South Africa

Full Name
Republic of South Africa
Afrika Borwa (Pedi, seSotho, Tswana)
Afrika Dzonga (Tsonga)
Afurika Tshipembe (Venda)
Mzantsi Afrika (isiXhosa)
Ningizimu Afrika (siSwati, isiZulu)
Originally called Union of South Africa/Zuid -Afrika (Afrikaan), British Bechuanaland
Famously known as the ‘rainbow nation’
The name Africa is believed to have originated from either the Latin word "aprica" ("Sunny") or Greek "aphrike" ("without cold")

Current Leader
Jacob Zuma

South Africa is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa. It was inhabited by pastoral Khoikhoi (Khoi), the hunter-gatherer San, the Xhosa, and the Zulu nations and various other indigenous tribes.
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
Former British and Boers Colony

Independent since May 31, 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); May 31, 1961 (republic declared) April 27, 1994 (majority rule)


Form of Government
Parliamentary democracy
Head of State is the President who is elected every 5 years

Government Structure
Bicameral parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service: 14,160,350 people
Expenditures: 1.7% of GDP per year
Branches: South African National Defence Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Military Intelligence, South African Military Health Services (2009)

Former Rulers
1910–14 Herbert John Gladstone, Viscount Gladstone, governor-general of South Africa
1914–20 Sydney Charles Buxton, Viscount Buxton, governor-general of South Africa
1920–24 Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught, governor-general of South Africa 1924–31 Alexander, Earl of Athlone, governor-general of South Africa
1931–37 George Herbert Hyde Villiers, Earl of Clarendon, governor-general of South Africa
1937–43 Sir Patrick Duncan, governor-general of South Africa
1943–46 Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet, acting governor-general of South Africa
1946–51 Gideon Brand van Zyl, governor-general of South Africa
1951–59 Ernest George Jansen, Governor-General of South Africa
1959–61 Charles Robberts Swart, Governor-General of South Africa
1961–67 Charles Robberts Swart, President of South Africa
1967–68 Jozua François Naudé, Acting President of South Africa
1968–75 Jacobus Johannes Fouché, president of South Africa
1975–78 Nicolaas J. Diederichs, President of South Africa
1978-79 B. J. Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa Governor-General of South Africa
1979–84 Marais Viljoen, President of South Africa
1984–89 Pieter Willem Botha, Governor-General of South Africa
1989 J. Christian Heunis, Acting President of South Africa
1989–94 Frederik Willem de Klerk, South African President
1994–1999 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South African President
1999–2008 Thabo Mbeki, South African President
2009- present Jacob Zuma, President South Africa

Altitude: 1,320 metres
Population: 1.6 million

Size: 50,586,757 (2011)
Life Expectancy 48 years
Gender make-up: Female -53%,Male- 47%

GDP per capita
$11,034 (2011)

$10,540 (2010)

Area: 1,219,090sqkm
Land Boundaries: 4,862km
Border countries: Botswana 1,840km, Lesotho 909km, Mozambique 491km, Namibia 967km, Swaziland 430km, Zimbabwe 225km

Major Languages
Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, SiSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga (all official languages).

Religious Portfolio
Black Christian churches 31%, Dutch Reformed 23%, Roman Catholic 15%, Hindi 1%, Muslim 1%

National Make-up
Black 79.7%, White 9.1%, Coloured 8.8%, Asian (Indian) 2.2%

Natural Resources

Gold, Chromium, Antimony, Coal, Iron ore, Manganese, Nickel, Phosphates, Tin, Uranium, Gem diamonds, Platinum, Copper, Vanadium, Salt, Natural gas

Main exports
Gold, Diamonds, Platinum, other metals and minerals, Machinery and equipment

Land Use
Arable land: 12.1%
Permanent crops: 0.79%
Other: 87.11% (2005)


Dialling Code

Internet Code

Main Airport: Oliver R. Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International Airport (JIA) and prior to that Jan Smuts International) located 22km from Johannesburg
Main Port: Cape Town

Modern 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

An anti-graft activist withdrew a multi-billion dollar military contract suit that had haunted Jacob Zuma's administration for years

Government finding it hard to deal with disenchanted citizens following recent riots over living standards
Zuma faced rising opposition championed by African National Congress (ANC) youth leader Julius Malema. However, Mr. Malema was kicked out of the ANC when he was convicted of provoking divisions within the ANC

Zuma’s government came under strong criticism in 2011, and protests, after it failed to give the Dalai Lama a visa to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of Archbishop Desmond Tutu
On 16th August 2012, police shot dead 34 striking miners and wounded 78 others at Lonmin's platinum mining operations in Marikana

The South African economy is the largest in Africa. Growth was robust from 2004 to 2008 as South Africa reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom

However, economic growth slowed down in 2013 with the IMF putting it at only 2.2 per cent. This was due to slowed production in the mining and manufacturing industries occasioned by workers' strike actions
Gold and other mineral exports have helped reduce debts considerably
Successful hosting of 2010 Fifa World Cup had a positive impact on the economy

Gender inequality
HIV/Aids infection rate and spread is still high
Labour related issues/countrywide protests

Suffers from xenophobic attacks

Despite reform since apartheid era government spending, education is still largely unequal with quality favouring the wealthy over the poor

Foreign Policy issues
Zuma’s meditation skills are certainly not at their best. His talks with Gaddafi in May 2011 failed to bring about any sign of progress towards an end to Libya's conflict whilst his mediation talks between Zimbabwe’s main rival parties have once more ended with calls for him to be alleviated of this position
South Africa 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)

2014 saw increased tensions between SA and Rwanda following the murder of Rwandese dissident Patrick Karegeya. SA expelled three Rwandan diplomats from the mission in Pretoria in March 2014. Rwanda followed by expelling six South African diplomats from Kigali

The Major Conflicts

Battle of Isandhlawana
When: (17th -19th Century)
Who: Africans (Zulu) vs European penetration and control
South Africa was colonised by the Dutch and the British much earlier than other parts of Africa were colonised
Why: Resisting colonial rule and control
Outcome: Zulu army under the leadership of King Cetshwayo at Isandhlawana defeated a force of 8,000 European soldiers. In spite of colonial efforts, Zululand remained free of colonial control until 1880, this was the single greatest defeat suffered by the British in their colonial endeavours in Africa and Asia!

Anglo-Zulu Wars
When: 1887-1887
Why: Imperialism, territory control and land issue caused the major conflict
Who: British vs. Zulus
Outcome: British defeated the Zulus and annexed Zulu territory North of Thukele River, establishing magistracies for its administration. One year bloody war that led to estimated 42,000 deaths. The defeat of the Zulu uprising led by Shaka-Zulu

Anglo-Boer war
When: 1899-1902
Who : Boers VS British
Why : Wealth exploitation and colony
Discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants
Outcome: Ruled together under Union of South Africa. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated. However, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa

When: 1948-1994
Who: Africans vs Boers
Why: Was established by nationalist government of South Africa as a means of subjugating any non-white peoples of the country.
Outcome: 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 under the African National Congress (ANC).

What to see?
Kwazulu Natal
Kruger National Park
Cape Town


Popular Sports

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Caster Mokgadi Semenya - middle-distance runner and 800m world champion.
Josiah Thugwane – Winner of 1996 Summer Olympics Marathon Gold medal. Thugwane was the first black athlete to earn an Olympic gold for South Africa.

Oscar Pistorius - Star Paralympian aka 'Blade runner'

South Africa leaders theory on HIV/Aids (Zuma taking shower after unprotected sex with HIV positive woman)

Can Kiir deliver on his promise of peace and stability in South Sudan?

Read Story:Can Kiir deliver on his promise of peace and stability in South Sudan?