Sunday, June 20, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA - Country profile

Often called "the rainbow nation",
South Africa is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa.
It was inhabited by pastoral Khoekhoe (Khoi), the hunter-gatherer San,
the Xhosa, and the Zulu nations and various other indigenous tribes,
when Dutch settlers arrived in middle of the 17th century,
much to the disadvantage of the Khoekhoe
along the southern and western coastal strips.
What followed was an aggressive colonial expansion for centuries
mainly of settlers of Dutch, German and French Huguenot origin.
In 1795 the British took over the Cape from the Dutch,
seven years later the colony was returned to the Dutch government,
only to come under British rule again in 1806,
this circumstance and the rise to power of the Zulu king Shaka,
forcing many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) to trek north
and east to found their own republics.
The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth
and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants
until the end of the 20th century.
The 1990s brought an end to apartheid
with South Africa's transition to democracy
and with Nelson Mandela's inauguration
as SA's first democratically elected President 1994.


The current flag of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on 27 April 1994, during the 1994 general election. A new national flag was adopted to represent the new democracy.

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 ; he 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

National anthem of SOUTH AFRICA :

Since 1997, the South African national anthem has been a hybrid song combining new English lyrics with extracts of the hymn "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" and the former anthem "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (The Call of South Africa). It is the only neo-modal national anthem in the world, by virtue of being the only one that does not finish in the home key. The lyrics employ the five most widely spoken of South Africa's eleven official languages - Xhosa (first stanza, first two lines), Zulu (first stanza, last two lines), Sesotho (second stanza), Afrikaans (third stanza) and English (final stanza).

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid government. Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by C.J. Langenhoven in 1918 and was set to music by the Reverend Marthinus Lourens de Villiers in 1921. Die Stem was the co-national anthem with God Save the King/Queen from 1936 to 1957, when it became the sole national anthem until 1995. The South African government under Nelson Mandela adopted both songs as national anthems from 1995 until they were merged in 1997 to form the current anthem.

Lyrics :

Location :

Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa.

Map :

Area :

Total : 1 219 090 sq km
Land : 1 214 470 sq km
Water : 4 620 sq km
Note : includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

Elevation extremes :

Lowest point : Atlantic ocean 0 m
Highest point : Njesuthi 3 408 m

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.

Climate :

Current weather : mostly semiarid ; subtropical along east coast ; sunny days, cool nights.

Population :

49 109 107

Nationality :

Demonym : South African

Ethnic groups :

Black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census).

Religions :

Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census).

Languages :

IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census).

Country name :

Conventional long form : Republic of South Africa
Conventional short form : South Africa
Former : Union of South Africa
Abbreviation : RSA

South Africa's name in native (official) languages :
Afrika Borwa (Pedi, seSotho, Tswana)
Afrika Dzonga (Tsonga)
Afurika Tshipembe (Venda)
Mzantsi Afrika (isiXhosa)
Ningizimu Afrika (siSwati, isiZulu)
Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans)

ISO country code :


Government type :


Capital :

Executive : Pretoria (population : 2 345 908)
Judicial : Bloemfontein (population : 369 568)
Legislative : Cape Town (population : 3 497 097)

Other major cities :
Johannesburg, Durban (Thekwini), Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth.

Administrative divisions :

9 provinces : Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape.

Independance :

31 May 1910 :Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State
31 May 1961 : republic declared
27 April 1994 : majority rule

National holiday :

Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

Constitution :

10 December 1996 ; note - certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996 ; was signed by then President MANDELA on 10 December 1996 ; and entered into effect on 4 February 1997.

Executive branch :

Chief of state : President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009) ; Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009) ; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government.

Head of government : President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009) ; Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009).

Cabinet : Cabinet appointed by the president.

Elections : president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term) ; election last held on 6 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014).

Election results : Jacob ZUMA elected president; National Assembly vote - Jacob ZUMA 277, Mvume DANDALA 47, other 76.

Legislative branch :

Bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Council of Provinces (90 seats ; 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities) and the National Assembly (400 seats ; members elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms).

Judicial branch :

Constitutional Court ; Supreme Court of Appeals ; High Courts ; Magistrate Courts.

Currency :
Rand (ZAR)

Agriculture products :

Corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products.

Industries :

Mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair.

Exports partners :

Japan 11.1%, US 11.1%, Germany 8%, UK 6.8%, China 6%, Netherlands 5.2% (2008).

Imports partners :

Germany 11.2%, China 11%, US 7.8%, Saudi Arabia 6.2%, Japan 5.5% (2008).

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