Fast Facts

Country Name:
conventional long form:   Republic of South Africa
conventional short form:  South Africa

Capital: Pretoria

Currency: Rand (ZAR)

Geographic Coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E

Area:
- total: 1,219,090 sq km
- land: 1,214,470 sq km
- water: 4,620 sq km
note:  includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

Coastline: 2,798 km

Terrain: Vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Natural Resources: Gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

Land use:
- arable land: 12.1%
- permanent crops: 0.79%
- other: 87.11% (2005)

Population: 49,052,489 (July 2009 est)

Nationality: South African(s)

Ethnic groups:
Black African 79%, White 9.6%, Colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

Religions:
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)

Languages:
English 45%, IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census)

Literacy:
Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 86.4%
Male: 87%
Female: 85.7% (2003 est.)

Government
Government Type: Republic

Independence: 31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared) 27 April 1994 (majority rule)

National Holiday: Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

Constitution: 10 December 1996; note - certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996; was signed by then President MANDELA on 10 December 1996; and entered into effect on 4 February 1997

Legal System: based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Branches:
Chief of state: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
Elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
Election results: Jacob ZUMA elected president; National Assembly vote - Jacob ZUMA 277, Mvume DANDALA 47, other 76

Legislative:
bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities) and the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms); note - following the implementation of the new constitution on 4 February 1997, the former Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution's responsibilities have been changed somewhat by the new constitution
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held on 22 April 2009 (next to be held in April 2014)
election results: National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 65.9%, DA 16.7%, COPE 7.4%, IFP 4.6%, other 5.4%; seats by party - ANC 264, DA 67, COPE 30, IFP 18, other 21

Judicial: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts

Flag description: two equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band that splits into a horizontal Y, the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side; the Y embraces a black isosceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes; the flag colors do not have any official symbolism, but the Y stands for the "convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity"; black, yellow, and green are found on the flag of the African National Congress, while red, white, and blue are the colors in the flags of the Netherlands and the UK, whose settlers ruled South Africa during the colonial era
Note: the South African flag is the only national flag to display six colors as part of its primary design

Communication and Transportation
Telephone - main lines in use: 4.425 million (2008)

Telephone - mobile cellular: 45 million (2008)

Telephone country code: 27

Internet country code: .za

Source ofthese Fast Facts: www.cia.gov