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White House Lodge - south africa

South Africa – History

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).

country info heading

Total: 1,219,090 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 32
Land: 1,214,470 sq km
Water: 4,620 sq km

Land boundaries

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  



2,798 km


Mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights


Vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain.

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m

Flora and Fauna

  • South Africa is home to more than 20.000 different plants.
  • More than a hundred big and small nature reserves are home to more than 300 mammal species, 500 bird species and 100 reptile species.


Natural resources

Gold, Chromium, Antimony, Coal, Iron ore, Manganese, Nickel, Phosphates, Tin, Uranium, Gem Diamonds, Platinum, Copper, Vanadium, Salt, Natural Gas.

Natural hazards

Prolonged droughts.

Environment - current issues

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.

Geography - note

South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland

sa people heading


Approx. 49,050,000
Country comparison to the world: 25

Age structure

0-14 years: 28.9% (male 7,095,000/female 7,060,000)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 16,275,000/female 15,985,000)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,075,000/female 1,560,000) (2009 est.)

Population growth rate

0.281% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 173

Birth rate

19.93 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 99

Death rate

16.99 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 12


Urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
Rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Ethnic groups:

  • Black African 79%
  • white 9.6%
  • coloured 8.9%
  • Indian/Asian 2.5%



  • 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%



  • 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%



Definition: age 15 and over can read and write

Total population: 86.4%

Male: 87%
Female: 85.7% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

Total: 13 years
Male: 13 years
Female: 13 years (2004)

government heading

Country name

Republic of South Africa

Government type



Name: Pretoria (administrative capital)
Note: Cape Town (legislative capital); Bloemfontein (judicial capital)

Administrative divisions

9 provinces

  • Eastern Cape
  • Free State
  • Gauteng
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Limpopo
  • Mpumalanga
  • Northern Cape
  • North-West
  • Western Cape



  • 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)


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

Legal system

Based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

economy heading
Economy - overview

South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth was robust from 2004 to 2008 as South Africa reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom, but began to slow in the second half of 2008 due to the global financial crisis' impact on commodity prices and demand. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.

Agriculture - products

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


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


transport heading


636 (2008)


Total: 20,872 km


Total: 362,099 km