South Africa

 

Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants.

 

The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid – the separate development of the races. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in black majority rule.

 

Geography:
Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E
People:
Population:  48,810,427 (July 2012 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.5% (male 6,998,726/female 6,959,542)

15-64 years:  65.8% (male 16,287,314/female 15,972,046)

65 years and over:  5.7% (male 1,125,709/female 1,660,694) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of South Africa

conventional short form: South Africa

former: Union of South Africa

abbreviation: RSA

Government type: republic
Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 4.225 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 50.372 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 567 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 145

over 3,047 m: 11

2,438 to 3,047 m: 6

1,524 to 2,437 m: 53

914 to 1,523 m: 66

under 914 m: 9 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: South African National Defence Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Military Intelligence, Military Health Service (2009)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; women are eligible to serve in noncombat roles; 2-year service obligation (2007)

Economy:

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 is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centres throughout the region. Growth has been robust since 2004, as South Africa has reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom. However, unemployment remains high and out-dated infrastructure has constrained growth. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating “load-shedding” cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities.

Transnational Issues:

South Africa has placed military along the border to apprehend the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political persecution; as 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); managed dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River; in 2006, Swazi king advocates resort to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa

Map: