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South Africa Country Guide

Explore South Africa in Africa

South Africa with the capital city Pretoria is located in Africa (Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa). It covers some 1,219,913 square kilometres (slightly less than twice the size of Texas) with 43,786,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The landscape offers vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain. The average density of population is approximately 36 per km². The notable climate conditions in South Africa can be described as mostly semiarid with subtropical along east coast, sunny days, cool nights. Potential threats by nature are prolonged droughts.

To reach someone in South Africa dial +27 prior to a number. There are 4,320,000 installed telephones. And there are 46,436,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".za". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of South Africa

Two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band that 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; the flag colors do not have any official symbolism, but the Y stands for the "convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity"; black, yellow, and green are found on the flag of the African National Congress, while red, white, and blue are the colors in the flags of the Netherlands and the UK, whose settlers ruled South Africa during the colonial era
note: the South African flag is one of only two national flags to display six colors as part of its primary design, the other is South Sudan's.

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 Far 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 beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson MANDELA, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime''s eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo MBEKI resigned, and Kgalema MOTLANTHE, the party''s General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob ZUMA became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Africa
Neighbours: Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho
Capital: Pretoria
Size 1,219,912 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 471,011 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Population 43,786,000
Currency Name: Rand, Currency Code: ZAR
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .za
Telephone Country Prefix +27
Mobile Phone Connections 46,436,000
Landline Phone Connections 4,320,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 1,219,090 (sq km) 25

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 48,601,098 26
Population growth rate -0.45 (%) 221
Birth rate 19.14 (births/1,000 population) 93
Death rate 17.36 (deaths/1,000 population) 1
Net migration rate -6.24 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 196
Maternal mortality rate 300.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 40
Infant mortality rate 42.15 (deaths/1,000 live births) 52
Life expectancy at birth 49.48 (years) 222
Total fertility rate 2.25 (children born/woman) 100
Health expenditures 8.90 (% of GDP) 46
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 17.80 (%) 4
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 5,600,000 1
HIV/AIDS - deaths 310,000 1
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 31.30 (%) 24
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 11.60 (%) 63
Education expenditures 6.00 (% of GDP) 38
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 49.8 (%) 5


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 592,000,000,000 26
GDP - real growth rate 2.50 (%) 120
GDP - per capita (PPP) 11,600 109
Labor force 17,890,000 35
Unemployment rate 22.70 (%) 168
Distribution of family income - Gini index 63 2
Investment (gross fixed) 20.90 (% of GDP) 84
Taxes and other revenues 24.8 (% of GDP) 126
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -5.50 (% of GDP) 166
Public debt 43.30 (% of GDP) 83
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 5.20 (%) 145
Central bank discount rate 7.00 (%) 38
Commercial bank prime lending rate 9.00 (%) 99
Stock of narrow money 117,000,000,000 30
Stock of broad money 277,000,000,000 34
Stock of domestic credit 287,900,000,000 37
Market value of publicly traded shares 855,700,000,000 16
Industrial production growth rate 2.50 (%) 103
Current account balance -21,330,000,000 183
Exports 101,200,000,000 40
Imports 106,800,000,000 34
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 54,980,000,000 34
Debt - external 137,500,000,000 37
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 162,900,000,000 27
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 88,590,000,000 29


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 257,900,000,000 (kWh) 16
Electricity - consumption 234,200,000,000 (kWh) 17
Electricity - exports 15,040,000,000 (kWh) 12
Electricity - imports 10,060,000,000 (kWh) 23
Electricity - installed generating capacity 44260000 (kW) 22
Electricity - from fossil fuels 90.8 (% of total installed capacity) 75
Electricity - from nuclear fuels 4.1 (% of total installed capacity) 25
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 1.5 (% of total installed capacity) 141
Electricity - from other renewable sources 0.5 (% of total installed capacity) 76
Crude oil - production 169,000 (bbl/day) 41
Crude oil - imports 402,300 (bbl/day) 22
Crude oil - proved reserves 15000000 (bbl) 88
Refined petroleum products - production 516,100 (bbl/day) 32
Refined petroleum products - consumption 590,900 (bbl/day) 30
Refined petroleum products - exports 49,430 (bbl/day) 60
Refined petroleum products - imports 60,290 (bbl/day) 63
Natural gas - production 970,000,000 (cu m) 65
Natural gas - consumption 4,010,000,000 (cu m) 67
Natural gas - imports 3,040,000,000 (cu m) 43
Natural gas - proved reserves 27,160,000 (cu m) 104
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 465,100,000 (Mt) 13


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 4,127,000 42
Telephones - mobile cellular 64,000,000 20
Internet hosts 4,761,000 23
Internet users 4,420,000 54


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 567 11
Railways 20,192 (km) 14
Roadways 362,099 (km) 18
Merchant marine 3 138


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 1.70 (% of GDP) 87

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
A serial site – in Cape Province, South Africa – made up of eight protected areas, covering 553,000 ha, the Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants in the world. It represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to ...
Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa
The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension to the site inscribed in 1999, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found. Makapan Valley, also in the site, features ...
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The ongoing fluvial, marine and aeolian processes in the site have produced a variety of landforms, including coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands. The interplay of the park's e ...
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Mapungubwe is set hard against the northern border of South Africa, joining Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is an open, expansive savannah landscape at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers. Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the su ...
Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
The 160,000 ha Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape of dramatic mountainous desert in north-western South Africa constitutes a cultural landscape communally owned and managed. This site sustains the semi-nomadic pastoral livelihood of the Na ...
Robben Island
Robben Island was used at various times between the 17th and 20th centuries as a prison, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups and a military base. Its buildings, particularly those of the late 20th century such as the maximum security prison f ...
Vredefort Dome
Vredefort Dome, approximately 120 km south-west of Johannesburg, is a representative part of a larger meteorite impact structure, or astrobleme. Dating back 2,023 million years, it is the oldest astrobleme yet found on Earth. With a radius of 190 km, ...