OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of South Africa
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 1,221,042 Sq Km (471,447 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 38,577,200
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: South Africa is located at the southern
end of the African Continent. It is bound by the Namibia
to the northwest, Botswana to the north, Zimbabwe, Mozambique
and Swaziland to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the
east and southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest
and west. Geographically, the country contains a broad centrally
depressed plateau as well as a continuous series of mountain
ranges known as the Great Escarpment that ring the interior
plateau. Inland from the Great Escarpment the central plateau,
which comprises the Kalahari Basin, consists of rolling
plains that drop to the center and northern interior. The
Great Escarpment runs almost continuously unbroken from
the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe around the continent's southern
edge and arcs northward through Namibia. The principal river
is the Orange with its tributaries the Vaal and Caledon.
Major Cities (pop. est.); Cape Town 2,350,200, Johannesburg
1,916,100, Durban 1,137,400, Pretoria 1,080,200 (1991).
Land Use; forested 7%, pastures 66%, agricultural-cultivated
11%, other 16% (1993).
CLIMATE: South Africa has a temperate climate that is influenced
by the warm Agulhas current from Mozambique as well as the Indian Ocean
to the east and the cold Benguela current from the Atlantic Ocean on the
west coast. Most rainfall occurs as a result of moist warm Indian Ocean
air currents while distribution decreases from east to west. Average annual
precipitation varies from 400 mm (16 inches) in the east to less than 50
mm (2 inches) in the northwest coastal regions. Average annual precipitation
in Cape Town is 510 mm (20 inches) and average temperature ranges are from
9 to 17 degrees Celsius (48 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 16 to
27 degrees Celsius (61 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit) in February.
PEOPLE: The population of South Africa is divided into four main
ethnic groups. (1.) The Black Africans, of which the Nguni and Sotho groups
account for 90% of the Black population, which also accounts for 76% of
the country's entire population. (2.) The Whites who account for around
13% of the population. (3.) The Asians who account for around 3% and (4.)
the Coloreds who are of mixed White and Black descent and account for 9%
of the population.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 29 persons per sq km (76
persons per sq ml) (1993). Urban-Rural; 59.5% urban, 40.5% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.7% male, 50.3% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
61.0 years male, 67.0 years female (1991). Age Breakdown; 39% under 15,
27% 15 to 29, 18% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 34.0 per 1,000 (1991). Death Rate; 8.0 per 1,000 (1991). Increase
Rate; 26.0 per 1,000 (1991). Infant Mortality Rate; 51.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians which account for 68% of the population
with Bantu Churches accounting for 22%. Other religious minorities include
Hindus which account for 1%, Muslims for 1% and Jews for 1%.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Afrikaans, derived principally
from the Dutch language and dialects, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele,
Venda, Tsonga, Northern Sotho, Western Sotho and Southern Sotho.
EDUCATION: Economically active population having attained: no
formal schooling or incomplete primary 49.4%, primary 9.1%, incomplete
secondary 27.5%, secondary 12.4%, higher 1.6% (1985). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 76.4% (1980).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1948 the National Party (NP)
came to power. During the 1950's the National Party passed racial legislation
that included the Mixed Marriages Act which prohibited mixed marriages,
the Population Registration Act which categorized the nations racial groups,
the Groups Area Act which defined areas for ethnic groups to live, the
Reservation of Separate Amenities Act and the Immorality Act which prohibited
sex between different ethnic groups. On May 31, 1961 South Africa became
a republic and left the Commonwealth. In 1955 the African National Congress
(ANC) demanded equal political rights and in 1956 Nelson Mandela and other
anti apartheid leaders were arrested for high treason. In 1959 the ANC
split to form the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) and in 1960 the PAC embarked
on a campaign in protest to laws that controlled the movements of Blacks.
In Mar. 1961 security forces opened fire and killed 67 PAC demonstrators
which led to the introduction of a State of Emergency and the abolishment
of the ANC and PAC. The ANC and PAC responded by establishing military
groups in neighboring countries and launched a program of sabotage against
the government. In 1963 Nelson Mandela, the ANC leader, was imprisoned
for life. In 1966 Prime Minister Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated
and replaced by B.J. Vorster. In Oct. 1966 the UN passed a resolution for
South Africa to end its control of Namibia which finally took place in
Dec. 1988. In Sept. 1978 Prime Minister Vorster resigned amid a scandal
and P.W. Botha became Prime Minister. During the late 1970's the government
established 10 Bantustans or Homelands for all the Black Africans, of which
4 have been granted independence, although they are not recognized by the
international community. In 1976 serious unrest escalated in Soweto, in
protest to the continuation of discriminative policies of the government
and the detention of Blacks by security forces without trials. In Sept.
1984 serious riots broke out which were violently repressed by security
forces and in July 1985 another State of Emergency was declared. In June
1986 a new State of Emergency was declared that restricted the media as
ANC guerrilla campaigns escalated and young Blacks, also known as Comrades,
began to kill other Blacks suspected of cooperating with the Whites or
refusing to join their campaign. In Jan. 1989 Prime Minister Botha resigned
after suffering a stroke and was replaced by F.W. de Klerk. In Sept. 1989
Prime Minister de Klerk was elected President and began to establish social
reforms so that South Africa's political isolation would be brought to
an end and the imposed sanctions could be lifted. In Feb. 1990 the ANC,
PAC and South African Communist Party (SACP) were again legalized and Nelson
Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. In June 1990 violence
erupted between the ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which is led by
Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Bethelezi. In Aug. 1990 the government met with the
ANC and demanded an interim government as well as a new constitution based
on a single vote for every citizen. In Jan. 1991 the ANC and IFP signed
a peace agreement, although clashes between the groups continued. In Feb.
1991 Pres. de Klerk announced major reforms for the new South Africa while
20,000 demonstrators in Cape Town demanded the abolition of apartheid laws.
In May 1991 Winnie Mandela, wife of Nelson, was imprisoned for kidnapping
as well as being an accessory to assault over the intimidation and disappearance
of a witness. In June 1991 the Parliament repealed the Land, Group and
Population Registration Acts, although there was strong opposition from
the Conservative Party. In July 1991 revelations surfaced that the government
had been financing the IFP and Nelson Mandela succeeded Oliver Tambo as
ANC President. In Nov. 1991 the government, the ANC and other political
parties agreed on further power sharing talks. In Dec. 1991 the Convention
for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) convened in Johannesburg and issued
a 17 organization declaration to work towards an undivided, democratic
and peaceful South Africa. Also in 1991 the government introduced a VAT
that led to a general two-day strike by 3.5 million workers in November.
On Mar. 17, 1992 a White referendum gave Pres. de Klerk a mandate to continue
constitution negotiations. In April 1992 police captain Brian Mitchell
and four black police were found guilty of the 1998 murder of 11 in Natal
and Nelson Mandela announced his separation from Winnie Mandela following
further allegations of corruption and murder. In May 1992 CODESA II broke
down following differences between the government and ANC of the proposed
adoption of a new constitution. On June 17, 1992 IFP supporters launched
a raid on Boipatong township which resulted in the deaths of 43 people
that resulted in ANC leader, Mandela announcing their withdrawal from the
CODESA negotiations until the government ended its "campaign of terror".
In Aug. 1992 a general strike of some 4 million workers took place. On
Sept. 7, 1992 some 600,000 ANC supporters marched on Ciskei homeland in
an attempt to remove the local government which resulted in the death of
another 28 people as Ciskei troops opened fire on the protesters. On Sept.
26, 1992 Pres. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela following a meeting agreed on
a democratically elected body to act as an interim parliament with a government
of national unity. In Oct. 1992 Buthelezi broke of negotiations with the
government and ANC in protest to their deal and organized mass protests
in Johannesburg and Durban. In 1993 the government and ANC announced plans
for a one-person, one-vote national election to establish a 400-member
Parliament and government which would serve for up to five years. In Jan.
1993 Pres. de Klerk announced further plans do dismantle apartheid that
included a single non-discriminatory educational system. In Feb. 1993 the
NP appointed three Blacks to its Cabinet and declared itself a multiracial
party. In March 1993 the government admitted it had developed nuclear weapons,
although it claimed that the six atomic bombs were dismantled in 1989.
In April 1993 the ANC chairman, Oliver Tambo died and was succeeded by
Thabo Mbeki. On April 10,1993 the secretary-general of SACP, Chris Hani
was assassinated and on April 14, 1993 some 1.5 million people took part
in mass protests and marches. On May 25, 1993 around 75 PAC members were
arrested following a series of attacks on White farms and restaurants.
In June 1993 members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbewging (AWB) invaded the
World Trade Center in protest to a 26 group negotiation forum being held
there and Winnie Mandela was found guilty of being an accessory to assault
and kidnapping, although she was only fined. On July 2, 1993 the IFP, the
Kwa-Zulu and CP walked out of the forum. In July 1993 there was a gunfight
between police and bodyguards of the deputy president of the ANC, Walter
Sisulu in which one bodyguard was killed. On July 25, 1993 the PAC's militia,
the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), launched an attack on worshipers
at St. James Church in Cape Town killing 11 people. In Oct. 1993 Clive
Derby-Lewis of the Conservative Party (CP) and a Polish immigrant were
found guilty of Hani's murder and sentenced to death. Also in October 1993
the Freedom Alliance was formed and included the CP, IFP, Afrikaner Volksunie
(AVU), Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF), CP and the AWB. The Freedom Alliance
sought separate negotiations with the government and threatened disrupt
agreements reached at the negotiation forum in June. On Oct. 8, 1993 the
UN lifted trade and economic sanctions against South Africa following Nelson
Mandela's address to the UN in Sept. 1993. Also in 1993 Nelson Mandela
and Pres. de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Rand (R) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $118,961,000,000 (1994).
Public Debt; USD $2,274,000,000 (1994). Imports; R 59,073,000,000 (1993).
Exports; R 79,482,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $1,190,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; R 10,786,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 14,297,048 or 35.3% of total population (1994). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
Germany, Japan, the UK and France.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Apples, Asbestos, Cereals, Chrome, Citrus
Fruits, Coal, Copper, Cotton, Diamonds, Fish, Gold, Grapes, Iron Ore, Limestone,
Livestock, Manganese, Nickel, Pineapples, Phosphates, Potatoes, Silver,
Sulfur, Timber, Tin, Tobacco, Vermiculite.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Chemicals, Clothing, Fishing, Food
Processing, Forestry, Iron and Steel, Machinery, Mineral, Mining Refining,
Motor Vehicles, Paper, Petroleum Refining, Textiles, Tobacco Products.
MAIN EXPORTS: Coal, Diamonds, Food, Gold Coins, Gold, Iron and Steel,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 21,617 km (13,432 mi) (1991),
passenger-km 1,205,400,000 (749,001,000 passenger-mi) (1991), cargo ton-km
93,019,000,000 (63,709,000,000 short ton-mi) (1991). Roads; length 188,392
km (117,061 mi) (1991). Vehicles; cars 3,461,395 (1991), trucks and buses
1,863,354 (1991). Merchant Marine; vessels 219 (1992), deadweight tonnage
282,533 (1992). Air Transport; passenger-km 9,511,000,000 (5,910,000,000
passenger-mi) (1992), cargo ton-km 263,487,000 (180,462,000 short ton-mi)
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 20 with a total circulation
of 1,248,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 11,200,000 (1994). Television; receivers
3,445,000 (1994). Telephones; units 3,659,900 (1993).
MILITARY: 136,900 (1995) total active duty personnel with 86.2%
army, 3.3% navy, 6.6% air force and 3.9% medical service while military
expenditure accounts for 2.7% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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