South Africa

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Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Total population (millions): 47.4
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 59.8%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 1.07
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 1,221,040

Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Xhosas 18.3
Europeans 13.2
Pédis 9.2
Half-caste 8.9
Tswanas 7.1
Tsongas 3.7
Swazi 3.2
Asian 2.7
Vendas 2.3
Ndébélés 2.1

Main Cities Population
Cape Town 2 415 408
Durban 2 117 650
Johannesburg 1 480 530
Pretoria 1 104 479
Soweto 1 098 094
Port Elizabeth 749 921

Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Pretoria (GMT+2 ).

There are 11 Official languages in South Africa.
Besides Afrikaans and English, spoken languages are Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Venda.
Business language: English, spoken by 40% of white population.

Free translation tools
Free Afrikaans-English-Afrikaans Dictionary

Religious practises : Christians : 88,4%
Hindus : 1,9%
Sunni Muslims : 1,2%
Others : 8,5%.

Political context

South Africa (official name: Republic of South Africa) is a federal republic state based on parliamentary democracy.
President is both the chief of state and head of government. President is elected by the parliament (lower house), who usually happens to be the leader of the largest party, to serve a five-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, declares war or peace and appoints the Cabinet. President holds the executive powers that besides implementation of the law and running of the day-to-day affairs in the country, also include approval of bills and legislative amendments. Being leader of the Cabinet, President can replace any minister whenever he wishes so.
South Africa has a bicameral legislature. The parliament consists of: National Assembly (the lower house) having 400 seats, with members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms and National Council of Provinces (the upper house) having 90 seats, with 10 members elected by each of the 9 provincial legislatures for five-year terms. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. President can dissolve Parliament if a majority of the members of the National Assembly seek its dissolution and at least three years have lapsed since the last election. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. Since the end of the apartheid government in 1994, South Africa has had successful, free and fair national elections so far.
The judiciary is independent. The source of the law is the new constitution of 1997, being implemented in phases. The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law. South Africa has eleven judicial languages, which include English, Afrikaans and the nine Bantu languages.
South Africa is weakly ruled by law. The breakdown of law and order is a serious problem – a large number (couple of millions) of illegal firearms circulate in the county leading to rapes and armed robberies. Foreign nationals can largely expect impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. Corruption in the country is comparatively low as compared to other African countries, but growing concern about corruption in politics has made the government to pass necessary legislation in the parliament to control the same.

Major political parties

South Africa is a democratic but one-party dominant state with the ANC (African National Congress - a social-democratic political party formed by Nelson Mandela to fight apartheid) in power since 1994. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.
Other important parties are:
- African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) - claims to represent "Bible believing Christians"
- Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) – advocates prevention of one-part state and social justice for all
- Democratic Alliance (DA) – a liberal political party which officially opposes the ANC
- South African Communist Party (SACP) – advocates communist ideology
- United Democratic Movement (UDM) – advocates individual self-reliance, liberty and diversity

Major political leaders

President: Thabo MBEKI (since June 1999, re-elected in 2004) – ANC

Next political election dates

Presidential: April 2009
National Assembly: Year 2009
National Council of Provinces: Year 2009




The region of the Eastern plateau (Johannesburg) benefits from a dry and sunny climate over the winter (20°C in the daytime, 5°C at night) with thunderstorms in late afternoons between October and April. The Cap province, in the West, benefits from warm and dry summers (26°C), the wind often blows there causing violent storms. Winters can be cold (from 5 to 17°C) with occasional snowfalls on high summits. Along the Southern coast, the climate is temperate then tropical on the east coast when heading up North. For the same latitude, in Durban (west coast), the climate is 6°C warmer than in Port Nolloth and it is sixteen times as rainy over there.



Number of visitors in South Africa 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 6,815 7,369 8,396 25
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005


Tourist sites
-Johannesburg (Jo'burg): barely a century old, this city is by far the most important of South Africa.
-The Cap (or Kaapstad) is one of the most beautiful cities in the world: dominated by the Table Mountain, with its flat summit and vertiginous hillsides, it is surrounded by a superb mountainous landscape, prolonged with vineyards and beaches.
-The Garden Route: a superb coast, extending from Still Bay to Plettenberg Bay, in the Eastern part of the country.
-Durban: this city allies a certain holiday feeling with native flavors of India. The whole province - called Kwazulu-Natal - gathers most of the attractions sought-after when being in South Africa: the spectacular chain of Drakensberg, the distant savanna of the Veld and Zululand, in the heart of the Zulu homeland, without forgetting the long succession of subtropical beaches.
-The National Kruger Park covers the major part of low oriental Veld; it is one of the oldest and biggest reserves in the world.

For more information about tourism in South Africa , check out the following web site(s) :
South African Tourism Board


Traditional dishes
The South African culinary tradition comes from several countries worldwide and reflects, on its own, the various episodes of the South African History. Indeed, only a few African dishes are strictly of South African origin. Most recipes have been imported before being acutely adapted with the passing centuries, with local ingredients.
Biltong: meat strips often game but mostly beef, marinated in a spicy and salty preparation, then, most of the time dried in the wind and the sun. It is often served as appetizer, accompanied with a drink or as a salad or dish garnish in traditional restaurants.
Rusks / Boerebeskuit: it is called the farmers' biscuit: they are rural bread rolls cooked in open-air clay ovens.
Corn: Cooked corn is one of the South Africans' favorite dishes. Famous under the name of " mealie ", it is equally eaten on the cob or in grains.
Bobotie: Bobotie is a cheese-topped dish of minced meat spiced up with oriental spices and cooked fruits (apricots or peaches). It is covered with an egg based preparation and milk. It is oven-cooked and served with saffron rice and grapes.
Pickled Fish: one of the most famous dishes of The Cap. It is a fishy curry, prepared from a firm white fish. It is served cold.

Food-related taboos
Culinary taboos depend on the various religions present in South Africa. Moreover, there are several customs in the art of eating. For example, the Muslims wash their hands and rinse their mouth. Then the host pronounces the " Bis'millah ", which means " in the name of Allah ". The food is grabbed with the right-hand fingers but nowadays; the use of a fork and a knife is increasingly accepted.

Last modified on December 2006

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