South Africa

Federal Republic of South Africa
Capital: Pretoria Nationality: South African Population: 49,004,031
Currency: Rand Off. Lang: 11 Off. Lang. Area: 1,219,090 sq km
Internet DM: za GDP: $524 bill. Life Exp: 49.33 yr.
Literacy: 86.4% Location: 29 00 S, 24 00 E Calling Code: 27

South Africa is a southern African country bordered by Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique to the north, with a location of 29 00 S, 24 00 E. The total area is 1,219,090 sq km. South Africa has 11 official languages. The breakdown of her languages are as follows:IsiZulu 
(official) 23.8%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.6%, Afrikaans (official) 13.3%, Sepedi (offcial) 9.4%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.9%, Xitsonga (official) 4.4%, other 7.2%, isiNdebele (official), Tshivenda (official), siSwati (official).


South Africa has a population of 49,109,107,  with a life expectancy of 49.2 years. The population is 78.4% black  (Zulu 23.8%, Xhosa 17.6%, Pedi 9.4%, Tswana 8.2%, Sotho 7.9%, Tsonga 4.4%, Swazi 2.7%, other native African 4.4%), 9.6% white, 8.9% colored, 2.5% Asian, and 0.6% other. Religious affiliation is 11.1% Zion Christian(hybrid of Christianity and traditional ancestor worship), 8.2% Pentecostal/Charismatic, 7.1% Catholic, 6.8%  Methodist, 6.7% Dutch Reformed, 3.8% Anglican, 1.5% Muslim, 36% other Christian, 2.3% other, 1.4% unspecified,  and 15.1% none. South Africa has 87% Male versus 85.7% female literacy rate.


 Index  Value
 Mo Ibrahim Governance Index  45.8(2014)
 Corruption Perception Index  44(2014)
 Ease of Doing Business  43 (2014)
 Human Development Index  .658(2014)
 World Press Freedom  22.06(2015)


The earliest inhabitants of South Africa were the Khoisan. Later, they were joined by Bantu speakers, via the Bantu Expansion. The Nguni occupied east of the Drakensberg. The Sotho-Tswana occupied the highveld east of the Kalahari. Khoisan occupied all of the southwestern Cape. The different groups traded goods--iron, dagga, tobacco. Later, they began to trade ivory with Europeans.

In 1652, the Dutch established a permanent colony at Table Bay. During the 1700s, the Khoisans were gradually defeated by the Boers, descendants of Dutch farmers. Khoisan assumed a subordinate status in Cape Society. One also saw the rise of the Cape Coloured population, a mix of slave, Khoi, and European parentage. Boers continued their expansion. Boer expansion continued in search of land. This brought them into conflict with the densely populated Bantu speakers--Sotho, Pedi, and Xhosa ethnics, whose land they were unable to acquire, except regions depopulated by the difaqane.

At the turn of the 18th century, we see conflict among the northern Nguni polities, triggering the difaqane, disrupting southern African societies. By 1819, Shaka emerged and united Ngunis under the Zulu Empire.

In 1795, the British took over Cape Colony. The British, initially, was based in the Cape, but later took an expansionist orientation due to the discovery of diamonds, gold, and other precious mineral. They defeated the Xhosa in the 9th and final Xhosa Wars in 1878, the Pedi in 1879, the Zulus in 1887, the Boers/Afrikaners in 1902, completing the conquest of South Africa. The British proceeded to place all administrative and political power in the hands of white English and Afrikaner. Their intention was to use the black population as inexpensive labor force for mining and agriculture.

Between 1910-1940, a system of segregation called apartheid was instituted. In 1913, the Native Land Act was passed, giving white South Africans the majority of land and pushing blacks onto reserves. Black South Africans now own 7% of the land. Pass laws required black people to have an I.D. at all times. In 1936, the right to vote was curtailed. All these grievances led to the formation of the African National Congress(ANC) an Pan-African Congress (PAC), which took a passive approach to ending apartheid. In 1960, after the Sharpeville Massacre, the ANC and PAC turned to armed struggle.

During the 70s, the fight for liberation expressed itself in labor strikes where the right to organize into labor unions were given. We also saw the rise of a black consciousness movement lead by Steven Biko, that tried to regain respectability for the majority black population.

In the 80s, black South Africans succesfully boycotted white business, engaged in violent township protest. The townships were un-manageable. In 1985, the government declared a state of emergency, engaging in mass arrest and detentions. Apartheid South Africa received the condemnation of the world and her economy suffered. This spurred reform with the un-banning of the ANC and PAC and the release of Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990. In April of 1994, Mandela was elected president of South Africa.