Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa.
Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, and Zimbabwe 225 km.
Size 1,219,912 sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US. The country is mostly semi-arid, but sub-tropical along the east coast with sunny days and cool nights. South Africa's terrain consists of a vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and a narrow coastal plain. Its lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean at 0 m, the highest point is Njesuthi at 3,408 m.
Almost 43 million people live in South Africa. Life expectancy is around 44 years. Birth rate is on average 2.18 per woman. 20% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS. Literacy rate is just over 86%.
11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.
Black 75.2%, White 13.6%, Colored 8.6%, Indian 2.6%.
Christian 68% (includes most whites and Coloreds, about 60% of blacks and about 40% of Indians), Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5% (60% of Indians), indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%.
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). The resulting Union of South Africa operated under a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically and ushered in black majority rule.
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 ranks among the 10 largest in the world; and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to lower South Africa's high unemployment rate; and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. High crime and HIV/AIDS infection rates also deter investment. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting inflation and liberalizing trade as means to increase job growth and household income.
Source: CIA World Factbook
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