Dialing code +27
ISO 2 code ZA
ISO 3 code ZAF
Capital Pretoria
Main Language None
Currency Rand (ZAR)
GDP $489.7 billion 24th
Population 49,000,000 25th


Continent Africa
Location Southern Africa at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Land 1,219,912 km2 25th
Terrain Vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Climate Mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days cool nights
Natural Hazards Vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Note: South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland

Neighbouring Countries

Botswana Lesotho Mozambique Namibia Swaziland Zimbabwe


Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806 many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however the British and the Afrikaners as the Boers became known ruled together under the Union of South Africa. In 1948 the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in black majority rule under the African National Congress (ANC). ANC infighting which has grown in recent years came to a head in September 2008 after President Thabo MBEKI resigned. Kgalema MOTLANTHE the party's General-Secretary succeeded as interim president until general elections scheduled for 2009.
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Life Expectancy 48.98 years 191st
Median Age 24.4 years 126th
Birth Rate 19.93 births/1,000 population 91st
Death Rate 16.99 births/1,000 population 12th
Sex Ratio 0.69 male(s)/female 158th
Literacy 86.4% 131st

49.0 million


Roadways 362099 km 17th
Railways 20872 km 13th
Airports 636 11th
Waterways None km
Heliports 1 74th
Airports paved 5 21st


Currency Rand (ZAR)
GDP $489.7 billion 24th
GDP per capita (PPP) $10000 94th