Facts About South Africa:
1,219,090 sq. km (470,693 sq. miles)
Population – Population Density
52,981,991 (estimate 2013) – 43.5 per sq. km.
Capita; – Pretoria (administrative): Population: 1,991,000 (2014)
Cape Town (legislative): Population: 3,624,000 (2014)
Bloemfontein (judicial): Population: 496,000 (2014)
The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern end of the African continent. It is bound by the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and is bordered to the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland and totally encloses Lesotho. South Africa has three major geographical regions: the plateau, mountain region and the coastal belt. The high plateau has sharp escarpments which rise above the plains, or veld. Despite two major river systems, the Limpopo and the Orange, most of the plateau lacks surface water. Along the coastline are sandy beaches and rocky coves, and the vegetation is shrub-like. The mountainous regions, which run along the coastline from the Cape of Good Hope to the Limpopo Valley, are split into the Drakensberg, Nuweveldberg and Stormberg ranges.
Following the 1994 elections, South Africa was organized into nine regions. These comprise: 1) the Western Cape, with its provincial and national capital of Cape Town, 2) the Eastern Cape, with its provincial capital of Bisho, 3) the Northern Cape, with its provincial capital of Kimberley, 4) KwaZulu-Natal, with its provincial capital of Pietermaritzburg, 5) the Free State, with its provincial capital of Bloemfontein, 6) the North West Province, with its provincial capital of Mahikeng (formerly called Mafikeng), 7) Limpopo, (formerly called the Northern Province), with its provincial capital of Polokwanem (formerly called Pietersburg), 8) Mpumalanga, with its provincial capital of Mbombela (formerly called Nelspruit), and 9) Gauteng, with its provincial capital of Johannesburg.
Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1910. Head of State: President Jacob Zuma since 2009.
The official languages are Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Most inhabitants profess Christianity of some form and belong to either Catholic, Anglican and other protestant denominations, Afrikaner Calvinist churches or African independent churches. There are also significant Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities, and traditional beliefs are still practiced widely, sometimes in conjunction with Christianity.
South Africa is the 25th largest nation in the world and is about 471,400 miles squared in area. South Africa has a coastline that stretches for 2,798 kilometers. There are 53 million people living in South Africa making it the 24th most populous country in the world. In South Africa, there are 11 official languages and they are: Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Northern Sotho, Venda, Tsonga, Swati, Ndebele.
History of South Africa
South Africa has some of the oldest human fossils in the world. Modern humans have lived in South Africa for at least 170,000 years.
In the 4th century AD, migrants coming from the North settle in modern day South Africa, joining the native San and Khoikhoi people.
In 1487, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias led the first European voyage to land in South Africa. On December 4, he landed at Walfisch Bay (now known as Walvis Bay in present-day Namibia). After landing there, Dias kept sailing down the wester coast of southern Africa. In May 1488 on his return he saw the Cape, which he first named Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). His King, John II renamed the point Cabo da Boa Esperança, or Cape of Good Hope as it led to the riches of the East Indies. In 1652, Jan Van Riebeeck, a representative of the Dutch East India Company founds the Cape Colony in Table Bay. Then, in 1795, British forces seize Cape Colony from the Dutch. Although, the territory is given back to the Dutch in 1803, but then it was ceded to the British in 1806. In 1816, Shaka Zulu, the ruler of the Zulu Empire creates a very strong fighting force possibly causing a threat to the British. The Boers who settled in South Africa during the 17th century began their “Great Trek” and founded the Orange Free State and the Transvaal in 1835-40. In 1856, Natal separates itself from Cape Colony. In the year 1867, diamonds are discovered in South Africa, which makes it a popular destination for foreign mining companies.
In 1910, the Union of South Africa is created, joining the British Cape Colony and Natal and Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State. In 1912 the Native National Congress was founded, then renamed the African National Conference. (ANC) Starting from 1913, the Land Act is passed through the white government that makes blacks unable to buy land outside of a reserve, except for those living in Cape Province. In 1914, the National Party is founded. In 1934, the South African Parliament enacts the Status of the Union Act, and South Africa declares itself a “Sovereign Independent State,” freeing itself from British rule. In 1948, the National Party begins their policy of Apartheid (separateness) which discriminates the black population.
During 1950, people are classified by race and the Group Areas Act is passed to segregate blacks. The ANC with Nelson Mandela as their leader responds by refusing to cooperate with all the rules. In 1960, 70 black demonstrators are killed in Sharpeville and the ANC is banned. In 1961, Mandela becomes the head of the ANC’s new militant wing, which launches a sabotage campaign against white military forces. In 1964, Nelson Mandela is caught and sentenced to life imprisonment. Throughout the 1970’s, 3,000,000 blacks are forcibly moved to black “Homelands.” During 1976, 600 blacks are killed in fights between blacks protesters and security forces during many uprisings in Soweto. In 1990, the ANC is unbanned and Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years in prison. During 1991 former president De Klerk repeals all of the remaining Apartheid laws and there are talks of a multi-party system.
In April 1994, the ANC wins the first non-racial elections. Nelson Mandela becomes president and all remaining sanctions are lifted and South Africa takes a seat in the UN General Assembly after 20 years of absence. In May 2003, Walter Sisulu who was a key figure in the struggle to get rid of Apartheid dies at age 91. In December 2013, Nelson Mandela dies at age 95. Tributes to “The Father of The Nation” come flooding in from all corners of the globe.