Republic of South Africa

Facts about Republic of South Africa

We found 34 facts about Republic of South Africa

A country with three cities as its capital

South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is inhabited by a multi-ethnic society encompassing many different cultures, languages, and religions, which is why it is often referred to as the "rainbow nation". It is a country of wonderful nature, where there is an independent plant state, where you can admire the highest African waterfall and the famous "Big Five of Africa". But it is also a place where, despite gold and diamond deposits, many people live in great poverty and crime is commonplace.

Republic of South Africa
South Africa, South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa.

To the south, the country is bounded by 2798 km of coastline stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), and Lesotho, which is also an enclave of South Africa.

The country's area is 1.219.912 square kilometers.

South Africa is the 24th largest country in the world. It is about the same size as Colombia, twice the size of France, three times the size of Japan, four times the size of Italy, and five times the size of Great Britain. It has a population of 56.978.635 and is the 23rd most populous country in the world.

South Africa has three capitals: Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town.
  • Pretoria, which owes its name to Andries Pretorius, a Boer leader who played a key role in the creation of South Africa, is sometimes called "Jacaranda City" because of the thousands of jacaranda trees planted along its streets, parks, and gardens. The city is the seat of the executive power, and all foreign embassies in South Africa are also located here.
  • Bloemfontein, also known as Bloem and the "city of roses", is South Africa's seventh largest city. It is the seat of the country's judiciary - the judicial capital of South Africa, where the Supreme Court of Appeal is located. The city hosts an annual rose festival.
  • Cape Town - is the oldest and second-largest city in South Africa, after Johannesburg. The legislative authority - the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa - has its seat here. The city is famous for its port along some of the world's busiest trade routes, as well as for landmarks such as Table Mountain (flat-topped) and Cape Point, a promontory on the southeastern tip of the Cape Peninsula.
The country's largest city is Johannesburg.

The city is colloquially known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold". It is classified as a Megacity (a very large city, usually with a population of over 10 million people) and is one of the 100 largest urban areas in the world. It has 14.167.000 inhabitants and is ranked 26th in the world in this respect. Johannesburg is the seat of the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa. Most major South African companies and banks are also based here. It is the center of large-scale gold and diamond trading.

About 80% of South Africans are of Black African descent, divided into different ethnic groups speaking different African languages.

The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (white South Africans), Asian (Indian and Chinese South Africans), and multiracial (Colored South Africans - a multiracial ethnic group from South Africa whose ancestors come from more than one of the population living in this region).

There are approximately 5 million illegal immigrants living in South Africa, including approximately 3 million Zimbabweans.

The refugee and asylum seeker population in South Africa in 2007 was approximately 144.700 people.

South Africa has 11 official languages.

These are: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Siswati, isiNdebele, Sesotho, Pedi, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda and isiXhosa. In this respect, South Africa ranks fourth after Bolivia, India, and Zimbabwe. It is estimated that approximately 0.7% of the black and 59.1% of the white population speak Afrikaans daily. English is spoken as a native language by 0.5% of the black population and 39.3% of the white population. English is widely understood and used for communication between different ethnic groups.

In 2016, 78% of South Africans declared their religious affiliation to Christianity.

Most of them are members of various Protestant denominations (broadly defined as syncretic churches initiated in Africa). The rest identify with traditional tribal religion (4.4%), Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha'i faith, or do not practice any religion. Judaism is also present in South Africa. The Jewish population there is descended from European Jews who arrived as a minority among other European settlers. This population peaked in the 1970s at 120.000. Today only about 67.000 remain, the rest emigrating to Israel. Despite this, South Africa's Jewish community is the twelfth largest in the world.

South Africa is the most populous country located completely south of the equator.

It is also the southernmost country of the Old World (Africa, Europe, and Asia).

South Africa is a parliamentary republic in which the president is both head of state and head of government.

It is a federal state divided into nine provinces.

South Africa is considered a tolerant country towards minorities, including sexual ones.

Since 1996, sexual orientation has been one of the categories protected against discrimination in the country's constitution - South Africa is the first country in the world to include such a provision in its constitution.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006.

The country was the first country in Africa and the fifth in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Moreover, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are not excluded from military service because of their sexual orientation.

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that has never experienced a coup.

However, regular elections have been held there for almost a century.

The vast majority of black South Africans did not have the right to vote until 1994.

Until the mid-1990s, the Republic of South Africa was dominated by a political system of totalitarian ideology that proclaimed the need for separate development of communities of different races - apartheid. It was based on racial segregation, on the belief in the superiority of the white race, and discriminated against black and colored people. In 1968, it was recognized by the United Nations as a crime against the population.

In 1949, a law was introduced prohibiting mixed marriages.

In 1950, a law was introduced prohibiting sexual contact between representatives of different races. Apartheid imposed a classification of all inhabitants into "white", "black" and "colored", later a fourth category was added - "Asian" (it mainly referred to Indians). The apartheid system in 1950 gave the Japanese the status of "Honorary White Race", which was later extended to almost all Asian nations. In the 1950s, a law was passed assigning separate residential and commercial zones to individual races. It resulted in the forced displacement of 3.5 million black South Africans to the provinces. All non-white people were forced to carry special books entitling them to stay in a given area. There was also segregation in education - blacks were to be educated only to become manual workers. Compulsory schooling was abolished for non-whites. Racially defined occupational categories were created, and regions inhabited by blacks were called Bantustans, and their inhabitants were deprived of South African citizenship.

The symbol of the fight against apartheid was Nelson Mandela, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1962 for his activities on behalf of the black community.

The dismantling of the apartheid system began in the 1990s. The new government began reforms in the country by releasing Nelson Mandela, who in 1994, as a result of the first general elections in the country's history, was elected the first black president of South Africa. A year earlier, in 1993, Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize.

South Africa is often referred to as the "rainbow nation" to describe the country's multicultural diversity, especially in the wake of apartheid.

Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have had political representation in the country.

South Africa is a developing country, ranking 114th on the Human Development Index.

The World Bank has classified South Africa as a Newly Industrialized Country (NIC), with the second largest economy in Africa and the 35th largest in the world. The country is an upper-middle power in international affairs; it maintains significant regional influence and is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and the G20. However, poverty, crime, and inequality are still widespread, and about 1/4 of the population is unemployed and lives on less than $1.25 a day.

South Africa has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.

South Africa has ten such facilities.

South Africa has some of the world's oldest archaeological sites and human fossils.

Archaeologists have discovered such fossils in a series of caves in Gauteng province. This area, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, has been called the "Cradle of Humanity". These sites include Sterkfontein - one of the richest places in the world for hominin fossils, Swartkrans, Gondolin Cave, Kromdraai, Coopers Cave, and Malapa. The first hominin fossil discovered in Africa was a Taung baby in 1924. Taken together, the discoveries in South Africa suggest that various species of hominids (a family of primates in the anthropoid superfamily) have existed there for about three million years, starting with Australopithecus africanus.

The first inhabitants of modern South Africa were the Bushmen, also called San - a negroid people, showing some features of the yellow race.

They came here in the 1st century BC. In the 1st century AD, the Khoikhoi arrived here, and from the 9th century, Bantu tribes (ethnic groups from the steppes of central and southern Africa) arrived here. The first Europeans appeared there in the 15th century, and colonization began in the 17th century, when Dutch peasants, known in Europe as Boers, began to arrive there, followed by German Protestants and French Huguenots. From the beginning, whites separated themselves from Africans. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the colony established by the Dutch in the Cape of Good Hope was taken over by the British, who began British settlement there.

In 1834, slavery was abolished in what is now South Africa.

In 1961, the Republic of South Africa was proclaimed, finally cutting the ties between the country and Great Britain.

The interior of South Africa consists of a vast, in most places almost flat plateau called the High Weld, which ranges in height from 1000 to 2100 m.

The plateau is highest in the east and slopes gently towards the west and north. It is surrounded by the Great Escarpment, the eastern, highest part of which is called Drakensberg. The southern and western parts of the plateau and the adjacent plain known as the Great Karoo (a semi-arid area) are sparsely populated. In the north, the Great Karoo passes into the even drier Bushmanland, which eventually becomes the Kalahari Desert in the northwest of the country. The central-eastern and highest part of the plateau - the Highveld, is a well-watered area with arable fields and the largest agglomerations (Gauteng).

The highland terrain contributed to the creation of many caves, and deep river valleys divided the country into several mountain ranges, the highest of which are the Drakensberg Mountains.

The highest point of this range is Mount Thabana Ntlenyana (3482 m above sea level) located in Lesotho. The highest peak in South Africa is Mafadi (3,450 m above sea level), located on the border of South Africa and Lesotho, in the Drakensberg Mountains.

The southernmost area of Africa is Cape Agulius, where two oceans meet: the Atlantic and Indian.

Most of South Africa's rivers have their source in the Drakensberg Mountains. The longest of them is Oranje, 1860 km long.

South Africa is a region of high biodiversity, both on land and in the sea.

The country ranks sixth among the world's seventeen megadiverse countries.

The vegetation of the south of the country is very original floristically, which is why there is an independent plant state called Capensis.

Cape Capensis is the smallest floristic state in the world. It covers an area of approximately 85 thousand square kilometers at the southern tip of South Africa. This place is characterized by an extremely rich flora, numbering over 8500 species. Very numerous are represented, among others: geraniums (2300 species) and geraniums (2500 species). From Capensis comes the genus Lithops, whose representatives are called living stones. Among the species found there, as many as 73% are endemic.

The cape flora does not contain any economically important plants, but over 1000 species of ornamental plants come from there.

These include, among others: clivia, geranium, gerbera, gladiolus, amaryllis, freesia, and numerous crassulaceae plants. The dominant plant formation there is sclerophyllous thickets (fynbos - the equivalent of maquis).

In South Africa you can meet the first three largest mammals: the African elephant, the white rhinoceros, and the Nile hippopotamus.

There is also the tallest mammal - the giraffe, the fastest - the cheetah, and the smallest in the world - the little shrew. The largest and most dangerous land mammals are the black rhinoceros, the African buffalo, the elephant, the leopard, and the lion.

There are over 800 species of birds in South Africa.

Among them, there is the largest - the ostrich, and the heaviest flying - the great bustard. Small birds from the passerine order - weavers - build gigantic, city-like colonies, and the red-eyed falcon is the smallest bird of prey in the world. In the Cape of Good Hope area, approximately 170.000 wild penguins were counted and are under strict protection.

Of South Africa's nearly 55 million population, 10% are HIV positive.

Every third man living in South Africa admits to committing rape.

There are 18 national parks in South Africa.

One of them is the Kruger National Park, established in 1898, covering an area of over 2 million hectares. Many rivers are flowing along the entire park, including Sabie, Limpopo, and Letaba. In the park you can meet, among others: The "Big Five of Africa" (African lion, spotted leopard, African buffalo, black rhinoceros, African elephant) and the maned cheetah, Chapman's zebra, common impalas, brown-tailed ostriches. There are 300 species of trees there.

In South Africa, there is the highest waterfall in Africa - Tugela, on the river of the same name.

Its height is 948 m and it is the second-highest waterfall in the world.

One of the elements of the emblem of South Africa is the royal protea (Protea cynaroides) - a species of plant from the silver family.

The red king protea is the national flower of South Africa.

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