankings of universities and business schools in South Africa are largely based on international university rankings, because there have not as yet been published any specifically South African rankings.

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.[146] 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" in order to redressing these imbalances.

Public expenditure on education was at 5.4% of the 2002–05 GDP.[147]

Further reading

  • A History of South Africa, Third Edition. Leonard Thompson. Yale University Press. 1 March 2001. 384 pages. ISBN 0-300-08776-4.
  • Emerging Johannesburg: Perspectives on the Postapartheid City. Richard Tomlinson, et al. 1 January 2003. 336 pages. ISBN 0-415-93559-8.
  • Making of Modern South Africa: Conquest, Segregation and Apartheid. Nigel Worden. 1 July 2000. 194 pages. ISBN 0-631-21661-8.
  • South Africa: A Narrative History. Frank Welsh. Kodansha America. 1 February 1999. 606 pages. ISBN 1-56836-258-7.
  • South Africa in Contemporary Times. Godfrey Mwakikagile. New Africa Press. February 2008. 260 pages. ISBN 978-0-9802587-3-8.
  • The Atlas of Changing South Africa. A. J. Christopher. 1 October 2000. 216 pages. ISBN 0-415-21178-6.
  • The Politics of the New South Africa. Heather Deegan. 28 December 2000. 256 pages. ISBN 0-582-38227-0.
  • Twentieth-Century South Africa. William Beinart Oxford University Press 2001, 414 pages, ISBN 0-19-289318-1

More information

Airports567 (2012)
Borders WithBotswana
Borders WithLesotho
Borders WithMozambique
Borders WithNamibia
Borders WithSwaziland
Borders WithZimbabwe
Coastline2,798 km
Coordinates29 00 S, 24 00 E
Domain Suffix.za
Ethnic Groupblack African 79%
Ethnic Groupwhite 9.6%
Ethnic Groupcolored 8.9%
Ethnic GroupIndian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)
Female Life Expectancy48.45 years (2012 est.)
Female Median Age25.6 years (2012 est.)
Fertility Rate2.28 children born/woman (2012 est.)
GDP$555 billion (2011 est.)
GDP$538.2 billion (2010 est.)
GDP$523.1 billion (2009 est.)
GDP Growth3.1% (2011 est.)
GDP Growth2.9% (2010 est.)
GDP Growth-1.5% (2009 est.)
Government typerepublic
Highest PointNjesuthi 3,408 m
Land Area1,214,470 sq km
Land boundary4,862 km
LocationSouthern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Lowest PointAtlantic Ocean 0 m
Male Life Expectancy50.34 years
Male Median Age25 years
NationalitySouth African(s)
Population Growth-0.412% (2012 est.)
Railways20,192 km
Roadways362,099 km
Terrainvast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Total Area1,219,090 sq km
Total Life Expectancy49.41 years
Total Median Age25.3 years
Water Area4,620 sq km

References

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  3. The Khoi, Nama and San languages; sign language; German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Portuguese, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu; and Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit and "other languages used for religious purposes in South Africa" have a special status. See Chapter 1, Article 6, of the Constitution.
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  8. "Coastline". The World Factbook. CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2060.html. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
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