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Country in Focus

South Africa

South Africa

  • Capital:Pretoria
  • Population:51.19 million (2012)
  • Languages:IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, siSwati, Tshivenda
  • Head of State:President Jacob Zuma

Country Data

Dutch (Boers) established a colony at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 which serves as a stopping point for Dutch East India company trading vessels. Britain captured Cape in 1795 and recaptured the colony in 1806. The discovery of diamonds and gold caused economic boom in the late 19th century. Boers resisted Britain’s attempts to include them in South African confederation which resulted to the Boer War in 1899. Boers were defeated marking the annexation of the country by Britain. In 1948, the Nationalist Party took over and introduced enforced apartheid policy. Unrest among non-whites increased in 1950s resulting to violent conflicts. In 1961, the country became republic following a referendum. Apartheid ended in 1994 when the first multi-racial election was held. The country struggled with changes but has undergone several national elections after the end of white rule. ...


Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

29 00 S, 24 00 E

1,219,090 sq km

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

Vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

South African(s)

51.19 million (WB, 2012)



GDP (current US$)
$384.3 billion (WB, 2012)

GDP growth (annual %)
2.5% (WB, 2012)

GNI per capita (current US$)
$7,610 (WB, 2012)


With paved runways: 144
With unpaved runways: 422
Total: 566 (2013)

Total: 364,131 km

Ports and terminals   
Major seaport(s): Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay
container port(s) (TEUs): Durban (2,712,975)


Production: 257.9 billion kWh (2012 est.)
Consumption:  234.2 billion kWh (2012 est.)
Exports:  15.04 billion kWh (2012 est.)
Imports: 11.89 billion kWh (2011 est.)
Installed generating capacity: 44.26 million kW (2010 est.)

Crude oil
Production:  181,000 bbl/day (2012 est.)
Imports: 385,100 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Proved reserves: 15 million bbl (1 January 2013 es)

Refined petroleum products
Production: 437,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Consumption: 590,900 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Exports:  80,460 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Imports: 79,010 bbl/day (2010 est.)


Main lines in use: 4.03 million
Mobile cellular: 68.4 million (2012)


Military branches    
South African National Defense Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), South African Military Health Services (2013)
Military service age and obligation   
18 years of age for voluntary military service; women are eligible to serve in noncombat roles; 2-year service obligation (2012)
Manpower available for military service   
Males age 16-49: 13,439,781
Females age 16-49: 12,473,641 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service   
Males age 16-49: 7,617,063
Females age 16-49: 6,476,264 (2010 est.)


International Disputes
South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration; the governments of South Africa and Namibia have not signed or ratified the text of the 1994 Surveyor's General agreement placing the boundary in the middle of the Orange River
Refugees and internally displaced persons   
Refugee population by country of origin: 17,864 (Somalia); 13,386 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 5,805 (Angola); 5,538 (Ethiopia) (2012)
Illicit drugs
Transshipment center for heroin, hashish, and cocaine, as well as a major cultivator of marijuana in its own right; cocaine and heroin consumption on the rise; world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries, but increasingly producing its own synthetic drugs for domestic consumption; attractive venue for money launderers given the increasing level of organized criminal and narcotics activity in the region and the size of the South African economy

Complied by Gulf News Archives
Sources: The World Fact Book, World Bank