South Africa

Flag of South Africa

Capital - Pretoria/Cape Town
Area - 1,221,037 sq km
Population - 50,110,000
Time zone - GMT +02:00
Currency - Rand (R)
Life expectancy – 49 years


Exports include diamonds, copper, gold, zinc, lead, uranium; cattle, processed fish.

Imports include foodstuffs; petroleum products and fuel, machinery and equipment and chemicals.

GDP per capita (PPP) – $7500 (in 2011)

Cultural aspects/religion

Religion - All principal religions are represented in South Africa, but the majority is Christian (79.8% in the 2001 census). 

Languages - South Africa has eleven officially recognised languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Sepedi, Sesotho, siSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.


Terrain - There is a vast interior plateau surrounded by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain.

Mountains - Njesuthi is the highest point at 3408m.

Ecology/Wildlife – South Africa has a huge collection of wildlife regions and game reserves, encompassing every possible landscape from deserts to forests, mountain chains and coastal reserves to game parks teeming with wildlife species, birds and unique habitats.

Natural resources – gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas.

Natural hazards – prolonged periods of droughts. The volcano forming Marion Island in the Prince Edward Island is an active volcano.

Famous personalities

Nelson Mandela (President from 1994 – 1999). JRR Tolkein (author of The Lord of the Rings) was born in South Africa. Charlize Theron is a famous Hollywood actress from South Africa.


Main sports - Rugby, cricket and football.

Key Athletes – Castor Semenya won a silver medal for the 800m at the 2012 Olympics.

Key historic events

In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favoured the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government.

Connections with Britain

Former British colony.

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