South Africa is located in
the southern part of Africa, at the southern tip of the continent
of Africa, and borders Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
How far is
South Africa from your place? The area
of South Africa is 1,233,404 square kilometers. The land consists of a vast interior plateau,
the highveld, rimmed by rugged hills, the great enscrapment at its edge, the Kalahari Basin,
and a narrow coastal plain, the lowveld. The bodies of water that are near are the Indian Ocean,
and the Atlantic Ocean.
The climate is mostly semiarid; subtropical along the east coast with
sunny days, and cool nights; the climate north of the coast from the Cape becomes progressively
hotter and drier, culminating in the desert region just south of Namibia. Along the south
coast, the climate is temperate, but the east coast becomes increasingly tropical the farther
north you go.
The population of South Africa is about 41 million people. People usually live in small mud
houses with straw roofs, or if you are a traveller, you can stay in a hotel. People have jobs
in the country's industries which are mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold,
chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals,
fertilizer, and food processing. For transportation, South Africans have the airlines, bus
charters, cars, cruises, ferries, motorcycles, and trains. South Africa's telephone system is
the best developed and most modern in Africa; South Africans also have radios, computers and TV.
South Africans speak 11 different official languages including English, Afrikaans,
Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu. South Africa has several different religions which are
Christian, (68% including most whites and blacks, as well as about 40% of Indians), Muslim (2%),
Hindu, (1.5% including 60% of Indians), indigenous beliefs, and animist (28.5%). South Africans
age 15 and over can read and write. Some of the holidays people in South Africa celebrate are
the Day of Vow, the Day of Reconciliation, Soweto Day, Youth Day, National Arts Festival. Arts
Alive Festival, Jacaranda festival, and the Pretoria Show.
The government is a republic
and is an independent member of the Commonwealth. The president is Thabo Mbeki; the president
is both the chief of state and head of government, and is elected by the National Assembly for
a five-year term. Thabo Mbeki was elected president last June 2, 1999 by acclamation with 100%
percent of National Assembly vote.
By Michael MacDonald