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The word South Africa has derived from the name given by the British to Cape Colony.

Fact File

Area: 1,219,090 sq km

Capital: Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial)

Currency: South African Rand (ZAR – Zuid African Rand)

Population: 49 million

Languages: IsiZulu (official) 23.8%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.6%, Afrikaans (official) 13.3%, Sepedi (official) 9.4%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.9%, Xitsonga (official) 4.4%, other 7.2%, IsiNdebele (official), Tshivenda (official), IsiSwati (official) (2001 census)

Brief History: Dutch traders, also known as the Boers, founded the city of Cape Town in 1652. In 1806 the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area, and the Boers began to trek northwards. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886 led to great wealth and turmoil in the region, and the black natives paid the heavy price of becoming nomads in their own country.  The British triumphed in the Boer War (1899-1902), but carved up the land into British and Afrikaner (Boer) territories,  in the Union of South Africa which was formed in 1910. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. Nelson Mandela became the first President of the Republic of South Africa.

Politics: Multi-party democracy. President Jacob Zuma is Chief of State and Head of Govt since 2005. The Vice President is Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, who is also President of Zanzibar.

Geography: South Africa is situated on the southern coast of Africa. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and surrounds Lesotho and Swaziland.

People: Black African 79%, White 9.6%, Colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census).
Religion: Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census).

Cape Town: One of the most scenic cities in the world, thanks to the backdrop of Table Mountain (the highest mountain on the sea in the world), Cape Town’s history dates back to long before the Dutch East India Company set base here in 1652. Owing to slave labour sourced by the Company from different parts of the world, the population of the city today is a mix of ethnicities which adds to its charm and that of the Rainbow Nation, as South Africa is also called. There is no outdoor activity that does not find its way here whether it be sky diving, rock climbing, surfing, shark diving or anything else. Plus it offers vast open spaces and wonderful views of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life in prison, is located just a short boat ride from Cape Town.

Johannesburg Known by many names – Josy, Joeys, Joburg, eGoli – this is South Africa’s largest city and the world’s largest city (area 2500 sq km / pop 6 million) not on a lake, river or ocean. Joburg’s meteoric rise from obscurity to Africa’s most cosmopolitan city was the accidental discovery of gold in 1886.  Notwithstanding its reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, despite hosting the planet’s best known sporting events like the Fifa World Cup in 2010, it is the financial capital of Africa. It is said that 1 sq mile of Sandton area contributes significantly to the entire continent’s GDP. Joburg is situated just a few miles north east of Soweto, where the first uprising against the apartheid regime took place in 1976.

South Africa Flag: SA flag

According to official South African government information, the South African flag is a synopsis of principal elements of the country's flag history. Although different people may attribute personal symbolism to the individual colours or colour combinations, no universal symbolism is attached to any of the colours. The only symbolism in the flag is the V or Y shape, which can be interpreted as "the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity.

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