Official name: Republic of South Africa
Form of state: A federal state, comprising a national government and nine provincial governments.
Legal system: Based on Roman-Dutch law and the 1996 Constitution.
Population (Census 2011): 51.77-million
Measures: metric system
Currency: One rand (R) = 100 cents
Time: Two hours ahead of GMT
Internet domain: .za
Area: 1 219 090 square kilometres
Agriculture: 81.6% of total land area
Arable land: 12.1% of total
Irrigated land: 10.15% of arable land
The country lies between 22 and 35 south, flanked on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the Indian Ocean, whose waters meet at the country's and Africa's most southern tip, Cape Agulhas.
The coastline stretches 2798 kilometres from a desert border in the northwest, down the icy Skeleton Coast to Cape Agulhas, then up along the green hills and wide beaches on the coast of the Indian Ocean, to a border with subtropical Mozambique in the northeast.
Cape Town (legislative)
The culture of South Africa is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity. The South African majority still has a substantial number of rural inhabitants who lead largely impoverished lives. It is among these people, however, that cultural traditions survive most strongly; as South Africans have become increasingly urbanized and Westernised, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Urban South Africans usually speak English or Afrikaans in addition to their native language. There are smaller but still significant groups of speakers of Khoisan languages, not included in the eleven official languages, but are one of the eight other officially recognised languages. There are small groups of speakers of endangered languages, most of which are from the Khoisan family, that receive no official status; however, some groups within South Africa are attempting to promote their use and revival.
Members of middle class, who are predominantly white but whose ranks include growing numbers of people of colour, have lifestyles similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australia. Members of the middle class often study and work abroad for greater exposure to the markets of the world.
Indian South Africans preserve their cultural heritage, languages and religious beliefs, being either Christian, Hindu or Muslim and speaking English, with Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil or Gujaratibeing spoken less frequently as second languages. The first Indians arrived on the Truro ship as indentured labourers in Natal to work the Sugar Cane Fields, while the rest arrived as traders. A post-apartheid wave of South Asian (including Pakistani) immigration has also influenced South African Indian culture. There is a much smaller Chinese South African community, made up of early immigrants, apartheid-era immigrants fromTaiwan, and post-apartheid immigrants from mainland China.
20 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SA
You might know already that South Africa has 11 official languages and was the recent host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but here are 20 lesser known facts about this friendly and fascination country.
South Africa is now the only country in the world to have hosted the Soccer , Cricket and Rugby World Cup!
Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and one of the planet’s 12 main energy centres, radiating magnetic, electric or spiritual energy.
The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms – and the only one which is wholly contained within a single country.
Some countries have deserts; some have subtropical forests, right? South Africa has: deserts, wetlands, grasslands, bush, subtropical forests, mountains and escarpments.
South Africa’s drinking water is rated 3rd best in the world for being “safe and ready to drink”.
Water is not all there is to drink in this thirsty country! South Africa’s Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers. Included in the Cape Winelands region is Route 62, considered the longest wine route in the world. That alone is good reason to visit South Africa if you haven’t yet been!
What about beer? South African brewery SABMiller ranks – by volume – as the largest brewing company in the world. Saffers love their beer…but the real reason the brewery is so big? SABMiller also supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.
South Africa is the only country in the entire world that has voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons programme.
The world’s largest themed resort hotel in the world – The Palace of the Lost City– is found in South Africa. Surrounding the Palace is a 25 hectare manmade botanical jungle with almost 2 million plants, trees and shrubs.
South Africa is extremely rich in mining and minerals and considered the world’s leader with nearly 90% of all the platinum metals on earth and around 41% of all the world’s Gold!
South Africa is home to the oldest meteor scar in the world – the Vredefort Dome in a town called Parys. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The South African Rovos Rail is considered the most luxurious train in the world.
South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 710 feet.
General Motors South Africa is the only place outside of the USA to build the Hummer H3!
Despite the country’s status as a democratic republic, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal has a monarchy, specially provided for by the Constitution. Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu is the King of the Zulu Nation, has 27 kids and 6 wives and lives, literally, like a King!
There are more than 2000 shipwrecks off the South African coast, most dating back at least 500 years.
The oldest remains of modern humans were found in South Africa and are well over 160,000 years old.
The Karoo region in the Western Cape is home to some of the best fossils of early dinosaurs. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of the mammalian fossils found to date were found in the Karoo.
SA has three capital cities: Pretoria is the Executive Capital, Cape Town the Legislative Capital and Bloemfontein the judicial Capital.
Can you think of any other place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street? Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.