Area: 1.2 million sq. km. (470,462 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capitals--Administrative, Pretoria; Legislative, Cape
Town; Judicial, Bloemfontein. Other cities--Johannesburg,
Durban, Port Elizabeth.
Terrain: Plateau, savanna, desert, mountains, coastal plains.
Climate: moderate; similar to southern California.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--South African(s).
Annual growth rate (2004 World Bank Group): 0.8%.
Population (2004, 46.6 million): Composition--black 79%;
white 9.6%; colored 8.9%; Asian (Indian) 2.5%. Official figures from
2000 South African Census at
Languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi,
Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga (all official
Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu,
Education: Years compulsory--7-15 years of age for all
children. The South African Schools Act, Act 84 of 1996, passed by
Parliament in 1996, aims to achieve greater educational
opportunities for black children, mandating a single syllabus and
more equitable funding for schools.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2000)--59 per live births.
Life expectancy--52 yrs. women; 50 yrs. men. Health data from
2000 U.S. Census Report: HIV/AIDS Country Profiles at
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Independence: The Union of South Africa was created on May 31, 1910;
became sovereign state within British Empire in 1934; became a
republic on May 31, 1961; left the Commonwealth in October 1968;
rejoined the Commonwealth in June 1994.
Constitution: Entered into force February 3, 1997.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state) elected to a
5-year term by the National Assembly. Legislative--bicameral
Parliament consisting of 490 members in two chambers. National
Assembly (400 members) elected by a system of proportional
representation. National Council of Provinces consisting of 90
delegates (10 from each province) and 10 nonvoting delegates
representing local government. Judicial--Constitutional Court
interprets and decides constitutional issues; Supreme Court of
Appeal is the highest court for interpreting and deciding
Administrative subdivisions: Nine provinces: Eastern Cape, Free
State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern
Cape, Limpopo, Western Cape.
Political parties: African National Congress (ANC), Democratic
Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Vryheidsfront
Plus/Freedom Front Plus (FF+), Pan-African Congress (PAC), African
Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), United Democratic Movement (UDM),
and Azanian Peoples Organization (Azapo).
Suffrage: Citizens and permanent residents 18 and older.
GDP (2004): $213 billion. 2004 GDP at market prices (baseline year
2000)--1.374 billion rand (R).
Real GDP growth rate (2004): 3.7%.
GDP per capita (2004): $3,480.
Unemployment (September 2004): 27.8%.
Natural resources: Almost all essential commodities, except
petroleum products and bauxite. Only country in the world that
manufactures fuel from coal.
Industry: Types--minerals, mining, motor vehicles and parts,
machinery, textiles, chemicals, fertilizer, information technology,
electronics, other manufacturing, and agroprocessing.
Trade (2004): Exports--$36.3 billion (2003 merchandise
exports R256 billion; 2003 gold exports R35 billion): gold, other
minerals and metals, agricultural products, motor vehicles and
parts. Major markets--U.K., U.S., Germany, Italy, Japan, East
Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa. Imports--$34 billion (2003
merchandise imports R263 billion): machinery, transport equipment,
chemicals, petroleum products, textiles, and scientific instruments.
Major suppliers--Germany, U.S., Japan, U.K., Italy.
GDP composition (2003): Agriculture and mining (primary
sector)--11%; industry (secondary sector)--24%; services
(tertiary sector)--65%. World's largest producer of platinum, gold,
and chromium; also significant coal production.