Background: After the capture of the Cape of Good Hope area by the British in 1806, many Dutch settlers (Boers) moved north to establish their own republics. The discovery of diamond deposits (1867) and gold (1886) attracted funds and immigrants and increased the oppression of the natives. The Boers resisted the British invasion but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902). The resulting Union of South Africa pursued a policy of apartheid, that is, the separate development of races. In the 1990s apartheid came to an end and black majority rule was proclaimed.
Location: southern tip of the African continent.
Geographic coordinates: 29° 00′ S. latitude, 24° 00′ E
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 1,219,912 km2; land surface area: 1,219,912 km2; area of water resources: 0 km2; note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island).
Comparative area: slightly less than two states of Texas.
Land borders: total: 4,750 km; with neighboring states: with Botswana 1,840 km, with Lesotho 909 km, with Mozambique 491 km, with Namibia 855 km, with Swaziland 430 km, with Zimbabwe 225 km.
Coastline: 2,798 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: to a depth of 200 m or to the depth of field development; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: Mostly semi-arid, subtropical along the east coast, sunny days, cool nights.
Terrain: Extensive plateau framed by jagged hills and a narrow coastal plain.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount 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: 10%; cultivated land: 1%; pastures: 67%; forests and plantations: 7%; others: 15% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 12,700 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: prolonged droughts. Current Environmental Issues: The lack of important waterways and lakes necessitates the maintenance and control of large water supplies; rising water consumption threatens to exceed supply capacity; pollution of rivers by agricultural and urban runoff; air pollution causing acid rain; soil erosion; desertification.
Current environmental issues:
International agreements on environmental protection: party to: Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Antarctic seals, Conservation of marine life in Antarctica, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Hazardous waste, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Conservation of marine life, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Ship pollution, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified: no.
Note to the section “Geography”: the territory of South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland.
Population: 43,586,097; note: South Africa conducted a census in 1996, according to which the population was 40,583,611 people. (after which a 6.8% adjustment was made based on observations after counting); estimates for this country take into account the rising death rate from AIDS; due to the spread of AIDS, life expectancy, population size and population growth may actually be lower, and child mortality and overall mortality rates correspondingly higher; there may also be changes in the age structure and ratio of priests (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 32.01% (male 7,023,639; female 6,928,559); 15 to 64 years old: 63.11% (male 13,264,654; female 14,244,484); over 65 years old 4.88% (male 798,914; female 1,325,847) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.26% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 21.12 newborns / 1,000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 16.77 deaths / 1,000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -1.73 people /1,000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male/female; under 15: 1.01 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.93 male/female; over 65: 0.6 male/female; for the general population: 0.94 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 60.33 deaths/1,000 newborns (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 48.09 years; men: 47.64 years; women: 48.56 years (2001 est.).
Total fertility rate: 2.43 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adult population infected with HIV: 19.94% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 4.2 million (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 250,000 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: South African; adjective: pertaining to South Africa.
Ethnic groups: Black 75.2%, White 13.6%, Mixed ancestry 8.6%, Indian 2.6%.
Believers: Christian 68% (includes whites and mixed backgrounds, about 60% blacks and about 40% Indians), Muslims 2%, Hindus 1.5% (60% Indians), native cultists and animists 28.5%.
Language(s): 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndbele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhoza, Zulu.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 81.8%; men: 81.9%; women: 81.7% (1995 est.).
conventional long form: Republic of South Africa;
Common short form: South Africa; abbreviation: South Africa (RSA).
State structure: republic. See politicsezine.com to know more about South Africa Political System.
Capital: Pretoria; note — Cape Town is the center of the legislative power, Bloemfontein is the center of the judiciary.
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces: Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Kwazupu Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape, Northern Province, Free State.
Independence: from May 31, 1910 (before 1910 – a British dominion).
National holiday: Freedom Day, April 27 (1994).
Constitution: adopted December 10, 1996; a new constitution was approved by the Constitutional Court on December 4, 1996, signed by President MANDELA on December 10, 1996, and entered into force on February 3, 1997; comes into play in parts.
Legal system: based on Roman Dutch law and English common law; subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from the age of 18, universal.
chief of state: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June 1999); Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since July 17, 1999); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
head of the government: President Thabo MBEKI (since June 16, 1999); Deputy President Jakob ZUMA (since July 17, 1999); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
government: cabinet appointed by the president; elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a term of 5 years, last held 2 June 1999 (next to be held in May-July 2004); election results; Thabo MBEKI elected unanimously by the assembly; note: the government is formed by a coalition of ANC and IFP.
Legislature: bicameral parliament consists of the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote through a 5-point proportional representation system) and the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members each are elected by nine provincial legislatures for 5 years; have the power to protect regional interests, including including cultural and linguistic traditions of ethnic minorities); note – as a result of the entry into force of the new constitution, the former Senate was replaced by the National Council of Provinces without significant changes in the composition and distribution of seats between parties on February 3, 1997, but the powers of the new institution under the new constitution have changed somewhat; elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces – last held 2 June 1999 (next to be held in 2004); election results: National Assembly, distribution of votes between parties: ANC 66.4%, DP 9.6%, IFP 8.6%, NP 6.9%, UDM 3.4, FF 0.8%, other 4.3%; distribution of seats among parties: ANC 266, DP 38, IFP 34, NP 28, UDM 14, ACDP 6, FF 3, others 11; National Council of Provinces, distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: ANC 61, NP 17, FF 4, IFP 5, DP 3.
Judiciary: Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, High Courts, Magistrates’ Courts.
Political parties and leaders: African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) (Kenneth MESHOE, president); African National Congress (ANC) (Thabo MBEKI, President); Democratic Alliance (created by the merger of the Democratic Party [DP] and the New National Party [NP]) (Anthony LEON, leader); Freedom Front (FF) (Constand VILJOEN, president); Inkata Freedom Party (IFP) (Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI, president); Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) (Stanley MOGOBA, President); United Democratic Movement (UDM) (Bantu HOLOMISA).
Political influence groups and their leaders: Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) (Zwelinzima VAVI; General Secretary), South African Communist Party (SACP) (Blade NZIMANDE, General Secretary); South African National Civil Rights Organization (SANCO) (Mlungisi HLONGWANE, President); note – the trade unions and the communist party are in a formal alliance with SANC.
Participation in international organizations: ACP, AfDB, BIS, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MONUC, NAM, NSG, OAU, OPCW, PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMEE, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: Head of Mission: Ambassador Makate Sheila SISULU (Ma-kate Sheila SISULU); office: 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 232-4400; fax: [\] (202) 265-1607; consulates general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York.
US Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Delano LEWIS Sr. (Delano E. LEWIS, Sr.); embassy: 877 Pretorius Street, Pretoria; mailing address: R. O. Box 9536, Pretoria 0001; phone:  (12) 342-1048; fax:  (12) 342-2244; consulates general: Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town.
Flag Description: two horizontal stripes of red (top) and blue, equal in width, are separated in the center by a green stripe, which branches, forming a horizontal letter Y, the branches of which end in the corners of that side of the banner, which is attached to the staff; the letter Y embraces with its branches a black triangle, from which it is separated by thin yellow stripes; the red and blue stripes are separated from the green stripe and its branches by narrow white stripes; note: prior to 26 April 1994, the flag actually consisted of four flags; three miniature flags were depicted in the center of the white stripe of the former flag of the Netherlands, which consists of three equal horizontal stripes of orange, white and blue (from top to bottom); miniature flags: a vertical flag of the Boer Orange Republic, to the left of it a horizontal flag of Great Britain