What are the key facts about South Africa?

Kalk Bay, South Africa (photo by garybembridge - CC-BY)

Kalk Bay, South Africa (photo by garybembridge - CC-BY, flag by SKopp - PD)

South Africa lies at the south of Africa. It borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, and surrounds Lesotho.

The legislative capital is Cape Town, the judicial capital is Bloemfontein, and the administrative capital is Pretoria.

The South African National Anthem is Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

How big is South Africa?

South Africa has an area of 1,219,912 square kilometers (471,010 square miles), about the same size as Mali or Colombia.C09

What is the population of South Africa?

In 2009 the population of South Africa was estimated at 49,052,489 – and growing at 0.281% per year. 28.9% of those are under 15, and 5.4% are over 65. The median age is only 24.4 years. There are around 1.01 females for every male.C09

What is South Africa’s climate?

Inland it’s hot in summer with thunderstorms in the higher areas, and cool in winter with frosty mornings in the higher areas. It’s semiarid in the centre, tending towards arid in the northwest and temperate/mediterranean in the southwest. The east coast is subtropical.

What currency is used in South Africa?

South Africa uses a Rand of one hundred cents. Prior to decimalisation it used a pound of twenty shillings, each of twelve pence.

What is the political structure of South Africa?

South Africa is a republic with two houses of parliament. The National Assembly is elected under proportional representation. The National Council of Provinces comprises members appointed by the provincial legislatures, and protects regional interests.

The president is chief of state and head of government, and appoints the cabinet.

The official languages reflect the diversity of South Africa’s people, and are:

  • Afrikaans
  • English
  • Ndebele
  • Northern Sotho
  • Southern Sotho
  • Swati
  • Tsonga
  • Tswana
  • Venda
  • Xhosa
  • Zulu

What are the provinces of South Africa?

  • Eastern Cape (capital Bhisho)
  • Free State (capital Bloemfontein)
  • Gauteng (capital Johannesburg)
  • KwaZulu-Natal (capital Pietermaritzburg)
  • Limpopo (capital Polokwane)
  • Mpumalanga (capital Nelspruit)
  • Northern Cape (capital Kimberley)
  • North West (capital Mafikeng)
  • Western Cape (capital Cape Town)

What powers the South Africa economy?

9% of the labor force work in agriculture, producing corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton, wool and dairy products.

26% of the labor force work in industry: mining (including platinum, gold and chromium), car assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, and commercial ship repair.

65% of the labor force work in services.C09

What does South Africa export and import?

South Africa exports gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment—primarily to the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, China and the Netherlands.

South Africa imports machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, and foodstuffs—primarily from Germany, China, Spain, the US, Japan, the UK, and Saudi Arabia.C09

What sports and recreations are popular in South Africa?

Popular sports in South Africa include soccer, rugby cricket, boxing, basketball, surfing, lawn bowls, golf, and motor racing.

Outdoor recreation includes boating, swimming and surfing in the coastal areas, plus game spotting and hiking in inland areas.

What are the tourism and travel highlights of South Africa?

For many visitors South Africa appeals because it provides a chance to see large animals in their own habitat: elephant, zebra, hippo, giraffe, rhino. Smaller animals are also of interest: baboons, warthogs, springbok etc, and along coastal parts such as the Garden Route it’s possible to view penguins, seals, dolphins and whales.

The mountain areas provide opportunity for hiking and climbing, and the tourist can experience extreme sports such as bungee jumping and mountain-high zip-wires.

The cultural aspect is enormous due to the variety of people and the rich history of the country, and the lifestyle aspect is hard to beat with the braai (barbecue) being a regular feature on summer weekends.


C09 CIA World Factbook (2009)

W09 Wikipedia – South Africa (2009)

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