After 80 years of white minority rule, South Africa held its first multiracial, multiparty elections in 1994. Victory for the blacks marked the symbolic overturning of long years of apartheid.
Geography: Much of the interior is grassy veld. Desert in the west and far north. Mountains east, south, and west.
Climate: Warm, temperate, and dry. Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate. Semi-arid in the west.
People and Society; The majority black population now dominates politically, but the minority white community still controls the economy. A small black middle class is growing, but unemployment among blacks remains high. Over five million people are HIV-positive, but the fight against AIDS is hampered by social attitudes. Violent crime is a problem.
The Economy: Africa’s largest, most developed economy. Leading mineral producer, notably metals, diamonds, coal. Tourism is also key. Wealth gap has widened: jobs, housing, and better access to basic services are needed to fight poverty.
Insight: Over the last century, South Africa has produced over half of the world’s gold
Official Name: Republic of South Africa
Date of Formation: 1934
Capital: Tshwane / Pretoria; Cape Town; Bloemfontein
Population: 50.1 million
Total Area: 471,008 sq. miles (1,219,912 sq. km)
Density: 106 people per sq. mile
Languages: English*, isiZulu*, isiXhosa*, Afrikaans*, 7 other official languages*
Religions: Christian 68%, animist and traditional beliefs 29%, other 3%
Ethnic Mix: Black 79%, White 10%, Mixed race 9%, Asian 2%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Rand = 100 cents