The main characteristic of South Africa is diversity and contrast. It has been said that South Africa is a microcosm of the whole world, because no other country matches the ethnic and development profile of the world as closely as South Africa does. South Africa is a mix of ethnic groups from three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia and the heterogeneity of cultures is the most remarkable feature of South African population.
South Africa is where the first world coexists with the third world. On one hand are the cosmopolitan cities. On the other, villages without water or electricity.
On one hand, this country is the economic powerhouse of the whole continent. On the other, millions of its people live in poverty.
On one hand, South Africa is an ultra-liberal society with laws that acknowledge same-sex marriages. On the other, it is a deeply conservative, patriarchal society where traditions such as lobola (“buying” of a bride) and polygamy are still very much alive.
The ambition of this website is to present the picture of South Africa in all its variety, disparity, richness and vast possibilities.
South Africa at a glance:
- Official name: Republic of South Africa
- Area: 1.2 million sq. km. (470,462 sq. mi.).
- Terrain: Plateau, savannah, desert, mountains, coastal plains.
- Climate: moderate
- Currency: South African Rand
- Capital cities: Pretoria (administrative Capital), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)
- Population: 49.32 million (Official 2009 estimate.)
- Composition of population: black 79.7%; white 9.1%; coloured 8.8%; Asian (Indian) 2.2%. (2007 South African Census.)
- Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish. about two-thirds of South Africans are Christian, mainly Protestant. They belong to a variety of churches, including many that combine Christian and traditional African beliefs. Many non-Christians espouse these traditional beliefs. Other significant religions are Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.
- Education: All children from 7 to 15 years of age fall under compulsory education.
- Health: Infant mortality rate: 45.11 deaths per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy: 52 years for women; 49 years men. (2007 South African Census.)
- Official Language: 11 languages are recognized as official: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga.