[Country map of South Africa]

South Africa


Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Map references: Africa

total area: 1,219,912 sq km
land area: 1,219,912 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

Land boundaries: total 4,750 km, Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 855 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km

Coastline: 2,798 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Swaziland has asked South Africa to open negotiations on reincorporating some nearby South African territories that are populated by ethnic Swazis or that were long ago part of the Swazi Kingdom;

Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Terrain: vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Natural resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 65%
forest and woodland: 3%
other: 21%

Irrigated land: 11,280 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage threatens to outpace supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification
natural hazards: prolonged droughts
international agreements: party to - Antarctic Treaty, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Note: South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland


total: 45,095,459 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 40% (female 8,842,764; male 9,091,722)
15-64 years: 56% (female 12,825,617; male 12,508,039)
65 years and over: 4% (female 1,047,285; male 780,032) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate:
total: 2.61% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 33.39 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7.42 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 45.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.42 years
male: 62.68 years
female: 68.25 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.35 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: South African(s)
adjective: South African

Ethnic divisions: black 75.2%, white 13.6%, Colored 8.6%, Indian 2.6%

Religions: Christian (most whites and Coloreds and about 60% of blacks), Hindu (60% of Indians), Muslim 2%

Languages: eleven official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1980)
total population: 76%
male: 78%
female: 75%

Labor force: 13.4 million economically active (1990)
by occupation: services 35%, agriculture 30%, industry 20%, mining 9%, other 6%


conventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa

Abbreviation: RSA

Digraph: SF

Type: republic

Capital: Pretoria (administrative); Cape Town (legislative); Bloemfontein (judicial)

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Eastern Transvaal, KwaZulu/Natal, Northern Cape, Northern Transvaal, Northwest, Orange Free State, Gauteng, Western Cape

Independence: 31 May 1910 (from UK)

National holiday: Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

Constitution: 27 April 1994 (interim constitution, replacing the constitution of 3 September 1984)

Legal system: based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: Executive President Nelson MANDELA (since 10 May 1994); Deputy Executive President Thabo MBEKI (since 10 May 1994); Deputy Executive President Frederik W. DE KLERK (since 10 May 1994)
note: any political party that wins 20% or more of the National Assembly votes in a general election is entitled to name a Deputy Executive President
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the Executive President

Legislative branch: bicameral
National Assembly: elections last held 26-29 April 1994 (next to be held NA); results - ANC 62.6%, NP 20.4%, IFP 10.5%, FF 2.2%, DP 1.7%, PAC 1.2%, ACDP 0.5%, other 0.9%; seats - (400 total) ANC 252, NP 82, IFP 43, FF 9, DP 7, PAC 5, ACDP 2
Senate: the Senate is composed of members who are nominated by the nine provincial parliaments (which are elected in parallel with the National Assembly) and has special powers to protect regional interests, including the right to limited self-determination for ethnic minorities; seats - (90 total) ANC 61, NP 17, FF 4, IFP 5, DP 3
note: when the National Assembly meets in joint session with the Senate to consider the provisions of the constitution, the combined group is referred to as the Constitutional Assembly

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: African National Congress (ANC), Nelson MANDELA, president; National Party (NP), Frederik W. DE KLERK, president; Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI, president; Freedom Front (FF), Constand VILJOEN, president; Democratic Party (DP); Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Clarence MAKWETU, president; African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), leader NA
note: in addition to these seven parties which received seats in the National Assembly, twelve other parties won votes in the national elections in April 1994

Other political or pressure groups: NA;;


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Franklin SONN
chancery: 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-4400
consulate(s) general: Beverly Hills (California), Chicago, and New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Princeton N. LYMAN
embassy: 877 Pretorius St., Arcadia 0083
mailing address: P.O. Box 9536, Pretoria 0001
telephone: [27] (12) 342-1048
FAX: [27] (12) 342-2244
consulate(s) general: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg

Flag: two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band which splits into a horozontal Y, the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side, embracing a black isoceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes
note: prior to 26 April 1994, the flag was actually four flags in one - three miniature flags reproduced in the center of the white band of the former flag of the Netherlands, which has three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and blue; the miniature flags are a vertically hanging flag of the old Orange Free State with a horizontal flag of the UK adjoining on the hoist side and a horizontal flag of the old Transvaal Republic adjoining on the other side


Overview: Many of the white one-seventh of the South African population enjoy incomes, material comforts, and health and educational standards equal to those of Western Europe. In contrast, most of the remaining population suffers from the poverty patterns of the Third World, including unemployment and lack of job skills. The main strength of the economy lies in its rich mineral resources, which provide two-thirds of exports. Economic developments for the remainder of the 1990s will be driven largely by the new government's attempts to improve black living conditions, to set the country on an aggressive export-led growth path, and to cut back the enormous numbers of unemployed. The economy in recent years has absorbed less than 5% of the more than 300,000 workers entering the labor force annually. Local economists estimate that the economy must grow between 5% and 6% in real terms annually to absorb all of the new entrants, much less reduce the accumulated total.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $194.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $4,420 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 32.6% (1994 est.); an additional 11% underemployment

revenues: $26.3 billion
expenditures: $34 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.5 billion (FY93/94 est.)

Exports: $25.3 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: gold 27%, other minerals and metals 20%-25%, food 5%, chemicals 3%
partners: Italy, Japan, US, Germany, UK, other EU countries, Hong Kong

Imports: $21.4 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: machinery 32%, transport equipment 15%, chemicals 11%, oil, textiles, scientific instruments
partners: Germany, US, Japan, UK, Italy

External debt: $18 billion (1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%; accounts for about 40% of GDP

capacity: 39,750,000 kW
production: 163 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 3,482 kWh (1993)

Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemical, fertilizer, foodstuffs

Agriculture: accounts for about 5% of GDP and 30% of labor force; diversified agriculture, with emphasis on livestock; products - cattle, poultry, sheep, wool, milk, beef, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; self-sufficient in food

Illicit drugs: transshipment center for heroin and cocaine; cocaine consumption on the rise; world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries

Economic aid: many aid packages for the new government are still being prepared; current aid pledges include US $600 million over 3 years; UK $150 million over 3 years; Australia $21 million over 3 years; Japan $1.3 billion over 2 years

Currency: 1 rand (R) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: rand (R) per US$1 - 3.5389 (January 1995), 3.5490 (1994), 3.2636 (1993), 2.8497 (1992), 2.7563 (1991), 2.5863 (1990)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


total: 20,638 km
narrow gauge: 20,324 km 1.067-m gauge (substantial electrification); 314 km 0.610-m gauge

total: 188,309 km
paved: 54,013 km
unpaved: crushed stone, gravel, improved earth 134,296 km

Pipelines: crude oil 931 km; petroleum products 1,748 km; natural gas 322 km

Ports: Cape Town, Durban, East London, Mosselbaai, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha

Merchant marine:
total: 4 container ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 211,276 GRT/198,602 DWT

total: 853
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 9
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 47
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 72
with paved runways under 914 m: 327
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 39
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 354


Telephone system: over 4,500,000 telephones; the system is the best developed, most modern, and has the highest capacity in Africa
local: NA
intercity: consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber optic cable, and radiocommunication stations; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international: 1 submarine cable; 3 INTELSAT (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 14, FM 286, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 67
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: South African National Defence Force (SANDF; includes Army, Navy, Air Force, and Medical Services), South African Police Service (SAPS)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 10,830,079; males fit for military service 6,601,323; males reach military age (18) annually 439,793 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $3.2 billion, 2.8% of GDP (FY93/94)