|Interactive Google Satellite Map of South Africa|
|SOUTH AFRICA COAT OF ARMS|
Flag of South Africa
Flag Description of South Africa:
two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band that 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; the flag colors do not have any official symbolism, but the Y stands for the "convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity"; black, yellow, and green are found on the flag of the African National Congress, while red, white, and blue are the colors in the flags of the Netherlands and the UK, whose settlers ruled South Africa during the colonial era
note: the South African flag is the only national flag to display six colors as part of its primary design.
Map of South Africa within the continent of Africa
Sun City, South Africa
SouthAfrican National Assembly, Cape Town, Western Cape Province
- 1 Cities in South Africa
- 2 About South Africa
- 3 Geography of South Africa
- 4 Demography of South Africa
- 5 Economy of South Africa
- 6 Principal Government Officials of South Africa
- 7 Government and Political Conditions of South Africa
- 8 Foreign Relations of South Africa
- 9 Cultural life of South Africa
- 10 History of South Africa
- 11 Real Estate or Properties for Sale or lease in South Africa
- 12 News about South Africa
- 13 South Africa Photo Gallery
- 14 Disclaimer
Cities in South Africa
Major Cities in South Africa
Bloemfontein ★ Buffalo City ★ Bushbuckridge ★ Cape Town ★ Ekurhuleni ★ Emalahleni ★ Emfuleni ★ Ethekwini ★ Greater Tubatse ★ Greater Tzaneen ★ Johannesburg ★ King Sabata Dalindyebo ★ Madibeng ★ Makhado ★ Maluti a Phofung ★ Mangaung ★ Matjhabeng ★ Matlosana ★ Mbombela ★ Mogalakwena ★ Mogale City ★ Msunduzi ★ Nelson Mandela Bay ★ Newcastle ★ Nkomazi ★ Nyandeni ★ Polokwane ★ Rustenburg ★ Thulamela ★ Tshwane ★ uMhlathuze
Official name Republic of South Africa1
Form of government multiparty republic with two legislative houses (National Council of Provinces ; National Assembly )
Head of state and government President: Jacob Zuma
Capitals (de facto) Pretoria2 (executive); Bloemfontein3 (judicial); Cape Town (legislative)
Official languages See footnote 1.
Official religion none
Monetary unit rand (R)
Population (2014 est.) 53,698,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 471,359
Total area (sq km) 1,220,813
- Urban: (2011) 62%
- Rural: (2011) 38%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 54.9 years
- Female: (2011) 59.1 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: not available
- not available
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 7,190
1Country’s official name in each of the country’s 11 official languages: Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans); Republic of South Africa (English); IRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika (Ndebele); Rephaboliki ya Afrika-Borwa (Pedi [North Sotho]); Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa (Sotho [South Sotho]); IRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Afrika (Swati); Riphabliki ra Afrika Dzonga (Tsonga); Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa (Tswana [West Sotho]); Riphabuliki ya Afurika Tshipembe (Venda); IRiphabliki yaseMzantsi Afrika (Xhosa); IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika (Zulu).
2Name of larger municipality including Pretoria is Tshwane.
3Name of larger municipality including Bloemfontein is Mangaung.
About South Africa
South Africa, the southernmost country on the African continent, renowned for its varied topography, great natural beauty, and cultural diversity, all of which have made the country a favoured destination for travelers since the legal ending of apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness,” or racial separation) in 1994.
South Africa’s remoteness—it lies thousands of miles distant from major African cities such as Lagos and Cairo and more than 6,000 miles (10,000 km) away from most of Europe, North America, and eastern Asia, where its major trading partners are located—helped reinforce the official system of apartheid for a large part of the 20th century. With that system, the government, controlled by the minority white population, enforced segregation between government-defined races in housing, education, and virtually all spheres of life, creating in effect three nations: one of whites (consisting of peoples primarily of British and Dutch [Boer] ancestry, who struggled for generations to gain political supremacy, a struggle that reached its violent apex with the South African War of 1899–1902); one of blacks (consisting of such peoples as the San hunter-gatherers of the northwestern desert, the Zulu herders of the eastern plateaus, and the Khoekhoe farmers of the southern Cape regions); and one of “Coloureds” (mixed-race people) and ethnic Asians (Indians, Malays, Filipinos, and Chinese). The apartheid regime was disdained and even vehemently opposed by much of the world community, and by the mid-1980s South Africa found itself among the world’s pariah states, the subject of economic and cultural boycotts that affected almost every aspect of life. During this era the South African poet Mongane Wally Serote remarked,
- There is an intense need for self-expression among the
- oppressed in our country. When I say self-expression I don’t
- mean people saying something about themselves. I mean
- people making history consciously….We neglect the
- creativity that has made the people able to survive extreme
- exploitation and oppression. People have survived extreme
- racism. It means our people have been creative about their
Eventually forced to confront the untenable nature of ethnic separatism in a multicultural land, the South African government of F.W. de Klerk (1989–94) began to repeal apartheid laws. That process in turn set in motion a transition toward universal suffrage and a true electoral democracy, which culminated in the 1994 election of a government led by the black majority under the leadership of the long-imprisoned dissident Nelson Mandela. As this transition attests, the country has made remarkable progress in establishing social equity in a short period of time.
South Africa has three cities that serve as capitals: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). Johannesburg, the largest urban area in the country and a centre of commerce, lies at the heart of the populous Gauteng province. Durban, a port on the Indian Ocean, is a major industrial centre. East London and Port Elizabeth, both of which lie along the country’s southern coast, are important commercial, industrial, and cultural centres.
Today South Africa enjoys a relatively stable mixed economy that draws on its fertile agricultural lands, abundant mineral resources, tourist attractions, and highly evolved intellectual capital. Greater political equality and economic stability, however, do not necessarily mean social tranquility. South African society at the start of the 21st century continued to face steep challenges: rising crime rates, ethnic tensions, great disparities in housing and educational opportunities, and the AIDS pandemic.
Geography of South Africa
- 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; comparable to southern California.
- Nationality: Noun and adjective--South African(s).
- Population (2010): 49.99 million. Composition--black 79.4%; white 9.2%; colored 8.7%; Asian (Indian) 2.7%. (2010 Mid-Year Population Estimate Report at http://www.statssa.gov.za)
- Annual population growth rate (2009): 1.2%.
- Languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga (all official languages).
- Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish.
- Education: Years compulsory--7-15 years of age for all children. The South African Schools Act (Act 84), passed by Parliament in 1996, aims to achieve greater educational opportunities for black children. This Act mandated a single syllabus and more equitable funding for schools.
- Health: Infant mortality rate (2010)--47 per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy--55.2 yrs. women; 53.3 yrs. men. (Health data from 2010 Mid-Year Population Estimate Report: http://www.statssa.gov.za)
Prior to 1991, South African law divided the population into four major racial categories: Africans (black), whites, coloreds, and Asians. Although this law has been abolished, many South Africans still view themselves and each other according to these categories. Black Africans comprise about 80% of the population and are divided into a number of different ethnic groups. Whites comprise just over 9% of the population. They are primarily descendants of Dutch, French, English, and German settlers who began arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in the late 17th century. Coloreds are mixed-race people primarily descending from the earliest settlers and the indigenous peoples. They comprise about 9% of the total population. Asians are descended from Indian workers brought to South Africa in the mid-19th century to work on the sugar estates in Natal. They constitute about 2.7% of the population and are concentrated in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Education is in transition. Under the apartheid system schools were segregated, and the quantity and quality of education varied significantly across racial groups. The laws governing this segregation have been abolished. The long and arduous process of restructuring the country's educational system is ongoing. The challenge is to create a single, nondiscriminatory, nonracial system that offers the same standards of education to all people.
South Africa is bordered by Namibia to the northwest, by Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, and by Mozambique and Swaziland to the northeast and east. Lesotho, an independent country, is an enclave in the eastern part of the republic, entirely surrounded by South African territory. South Africa’s coastlines border the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. The country possesses two small subantarctic islands, Prince Edward and Marion, situated in the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) southeast of Cape Town. The former South African possession of Walvis Bay, on the Atlantic coast some 400 miles (600 km) north of the Orange River, became part of Namibia in 1994.--->>>>Read More.<<<
Demography of South Africa
- Ethnic groups
Government-determined “racial” and ethnic classification, embodied in the Population Registration Act in effect from 1950 to 1991, was crucial in determining the status of all South Africans under apartheid. The act divided South Africans at birth into four “racial” categories—black, white, Coloured (mixed race), and Asian—though these classifications were largely arbitrary, based on considerations such as family background and cultural acceptance as well as on appearance.
The original Khoekhoe and San peoples of South Africa scarcely exist as distinct groups inside the country today. Many intermarried with other African peoples who arrived before European conquest, and others intermarried with Malagasy and Southeast Asian slaves under white rule to form the majority of the Coloured population. Bantu-speaking Africans entered the area from the north roughly 1,800 years ago; their descendants today constitute about three-fourths of South Africa’s population.
The population formerly classified as Coloured descended from Khoisan (Khoekhoe and San) peoples, slaves imported by the Dutch from Madagascar and what are now Malaysia and Indonesia, Europeans, and Bantu-speaking Africans. Several distinct subethnic groups can still be identified, such as the Malays, who largely originated from Indonesian Muslim slaves, and the Griquas, who trace their origins to a specific historical Khoekhoe community. While some Malays and Griquas have continued to identify themselves as Coloured, others who were so classified by the apartheid government have rejected the label entirely. In many respects they cannot be distinguished culturally or physically from the white population. Those formerly classified as Coloured are concentrated in the western half of the country, particularly in Western and Northern Cape provinces and the westernmost parts of Eastern Cape province, where they form a majority in most districts.
South Africans of Indian descent, who were classified under apartheid as Asian, form a large minority. They went to South Africa originally as indentured workers imported by the British to the former Natal colony beginning in the 1850s and were followed by a smaller group of immigrant traders later in the 19th century. Most of them now live in KwaZulu-Natal and to a lesser extent in Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga provinces. Almost all Indian South Africans are urban dwellers. Small communities of other ethnic Asians, including Chinese, live in some of the cities.
Most white South Africans are descendants of European settlers—primarily from Great Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands—who began to migrate to South Africa in the mid-17th century.
The black African population is heterogeneous, falling mainly into four linguistic categories. The largest is the Nguni, including various peoples who speak Swati (primarily the Swazi peoples) as well as those who speak languages that take their names from the peoples by whom they are primarily spoken—the Ndebele, Xhosa, and Zulu (see also Xhosa language; Zulu language). They constitute more than half the black population of the country and form the majority in many eastern and coastal regions as well as in the industrial Gauteng province. The second largest is Sotho-Tswana, again including various peoples whose language names are derived from the names of peoples who primarily speak them—the Sotho, Pedi, and Tswana. Speakers of Sotho-Tswana languages constitute a majority in many Highveld areas. The other two primary linguistic groups are the Tsonga (or Shangaan) speakers (primarily the Tsonga peoples), concentrated in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, and the Venda speakers (primarily the Venda peoples), located largely in Limpopo province.
White South Africans form two main language groups. More than half of them are Afrikaans speakers, the descendants of mostly Dutch, French, and German settlers. The remainder consists largely of English speakers who are descended mainly from British colonists, though there are a sizable minority of Portuguese and smaller groups of Italians and others. Most of the population formerly classified as Coloured speaks Afrikaans or, to a lesser extent, English.
Eleven languages (Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu) hold official status under the 1996 constitution, and an additional 11 (Arabic, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telegu, and Urdu) are to be promoted and developed; all languages are spoken to varying degrees in different regions. In some rural areas most residents speak neither Afrikaans nor English, but those two languages allow for communication in most parts of the country. English appears to predominate to an increasing extent in official, educational, and formal business spheres, which reflects a shift away from Afrikaans as the predominant language of government.
The vast majority of South Africans are Christians. The largest established Christian denominations directly rooted in European settlement but now drawing members from all ethnic groups are the Methodist, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Dutch Reformed churches. A large number of people follow independent African Christian churches, which vary in size from a few to millions of members. These faiths differ widely in their degree of theological orthodoxy or heterodoxy from traditional Christian beliefs, but they tend to be more open to aspects of indigenous culture and religion and to emphasize physical and spiritual healing. The other major religions are Hinduism, among the majority of Indians; Islam, among many Indians and Malays; and Judaism, among a significant minority of the white population.
- Settlement patterns
More than nine-tenths of the inhabitants live in the eastern half of the country and in the southern coastal regions. In contrast, the western region, except for the area around Cape Town in the extreme southwest, is sparsely populated. Urban areas contain more than half the population; many of these consist of huge informal or squatter settlements that lack the basic infrastructure for transportation, water, sanitation, or electricity.
A large part of the black population is concentrated in the former “homeland” (Bantustan) areas, scattered territories in the northern and eastern parts of the country that were left to blacks after the 19th-century wars of white conquest and dispossession. Under apartheid, millions of nonwhites were forcibly relocated from cities and white-owned farms into the Bantustans. Boundary changes also placed many large informal settlements under Bantustan jurisdiction, so that some of these areas came to exhibit urban, rather than rural, population densities.
- RURAL SETTLEMENT
Whites own the majority of rural land, although blacks originally settled most of it. Traditional black settlements consisted of farming homesteads or villages. The land belonged to the community, and the chief or headman granted each household the right to build a home and cultivate an area of land. Pastoral land around the area was used communally. Conquest and the establishment of white authority and private ownership of land made these settlement patterns subordinate to others. In places where blacks retained their access to land, however, elements of these patterns survived and may still be found in the more-remote parts of certain reserve areas. Where sharecropping and labour tenancy have provided blacks with access to farmland, a local architecture using industrial as well as more-traditional materials has developed. About one-sixth of the black population lives on farmland owned by whites.
Rural patterns created by white settlement from the late 17th century onward were centred on privately owned farmsteads, usually considerable distances apart, each having its associated cluster of sharecropper, tenant, or employee housing. As the frontier of white settlement expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries, each farmer claimed land, often several thousand acres, and this gave rise to a settlement pattern of widely dispersed homesteads. Smaller farms and more-intensive cultivation, however, always existed in some areas, such as the grape-growing areas of the southwest. As the urban demand for food and other agricultural produce grew rapidly from the late 19th century, many farms closer to towns or in more-favourable ecological zones were subdivided, and a denser pattern emerged. More recently the general tendency has been for farm sizes to increase and the number of landowners to decline. The population of farmworker residents has also decreased as mechanized production methods and corporate farm ownership have become more widespread.
- URBAN SETTLEMENT
Urban settlement in South Africa originated both as concentrations of population around the political centres of African chiefdoms and kingdoms and as towns established by European colonizers. For reasons of water availability and land-use patterns, Sotho-Tswana peoples of the interior generally lived in large settlements, the largest having tens of thousands of inhabitants, while coastal Nguni peoples lived in a more dispersed manner. The defeat of black polities by whites and their allies, particularly during the 19th century, led to the abandonment or destruction of capitals such as Dithakong, a Tswana stronghold in what is now Northern Cape, and Ulundi, a major Zulu royal village in central Zululand (now northern KwaZulu-Natal). Those black-established settlements that survived tended to be subordinated politically and economically to the colonial centres established alongside them, as at Mafikeng.
European colonization of South Africa began with towns, Cape Town being the first, in 1652. The Dutch established a few colonial towns in the south and southwest, including Stellenbosch, Tulbagh, Graaff-Reinet, and Swellendam. New towns such as Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Beaufort West, and Durban were created more rapidly with the advent of British rule at the start of the 19th century. The Great Trek of Dutch farmers and townspeople, which commenced during the 1830s, led to a range of new, mainly small urban centres in the interior focused on church and government: Winburg, Pietermaritzburg, Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein, Lydenburg (now Mashishing), and Pretoria. These towns were laid out with large lots and a grid pattern, features that generally survive today.
Until the 1860s all South African towns were small; the largest, Cape Town, had a population of fewer than 40,000 in 1865. Urbanization accelerated rapidly from the 1870s as railway building, mining, and economic expansion proceeded. Although the population of the Cape Town metropolitan area reached 130,000 by the turn of the 20th century, Johannesburg, which was established in 1886, had already surpassed it in size. Continued rapid growth since the early 20th century has created four major urban concentrations. Of these, by far the largest is the Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging complex; centred on Johannesburg, it radiates about 45 miles (70 km) in each direction and is now mostly in Gauteng province. Other urban concentrations are centred on Durban, Cape Town, and the Port Elizabeth–Uitenhage area. The main centres in these metropolitan areas offer the same full range of services found in cities of their size in other countries; but, despite the end of legal segregation, all show great disparities of income and access to urban services between the wealthiest, predominantly white areas and the poorest, exclusively black districts.
Outside these major metropolitan areas, most South African towns are small and serve either mining communities or surrounding rural areas. Between these extremes are several cities with rapidly growing populations numbering in the hundreds of thousands: the port of East London, the Free State capital Bloemfontein, newer industrial centres such as Witbank in Mpumalanga, and a few rural service centres that have become regional administrative and educational centres, such as Mafikeng, Nelspruit, and Polokwane.
South African cities have shown a measure of racial segregation in residence since their colonial foundation. Settler-founded towns contained a majority of white inhabitants until the discovery of diamonds and gold in the late 19th century initiated the industrial revolution. In the early years of the 20th century, segregated public-housing areas were created when urban populations became largely black. Various government measures beginning in the 1920s gave authorities the power to segregate blacks and others; during the 1930s and ’40s such provisions were extended to Coloureds (persons of mixed race) and Indians (South Asians), culminating in the Group Areas Act of 1950. Under its provisions, South African cities acquired their characteristic form: white residential areas, generally situated in more-favourable localities (environmentally pleasing or close to the city centre), occupied most of the urban space, while other sectors and peripheral localities were set aside for nonwhites; many of these latter areas were initially devoted to segregated public-housing estates called “townships.” A degree of racial housing integration occurred in some cities in the 1980s, and such high-density residential areas as Hillbrow in Johannesburg became effectively integrated despite the Group Areas Act. The act was repealed in 1991, but the racially defined settlement patterns in the towns and townships persist.
- Demographic trends
The South African population rose steadily over the last quarter of the 20th century, increasing from some 27 million in 1985 to more than 41 million by 1996. By the late 1990s, however, the incidence of AIDS began to rise, limiting population growth. In the early 21st century, South Africa’s birth rate was similar to the world average, but, largely because of AIDS, the country’s death rate was about twice as high as the world average. Average life expectancy in South Africa was similar to or higher than that of most Southern African countries but much lower than the world average.
Immigration from Europe exceeded 20,000 people per year during the late 1960s and early ’70s, but in the late ’70s and ’80s the number of whites leaving South Africa tended to exceed the new arrivals. In the early 21st century, South Africa saw an increase in the number of immigrants and refugees from other African countries fleeing political persecution or seeking greater economic prospects, especially from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Economy of South Africa
- GDP (2009): $287 billion.
- Real GDP growth rate: (2008) 3.7%; (2009) -1.8%; (5-year average) 3.7%.
- GDP per capita (2009): $5,787.
- Unemployment (first quarter 2010): 25.2%.
- Natural resources: Almost all essential commodities, except petroleum products and bauxite. It is the 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 agro-processing.
- Trade (2009): Exports--$71.9 billion; merchandise exports: minerals and metals, motor vehicles and parts, agricultural products. Major markets--China, U.S., Japan, Germany, U.K., Sub-Saharan Africa. Imports--$75.7 billion: machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, textiles, and scientific instruments. Major suppliers--China, Germany, U.S., Saudi Arabia, Japan.
- GDP composition (2009): Agriculture and mining (primary sector)--7%; industry (secondary sector)--20%; services (tertiary sector)--73%. South Africa is one of the largest producers of platinum, manganese, gold, and chrome in the world; also significant coal production.
South Africa has a two-tiered economy; one rivaling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure. It therefore is a productive and industrialized economy that exhibits many characteristics associated with developing countries, including a division of labor between formal and informal sectors, and uneven distribution of wealth and income. The formal sector, based on mining, manufacturing, services, and agriculture, is well developed.
The transition to a democratic, nonracial government, begun in early 1990, stimulated a debate on the direction of economic policies to achieve sustained economic growth while at the same time redressing the socioeconomic disparities created by apartheid. The Government of National Unity's initial blueprint to address this problem was the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP). The RDP was designed to create programs to improve the standard of living for the majority of the population by providing housing--a planned 1 million new homes in 5 years--basic services, education, and health care. While a specific "ministry" for the RDP no longer exists, a number of government ministries and offices are charged with supporting RDP programs and goals.
The Government of South Africa demonstrated its commitment to open markets, privatization, and a favorable investment climate with its release of the crucial Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy--the neoliberal economic strategy to cover 1996-2000. The strategy had mixed success. It brought greater financial discipline and macroeconomic stability but failed to deliver in key areas. Formal employment continued to decline, and despite the ongoing efforts of black empowerment and signs of a fledgling black middle class and social mobility, the country's wealth remains very unequally distributed along racial lines. However, South Africa's budgetary reforms such as the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and the Public Finance Management Act--which aims at better reporting, auditing, and increased accountability--and the structural changes to its monetary policy framework, including inflation targeting, have created transparency and predictability and are widely acclaimed. Trade liberalization also has progressed substantially since the early 1990s. South Africa reduced its import-weighted average tariff rate from more than 20% in 1994 to 7% in 2002. These efforts, together with South Africa's implementation of its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations and its constructive role in launching the Doha Development Round, show South Africa's acceptance of free market principles.
- Financial Policy
South Africa has a sophisticated financial structure with a large and active stock exchange that ranks 17th in the world in terms of total market capitalization. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) performs all central banking functions. The SARB is independent and operates in much the same way as Western central banks, influencing interest rates and controlling liquidity through its interest rates on funds provided to private sector banks. Quantitative credit controls and administrative control of deposit and lending rates have largely disappeared. South African banks adhere to the Bank of International Standards core standards.
The South African Government has taken steps to gradually reduce remaining foreign exchange controls, which apply only to South African residents. Private citizens are now allowed a one-time investment of up to 2,000,000 rand (R) in offshore accounts. During 2007, the shareholding threshold (the percentage of shareholding that must be South African) for foreign direct investment outside Africa was lowered from 50% to 25% to enable South African companies to engage in strategic international partnerships. In addition, South African companies involved in international trade were permitted to operate a single Customer Foreign Currency (CFC) account for all international transactions. Permission was also granted to the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) to establish a rand currency futures market, in order to deepen South Africa’s financial markets and increase liquidity in the local foreign exchange market.
- Impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup
On May 15, 2004, South Africa was awarded with the winning bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first African nation to serve as host for the international football (soccer) competition. Nine cities hosted matches for the event: Johannesburg (with two stadiums), Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Nelspruit, and Polokwane. With a large number of tourists expected to arrive and travel throughout the country for the event, attention focused on improving transportation. Americans purchased the largest number of tickets from overseas. South Africa's transportation infrastructure is well developed, supporting both domestic and regional needs. Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport serves as a hub for flights to other southern African countries. Billions were spent to upgrade international airports and national roads for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The first segment of the Johannesburg-Pretoria urban rapid rail Gautrain, linking O.R. Tambo airport to the northern Johannesburg office node of Sandton began operations June 8. A brand-new international airport and trade port opened in Durban in May 2010. Bus-rapid-transit (BRT) systems for the World Cup host cities were also created, but faced strong opposition from existing minibus/taxi operators who feared the competition.
The 2010 World Cup was the largest event ever to be held on the African continent. In preparation, South Africa spent over $5 billion on building and improving stadiums and transportation systems, and ensuring that security measures were up to par for the event. By the end of the competition on July 11, over 3.18 million fans had attended the 64 matches, the third-highest turnout in FIFA’s history (falling short of the records held by Germany and the U.S.). The World Cup was expected to add an additional 0.5% to South Africa’s 2010 GDP growth, fully an additional $5 billion (R35 billion) to GDP, according to South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
- Trade and Investment
South Africa has rich mineral resources. It is the world's largest producer and exporter of platinum; is a significant producer of gold, manganese, chrome, vanadium, and titanium; and also exports a significant amount of coal. 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 specialized sectors, including motor vehicles and parts, railway rolling stock, synthetic fuels, and mining equipment and machinery.
Primary agriculture accounts for about 3% of the gross domestic product. Major crops include citrus and deciduous fruits, corn, wheat, dairy products, sugarcane, tobacco, wine, and wool. South Africa has many developed irrigation schemes and is a net exporter of food.
The domestic telecommunications infrastructure provides modern and efficient service to urban areas, but at comparatively high costs and with limited coverage in rural areas. South Africa has made some strides towards liberalizing its telecommunication market; however, many obstacles exist for further progress. The passing of the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) of 2005 marked a new regulatory framework for liberalizing the telecommunication market in South Africa. Established entities such as Telkom and Multi-choice secured market-share under prior monopoly regimes, which make it difficult for new entrants to offer competitive telecommunications services (e.g. pay-TV and internet). The U.S.-led SEACOM project is the first of a series of undersea cable projects to become operational. SEACOM provides the first access to true broadband connectivity for countries on Africa’s eastern seaboard, which were previously 100% reliant on Telkom's expensive satellite-based technology. SEACOM's landing stations operate on a market-based, "open-access" system.
Annual GDP growth between 2004 and 2007 averaged 5.0%, but fell to a rate of 3.7% in 2008 because of higher interest rates, power shortages, and weakening commodities prices. GDP contracted by 1.8% in 2009 as South Africa experienced its first recession in 18 years. The government estimated that the economy must achieve growth at a minimum of 6% to offset unemployment, which was estimated at 24.3% in December 2009. Inflation averaged 11.3% in 2008 and 7.2% in 2009. Increasing food and fuel prices pushed inflation above the upper end of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) 3% to 6% inflation target range for the better part of 2007 and 2008. Inflation started to decline in 2009. A central inflation forecast by the SARB projected that inflation would continue its downward trajectory and return to the 3% to 6% target range in the second half of 2010. Inflation is expected to average 5.8% and 5.6% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The SARB reduced interest rates at regular intervals from December 2008. The cumulative reduction through August 2009 was 500 basis points, bringing the prime overdraft rate to 10.5%. Subsequently over late 2009 and early 2010, the Reserve Bank left interest rates unchanged. The government managed to eliminate the fiscal deficit in FY 2007 and FY 2008. However, a fiscal deficit of 1.2% of GDP was recorded in FY 2009, mainly due to the impact of weak domestic demand and the global economic crisis on tax revenues. The fiscal deficit was expected to increase to 6.7% of GDP in 2009-2010, according to the Finance Minister's February 2010 budget speech. The economy was expected to grow by 3.0% in 2010, as South Africa emerges from its recession.
Exports amounted to 27% of GDP in 2009. South Africa's major trading partners include China, Germany, the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Japan displaced the U.S. as South Africa's largest export market in 2008, and China overtook both in 2009. South Africa's trade with other Sub-Saharan African countries, particularly those in the southern Africa region, has increased substantially. South Africa is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In August 1996, South Africa signed a regional trade protocol agreement with its SADC partners. The agreement was ratified in December 1999, and implementation began in September 2000. It provided duty-free treatment for 85% of trade in 2008 and aims for 100% by 2012. A U.S.-SACU Trade, Investment and Development Cooperative Agreement was signed in July 2008. The four areas singled out for special attention under the TIDCA are customs cooperation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) issues, and trade and investment promotion.
South Africa has made great progress in dismantling its old economic system, which was based on import substitution, high tariffs and subsidies, anticompetitive behavior, and extensive government intervention in the economy. The leadership has moved to reduce the government's role in the economy and to promote private sector investment and competition. It has significantly reduced tariffs and export subsidies, loosened exchange controls, cut the secondary tax on corporate dividends, and improved enforcement of intellectual property laws. A competition law was passed and became effective on September 1, 1999. A U.S.-South Africa bilateral tax treaty went into effect on January 1, 1998, and a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement was signed in February 1999.
South Africa is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). U.S. products qualify for South Africa's most-favored-nation tariff rates. South Africa is also an eligible country for the benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and most of its products can enter the United States market duty free. South Africa has done away with most import permits except on used products and products regulated by international treaties. It also remains committed to the simplification and continued reduction of tariffs within the WTO framework and maintains active discussions with that body and its major trading partners.
As a result of a November 1993 bilateral agreement, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) can assist U.S. investors in the South African market with services such as political risk insurance and loans and loan guarantees. In July 1996, the United States and South Africa signed an investment fund protocol for a $120 million OPIC fund to make equity investments in South Africa and southern Africa. The Trade and Development Agency also has been actively involved in funding feasibility studies and identifying investment opportunities in South Africa for U.S. businesses.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world, with 5.7 million HIV-infected individuals. 18.1 % of the 15-49 year old population is infected, and in parts of the country more than 35% of women of childbearing age are infected. Overall, 11.8% of the population is infected. About 1,000 new infections occur each day, and approximately 350,000 AIDS-related deaths occur annually. There are approximately 3.8 million children who have lost one or both parents, and 1.6 million children were expected to have been orphaned by AIDS by 2008. The marked rise in TB and HIV co-infection (with 50% co-infection rates) adds significantly to mortality in this country. South Africa has 0.7% of the world’s population, 17% of the global HIV epidemic, and 28% of global HIV and TB co-infected people. It was expected that the epidemic could cost South Africa as much as 17% in GDP growth by 2010, with the extraction industries, education, and health among the sectors that would be severely affected. A 2007-2011 national strategic plan provides the structure for a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS, including a national rollout of antiretroviral therapy. Overall, 30% of those who need it are currently on antiretroviral therapy.
South Africa's government is committed to managing the country's rich and varied natural resources in a responsible and sustainable manner. In addition, numerous South African non-governmental organizations have emerged as a potent force in the public policy debate on the environment. In international environmental organizations, South Africa is seen as a key leader among developing countries on issues such as climate change, conservation, and biodiversity. This leading role was underscored by South Africa's selection to host the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.
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Principal Government Officials of South Africa
- State President--Jacob Zuma
- Executive Deputy President--Kgalema Motlanthe
- Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries--Tina Joemat-Pettersson
- Minister of Arts and Culture--Paul Masatile
- Minister of Basic Education--Matsie Angelina Motshekga
- Minister of Communications--Radakrishna Padayachie
- Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs--Sicelo Shiceka
- Minister of Correctional Services--Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
- Minister of Defence and Military Veterans--Lindiwe Sisulu
- Minister of Economic Development--Ebrahim Patel
- Minister of Energy--Elizabeth Dipuo Peters
- Minister of Finance--Pravin Gordhan
- Minister of Health--Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi
- Minister of Higher Education and Training--Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande
- Minister of Home Affairs--Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
- Minister of Human Settlements--Tokyo Sexwale
- Minister of International Relations and Cooperation--Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
- Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development--Jeffrey Radebe
- Minister of Labour--Membathisi Mdladlana
- Minister of Mineral Resources--Susan Shabangu
- Minister of Police--Nathi Mthethwa
- Minister of Public Enterprises--Malusi Gigaba
- Minister for the Public Service and Administration--Richard Baloyi
- Minister of Public Works--Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde
- Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform--Gugile Nkwinti
- Minister of Science and Technology--Grace Naledi Pandor
- Minister of Social Development--Bomo Edna Molewa
- Minister of Sport and Recreation--Makhenkesi Stofile
- Minister of State Security--Siyabonga Cwele
- Minister in The Presidency for National Planning Commission--Trevor Manuel
- Minister in The Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation--Ohm Collins Chabane
- Minister of Tourism--Marthinus van Schalkwyk
- Minister of Trade and Industry--Rob Davies
- Minister of Transport--Joel Sbusiso Ndebele
- Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs--Edna Molewa
- Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities--Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya
The Republic of South Africa maintains an embassy in the United States at 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. (202) 232-4400.
Government and Political Conditions of South Africa
- Type: Parliamentary democracy.
- Independence: The Union of South Africa was created on May 31, 1910; became a 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.
- 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 nonconstitutional matters.
- 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), Congress of the People (COPE), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Pan-African Congress (PAC), Vryheidsfront Plus/Freedom Front Plus (FF+), United Democratic Movement (UDM), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), and Azanian Peoples Organization (Azapo).
- Suffrage: Citizens and permanent residents 18 and older.
South Africa is a multiparty parliamentary democracy in which constitutional power is shared between the president and the Parliament.
The Parliament consists of two houses, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, which are responsible for drafting the laws of the republic. The National Assembly also has specific control over bills relating to monetary matters. The current 400-member National Assembly was retained under the 1997 constitution, although the constitution allows for a range of between 350 and 400 members. The Assembly is elected by a system of "list proportional representation." Each of the parties appearing on the ballot submits a rank-ordered list of candidates. The voters then cast their ballots for a party.
Seats in the Assembly are allocated based on the percentage of votes each party receives. In the 2009 election, the ANC won 264 seats in the Assembly, just shy of a two-thirds majority and a decrease of 33 seats from 2004; the Democratic Alliance (DA) won 67, the newly formed Congress of the People (COPE) won 30, and the IFP won 18. Smaller parties won the remaining 21 seats.
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) consists of 90 members, 10 from each of the nine provinces. The NCOP replaced the former Senate as the second chamber of Parliament and was created to give a greater voice to provincial interests. It must approve legislation that involves shared national and provincial competencies as defined by an annex to the constitution. Each provincial delegation consists of six permanent and four rotating delegates.
The president is the head of state, and is elected by the National Assembly from among its members. The president's constitutional responsibilities include assigning cabinet portfolios, signing bills into law, and serving as commander in chief of the military. The president works closely with the deputy president and the cabinet.
The third arm of the central government is an independent judiciary. The Constitutional Court is the highest court for interpreting and deciding constitutional issues, while the Supreme Court of Appeal is the highest court for nonconstitutional matters. Most cases are heard in the extensive system of High Courts and Magistrates Courts. The constitution's bill of rights provides for due process including the right to a fair, public trial within a reasonable time of being charged and the right to appeal to a higher court. The bill of rights also guarantees fundamental political and social rights of South Africa's citizens.
- Challenges Ahead
South Africa's post-apartheid governments have made remarkable progress in consolidating the nation's peaceful transition to democracy. Programs to improve the delivery of essential social services to the majority of the population are underway. Access to better opportunities in education and business is becoming more widespread. Nevertheless, transforming South Africa's society to remove the legacy of apartheid will be a long-term process requiring the sustained commitment of the leaders and people of the nation's disparate groups.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), chaired by 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, helped to advance the reconciliation process. Constituted in 1995 and having completed its work by 2001, the TRC was empowered to investigate apartheid-era human rights abuses committed between 1960 and May 10, 1994; to grant amnesty to those who committed politically motivated crimes; and to recommend compensation to victims of abuses. In November 2003, the government began allocation of $4,600 (R30,000) reparations to individual apartheid victims. The TRC's mandate was part of the larger process of reconciling the often conflicting political, economic, and cultural interests held by the diverse groups of people that make up South Africa's population. The ability of the government and people to agree on many basic questions of how to order the country's society will remain a critical challenge.
One important issue continues to be the relationship of provincial and local administrative structures to the national government. Prior to April 27, 1994, South Africa was divided into four provinces and 10 black "homelands," four of which were considered independent by the South African Government. Both the interim constitution and the 1997 constitution abolished this system and substituted nine provinces. Each province has an elected legislature and chief executive--the provincial premier. Although in form a federal system, in practice the nature of the relationship between the central and provincial governments continues to be the subject of considerable debate, particularly among groups desiring a greater measure of autonomy from the central government. A key step in defining the relationship came in 1997 when provincial governments were given more than half of central government funding and permitted to develop and manage their own budgets. Although South Africa's economy is in many areas highly developed, the exclusionary nature of apartheid and distortions caused in part by the country's international isolation until the 1990s have left major weaknesses. The economy is in a process of transition as the government seeks to address the inequities of apartheid, stimulate growth, and create jobs. Business, meanwhile, is becoming more integrated into the international system, and foreign investment has increased. Still, the economic disparities between population groups are expected to persist for many years, remaining an area of priority attention for the government.
- Human Rights
The 1997 constitution's bill of rights provides extensive guarantees, including equality before the law and prohibitions against discrimination; the right to life, privacy, property, and freedom and security of the person; prohibition against slavery and forced labor; and freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and association. The legal rights of criminal suspects also are enumerated, as are citizens' entitlements to a safe environment, housing, education, and health care. The constitution provides for an independent and impartial judiciary, and, in practice, these provisions are respected.
Since the abolition of apartheid, levels of political violence in South Africa have dropped dramatically. Violent crime and organized criminal activity are at high levels and are a grave concern. Partly as a result, vigilante action and mob justice sometimes occur.
Some members of the police commit abuses, and deaths in police custody as a result of excessive force remain a problem. The government has taken action to investigate and punish some of those who commit such abuses. In April 1997, the government established an Independent Complaints Directorate to investigate deaths in police custody and deaths resulting from police action.
Although South Africa's society is undergoing a rapid transformation, some discrimination against women continues, and discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS remains. Violence against women and children also is a serious problem.
- Gender-Based Violence
South Africa has the world’s highest rate of rape and sexual assault for any country not embroiled in conflict. By some estimates, a woman in South Africa is raped every 26 seconds. The United States is committed to helping South Africa stem this epidemic of gender-based violence and assist the thousands of women and children affected. Through a national network of Thuthuzela Care Centers, the United States assists 10,000 victims of sexual violence annually with medical and legal help and counseling.
- Youth Connections
Through robust educational and cultural exchanges, the United States and South Africa are building connections between the young leaders of tomorrow. In 2010, 24 South African students traveled to the U.S. as part of the Youth Leadership Program. Twenty-seven students traveled to the United States to spend a year studying at community colleges, and 190 students improved their English through the micro-access scholarship program. Last year, the United States sponsored 82 South African scholars through the Fulbright Program
Foreign Relations of South Africa
South African forces fought on the Allied side in World Wars I and II and participated in the postwar UN force in Korea. South Africa was a founding member of the League of Nations and in 1927 established a Department of External Affairs with diplomatic missions in the main west European countries and in the United States. At the founding of the League of Nations, South Africa was given the mandate to govern Southwest Africa, now Namibia, which had been a German colony before World War I. In 1990, Namibia attained independence, with the exception of the enclave of Walvis Bay, which was reintegrated into Namibia in March 1994. After South Africa held its first nonracial election in April 1994, most sanctions imposed by the international community in opposition to the system of apartheid were lifted. On June 1, 1994, South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth, and on June 23, 1994, the UN General Assembly accepted its credentials. South Africa served as the African Union's (AU) first president from July 2003 to July 2004.
Having emerged from the international isolation of the apartheid era, South Africa has become a leading international actor. Its principal foreign policy objective is to promote the economic, political, and cultural regeneration of Africa, through the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD); to promote the peaceful resolution of conflict in Africa; and to use multilateral bodies to insure that developing countries' voices are heard on international issues. South Africa has played a key role in seeking an end to various conflicts and political crises on the African continent, including in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Sudan, Comoros, and Zimbabwe.
Cultural life of South Africa
Blending Western technology with indigenous technology, Western traditions with African and Asian traditions, South Africa is a study in contrasts. It also provides lessons in how cultures can sometimes blend, sometimes collide; for example, within a short distance of one another can be found the villas of South Africa’s white elite and the tar-paper shacks of black day labourers, office buildings with the most sophisticated electronic wiring and one-room houses that lack electricity. A great gulf still exists between the white minority and the black majority in matters of education and economic opportunity. Yet, South Africa is making steady progress in erasing some of these historic disparities and their consequences. Daily life is better for most of its people, and culture and the arts, which sometimes were forced into exile, are flourishing in the free climate of the postapartheid era.
- Daily life and social customs
As they are everywhere in the world, patterns of daily life in South Africa are conditioned by social class, ethnicity, religion, and residence: the life of a black diamond miner in Limpopo province is much different from that of an Indian shopkeeper in Durban, an Afrikaner office worker in Johannesburg, or a teacher of English extraction in Cape Town. As the government struggles to expand the economy in order to provide equally for all citizens, great disparities continue to exist. Yet, all these people are likely to enjoy much the same pleasures: the company of family and friends, films from the studios of Johannesburg and Hollywood alike, music and dance, and visits to South Africa’s magnificent national parks and scenic landscapes.
The great mixture of cultures makes for a wide variety of food choices in the country, from the traditional food of various cultures to the cosmopolitan cuisine that is available in many large cities throughout the world. African food is centred around vegetables, with maize (corn) as an important staple, often in the form of a porridge known as mealie pap. A dish made from broken dried corn kernels, sugar beans, butter, onions, potatoes, chiles, and lemon is called umngqusho. It is still possible to visit a shebeen, an African tavern where beer is home-brewed. Dutch and English settlers introduced sausages and bobotie, a meat pie made with minced meat that has been cooked with brown sugar, apricots and raisins, milk-soaked mashed bread, and curry flavouring. The Portuguese introduced various fish dishes to the country. The Indian influence added spices and even samosas, savoury pastries popular as a snack. All South Africans enjoy the braai, a South African barbeque. Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, ostrich, and other game meat are savoured, although meat consumption is limited in many places because of its expense.
Among its holidays, South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day on March 21, Freedom Day on April 27 (to celebrate the first majority elections in 1994), National Women’s Day on August 9, Heritage Day on September 24, and Day of Reconciliation on December 16.
- The arts
A century and a half of white domination in most of the country (more than three centuries in the Western Cape) and the great extent of its ties to the global market economy have profoundly transformed black culture in South Africa. The strongest links to traditional societies have been through the many languages embodying the country’s cultural diversity, whose nuances of idiom and sensibility carry over into the arts. Traditional art forms such as dancing and textile weaving are used as vehicles of ethnic identity and are carefully preserved, while modern art forms from painting to literature have flourished in the years since the end of apartheid. Still, much of this has taken place through private initiatives because major institutional support for culture has been largely abandoned, especially for cultural projects perceived as elitist or European in orientation; the closing of the National Symphony Orchestra in 2000 is one such example.
Many popular South African arts represent a fusion of cultural influences, such as township jazz and pop music, religious choral music, and so-called “traditional” dances performed competitively by mine workers in decidedly untraditional settings. Others are innovations created in response to new circumstances, such as the lifela song-poems composed by Sotho migrant workers to express and comment upon the life of miners. Because miners were frequently so far away from home, traditional rituals had to be performed during the weekends or on holidays. Mining companies often sponsored dances as an outlet for the men, and tourists came to view the exotic African musical forms.
South African music is a fusion of various musical styles such as traditional indigenous music, jazz, Christian religious music, and forms of popular music from the United States. These combinations are evident in the music of such performers as the African Jazz Pioneers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and others. During the apartheid period, black and white musicians were segregated, although they still collaborated on occasion; a notable example is Johnny Clegg, a white South African who learned traditional Zulu music and formed the mixed-race bands Juluka and Savuka, both of which had international followings. Township music, a lively form of music that flourished in the townships during the apartheid era, has also been popular within the country and abroad.
Rock and cave art attributable to the San, some of which is thought to be about 26,000 years old, has been found across much of Southern Africa. The greatest number of paintings, which primarily depict human figures and such animals as elands, elephants, cattle, and horses, have been found in the Drakensberg mountains (part of uKhahlamba/Drakensberg Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000). Terra-cotta figures dated to ad 500 are known as Lydenburg heads, named after the town in which they were discovered. Excavations at Bambandyanalo and Mapungubwe in the Limpopo River valley have found gold animal statues as well as a wealth of pottery and clay animal figurines. More recently, Zulu wooden statues, produced in the 19th century before the Anglo-Zulu War (1879), are further examples of South Africa’s artistic history.
Visual artists continue to create in traditional forms, but many contemporary artists—including Jane Alexander, Helen Sebidi, Willie Bester, and Bongiwe Dhlomo—employ Western techniques as well.
South African literature proved to be an important expression of resistance against apartheid throughout the 20th century. One of its best-known works is Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country (1948), which drew world attention to the separatist system. Two decades later, literary resistance organized around journals and magazines, whose contributors were collectively known as the Sestigers (“Sixtyers,” writers of the 1960s). Reacting against the National Party’s increasingly authoritarian policies, the Sestigers grew in influence but soon divided into factions insisting on the need for violent revolution on the one hand and art for art’s sake on the other. In the 1970s many books continued to criticize the apartheid regime, including André Brink’s Kennis van die aand (1973; Looking on Darkness), Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter (1979), and Breyten Breytenbach’s In Africa Even the Flies Are Happy (1977). Also during this time, the government enacted the Publications Act of 1974, which expanded and strengthened existing censorship policies. Many authors went into exile; some did not return until the 1990s, while others remained abroad even after the end of apartheid. Brink, however, remained in South Africa and wrote, in Writing in a State of Siege (1983), about how unsuccessful the National Party had been in silencing South African writers:
For a very long time three different streams of literature ran their course: black, Afrikaans, and English. But during the last few years a new awareness of common identity as writers has arisen, creating a new sense of solidarity in a body of informed and articulate resistance to oppression.
Of those three streams, the least known is black literature. South Africa’s various black cultures have rich oral traditions, including narrative, poetic, historical, and epic forms, which have changed and adapted as black life has changed. While there is a fear that classical forms of the oral traditions are at risk of being lost with the spread of literacy and recorded music, these oral traditions have exerted a major influence on the written literatures of South Africa, merging with literary influences from elsewhere in Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas, and Europe.
Such writers as Oliver Kgadime Matsepe (North Sotho), Thomas Mofolo (South Sotho), Guybon Sinxo (Xhosa), and B.W. Vilakazi (Zulu) have been more deeply influenced in their written work by the oral traditions of their cultures than by European forms. Other black writers, beginning in the 1930s with Solomon Plaatje and his historical novel Mhudi (1930), have explicitly used black oral history when writing in English. As literacy spread, a commercial press developed, primarily in English, that was aimed at a black audience and shaped new generations of writers. Notable were the contributors to the journal Drum, including Nat Nakasa, Can Themba, Bloke Modisane, and Lewis Nkosi, who vividly captured the rhythms of urban township life and the milieu of rising black ambitions for freedom. Government crackdowns in the 1960s crushed much of that spirit and forced Dennis Brutus, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Mazisi Kunene, and other writers into exile.
The second stream, literature written in Afrikaans, has its origins in the culture and arts of the early Afrikaner nationalist movement. Beginning in the 1880s, the movement laid the foundation for the political nationalism that coalesced following British conquest and contributed to the ideology of apartheid. In the 1920s—through the secret organization called the Afrikaner-Broederbond and through cultural organizations—teachers, academics, Dutch Reformed Church ministers, writers, artists, and journalists began to develop a powerful, if also authoritarian, vision of an exclusive, divinely ordained national “racial” identity. That vision, promoted in literature, drama, music, and public commemorative sculpture and other forms of expression, became apartheid’s official culture, asserting the paradoxical proposition that the other, non-Afrikaner cultures should develop along their own lines, in a manner prescribed by the state.
Writers of Afrikaans literature later explored more-universal themes—such as love, conflict, nature, and daily life—and, eventually, even opposition to apartheid. The first two decades of the 20th century were dominated by such poets as Jakob Daniel du Toit and C. Louis Leipoldt. The appearance of the Dertigers (“Thirtyers,” poets of the 1930s), a group of talented poets including W.E.G. Louw, signified the new standard in Afrikaans literature. Prominent among the Sestigers, who followed decades later, were the novelists Etienne Leroux and Brink and the poet Breytenbach. Post-Sestigers writers of note include the poets Wilma Stockenström, Sheila Cussons, and Antjie Krog and the novelists Elsa Joubert, Karel Schoeman, and Etienne van Heerden.
The third stream, Anglophone literature, arose in the late 19th and the early 20th century with writers such as Olive Schreiner, an early feminist who is credited with writing the first great South African novel, The Story of an African Farm (1883), and Herman Charles Bosman, whose short stories chronicled the foibles of life on the veld. After World War II Paton, Gordimer (who later was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature), and others produced what might be called a literature of the liberal conscience, combining sharp and critical social observation with meditation on the responsibilities and fates of individuals enmeshed in oppressive situations they lack the power to change.
During the 1970s there emerged in the arts powerful themes of national and multiracial, multilingual cultural patterns, as writers and artists from all backgrounds concentrated on exploring and portraying the turmoil affecting South African society. Reaction to apartheid engendered a sense of black culture and history that drew inspiration from West and North African, Caribbean, and African American intellectual movements. The themes of black consciousness evident in the poetry and prose of urban writers such as Mothobi Mutloatse, Miriam Tlali, Mbulelo Mzamane, and Njabulo Ndebele and published in such periodicals as Staffrider were derived from the literary and oral traditions of black languages in South Africa and in literature by blacks in European languages.
For many decades, works with strong political themes or explicit sexuality were banned. Authors such as Breytenbach, Brink, Leroux, and Dan Roodt, whose works were banned, began exploring the cultural ground on which Afrikaners would need to make their way in a reconstructed and democratic South Africa.
The authors Adam Small and Alex La Guma have written vividly in Afrikaans and English, respectively, of the effects of racial discrimination and of the complex and frequently violent nature of life in South Africa. Many black and white writers addressing these and other themes have received international recognition. Writers such as J.M. Coetzee (awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature), Sipho Sepamla, and Mongane Wally Serote have joined such established figures as Mphahlele, Paton, Brink, and Leroux in bringing South African literary life to the wider world. With the end of apartheid, some South African writers have tried to write about nonapartheid subjects, while others cannot seem to escape the topic.
South African playwrights responded to the new cultural and political milieu with such innovations as multilingual plays. Support for the newer indigenous theatre came from independent and nonracial theatrical organizations, such as the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Plays by Athol Fugard, Mbongeni Ngema, Fatima Dike, Zakes Mda, and Pieter-Dirk Uys have been performed worldwide.
Since the 1890s, when the medium was first introduced, film has been an important means of cultural expression for South African artists. The country’s first major narrative film, The Kimberley Diamond Robbery, appeared in 1910. It was followed through the 1910s and ’20s by several epics that rivaled the Hollywood productions of Cecil B. DeMille, notably I.W. Schlesinger’s Symbol of Sacrifice (1918), which employed 25,000 Zulu warriors as extras to depict the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
As is the case with other arts, film has also been used as a means of political commentary, despite official censorship in the apartheid era. In the 1970s director Ross Devenish brought Fugard’s highly political play Boesman and Lena (1973) to the screen, and Soweto-based playwright and filmmaker Gibson Kente directed How Long (Must We Suffer…)? (1976), the first major South African film made by a black artist. A Dry White Season (1989), based on a novel by Brink, used a largely American cast to bring the harsh reality of apartheid to an international audience. Other films that reached a wider audience include Afrikaner director Jamie Uys’s The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), Oliver Schmitz and Thomas Mogotlane’s Mapantsula (1988), Manie van Rensburg’s Taxi to Soweto (1991), Anant Singh and Darrell Roodt’s Sarafina! (1992), and Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi (2005), based on a novel by Fugard.
- Cultural institutions
The South African National Gallery, home to 19th–20th-century African art and 16th–20th-century European art, and the District Six Museum, which honours an interracial bohemian enclave that was destroyed by government decrees during the apartheid era, are in Cape Town. Robben Island (designated a UNSECO World Heritage site in 1999), north of Cape Town in Table Bay, was once the site of an infamous prison and is now home to a museum. The National Museum at Bloemfontein contains institutes for such areas as herpetology, ornithology, mammalogy, arachnology, paleontology, archaeology, and local history. The African Art Centre in Durban exhibits work by local artists. The National Library of South Africa, the national reference and preservation repository formed in 1999 by the merger of the South African Library and the State Library, has campuses in Cape Town and Pretoria. The Nelson Mandela National Museum, honouring the life and work of Mandela, comprises three sites centred in or around Mandela’s home village in Qunu, Eastern Cape. The museum opened on Feb. 11, 2000—10 years from the day that Mandela was released from prison. A museum dedicated to the history of apartheid opened in Johannesburg in 2001. Monuments to important South African historical figures—from both the colonial era as well as the antiapartheid struggle—can be found throughout the country.
Sports and recreationSouth Africans avidly participate in sports and outdoor recreational activities. The country’s national parks provide opportunities not only to view wildlife but also to pursue activities such as rock climbing and hiking. As with most other aspects of South African life, however, sports and recreational activities developed differently for whites and blacks. Whites played football (soccer), rugby, and cricket and enjoyed sports in world-class facilities, while blacks were restricted to such sports as football, boxing, and, secondarily, athletics (track and field); moreover, their facilities were poorly maintained and ill-equipped.
White South African athletes collected more than 50 Olympic medals from 1908 to 1960, but the country was suspended from the Olympic Games in 1964–92 because of its apartheid policies. During the transition from apartheid to democracy (1990–94), South Africa was readmitted to the Olympics, and a small, racially mixed Olympic team competed in the 1992 Summer Games. At the 1996 Summer Games, swimmer Penelope Heyns became the first South African Olympic gold medallist in the postapartheid era, and marathon runner Josia Thugwane earned the distinction of becoming the first black South African to claim a gold medal.
Other postapartheid sports teams have also done well. South Africa’s rugby team, the Springboks, won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and 2007. The 1995 victory was particularly poignant, as the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, and the captain of the predominantly white rugby team, François Pienaar, used the tournament as an opportunity to build support for the team among South Africans of all colours, providing them with a common goal to rally around as a step toward healing the racial divisions left by apartheid. When South Africa’s national football team, affectionately nicknamed Bafana Bafana (Zulu for "The Boys"), returned to international competition, it won the 1996 African Cup of Nations at home, was runner-up to Egypt at the same competition in 1998, and qualified for its first World Cup finals in 1998. South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup, the first time that an African country has been selected to do so. For coverage, see World Cup 2010: Football in the Rainbow Nation.
- Media and publishing
The white-oriented press in contemporary South Africa, which has a long tradition of free expression for whites, found itself under increasing political and legal constraints from the 1950s onward and was subjected to heavy censorship in the 1980s. Legislation was passed in late 1993 and promulgated in 1994 to better ensure fairness in the press. Historically, the strongest elements of the press have been distinct English- and Afrikaans-language publishers, such as Argus and Perskor. Black readership has expanded greatly, though some papers aimed at that market, such as The World, were banned during the apartheid period, while individual journalists were banned, detained, and threatened. During the 1980s a new independent press emerged, represented by newspapers such as New Nation and Weekly Mail. Vrye Weekblad, the first Afrikaans-language antiapartheid newspaper, closed in 1994. With South Africa’s reemergence in the world economy, foreign media interests began to take a greater interest in the local market; the largest daily newspaper group in the country was taken over by an international concern.
Television, introduced in the mid-1970s, and radio constitute important forces in South African society. Until the lifting of emergency media restrictions in February 1990, the government tightly controlled both and used them to communicate its own views and to counter perceived threats to the apartheid system. Most electronic media remain publicly owned, but the pattern of management and public participation in their control changed decisively after 1994 from all white- and male-dominated management to a more representative mix under the new government. A number of privately owned radio stations have been set up in major urban markets since the mid-1990s, and independent television productions have become more common. Increasingly, programming is aimed at the many linguistic and cultural groups in the country.
The digital revolution has markedly affected South Africa. Most major publications have an online presence, as do a rapidly growing number of companies and governmental agencies.
History of South Africa
People have inhabited southern Africa for thousands of years. Members of the Khoisan language groups are the oldest surviving inhabitants of the land, but only a few are left in South Africa today--and they are located in the western sections. Most of today's black South Africans belong to the Bantu language group, which migrated south from central Africa, settling in the Transvaal region sometime before AD 100. The Nguni, ancestors of the Zulu and Xhosa, occupied most of the eastern coast by 1500.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach the Cape of Good Hope, arriving in 1488. However, permanent white settlement did not begin until 1652 when the Dutch East India Company established a provisioning station on the Cape. In subsequent decades, French Huguenot refugees, the Dutch, and Germans began to settle in the Cape. Collectively, they form the Afrikaner segment of today's population. The establishment of these settlements had far-reaching social and political effects on the groups already settled in the area, leading to upheaval in these societies and the subjugation of their people.
By 1779, European settlements extended throughout the southern part of the Cape and east toward the Great Fish River. It was here that Dutch authorities and the Xhosa fought the first frontier war. The British gained control of the Cape of Good Hope at the end of the 18th century. Subsequent British settlement and rule marked the beginning of a long conflict between the Afrikaners and the English.
Beginning in 1836, partly to escape British rule and cultural hegemony and partly out of resentment at the recent abolition of slavery, many Afrikaner farmers (Boers) undertook a northern migration that became known as the "Great Trek." This movement brought them into contact and conflict with African groups in the area, the most formidable of which were the Zulus. Under their powerful leader, Shaka (1787-1828), the Zulus conquered most of the territory between the Drakensberg Mountains and the sea (now KwaZulu-Natal).
In 1828, Shaka was assassinated and replaced by his half-brother Dingane. In 1838, Dingane was defeated and deported by the Voortrekkers (people of the Great Trek) at the battle of Blood River. The Zulus, nonetheless, remained a potent force, defeating the British in the historic battle of Isandhlwana before themselves being finally conquered in 1879.
In 1852 and 1854, the independent Boer Republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State were created. Relations between the republics and the British Government were strained. The discovery of diamonds at Kimberley in 1870 and the discovery of large gold deposits in the Witwatersrand region of the Transvaal in 1886 caused an influx of European (mainly British) immigration and investment. In addition to resident black Africans, many blacks from neighboring countries also moved into the area to work in the mines. The construction by mine owners of hostels to house and control their workers set patterns that later extended throughout the region.
Boer reactions to this influx and British political intrigues led to the Anglo-Boer Wars of 1880-81 and 1899-1902. British forces prevailed in the latter conflict, and the republics were incorporated into the British Empire. In May 1910, the two republics and the British colonies of the Cape and Natal formed the Union of South Africa, a self-governing dominion of the British Empire. The Union's constitution kept all political power in the hands of whites.
In 1912, the South Africa Native National Congress was founded in Bloemfontein and eventually became known as the African National Congress (ANC). Its goals were the elimination of restrictions based on color and the enfranchisement of and parliamentary representation for blacks. Despite these efforts the government continued to pass laws limiting the rights and freedoms of blacks.
In 1948, the National Party (NP) won the all-white elections and began passing legislation codifying and enforcing an even stricter policy of white domination and racial separation known as "apartheid" (separateness). In the early 1960s, following a protest in Sharpeville in which 69 protesters were killed by police and 180 injured, the ANC and Pan-African Congress (PAC) were banned. Nelson Mandela and many other anti-apartheid leaders were convicted and imprisoned on charges of treason.
The ANC and PAC were forced underground and fought apartheid through guerrilla warfare and sabotage. In May 1961, South Africa abandoned its British dominion status and declared itself a republic. It withdrew from the Commonwealth in part because of international protests against apartheid. In 1984, a new constitution came into effect in which whites allowed coloreds and Asians a limited role in the national government and control over their own affairs in certain areas. Ultimately, however, all power remained in white hands. Blacks remained effectively disenfranchised.
Popular uprisings in black and colored townships in 1976 and 1985 helped to convince some NP members of the need for change. Secret discussions between those members and Nelson Mandela began in 1986. In February 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk, who had come to power in September 1989, announced the unbanning of the ANC, the PAC, and all other anti-apartheid groups. Two weeks later, Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
In 1991, the Group Areas Act, Land Acts, and the Population Registration Act--the last of the so-called "pillars of apartheid"--were abolished. A long series of negotiations ensued, resulting in a new constitution promulgated into law in December 1993. The country's first nonracial elections were held on April 26-28, 1994, resulting in the installation of Nelson Mandela as President on May 10, 1994.
Following the 1994 elections, South Africa was governed under an interim constitution establishing a Government of National Unity (GNU). This constitution required the Constitutional Assembly (CA) to draft and approve a permanent constitution by May 9, 1996. After review by the Constitutional Court and intensive negotiations within the CA, the Constitutional Court certified a revised draft on December 2, 1996. President Mandela signed the new constitution into law on December 10, and it entered into force on February 3, 1997. The GNU ostensibly remained in effect until the 1999 national elections. The parties originally comprising the GNU--the ANC, the NP, and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)--shared executive power. On June 30, 1996, the NP withdrew from the GNU to become part of the opposition.
During Nelson Mandela's 5-year term as President of South Africa, the government committed itself to reforming the country. The ANC-led government focused on social issues that were neglected during the apartheid era such as unemployment, housing shortages, and crime. Mandela's administration began to reintroduce South Africa into the global economy by implementing a market-driven economic plan known as Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR). In order to heal the wounds created by apartheid, the government created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) under the leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. During the first term of the ANC's post-apartheid rule, President Mandela concentrated on national reconciliation, seeking to forge a single South African identity and sense of purpose among a diverse and splintered populace, after years of conflict. The diminution of political violence after 1994 and its virtual disappearance by 1996 were testament to the abilities of Mandela to achieve this difficult goal.
Nelson Mandela stepped down as President of the ANC at the party's national congress in December 1997, when Thabo Mbeki assumed the mantle of leadership. Mbeki won the presidency of South Africa after national elections in 1999, when the ANC won just shy of a two-thirds majority in Parliament. President Mbeki shifted the focus of government from reconciliation to transformation, particularly on the economic front. With political transformation and the foundation of a strong democratic system in place after two free and fair national elections, the ANC recognized the need to focus on bringing economic power to the black majority in South Africa. In April 2004, the ANC won nearly 70% of the national vote, and Mbeki was reelected for his second 5-year term. In his 2004 State of the Nation address, Mbeki promised his government would reduce poverty, stimulate economic growth, and fight crime. Mbeki said that the government would play a more prominent role in economic development. Defeated in a bid for a third term as ANC chair in party elections in December 2007, Mbeki was "recalled" by the ANC and resigned as President in September 2008. Kgalema Motlanthe was sworn in as President on September 25, 2008 and served out the remainder of Mbeki's term. South Africa held its fourth democratic election on April 22, 2009. The ANC won with 65% of the vote followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 16% of the vote. The DA also won power in the Western Cape, which became the only province that the ANC does not govern. The newly formed Congress of the People, launched by ANC members angered at the firing of Mbeki, won 9% of the vote. The National Assembly elected Jacob Zuma president, with Motlanthe as his deputy, following the ANC’s win in the 2009 national election.
South Africa held its fourth post-apartheid local government elections on May 18, 2011. The elections were peaceful and well organized. While the International Electoral Commission (IEC) struggled with some minor technical glitches and mishaps, voting was orderly. The African National Congress (ANC) held onto its dominant position nationally with an estimated 64% of the vote, while the Democratic Alliance (DA), the nation’s major opposition party, saw growth in its voter base, winning an estimated 22% of the vote. The ANC is set to hold its national congress in 2012, where its leader for the next 5 years will be elected.
Emergence of the Nation. South Africa has early human fossils at Sterkfontein and other sites. The first modern inhabitants were the San ("bushman") hunter-gatherers and the Khoi ("Hottentot") peoples, who herded livestock. The San may have been present for thousands of years and left evidence of their presence in thousands of ancient cave paintings ("rock art"). Bantu-speaking clans that were the ancestors of the Nguni (today's amaZulu, amaXhosa, amaSwazi, and vaTsonga peoples) and Tswana-Sotho language groups (today's Batswana and Southern and Northern Basotho) migrated down from east Africa as early as the fifteenth century...'>>>read on<<<
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News about South Africa
- ANC youth leader Malema calls for nationalization of S. African mines
- By ROBYN DIXON - Los Angeles Times Jun. 16, 2011
- Source: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/06/16/2063077/anc-youth-leader-malema-calls.html
JOHANNESBURG Julius Malema, the ambitious, firebrand leader of the youth wing of South Africa's ruling party, Thursday called for the nationalization of mines and seizure of land without compensation - policies government ministers have repeatedly ruled out in the past.
Speaking at the ANC Youth League's electoral conference, where he faces a leadership challenge, Malema said the youth league had put nationalization and land seizures on the agenda. Malema has also pushed bank nationalization in the past.
With Malema likely to be re-elected, a nationalization drive is likely to gather steam in the lead-up to next year's ANC national conference, which sets policies for the party.
"Our calls for mines to be nationalized and land to be expropriated without compensation is currently our most important issue," he told delegates in a 90-minute speech, flanked by President Jacob Zuma.
Malema said past efforts to redistribute resources from the white minority to the black majority had failed dismally.
"The struggle for land reform and transfer of land is long overdue and should be speeded up to avoid the conflicts that characterize many post-independence African states, nations and countries," he said. "We refuse to continue living like we are in a colony. The only solution available to us now is expropriation without compensation.
"We have demonstrated, through sound political and ideological arguments, that mines in South Africa can be and should be nationalized," he added.
South Africa currently derives most of its export earnings from mining, including platinum and gold.
Government Ministers such as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Mines Minister Susan Shabangu have taken pains to reassure investors and international markets that nationalization of mines will not happen any time soon.
Malema has kept Zuma guessing on whether he will support him for a second presidential term, with media reports the youth league leader and allies are part of a faction planning to oust Zuma at next year's national conference.
Malema on Thursday pledged his loyalty to Zuma - just two weeks after commenting that former President Thabo Mbeki, Zuma's arch rival, was the best leader the ANC ever produced.
Supporters tout Malema as a young Nelson Mandela, based on Mandela's rebellion against ANC leaders in the late 1950s, pushing successfully for the party to take up arms against apartheid.
Yet it was Mandela who abandoned nationalization after his 1991 release from prison, because of investor warnings that they would abandon South Africa, which he believed would have been catastrophic for the country trying to leave behind the poisonous legacy of apartheid.
Malema's economic policies put him closer to Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, who ordered seizure of farmland from whites from 2000 without compensation, a policy that caused the collapse of the nation's agriculture-based economy. Mugabe's government also passed a law in 2008 to force international mining companies to hand over 51 percent of their assets to Zimbabweans, and in March, firms were ordered to submit plans on how they will meet the 51 percent requirement.
Malema attacked critics who described him as reckless for his calls for nationalization and land redistribution without compensation.
"What is reckless about calling for changing property relations to favor the working class and the poor?" he said. "We should be the voice of farm workers, of garbage carriers, of street sweepers, of manufacturing workers, of the unemployed reserves of workers. We should be the voice of all people in informal settlements and underdeveloped areas."
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[[Category:South Africa Photo Gallery]]
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