South Africa country flag

South Africa

Geography - People - Economy - Government - Communications - Transportation - Military - Transnational Issues

Country information - South Africa
Country name - conventional long form : Republic of South Africa
Country name - conventional short form : South Africa
Country name - former : Union of South Africa
Government type : republic
Capital - name : Pretoria (administrative capital)
Capital - time difference : UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Nationality - noun : South African(s)
Nationality - adjective : South African
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)
Currency (code) : rand (ZAR)
Currency code : ZAR
Major infectious diseases - degree of risk : intermediate

South Africa is located Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. The climate is mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights. The terrain is vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain.


This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Background : 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.

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