About South Africa

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Description

 

Archeologists report evidence that humans have inhabited Southern Africa for more than 100,000 years. Over many modern centuries assorted Africa tribes moved steadily south to populate the country we now call South Africa.

In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, the Dutch East India Company founded a station at what would later become Cape Town.

After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, Cape Town soon became a British colony. Many of the original Dutch settlers (the Boers) as well as some Flemish, German and French interests moved north to found their own republics.

The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred additional wealth; speculators poured in and that unfortunately intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants.

The Boers continually resisted the growing British encroachments, but they were totally defeated in the second Boer War (1899-1902). It was a lengthy conflict involving large numbers of troops from many British possessions.

In 1961 South Africa became an independent republic, but to its great discredit, the government continued its official policy of racial segregation. In 1990, after three decades of brutal racial policies and the oppression of civil rights, the South African government began dismantling their discriminative laws and democratic elections were held in 1994.

The country’s first multiracial election in 1994 was won by Nelson Mandela and African National Congress (ANC) party. Mandela retired in 1999 and Thabo Mbeki, the deputy president, won the presidency in a landslide vote.

Mbeki easily won the election again in 2004, but in 2008, under pressure, Mbeki resigned and the Parliament elected Kgalema Motlanthe as interim president until the 2009 elections. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was elected as the President in the 2009 general election.

Since the end of apartheid, unemployment has been very high. Many attribute this problem to the current governments’ policies and failure to achieve monetary and fiscal discipline, as well as the AIDS pandemic sweeping across Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the positive side, South Africa hosts the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and that event is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors into the country. Archeologists report evidence that humans have inhabited Southern Africa for more than 100,000 years. Over many modern centuries assorted Africa tribes moved steadily south to populate the country we now call South Africa.

In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, the Dutch East India Company founded a station at what would later become Cape Town.

After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, Cape Town soon became a British colony. Many of the original Dutch settlers (the Boers) as well as some Flemish, German and French interests moved north to found their own republics.

The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred additional wealth; speculators poured in and that unfortunately intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants.

The Boers continually resisted the growing British encroachments, but they were totally defeated in the second Boer War (1899-1902). It was a lengthy conflict involving large numbers of troops from many British possessions.

In 1961 South Africa became an independent republic, but to its great discredit, the government continued its official policy of racial segregation. In 1990, after three decades of brutal racial policies and the oppression of civil rights, the South African government began dismantling their discriminative laws and democratic elections were held in 1994.

The country’s first multiracial election in 1994 was won by Nelson Mandela and African National Congress (ANC) party. Mandela retired in 1999 and Thabo Mbeki, the deputy president, won the presidency in a landslide vote.

Mbeki easily won the election again in 2004, but in 2008, under pressure, Mbeki resigned and the Parliament elected Kgalema Motlanthe as interim president until the 2009 elections. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was elected as the President in the 2009 general election.

Since the end of apartheid, unemployment has been very high. Many attribute this problem to the current governments’ policies and failure to achieve monetary and fiscal discipline, as well as the AIDS pandemic sweeping across Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the positive side, South Africa hosts the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and that event is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors into the country.

Fast Facts

  • Official Name Republic of South Africa
  • Population 48,687,000
  • Capital City Pretoria (pop. 1,985,997)
    Cape Town (pop. 3,497,097) is the legislative center, and Bloemfontein (pop. 369,568) is the judicial center.
  • Currency Rand
  • Currency Converter
  • Languages Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu – all (official)
  • National Day 27 April, Freedom Day
  • Religions Christian (68%), others

Flags

  • South Africa Flag
  • Flags of all countries

Land Statistics

  • Land Area 1,221,040 sq km (471,443 sq miles)
  • Highest Point Njesuthi (11,181 ft.) (3,408 m)
  • Lowest Point Indian Ocean (0 ft.) (0 m)
  • Land Divisions 9 provinces including: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape and Western Cape

Land Forms

Fronted by reefs, the low-lying coastal areas of South Africa’s land rises (with a few exceptions) into a mostly level plateau, one criss-crossed by hills, mountains and shallow valleys in the east and northeast.

The Drakensberg (or Dragon Mountains) are the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to over 11,000 ft) in height.

Arguably, South Africa’s most famous landform is Table Mountain, a flat-topped peak forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town.
(see photos on this page)

South Africa’s Kalahari Desert is part of a huge sand basin that reaches from the Orange River up to Angola, in the west to Namibia and east to Zimbabwe.

The Orange River, South Africa’s major river, rises in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho, where it is known as the Senqu. It twists and turns westward for some 2,200km (1,367 mi) to the Atlantic Ocean.

Latitude/Longitude 

Latitude/Longitude 25° 73′ S, 28° 22′ E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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