Snapshot of South Africa
South Africa is located on the southern tip of Africa. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe,Swaziland, and Mozambique all border South Africa to the north. Lesotho is a country whichis landlocked inside South Africa.
South Africa covers approximately 1.2 million square miles.
The landscape of South Africa displays significant variation. There are plateaus,savannas, deserts, mountains, and coastal plains.
The weather in South Africa is quite pleasant. The climate is similar to that ofsouthern California.
There are 38 million people living in South Africa. Three-quarters of South Africansare black, and 14% are white.
South Africa has ten official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho,Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhsa, and Zulu.
Most South Africans are Christian. Other religions include: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, andtraditional African faiths.
South Africa has three branches of government and a capital city for each. Theadministrative capital of South Africa is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town,and the judicial capital is Bloemfontein. Other large cities in South Africa are Durban,Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth.
The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, and in 1934 South Africa became asovereign
state within British empire. In 1948, the National Party took control of government andbegan enforcing a system of racial segregation called "apartheid"(separateness). The system of governance strictly limited the political, economic, andsocial rights of the black South African majority. The African Nation Congress (ANC) is apolitical movement that was formed to counter the apartheid government. Nelson Mandela andmany other leaders of the anti-apartheid movement were imprisoned. In 1991, the GroupAreas Act, Land Acts, and the Population Registration Act abolished the pillars ofapartheid. Mandela was released from prison and a nonracial, democratic constitution cameinto effect on April 27, 1994. Two weeks later, Mandela, the winner of South Africa'sfirst nonracial election, was installed as president. President Mandela signed a newconstitution into law on December 10, 1996, and it entered into
force on February 3, 1997.
The economy of South Africa is highly industrialized, but displays great inequalitiesof wealth and income resulting from earlier apartheid policies. South Africa has richmineral resources. It is the largest producer and exporter of gold in the world. SouthAfrica is a net exporter of agricultural products. Important crops include: citrus anddeciduous fruits, corn, wheat, dairy products, sugarcane, tobacco, wine, and wool. SouthAfrica also boasts highly developed manufacturing, and is a world leader in the productionof synthetic fuels and mining equipment. A modern telecommunications and transportationinfrastructure aids the South African economy.