Important facts you should know about South Africa
As its name implies, South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. In fact, the southernmost point of the African continent, Cape Agulhas (about 150 kilometers east of the ‘Cape of Good Hope’), is in South Africa.
South Africa borders the Republics of Bostwana, Zimbabwe and Namibia to the north. To the east, South Africa borders the Republic of Mozambique and the Kingdom of Swaziland (South Africa almost completely surrounds Swaziland). Although Lesotho is a neighbouring country, the Republic of Lesotho is an enclave surrounded by South African territory.
The Republic of South Africa has a total land area of about 1,219,090 square kilometres, which is covered by water) with about 2,798km of coastline.
The Republic of South Africa has a total population of about 57.5 million people with the population growth rate hovering around 1.6%.
About 62% of South Africa’s population lives in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Pretoria (the administrative capital which contains about 2.3 million people and has an urban growth rate of 2.97%). Johannesburg (South Africa’s economic powerhouse) is also the largest city by population size, according to recent statistics. Johannesburg has an estimated urban population of 10.1 million people with annual growth rate of 2.14%. Cape Town (the second most populous city in South Africa, according to UN projections) has an estimated population of 3.78 million people as of 2018.
South Africa, also known as the “Rainbow Nation”, is a multi-racial country with a beautiful blend of several ethnic and racial groups. Black Africans make up about 79% of the total population. Whites (English and Dutch, among others) make up about 9.6% of the total population. Coloured people (mixed) make up about 8.9%. Asians (mostly Indians) form about 2.5% of the total population.
There are several religious and denominational groups in South Africa today. Protestants make up about 36.6% of the total population (this includes Zionist Christians 11.1%, Pentecostals and Charismatics 8.2%, Methodists 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7% and Anglican 3.8%) and Catholics 7.1%. Other Christian groups (including Adventists) together make up about 36% of the total population. Muslims are about 1.5% of the total population. Other religious groups together make up about 2.3% of the population with the unspecified and none religious people forming about 16.5% of the total population.
Although just about 8.2% of the population do speak English Language, English isn’t the only official language in South Africa. There are about 10 other official languages written and spoken in South Africa today. Official records show that about 23.82% of the total population speak Zulu, 17.64% speak Xhosa, and 13.35% speak and write Afrikaans. Other languages include Sepedi (9.39%), Setswana (8.2%), Sesotho (7.93%), Xitsonga (4.44%), Swati (2.66%), Tshivenda (2.28%) and Ndebele (1.59%).
South Africa is the most advanced nation in Africa today. The country is blessed with abundant natural resources such as gold, gem, diamond, copper, chromium, antimony, platinum, uranium, coal, iron ore, manganese, vanadium, nickel, phosphates, tin, salt, rare earth elements and natural gas, among others.
The Republic of South Africa has a literacy rate of about 86.4% (one of the highest on the continent) which implies that about 86.4% of the total South African population above the age of 15 can at least read and write—which is far better than findings from most African countries today. However, quality education is very hard to come by in some places (especially the rural communities) in South Africa.
Despite being the most advanced country in Africa today (with a good literacy rate and abundance of natural resources), millions of people (Black, White, coloured etc) continue to live in poverty and despair across South Africa today. It is worse especially at the outskirts of big cities and towns 9in places like Soweto, a lower-class-populated urban area of the city of Johannesburg). Although the end of Apartheid (one of the most racist systems of government the world has ever seen) has brought so much improvement in the lives of millions across the country, the number of people (black, white and brown South Africans) living under the international poverty line, has sadly remained very high especially in the rural and sub-urban communities. Millions of South Africans feel left out by the current administration.
South Africa has an HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate of about 18.9% (one of the highest in the world today). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 7.1 million people were living with HIV in 2016. There were about 270,000 new HIV infections with about 110,000 AIDS-related officially recorded deaths in 2016. Although South Africa has the largest antiretroviral treatment (ART) program in the world, only about 56% of adults (infected) were on antiretroviral treatment in 2016.
Although living conditions in South Africa are generally better than in most other African countries , the Republic of South Africa, despite a recent drop in crime rates, has one of the highest crime rates in the world today with several violent crimes (such as robbery, rape and murder) recorded every single day. Just like in America, Brazil, and other racially-charged communities around the globe, racism and discrimination continue to threaten several lives and properties in South Africa today. Also, xenophobia, the intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries, is sadly on the rise in South Africa today.
Just like in most African countries, illiteracy and ignorance, corruption and poor governance, among others, continue to tear South Africa apart. Nelson Mandela’s dream of an “ideal” and “free” society, is far from reality in today’s South Africa.