INFORMATION ON SOUTH AFRICA
Geography and Ethnicity
Africa covers 1,219,912 sq km, slightly less
size of the
state of Texas. It's massive coastline extends
for 2,798 km.
The capital is Pretoria;
note - Cape Town is the legislative center and
Bloemfontein the judicial center.
There are 9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State,
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North-West,
Northern Cape and Western Cape.
Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost
completely surrounds Swaziland.
current population is not known with certainty,
but the most recent estimate (July 2008) puts
the number at 48.8 million people. Note: estimates
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
It is estimated (2003
est) that 21.5% of the adult population (5.3 million
South Africans) are living with HIV/AIDS and
that 370,000 per year die from the disease.
Ethnicity is as
follows: Black- 79%; White-9.6%; Coloured-8.9%;
Indian/Asian-2.5% (2001 census).
are as follows: Christian-79.7% (includes most
whites and Coloureds, about 60% of blacks and
of Indians), Muslim 1.5%, Hindu 1.5% (60% of
Indians), indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%.
There are 11 official
languages in South Africa, including Afrikaans,
English, Ndebele, Pedi,
Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
In the current politics of South Africa, the African National Congress is the ruling party at a national level, and in most provinces, having received 69.7% of the vote during the 2004 general election and 66.3% of the vote in the 2006 municipal election. The main challenger to the ANC's rule is the Democratic Alliance party, which received 12.4% of the vote in the 2004 election and 14.8% in the 2006 election. The leader of this party is Helen Zille. Other major political parties represented in Parliament are the Inkatha Freedom Party, which mainly represents Zulu voters, with 6.97%; and the Independent Democrats with 1.7% in the 2004 election. The formerly dominant New National Party, who introduced apartheid through its predecessor the National Party, received very few votes and disbanded on 9 April 2005 to merge with the ANC
The current South African president is Kgalema Motlanthe. Fifteen cabinet ministers, including the current Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, resigned after the resignation of the previous president Thabo Mbeki on September 21, 2008, though some, including Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, indicated their willingness to be reappointed by the new president.
of state: President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 25 September 2008); Executive Deputy President Baleka MBETE (since 25 September 2008); note - Thabo MBEKI resigned as president effective 25 September 2008; the president is both the chief of state and head of government.
Head of government: President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 25 September 2008); Executive Deputy President Baleka MBETE (since 25 September 2008) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president .
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president.
Elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 25 September 2008 (next to be held in April 2009); note - Kgalema MOTLANTHE is serving out the term of Thabo MBEKI.
Election results: Kgalema MOTLANTHE elected president; National Assembly vote - Kgalema MOTLANTHE 269, Joe SEREMANE 50, other 41; note - Thabo MBEKI resigned as president effective 25 September 2008, Kgalema MOTLANTHE is serving the remainder of his term.
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
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.
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; the Y
embraces 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
four flags in one - three miniature
flags reproduced in the center of the white
band of the former flag of the Netherlands,
which had three equal horizontal bands of orange
(top), white, and blue; the miniature flags
were 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.
South Africa has rich mineral resources. It is the world's largest producer and exporter of gold and platinum and also exports a significant amount of coal. Another major export is diamonds. During 2000, platinum overtook gold as South Africa's largest foreign exchange earner. The value-added processing of minerals to produce ferroalloys, stainless steels, and similar products is a major industry and an important growth area. The country's diverse manufacturing industry is a world leader in several specialised sectors, including railway rolling stock, synthetic fuels, and mining equipment and machinery.
Exports: $76.19 billion (2007 est):
gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment.
Major markets: US 11.9%, Japan 11.1%, Germany 8%, UK 7.7%, China 6.6%, Netherlands 4.5% (2007).
Imports: $81.89 billion (2007 est):
machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs .
suppliers: Germany 10.9%, China 10%, Spain 8.2%, US 7.2%, Japan 6.1%, UK 4.5%, Saudi Arabia 4.2% (2007).
South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market
with an abundant supply of natural 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 lower South Africa's high
unemployment rate, and daunting economic problems
remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty
and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged
groups. South African economic policy is fiscally
conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting
inflation and liberalizing trade as means to
increase job growth and household income.
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 currency is
the South African Rand (ZAR). Recent exchange
rates are as follows: rand per US dollar: - 9.43
(12/31/2008); 6.75 (12/31/2007); 6.96
(12/31/2006); 6.35 (12/31/2005); 5.67 (12/31/2004);
6.65 (12/31/2003); 8.66 (12/31/2002); 12.11
(12/31/2001); 7.59 (12/31/2000); 6.16 (12/31/1999);
5.88 (12/31/1998); 4.87 (12/31/1997). Use
our Currency Converter to
check the rate on any specific day, past or present.
Africa has placed military along the border to apprehend
the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction
and political persecution.
of January 2007, South Africa also 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).
dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in
the Orange River.
2006, Swazi king advocates resort to ICJ to claim parts of
Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa.
temperature and rainfall details in Johannesburg,
Cape Town and Durban, click African
South Africa enjoys a temperate and pleasant climate,
with lovely warm sunny days most of the year.
The seasons of the southern hemisphere are
opposite to those in the northern hemisphere
so our summers run from November to February,
when most of the country is characterised by
hot weather with afternoon thunderstorms. Winters
are generally mild and dry. South Africa enjoys
one of the world's highest average daily hours
of sunshine - 8.5 compared with 3.8 in London,
6.4 in Rome and 6.9 in New York.
AFRICA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
||New Year's Day
||Local government elections
||Human Rights Day
||Good Friday (Friday before
||Family Day (Monday after
||National Women's Day
||Day of Reconciliation
||Day of Goodwill
Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994) determines
whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday,
the Monday following it shall be a public
Human Rights Day
Commemorates the fateful events of 21 March 1960,
when demonstrators were gunned down by police:
The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 extended
Government control over the movement of Africans
to urban areas and abolished the use of the Pass
Book (a document which Africans were required to
carry on them to ‘prove’ that
they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’) in favour of a reference
book which had to be carried at all times by all Africans.
Failure to produce
the reference book on demand by the police was
a punishable offence. The PAC proposed an anti-Pass
campaign to start on 21 March 1960. All African
men were to take part in the campaign without
their passes and present themselves for arrest.
at police stations in townships near Johannesburg
where they were dispersed by police. At the Sharpeville
police station a scuffle broke out. Part of a
wire fence was trampled, allowing the crowd to
move forward. The police opened fire, apparently
without having been given a prior order to do
so. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded.
In apartheid South
Africa this day became known as Sharpeville Day
and although not part of the official calendar
of public holidays the event was commemorated
among anti-apartheid movements.
Commemoration of the first democratic elections
held in South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Previously known as Soweto Day.
In 1975 protests
started in African schools after a directive from
the previous Bantu Education Department that Afrikaans
had to be used on an equal basis with English as
a language of instruction in secondary schools.
The issue however, was not so much the Afrikaans,
as the whole system of Bantu education which was
characterised by separate schools and universities,
poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately
On 16 June 1976
more than 20,000 pupils from Soweto began a protest
march. In the wake of clashes with the police,
and the violence that ensued during the next
few weeks, approximately 700 people,
many of them youths, were killed and property
destroyed. Youth Day commemorates these events.
This day commemorates 9 August 1956, when women
participating in a national march petitioned against
pass laws (legislation that required African persons
to carry a document on them to ‘prove’ that
they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’).
"The day is one of our newly
created public holidays and its significance
rests in recognising aspects of South African
culture which are both tangible and difficult
to pin down: creative expression, our historical
inheritance, language, the food we eat as
well as the land in which we live.
a broader social and political context, the
day's events…are a powerful agent
for promulgating a South African identity,
fostering reconciliation and promoting the
notion that variety is a national asset as
opposed to igniting conflict.
defined as "that which we inherit: the
sum total of wild life and scenic parks,
sites of scientific or historical importance,
national monuments, historic buildings, works
of art, literature and music, oral traditions
and museum collections together with their
(Statement issued by the Department
of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, 17 September
an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, (former)
President Mandela stated:
"When our first
democratically-elected government decided to
make Heritage Day one of our national days, we
did so because we knew that our rich and varied
cultural heritage has a profound power to help
build our new nation.
We did so knowing
that the struggles against the injustice and
inequities of the past are part of our national
identity; they are part of our culture. We knew
that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the
proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division
and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose
selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to
this goal of non-racial democracy."
determines a theme for each year’s celebrations.commemorated
among anti-apartheid movements.
Day of Reconciliation
During the earlier part of the 19th century, many
Afrikaner farmers left the eastern cape and
moved inland. Among them was the Voortrekkers,
a group of Afrikaners protesting British colonialism
and seeking independent republics on what was
reputedly empty land. But the land was not
empty and clashes between these Afrikaners
and indigenous peoples were inevitable.
in 1837 one of the Voortrekker leaders, Piet
Retief, entered into negotiations for land
with Dingane, the Zulu king. In terms of the
negotiations Dingane promised the Voortrekkers
land on condition they returned cattle to him
stolen by Sekonyela (the Tlokwa chief). This
Retief did and apparently he and Dingane signed
a treaty on 6 February 1838. During the ceremony
Dingane had Retief and his entourage murdered
- an event which was witnessed by Francis Owen,
a missionary who described the scene in his
In ensuing battles
between Zulus and Voortrekkers over the next
few months numerous lives were lost on both sides.
16 December 1838 about 10 00 troops under the
command of Dambuza (Nzobo) and Nhlela attacked
the Voortrekkers, but the 470 Voortrekkers, with
the advantage of gun powder, warded them off.
Only three Voortrekkers were wounded, but more
than 3 000 Zulus were killed during the battle.
apartheid South Africa 16 December was known
as Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers in preparation
for the battle took a Vow before God that they
would build a church and that they and their
descendants would observe the day as a day
of thanksgiving should they be granted victory.
With the advent of democracy in South Africa
16 December retained its status as a public
holiday, however, this time with the purpose
of fostering reconciliation and national unity.
to Map of South
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