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Capital: Cape Town
Population: 41,465,000
South Africa Map


Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 1,219,912 sq km
land: 1,219,912 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Land boundaries:
total : 4,750 km
border countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 855 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km

Coastline: 2,798 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone : 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Terrain: vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point : 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%
permanent crops : 1%
permanent pastures: 67%
forests and woodland: 7%
other: 15% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 13,500 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: prolonged droughts

Environment - current issues: lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage threatens to outpace supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea

Geography - note: South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland


Population: 43,647,658
note: South Africa took a census October 1996 that showed a population of 40,583,611 (after an official adjustment for a 6.8% underenumeration based on a postenumeration survey); estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 6,943,761; female 6,849,745)
15-64 years: 63.4% (male 13,377,011; female 14,300,850)
65 years and over : 5% (male 816,222; female 1,360,069) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.02% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 20.63 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 18.86 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over :0.6 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 61.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population : 45.43 years
male:45.19 years
female: 45.68 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.38 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun: South African(s)
adjective: South African

Ethnic groups: black 75.2%, white 13.6%, Colored 8.6%, Indian 2.6%

Religions: Christian 68% (includes most whites and Coloreds, about 60% of blacks and about 40% of Indians), Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5% (60% of Indians), indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%

Languages:11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85%
male : 86%
female: 85% (2000 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa
abbreviation : RSA

Data code: SF

Government type: republic

National capital: Pretoria (administrative); Cape Town (legislative); Bloemfontein (judicial)

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape, Northern Province, Western Cape

Independence: 31 May 1910 (from UK)

National holiday: Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

Constitution: 10 December 1996; this new constitution was certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996, was signed by President MANDELA on 10 December 1996, and entered into effect on 3 February 1997; it is being implemented in phases

Legal system: based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June 1999); Executive Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since 17 June 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June 1999); Executive Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since 17 June 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet : Cabinet appointed by the president
elections:president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 2 June 1999 (next scheduled for sometime between May and July 2004)
election results: Thabo MBEKI elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 100% (by acclamation)
note: ANC-IFP is the governing coalition

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms) and the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities); note - following the implementation of the new constitution on 3 February 1997 the former Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution's responsibilities have been changed somewhat by the new constitution
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held 2 June 1999 (next to be held by 2 August 2004)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 66.4%, DP 9.6%, IFP 8.6%, NP 6.9%, UDM 3.4%, ACDP 1.4%, FF 0.8%, other 2.9%; seats by party - ANC 266, DP 38, IFP 34, NP 28, UDM 14, ACDP 6, FF 3, other 11; National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - ANC 61, NP 17, FF 4, IFP 5, DP 3

Judicial branch: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts

Political parties and leaders:African Christian Democratic Party or ACDP [Kenneth MESHOE, president]; African National Congress or ANC [Thabo MBEKI, president]; Democratic Alliance (formed from the merger of the Democratic Party or DP and the New National Party or NP; note - NP split from DP in 2001) [Anthony LEON]; Freedom Front or FF [Dr. Pieter MULDER, president]; Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI, president]; New National Party or NP [Marthinus VAN SCHALKWYK]; Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC [Stanley MOGOBA, president]; United Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Congress of South African Trade Unions or COSATU [Zwelinzima VAVI, general secretary]; South African Communist Party or SACP [Blade NZIMANDE, general secretary]; South African National Civics Organization or SANCO [Mlungisi HLONGWANE, national president]; note - COSATU and SACP are in a formal alliance with the ANC

International organization participation: 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 (observer), ISO, ITU, MTCR, NAM, OAU, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador Makate Sheila SISULU
chancery: 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-4400
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1607
consulate(s) general: Beverly Hills (California), Chicago, and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador Cameron H. HUME
embassy: 877 Pretorius St., Arcadia 0083
mailing address: P.O. Box 9536, Pretoria 0001
telephone: [27] (12) 342-1048
FAX : [27] (12) 342-2244
consulate(s) general: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg

Flag description: two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band which splits into a horizontal Y, the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side, embracing a black isosceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes
note: prior to 26 April 1994, the flag was actually four flags in one - three miniature flags reproduced in the center of the white band of the former flag of the Netherlands, which has three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and blue; the miniature flags are a vertically hanging flag of the old Orange Free State with a horizontal flag of the UK adjoining on the hoist side and a horizontal flag of the old Transvaal Republic adjoining on the other side


Economy - overview: South Africa is a middle-income, developing country with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to cut into high unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime, corruption, and HIV/AIDS. At the start of 2000, President MBEKI vowed to promote economic growth and foreign investment, and to reduce poverty by relaxing restrictive labor laws, stepping up the pace of privatization, and cutting unneeded governmental spending. The economy slowed in 2001, largely the result of the slowing of the international economy.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $412 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 2.6% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,400 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture : 3%
industry: 31%
services : 66% (2000 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 5.8% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total: 17 million economically active (2000)
by occupation: agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: 37% (2001 est.)

revenues : $22.6 billion
expenditures: $24.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA billion (FY02/03)

Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemical, fertilizer, foodstuffs

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - capacity: 34.57 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 194.383 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita:181.521 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products

total value: $32.3 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities: gold 27%, other minerals and metals 20%-25%, food 5%, chemicals 3% (1994)
partners: EU 33%, US 20%, Japan 6%, Mozambique 2.5% (2001 est.)

total value : $28.1 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities: machinery 32%, transport equipment 15%, chemicals 11%, petroleum products, textiles, scientific instruments (1994)
partners: EU 41%, US 11.4%, Saudi Arabia 7.3%, Japan 7% (2001 est.)

Debt - external: $25.5 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: $539 million (1999)

Currency: 1 rand (ZAR) = 100 cents

Exchange rates:rand per US dollar - 11.58786 (January 2002), 8.60918 (2001), 6.93983 (2000), 6.10948 (1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Telephones: more than 5 million (2001)

Telephone system: the system is the best developed, most modern, and has the highest capacity in Africa
domestic:consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international : 2 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: 17 million (2001)

Television broadcast stations:556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 6 million (2000)


total:20,384 km
narrow gauge: 20,070 km 1.067-m gauge (9,090 km electrified); 314 km 0.610-m gauge
note: in addition, South Africa has an electrified 1.065-m gauge commuter rail system, with a total length of 1,254 km, which serves Johannesburg-Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, East London, and Port Elizabeth (2001)

total: 358,596 km
paved : 59,753 km (including 1,927 km of expressways)
unpaved: 298,843 km (1996)

Pipelines: crude oil 931 km; petroleum products 1,748 km; natural gas 322 km

Ports and harbors: Cape Town, Durban, East London, Mosselbaai, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha

Merchant marine:
total:8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 271,650 GRT/268,604 DWT
ships by type: container 6, petroleum tanker 2

Airports: 740 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 144
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m :5
1,524 to 2,437 m:47
914 to 1,523 m: 72
under 914 m: 11 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 596
1,524 to 2,437 m : 34
914 to 1,523 m: 304
under 914 m:258 (2001)


Military branches: South African National Defense Force or SANDF (includes Army, Navy, Air Force, and Medical Services), South African Police Service or SAPS

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 11,557,242 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 7,031,337 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 466,399 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $1.79 billion (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.6% (FY01)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: Swaziland continues to press South Africa into ceding ethnic Swazi lands in Kangwane region of KwaZulu-Natal province, that were long ago part of the Swazi Kingdom

Illicit drugs: transshipment center for heroin and cocaine; cocaine consumption on the rise; world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries; illicit cultivation of marijuana