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Country Profiles
 
South Africa
 
 
Introduction  
Background:
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 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 under the Union of South Africa. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in black majority rule.
Government  
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa
former: Union of South Africa
abbreviation: RSA
Government type:
republic
Capital:
name: Pretoria (administrative capital)
geographic coordinates: 25 42 S, 28 13 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cape Town (legislative capital), Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces, Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape
Independence:
31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State), 31 May 1961 (republic declared) 27 April 1994 (majority rule)
National holiday:
Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Constitution:
10 December 1996, this new constitution was certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996, was signed by then President MANDELA on 10 December 1996, and entered into effect on 4 February 1997
Legal system:
based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law
Suffrage:
18 years of age, universal
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Assembly (400 seats, members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms) and the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms, has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities), note - following the implementation of the new constitution on 4 February 1997, the former Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution`s responsibilities have been changed somewhat by the new constitution
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held on 14 April 2004 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 69.7%, DA 12.4%, IFP 7%, UDM 2.3%, NNP 1.7%, ACDP 1.6%, other 5.3%, seats by party - ANC 279, DA 50, IFP 28, UDM 9, NNP 7, ACDP 6, other 21, National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA, seats by party - NA
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeals, High Courts, Magistrate Courts
Political parties and leaders:
African Christian Democratic Party or ACDP , African National Congress or ANC , Democratic Alliance or DA [Helen ZILLE], Freedom Front Plus or FF+ [Pieter MULDER], Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI], New National Party or NNP, Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC , United Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]
International organization participation:
ACP, AfDB, AU, BIS, C, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, NSG, OPCW, PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description:
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
Economy  
Economy - overview:
South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world, and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth has been robust since 2004, as South Africa has reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$467.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$274.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$10,600 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.2%
industry: 27%
services: 70.9% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
20.49 million economically active (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 26%
services: 65% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate:
24.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:
50% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 44.7% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
65 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
21% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $68.2 billion
expenditures: $66.7 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:
28% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products:
corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
Industries:
mining (world`s largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair
Industrial production growth rate:
6.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
264 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 93.5%
hydro: 1.1%
nuclear: 5.5%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
241.4 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - exports:
13.42 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
11.32 billion kWh (2007)
Oil - production:
200,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption:
519,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports:
217,700 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
319,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
15 million bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production:
2.11 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
2.11 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
27.16 million cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$20.06 billion (2007 est.)
Exports:
$71.52 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment
Exports - partners:
Japan 12.1%, US 11.8%, UK 9%, Germany 7.6%, Netherlands 5.3%, China 4% (2006)
Imports:
$76.59 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
Germany 12.6%, China 10%, US 7.6%, Japan 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 5.3%, UK 5% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient:
$700 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$32.98 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt - external:
$64.8 billion (30 September 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$90.4 billion (2006)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$52.35 billion (2006)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$842 billion (January 2008)
Currency (code):
rand (ZAR)
Currency code:
ZAR
Exchange rates:
rand per US dollar - 7.05 (2007), 6.7649 (2006), 6.3593 (2005), 6.4597 (2004), 7.5648 (2003)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications  
Telephones - main lines in use:
4.729 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
39.66 million (2006)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 100 telephones per 100 persons, consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops, key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international: country code - 27, the SAT-3/WASC and SAFE fiber optic cable systems connect in South Africa providing connectivity to Europe and Asia, satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios:
17 million (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:
6 million (2000)
Internet country code:
.za
Internet hosts:
1.088 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
150 (2001)
Internet users:
5.1 million (2005)
Transportation  
Airports:
728 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 146
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 51
914 to 1,523 m: 67
under 914 m: 13 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 582
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 300
under 914 m: 248 (2007)
Heliports:
1 (2007)
Pipelines:
condensate 100 km, gas 1,177 km, oil 992 km, refined products 1,379 km (2007)
Railways:
total: 20,872 km
narrow gauge: 20,436 km 1.065-m gauge (8,931 km electrified), 436 km 0.610-m gauge (2006)
Roadways:
total: 362,099 km
paved: 73,506 km (includes 239 km of expressways)
unpaved: 288,593 km (2002)
Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 28,722 GRT/32,226 DWT
by type: container 1, petroleum tanker 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Denmark 1)
registered in other countries: 6 (Bahamas 1, Seychelles 1, UK 4, unknown 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals:
Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay