South Africa: The Rainbow Nation



South Africa

Anthem National anthem of South Africa
Watch on youtube (with lyrics)
Pretoria (executive) / Bloemfontein (judicial) / Cape Town (legislative)
Largest city Johannesburg
Official language(s)
Sepedi / Sesotho / Setswana / siSwati / Tshivenda / Xitsonga / Afrikaans / English / isiNdebele / isiXhosa / isiZulu
Ethnic groups
79.3% Black / ~ 9.1% White / ~ 9.0% Coloured / ~ 2.6% Asian
Demonym South African
Government Constitutional democracy
Area 1,221,037 km2, 471,443 sq mi
Population ~ 49 million
Currency Rand (ZAR)
Internet TLD .za


South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is one of the 54 states of the African continent. Africa is the world's second-largest and second most-populous continent after Asia. South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa and is the 25th-largest country in the world. It has a 2,798 kilometre (1,739 mi) coastline on the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. To the north lie Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho, which is an independent country, is wholly surrounded by South African territory.
South Africa
South Africa has three capital cities: Cape Town, the largest of the three, is the legislative capital; Pretoria is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. The largest city in South Africa is Johannesburg with 8,837,000 inhabitants. Cape Town, the legislative capital, is the second largest city in South Africa with 3,653,000 inhabitants.

Society and culture

South Africa is known for its diversity of cultures and languages. It may be argued that there is no single South African culture because of its ethnic diversity. Today, the diversity in foods from many cultures is enjoyed by all and especially marketed to tourists. In addition to food, music and dance feature prominently.


South Africa is ethnically diverse. About 79.5% of the South African population is of black African ancestry. This 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. South Africa also contains the largest European, Indian and racially-mixed communities in Africa. About a quarter of the population is unemployed and lives on less than US $1.25 a day. Members of the middle class are predominantly white but also include growing numbers of black, coloured and Indian people.


South Africa has eleven official languages. According to the 2001 National Census, the three most-widely spoken first languages are Zulu (23.8%), Xhosa (17.6%) and Afrikaans (13.3%). Two of the eleven languages are of European origin: Afrikaans, a language which originated mainly from Dutch is spoken by the majority of white and coloured South Africans, and South African English. Though English has a large role in public and commercial life, it is nevertheless only the fifth most-widely spoken home language.


South Africa has a wide mix of religions. Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of South Africa's population. According to the 2001 National Census, Christians accounted for 79.7% of the population. Muslims accounted for 1.5% of the population, Hindus for about 1.3% and Judaism for 0.2%. 15.1% have no religious affiliation, 2.3% have other religious beliefs and 1.4% were unspecified.

Government and politics

South Africa used to be divided into British and Dutch colonies. The country finally became a republic in 1961. The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law. The country has a bicameral parliament: the National Council of Provinces (the upper house) has 90 members, while the National Assembly (the lower house) has 400 members. Elections for both chambers are held every five years. The government is formed in the National Assembly, which is the lower house. The leader of the majority party in the National Assembly is the President. Since 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) has been the dominant party in South Africa.


South Africa is a well-developed middle-income country. As of 2008, it was ranked 25th in the world in terms of GDP. Advanced development is significantly localised around the main cities. Beyond these economic centres, development is low and poverty is still widespread. South African exports include corn, diamonds, fruits, gold, metals and minerals, sugar, and wool. Imports include for example machinery and transportation equipment. The country is the largest energy producer and consumer on the continent. Being a popular tourist destination, a substantial amount of income comes from tourism.

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