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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
South Africa General Info
South Africa General Information - TravelPuppy.com
Area

1,219,192 square kilometres (470,693 square miles)

Population

46 million (the UN estimate, 2005).

Population Density

36.8 people per square kilometre

Administrative Capital

Pretoria

Population of Pretoria

1.98 million (the 2001 official estimate).

Legislative Capital

Cape Town

Population of Cape Town

2.89 million (the 2001 official estimate).

Judicial Capital

Bloemfontein

Population of Bloemfontein

119,698 (the 2001 official estimate).

Geography:

Some key geographical facts:

The Republic of South Africa exists at the southern end of the African continent.

 It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and is surrounded to the north by Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland and totally encloses Lesotho.

  South Africa has 3 major geographical regions, namely mountains, plateau and the coastal belt.

 The high plateau has jagged escarpments which rise above the plains, or veld.

  Despite 2 major river systems, the Limpopo and the Orange, the majority of the plateau lacks surface water.

 Along the coastline are rocky coves and sandy beaches, and the vegetation is shrublike.

 The mountainous regions which run along the coastline from the Cape of Good Hope to the Limpopo Valley in the north east of South Africa are split into the Nuweveldberg, Drakensberg and Stormberg ranges.

Following the 1994 elections, South Africa was organised into 9 regions.

 The Western Cape has its provincial and national capital of Cape Town

 The Eastern Cape has its provincial capital of Bisho

 The Northern Cape has its provincial capital of Kimberley

  KwaZulu-Natal has its provincial capital of Pietermaritzburg

  The Free State has its provincial capital of Bloemfontein

  The North West Province has its provincial capital of Mmabatho

  Limpopo (formerly called the Northern Province) has its provincial capital    of Polokwane (formerly called Pietersburg)

  Mpumalanga has its provincial capital of Nelspruit

  Gauteng has its provincial capital of Johannesburg

Government

Under the terms of the new Constitution, which was assumed on 8 May 1996 and entered into force on 4 February 1997, legislative power is vested in a bicameral Parliament, consisting of a National Assembly and a National Council of Provinces (formerly the Senate).

The National Assembly is elected by universal adult suffrage under a system of relative representation and has from 350 to 400 members. The 90 member National Council of Provinces comprises 6 permanent delegates and 4 special delegates from each of the provincial legislatures. The President, who is elected by the National Assembly from among its members, uses executive power in discussion with the other members of the Cabinet.

Language

The official languages are Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, isiZulu, Sepedi, Siswati, Sesotho, Setswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

Religion

Most inhabitants practise Christianity of some form and belong to either Anglican, Catholic and other protestant denominations, African independent churches or Afrikaner Calvinist churches. There are also significant Hindu, Jewish and Muslim communities, and traditional beliefs are still practised widely, sometimes in conjunction with Christianity.

Time Zone

Greenich Mean Time (GMT) + 2.

Electricity

220 / 240 volts AC, 250 volts AC (Pretoria), 50Hz. 3 pin round plugs are in use.
Useful travel links
CIA Factbook - South Africa information on the geography, people & maps