Brief History of South Africa:South Africa has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. Early on in its history, the Bantu tribes migrated to the area. Many of the people that live in South Africa today speak some form of Bantu language.
The first Europeans to come to South Africa were the Portuguese in 1488. It was many years later, however, in 1652 when the Dutch East India Company established a small settlement at the Cape of Good Hope. Many more Europeans moved in over time including Germans, French, and Dutch settlers. These people became known as the Afrikaners.
In 1849 the National Party was voted into power. They started a policy called apartheid. This was where people were separated based on their race. Particularly white people and black people were separated and the white people ruled the land. In 1961, South Africa became an independent nation.
The African National Congress pushed for the end to apartheid and the equal treatment of black South Africans. Nelson Mandela was a leader of the ANC. He spent 27 years in prison while fighting for equal rights. In 1994 apartheid was abolished and black people were allowed to vote.
The Geography of South AfricaTotal Size: 1,219,912 square km
Size Comparison: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Geographical Coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E
World Region or Continent: Africa
General Terrain: vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Geographical Low Point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Geographical High Point: Njesuthi 3,408 m
Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights
Major cities: Johannesburg 3.607 million; Cape Town 3.353 million; Ekurhuleni (East Rand) 3.144 million; Durban 2.837 million; PRETORIA (capital) 1.404 million (200
The People of South AfricaType of Government: republic
Languages Spoken: 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)
Independence: 31 May 1910 (from UK); note - South Africa became a republic in 1961 following an October 1960 referendum
National Holiday: Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Nationality: South African(s)
Religions: Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, other Christian 36%, Islam 1.5%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)
National Symbol: springbok antelope
National Anthem or Song: National Anthem of South Africa
Economy of South AfricaMajor Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair
Agricultural Products: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
Natural Resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas
Major Exports: gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment
Major Imports: machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs
Currency: rand (ZAR)
National GDP: $555,000,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
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