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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of South Africa

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    South Africa
Definition Field Listing
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). The resulting Union of South Africa operated under a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically and ushered in black majority rule.
   Geography    South Africa
Definition Field Listing
Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
29 00 S, 24 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,219,912 sq km
land: 1,219,912 sq km
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 4,862 km
border countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km
Definition Field Listing
2,798 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Definition Field Listing
mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights
Definition Field Listing
vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 0.77%
other: 87.1% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
13,500 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
prolonged droughts
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland
   People    South Africa
Definition Field Listing
note: South Africa took a census October 1996 that showed a population of 40,583,611 (after an official adjustment for a 6.8% underenumeration based on a postenumeration survey); estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 6,943,761; female 6,849,745)
15-64 years: 63.4% (male 13,377,011; female 14,300,850)
65 years and over: 5% (male 816,222; female 1,360,069) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.02% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
20.63 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
18.86 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.6 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
61.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 45.43 years
female: 45.68 years (2002 est.)
male: 45.19 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.38 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
19.94% (2000 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
5.2 million (2000 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
300,000 (2000 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: South African(s)
adjective: South African
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
black 75.2%, white 13.6%, Colored 8.6%, Indian 2.6%
Definition Field Listing
Christian 68% (includes most whites and Coloreds, about 60% of blacks and about 40% of Indians), Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5% (60% of Indians), indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%
Definition Field Listing
11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85%
male: 86%
female: 85% (2000 est.)
   Government    South Africa
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa
former: Union of South Africa
abbreviation: RSA
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Pretoria; note - Cape Town is the legislative center and Bloemfontein the judicial center
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape, Western Cape
Definition Field Listing
31 May 1910 (from UK)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Definition Field Listing
10 December 1996; this new constitution was certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996, was signed by then President MANDELA on 10 December 1996, and entered into effect on 3 February 1997; it is being implemented in phases
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June 1999); Executive Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since 17 June 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 2 June 1999 (next scheduled for sometime between May and July 2004)
head of government: President Thabo MBEKI (since 16 June 1999); Executive Deputy President Jacob ZUMA (since 17 June 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
election results: Thabo MBEKI elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 100% (by acclamation)
note: ANC-IFP is the governing coalition
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms) and 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); note - following the implementation of the new constitution on 3 February 1997 the former Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution's responsibilities have been changed somewhat by the new constitution
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held 2 June 1999 (next to be held by 2 August 2004)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 66.4%, DP 9.6%, IFP 8.6%, NP 6.9%, UDM 3.4%, ACDP 1.4%, FF 0.8%, other 2.9%; seats by party - ANC 266, DP 38, IFP 34, NP 28, UDM 14, ACDP 6, FF 3, other 11; National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - ANC 61, NP 17, FF 4, IFP 5, DP 3
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
African Christian Democratic Party or ACDP [Kenneth MESHOE, president]; African National Congress or ANC [Thabo MBEKI, president]; Democratic Alliance (formed from the merger of the Democratic Party or DP and the New National Party or NP; note - NP split from DP in 2001) [Anthony LEON]; Freedom Front or FF [Dr. Pieter MULDER, president]; Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI, president]; New National Party or NP [Marthinus VAN SCHALKWYK]; Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC [Stanley MOGOBA, president]; United Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Congress of South African Trade Unions or COSATU [Zwelinzima VAVI, general secretary]; South African Communist Party or SACP [Blade NZIMANDE, general secretary]; South African National Civics Organization or SANCO [Mlungisi HLONGWANE, national president]; note - COSATU and SACP are in a formal alliance with the ANC
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Makate Sheila SISULU
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1607
telephone: [1] (202) 232-4400
chancery: 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Cameron H. HUME
embassy: 877 Pretorius Street, Pretoria
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 description:
Definition Field Listing
two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band which 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
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 had three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and blue; the miniature flags were 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
   Economy    South Africa
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
South Africa is a middle-income, developing country with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to cut into high unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime, corruption, and HIV/AIDS. At the start of 2000, President MBEKI vowed to promote economic growth and foreign investment, and to reduce poverty by relaxing restrictive labor laws, stepping up the pace of privatization, and cutting unneeded governmental spending. The economy slowed in 2001, largely the result of the slowing of the international economy.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $412 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.6% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $9,400 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 3%
industry: 31%
services: 66% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
50% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 46% (1994) (1994)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
59 (1993-94 )
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
5.8% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
17 million economically active (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
37% (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $22.6 billion
expenditures: $24.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA billion (FY02/03 )
Definition Field Listing
mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
7% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
194.38 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 93%
hydro: 1%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 7%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
181.52 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
4.549 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
5.294 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
Definition Field Listing
$32.3 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
EU 33%, US 20%, Japan 6%, Mozambique 2.5% (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
$28.1 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery, foodstuffs and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
EU 41%, US 11.4%, Saudi Arabia 7.3%, Japan 7% (2001 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$25.5 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$539 million (1999)
Definition Field Listing
rand (ZAR)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
rand per US dollar - 11.58786 (January 2002), 8.60918 (2001), 6.93983 (2000), 6.10948 (1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
1 April - 31 March
   Communications    South Africa
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
more than 5 million (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
7.06 million (2001)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: the system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic: consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international: 2 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
17 million (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997)
Definition Field Listing
6 million (2000)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
150 (2001)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
3.068 million (2002)
   Transportation    South Africa
Definition Field Listing
total: 20,384 km
narrow gauge: 20,070 km 1.067-m gauge (9,090 km electrified); 314 km 0.610-m gauge
note: in addition, South Africa has an electrified 1.065-m gauge commuter rail system, with a total length of 1,254 km, which serves Johannesburg-Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, East London, and Port Elizabeth (2001)
Definition Field Listing
total: 358,596 km
paved: 59,753 km (including 1,927 km of expressways)
unpaved: 298,843 km (1996)
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 931 km; petroleum products 1,748 km; natural gas 322 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Cape Town, Durban, East London, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 271,650 GRT/268,604 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Denmark 3, Netherlands 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: container 6, petroleum tanker 2
Definition Field Listing
740 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 143
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 50
914 to 1,523 m: 67
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 584
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 298
under 914 m: 252 (2002)
   Military    South Africa
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
South African National Defense Force (including Army, Navy, Air Force, and Medical Services), South African Police Service
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 11,557,242 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 7,031,337 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 466,399 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$1.79 billion (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
1.6% (FY01)
Military - note:
Definition Field Listing
the National Defense Force continues to integrate former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces
   Transnational Issues    South Africa
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Swaziland continues to press South Africa into ceding ethnic Swazi lands in Kangwane region of KwaZulu-Natal province, that were long ago part of the Swazi Kingdom
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
transshipment center for heroin, hashish, marijuana, and possibly cocaine; cocaine consumption on the rise; world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries; illicit cultivation of marijuana; attractive venue for money launderers given the increasing level of organized criminal and narcotics activity in the region

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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