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South Africa

Facts & Figures

Map of South Africa
  • President: Cyril Ramaphosa (2018)

    Total area: 471,008 sq mi (1,219,912 sq km)

    Population (2014 est.): 48,375,645 (growth rate: –0.48%); birth rate: 18.94/1000; infant mortality rate: 41.61/1000; life expectancy: 49.56; density per sq mi: 109.8

    Administrative capital (2011 est.): Pretoria, 1.501 million; Legislative capital and largest city: Cape Town, 3.562 million. Judicial capital: Bloemfontein, 468,000. No decision has been made to relocate the seat of government. South Africa is demarcated into nine provinces, consisting of the Gauteng, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu/Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, and Free State. Each province has its own capital.

    Other large cities: Johannesburg, 3.844 million; Ekurhuleni, 3.357 million; Durban, 3.012 million (2011).

    Monetary unit: Rand

    Current government officials

    Languages: IsiZulu 22.7%, IsiXhosa 16%, Afrikaans 13.5%, Sepedi 9.1%, English 9.6%, Setswana 8%, Sesotho 7.6%, Xitsonga 4.5%, siSwati 2.5%, Tshivenda 2.4%, isiNdebele 2.1%, other 1.6% (2011)

    Ethnicity/race: black African 79.2%, white 8.9%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5%, other 0.5% (2011)

    Religions: Zionist Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Catholic 7.1%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001)

    Literacy rate: 93% (2011 est.)

    Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013 est.): $595.7 billion; per capita $11,500. Real growth rate: 2%. Inflation: 5.8%. Unemployment: 24.9%. Arable land: 9.87%. Agriculture: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products. Labor force: 18.54 million (2013 est.); agriculture 9%, industry 26%, services 65% (2007 est.). Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair. Natural resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas. Exports: $91.05 billion (2013 est.): gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment. Imports: $99.55 billion (2013 est.): machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs. Major trading partners: U.S., Japan, Germany, China, India, Saudi Arabia (2012).

    Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 4.03 million (2012); mobile cellular: 68.4 million (2012). Radio broadcast stations: AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (2007). Radios: 17 million (2001). Television broadcast stations: 556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997). Televisions: 6 million (2000). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 4.761 million (2012). Internet users: 4.42 million (2009).

    Transportation: Railways: total: 20,192 km (2008). Highways: total: 364,131 km; paved: 62,995 km (including 254 km of expressways); unpaved: 301,136 km (2002). Ports and harbors: Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay. Airports: 566 (2013).

    International disputes: South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration; the governments of South Africa and Namibia have not signed or ratified the text of the 1994 Surveyor's General agreement placing the boundary in the middle of the Orange River.

    Major sources and definitions

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