South Africa

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Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans)
Republic of South Africa (English)
Riphabliki yeSewula Africa (isiNdebele)
IRiphabliki yaseMzantsi Africa (isiXhosa)
IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Africa (isiZulu)
Rephaboliki ya Africa Borwa (Northern Sotho)
Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa (Sesotho)
Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa (Setswana)
IRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Africa (Siswati)
Riphabuḽiki ya Afurika Tshipembe (Tshivenda)
Riphabliki ra Africa Dzonga (Xitsonga)
Republic of South Africa
Flag of south africa
South Africa coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : !ke e: |xarra ǁke
( 1 = |Xam language for combines various peoples )
Official language Afrikaans , English , South Ndebele , isiXhosa , isiZulu , North Sotho , Sesotho , Setswana , Siswati , Tshivenda , Xitsonga
Capital Executive: Pretoria
Legislative: Cape Town
Judicial: Bloemfontein
Seat of government Pretoria
State and form of government Federal republic with executive power bound by parliament
Head of state , also head of government President Cyril Ramaphosa
surface 1,221,037 km²
population 59,622,350 (2020, June 30)
Population density 48.83 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.3% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 351 billion ( 38th )
  • $ 762 billion ( 33rd )
  • 5,978 USD ( 99. )
  • 12,962 USD ( 104. )
Human Development Index 0.709 ( 114th ) (2019)
currency Edge (ZAR)
independence May 31, 1910 ( Dominion )
December 11, 1931 ( formal )
May 31, 1961 (from the United Kingdom )
National anthem National Anthem of South Africa
Time zone UTC + 2
License Plate ZA
ISO 3166 ZA , ZAF, 710
Internet TLD .za
Phone code +27
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The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is a state in southern Africa . It is the most developed economic area on the African continent. South Africa borders the Indian Ocean to the south and southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west . In the north are the neighboring states of Namibia , Botswana and Zimbabwe , to the northeast Mozambique and to the east Eswatini . The Kingdom of Lesotho is enclosed as an enclave by South Africa.

The Republic of South Africa has three capitals: the government sits in Pretoria , the parliament in Cape Town and the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein . The largest metropolises in the country by population are Johannesburg (as a metropolitan municipality ) and Cape Town (as a metropolitan municipality ). English is the lingua franca of the country, Afrikaans and nine Bantu languages ​​are also official languages. The University of Cape Town is considered loud THE -Report as best university in Africa, the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria is one of the largest universities in the continent.

South Africa (RSA) is the only African country to belong to the G20 economic powers and is one of the five BRICS countries . The seat of the Parliament of the African Union is in Johannesburg- Midrand . South Africa is one of the founding members of the United Nations .


The Republic of South Africa is a culturally diverse country in which people of several ethnicities live and which is often referred to as the "rainbow nation" because of this diversity. Since the different population groups did not always live and live next to one another without conflict, complex problems and unrest in the course of history burdened the relationship, for example, between the non-European majority population and the European (“white”) immigrants and their descendants born in the country, but also between different nationalities within these groups defined during apartheid with serious effects on the history and politics of the country. The Khoisan - indigenous people , the isolated in remains still as hunter-gatherers living, is now largely marginalized .

The Nasionale Party , a party of Afrikaans- speaking Europeans - mostly of Dutch, but also partly of German or French descent - redesigned all areas of South African society according to the programmatic principle of "separate development" it advocated as a result of its election victory in 1948 . However, this development had already started under the British and Boer- oriented state governments and was officially declared state policy until shortly after the election of the moderate and willing President Frederik Willem de Klerk . The turning point in politics began in 1990. It was the result of years of struggle by the disadvantaged majority of the population under political leaders such as Nelson Mandela and was largely peaceful. The parliamentary elections of 1994 brought for the first time equal voting rights for all citizens and fundamentally changed political life in the country.

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa in which non-European official languages ​​are given such a great deal of freedom and no coup has yet taken place. Free and secret elections, but only with preference for the white population , have been held since the 19th century. The country's economy is the most developed on the entire African continent.


Composite satellite image of South Africa

The country is located on the southernmost edge of the African continent between 22 and 35 degrees south latitude and between 17 and 33 degrees east longitude (not including the Prince Edward Islands ). It has a coastline that extends for more than 2500 km and lies on two oceans (the Atlantic and Indian Oceans ). South Africa has an area of ​​1,219,912 km²; this corresponds to approximately 3.4 times the area of Germany . The central plateau, also known as the Highveld , is between 900 and 2000 m above sea level. The sloping to the coast belt of land with a width of 20 to 250 km will be Great Escarpment (Groot edge Kant, Great Escarpment called). Large parts of the country are geomorphologically and petrographically determined by the sediments of the Karoo main basin . To the north are especially in the Bushveld complex igneous rocks and in Barberton very old metamorphic rocks ( Grünsteinfazies , serpentinite ) to light.

The Drakensberg cross the country from the northeast to the enclave of Lesotho in the southeast, where they reach their highest point (3482 m) with the Thabana Ntlenyana . The highest mountain in South Africa is the Mafadi at 3450 m. Northwest of Bloemfontein , the Kalahari Desert extends through Botswana into Namibia . At Cape Agulhas , the southern tip of the continent, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, to the west of which is the Cape of Good Hope (Cape of Good Hope or Kaap van die Goeie Hoop).

Most of South Africa's rivers originate in the Drakensberg and flow east towards the Indian Ocean. The longest river with 1860 km, the Oranje , also has its source in the Drakensberg, but flows to the west and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Augrabies Falls on the Orange River near Upington are around 150 m wide and around 56 m high. Other important rivers are the Limpopo , which flows as a border river to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique in a north-east direction after around 1600 km into the Indian Ocean, and the Vaal (1251 km), a tributary of the Oranje. The water levels in these rivers fluctuate greatly.

The Prince Edward Islands in the southern Indian Ocean belong to South Africa . South Africa gave up its territorial claims in Antarctica and on Walvis Bay in Namibia in 1994.

Climate and vegetation

Satellite image of the Cape of Good Hope, artificial perspective
Climate map of South Africa

South Africa has a great differentiation in climatic-orographic large units and vegetation zones . They range from extreme deserts in the Kalahari on the border with Namibia to subtropical forests in the southeast and on the border with Mozambique. The western coastal zone has an arid to strongly maritime climate . The climate on the south coast is semi-arid to semi-humid , which is due to the meeting of the cold Benguela Current and the warm Agulhas Current at the Cape of Good Hope . The inland climate is full to semi-arid with distinctive features of steppe zones , while the east coast is characterized by a semi-humid and distinctly maritime climate. The region around Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate . Snow in winter is only found in the higher mountains.

Due to its size and several other factors (ocean currents, altitude), the climate varies between different parts of the country. Several factors are fundamental to the distribution of the climate: The warm Agulhas Current from the Indian Ocean flows on the east coast, causing warm, water-rich air to rise. These clouds are created by complex convection currents between high and low pressure areas and rain out in the area of ​​the east coast of South Africa. However, the amount of precipitation decreases rapidly towards the interior of the country. On the west coast, on the other hand, the cold Benguela Current, fed by Antarctic waters, flows. Together with the changing air pressure conditions, it leads to desertification on the west coast, since the coastal areas are deprived of moisture.

The location of South Africa in the southern hemisphere means that the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere . In winter, between June and August, there can be snow in the Drakensberg, on the Highveld and in Johannesburg (1753 m) and the surrounding area, at night the temperatures drop sharply. During the day, temperatures rise to around 23 ° C and in summer to 30 ° C. In Boland , the region around Cape Town (15 m), there is a cool climate with drizzle in winter. From November to March it is warm to hot and dry there. In the coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal , including in Durban (5 m) and along the east coast, the humidity is high, but mostly a cooling wind blows from the sea. The temperatures here are around 25 to 35 ° C all year round.

The plateau in the east of the country is characterized by warm, rarely uncomfortably high temperatures. In the Karoo semi-desert and the Namaqualand , on the other hand, there are extremely high temperatures. Here the annual rainfall is less than 200 mm. The few winter rains occur very irregularly.

A constant fresh breeze blows in the Western Cape. The summers are warm and even the winters are mild. The south coast is characterized by a temperate climate. Dry vegetation predominates with extensive savannah areas that merge into the Kalahari Desert and Namaqualand in the west and the Karoo in the southwest. Closed forest stands can only be found in the rain-heavy east and south-east. There are only smaller contiguous areas that extend along the Great Edge Steps, for example in the Amathole Mountains and the Drakensberg Mountains as well as in the coastal area of ​​the Eastern Cape in the vicinity of Knysna . Summer rains can come down in disastrous amounts, causing significant soil erosion .

Southern Africa lies in a predominantly semi-arid and arid zone, which is therefore very susceptible to climate change. The consequences of climate change are increasing heat, longer periods of drought and less rainfall. In inland South Africa, the temperature has risen by around two degrees Celsius within 100 years. It is also feared that this could encourage the spread of malaria and schistosomiasis in some parts of the country.

The National Water Resource Strategy of 2013 illustrates the current focus of South African government policy with regard to the consequences of climatic changes in southern Africa. The landside effects are particularly felt through changes in soil moisture and the runoff quantities in the waters as well as the consequences of increasing evaporation and changing temperatures in aquatic systems.

Flora and fauna

African elephant

South Africa is one of the megadiversity countries on earth, in which, in addition to a very large variety of species and biodiversity , there are many endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals and also diverse ecosystems . Among other things, it is home to more than 20,000 different plants . In the Fynbos region, a stretch of land in the Western Cape Province , there are more than 9,000 species that make the area one of the most ecologically diverse spots on earth. For this reason, this region is considered by botanists under the name Capensis as one of the six flora kingdoms on earth. It is by far the smallest of these plant kingdoms. Due to its high level of endangerment, the Cape flora is a biodiversity hotspot on earth.

The majority of the plants in South Africa are evergreen hard-leaved plants with fine, needle-shaped leaves. Other typical plants are the sugar bushes (genus Protea ), which belong to the flowering plants and of which there are around 130 different species in the country.

While there are a large variety of flowering plants in South Africa, forests are very rare to find. Only about one percent of the total area is forest, which is almost exclusively in the humid coastal plain along the Indian Ocean in KwaZulu-Natal . Today the forests consist mainly of imported tree species such as eucalyptus and pine . The original forest, which the European settlers found on their arrival, was largely cut down; at the same time, a green belt of introduced tree species was planted around Johannesburg . Remnants of the endemic forest can be found, for example, in the Auckland Nature Reserve near Hogsback . A number of the introduced tree species have proven to be problematic in South Africa. They negatively affect the water balance, lead to more intense bush fires and more soil erosion, and displace native species. With programs like Working for Water , certain species are deliberately removed.

At the beginning of the 21st century, South African hardwood trees such as the broad-leaved stone yew , the stinkwood ( Ocotea bullata ) and the black ironwood ( Olea laurifolia ) were placed under nature protection by the government . This should also ensure the continued existence of the Cape Parrot . This long-winged parrot species is considered to be the rarest African large parrot and only occurs in the heavily fragmented hardwood forests of South Africa.

African penguins on the Cape Peninsula

In the very hot and dry Namaqualand near the west coast there are different types of water-storing succulents such as aloe and euphorbia . The predominant vegetation inland is the grassland , which can be found especially on the highveld . Various grasses, low shrubs and acacias dominate here . The vegetation becomes sparse towards the northwest, which is due to the low rainfall . The grass and thorn savannah east of the Kalahari desert changes in the course to the northeast to a moist savannah with thicker vegetation. The area around the northern end of Kruger National Park is particularly rich in baobabs .

The diverse wildlife can be seen in hundreds of small game reserves and the large national parks, the largest of which is Kruger National Park . South Africa is home to more than 300 species of mammals , more than 500 species of birds , more than 100 species of reptiles and numerous insect species . The country is home to a large number of large animal species, including the African " Big Five ", the five species of large game that were once most feared among hunters: lion , leopard , buffalo , elephant and rhinoceros . The rhinos are represented by white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros. Especially the savannah in the north are numerous antelope species such as impala , kudu , nyala , wildebeest or waterbuck populated. In addition, there are numerous other large animal species such as giraffes , hippos , bush pigs , warthogs , plains zebras , cheetahs , hyenas and wild dogs . In addition to the Kruger National Park, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park and the Addo National Park are among the most famous national parks. In the steppe areas of the south, the so-called Karoo , some species occur that are absent in the savannah areas of the north. These include white-tailed wildebeest , blobs and mountain zebras . The quagga and blue goat, which are now extinct, once lived here . The remaining typical Cape fauna can be found today, for example, in the Mountain Zebra National Park . In the semi-desert regions of the Kalahari , which extends into South Africa in the north-east, the gauntlet and springbok are characteristic. They are protected along with other species such as lions and cheetahs in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Among the birds of South Africa are ostriches , flamingos and numerous birds of prey. In addition, around 170,000 African penguins live on the coasts and on the islands and are under strict nature protection.



Migration movements in South Africa
Population pyramid of South Africa 2016
Population development in South Africa
Population density of South Africa in 2011:
  • <1 inhabitant / km²
  • 1-3 people / km²
  • 3–10 people / km²
  • 10-30 people / km²
  • 30-100 inhabitants / km²
  • 100-300 inhabitants / km²
  • 300-1000 inhabitants / km²
  • 1000-3000 inhabitants / km²
  • > 3000 inhabitants / km²
  • The population has grown since 1996 from 40.6 million inhabitants to 51.7 million (2011), to 57.7 million (2018) and finally to 59.62 million (mid-2020).

    South Africa is a multicultural country in which the consequences of apartheid can still be found and the population groups often live in separate residential areas. The authority responsible for collecting and analyzing demographic data is Statistics South Africa .

    By 1991, the South African constitution divided the population into four major demographic groups: blacks , whites , coloreds and Asians. Although this classification is no longer made in the law today, many South Africans continue to see themselves as belonging to one of these groups, and official government statistics still use this categorization. The black population groups make up around 79.2% of the total population of South Africa and can in turn be subdivided into different ethnic groups. The largest of these groups are the Zulu , Xhosa , Basotho , Venda , Tswana , Tsonga , Swazi and Ndebele . In addition, several million refugees, mainly from Zimbabwe, live illegally in South Africa.

    The share of European descent whites in the total population is 8.9%; It is mainly the descendants of Dutch , German , French and British immigrants who immigrated here from the middle of the 17th century. The country has the largest European population on the continent. The relative number of whites has been decreasing continuously since the 1990s due to a demographic shift in the overall population growth of South Africa, but the absolute proportion has increased slightly again in recent years. Almost a million white South Africans have left the country. The intensity of immigration from black African countries decreased in the second decade of the 21st century. In 2011, according to Statistics South Africa, around 2.189 million people immigrated to South Africa, in 2016 the figure was only around 1.578 million.

    The Coloreds are a population group of different ethnic origins in South Africa, mostly descendants of early European immigrants and their slaves as well as members of indigenous groups originally living in the Cape region and, to a lesser extent, immigrants from Southeast Asia. The term Colored gives an indication of the importance that colonialism and later apartheid politics assigned to the external characteristic of skin color . Even after the end of apartheid, it continues to be used and has assumed the character of a neutral self-designation. About 8.9% of the population are colored.

    Most of the Asians living in South Africa are of Indian descent and descendants of immigrants who first came to the country in the mid-19th century as contract workers to work in the sugar cane fields in Natal, and increasingly also lived as traders in the cities. Today, Asians make up 2.5% of the total population and live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Johannesburg. There is also a Chinese group of around 300,000 members (as of 2008). 0.5% of the population count themselves among the "others".

    In 2017 7.1% of the population were born abroad. The largest groups of immigrants came from Mozambique (680,000), Zimbabwe (360,000) and Lesotho (310,000). It is believed that there are millions of unregistered immigrants in the country, mostly from Zimbabwe. Lately the country has seen an increasing emigration of the white population group. Their preferred destinations were the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Canada.

    In 2016, around 65% of South Africans lived in cities. 28.3% of the population are under 15 years old, 66.1% between 15 and 64 years and 5.6% older than 65 years. The population growth was about 1.7% in 2019, the birth rate was the same year at 20.5 births per 1,000 inhabitants, the infant mortality rate at 34.5 per 1,000 live births. The life expectancy was in 2020 an average of 67.9 years for women and 60.9 years for men after they had been in previous years, significantly lower. The increase in life expectancy can be attributed to improved HIV / AIDS prevention and the intensive care of infected people with antiretroviral drugs. A South African woman has an average of 2.3 children (2016 estimate). 94.3% of South Africans over the age of 15 can read and write (2015 estimate).


    Religion (as of 2016, based on data from Stats SA ) people Percentage
    African Independent Churches , such as the Zion Christian Church 14,158,454 25.44
    Pentecostal churches 8,483,677 15.24
    Roman Catholic Church 3,778,332 6.79
    Methodists 2,777,937 4.99
    free Christian denominations 2,501,383 4.49
    Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk 2,350,853 4.22
    Anglican Church 1,765,287 3.17
    Baptists 1,061,683 1.91

    Largest Lutheran group: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
    946.086 1.70
    Presbyterian 621.065 1.12
    Seventh-day Adventists 311.269 0.56
    Jehovah's Witnesses 476,687 0.86
    Mormon 114,807 0.21
    Islam 892.685 1.60
    Hinduism 561.268 1.01
    Judaism 49,470 0.09
    Buddhism 24,808 0.04
    Baha'i 6,881 0.01
    African Ethnic Religions 2,454,887 4.41
    other religions 6.265.703 11.26
    Non-denominational , agnostic 6,050,434 10.87
    total 55,653,656 100.00
    not specified 255.209 -


    The map shows South Africa's languages ​​in the areas where they are predominant due to the ethnic distribution of the population.
  • Afrikaans
  • English
  • South Ndebele
  • isiXhosa
  • isiZulu
  • North Sotho
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana
  • Siswati
  • Tshivenda
  • Xitsonga
  • No predominant language
  • South Africa has had eleven official languages ​​since the end of apartheid: English , Afrikaans , isiZulu , Siswati , South Ndebele , Sesotho , Sepedi , Xitsonga , Setswana , Tshivenda and isiXhosa . This makes the country, after Bolivia and India, the one with the most official languages ​​in the world. Accordingly, there are eleven different official country names.

    About 0.7% of blacks and 59.1% of whites speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue, the mother tongue of the Coloreds is predominantly Afrikaans. English is spoken by 0.5% of all blacks and 39.3% of whites as their mother tongue. The other languages ​​are spoken as the mother tongue of the black Bantu population. About 22.3% speak isiXhosa, 30.1% isiZulu, 11.9% Sepedi, 10.0% of blacks learn Sesotho as their mother tongue, 10.3% Setswana, 3.4% SiSwati, 2.9% Tshivenda, 5 , 6% Xitsonga and 2.0% South Ndebele. Only about 0.3% of the black population and 1.1% of whites speak none of the eleven official national languages ​​as their mother tongue.

    In addition to the languages ​​mentioned, there are others that have no official status nationwide, such as Fanakalo , Lobedu , North Ndebele , Phuthi , Khoe , Nama and San . They are officially used only in the areas where their speakers mainly reside. Many of the non-official national languages ​​of the San and Khoikhoi are also spoken in the neighboring northern countries of Namibia and Botswana. These indigenous peoples, who differ from the other Africans, have their own cultural identity, as they were hunters and gatherers (iSan) or nomadic cattle herders (Khoikhoi) from ancient times . The number of members of these peoples has decreased rapidly over the past centuries, and their languages ​​are threatened with extinction.

    In addition to Afrikaans or English, many white South Africans speak other European languages ​​such as Portuguese , German or Greek . In addition, Indian languages ​​such as Gujarati and Tamil are spoken in South Africa , especially by South Africans of Indian origin .

    Although all eleven official languages ​​have equal rights under the law, English has emerged as the leading lingua franca, as it is understood by most of the inhabitants of South Africa beyond the various ethnic groups and is viewed as less burdened by the apartheid policy of the past. The influence of Afrikaans declined at the end of the 20th century as it is more closely linked to the memory of the apartheid regime for many black South Africans. In general, the influence of Afrikaans-speaking whites in society has declined in recent years due to a loss of political power and demographic and economic change - but at the same time the end of apartheid strengthened the social position of the Coloreds, who are predominantly Afrikaans-speaking.


    Before the arrival of European settlers

    Petroglyphs of the San in the Drakensberg

    Some of the world's oldest paleoanthropological fossils have been unearthed in South Africa . Remains of Australopithecus africanus were found at Taung (" Child of Taung ") and in the caves of Sterkfontein (" Little Foot "), Kromdraai and Makapansgat, of which the oldest are dated to about 3.5 million years. After these pre- humans, different species of the genus Homo such as Homo habilis , Homo naledi , Homo erectus and finally the modern man, Homo sapiens, lived here . During the migration of the Bantu tribes , the Bantu crossed the Limpopo and settled in what is now South Africa as farmers and shepherds around 500 AD. During their migration they reached the Fish River, which is now in the Eastern Cape Province. The hunter-gatherer peoples of the San and Khoikhoi , who have been living in the areas of what is now South Africa for around 20,000 years , were increasingly pushed back by the Bantu.

    Dutch colonial times

    Arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town, painting by Charles Davidson Bell

    The beginning of modern historiography in South Africa is set on April 6, 1652, when the Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck built a supply station at the Cape of Good Hope on behalf of the Dutch East India Company ( Dutch Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC ). Due to its strategically favorable location, this should be a rest stop for merchant ships that were on the move between Europe and Southeast Asia. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the settlement, which slowly but steadily expanded, was owned by the Netherlands. The settlers first spread to the western Cape region, which at that time was a retreat for the Khoisan . Several hundred French Huguenots , after being persecuted in France from 1686, came into the country via the Netherlands from 1688 and brought the viticulture culture with them. The French-speaking names of wineries and fruit-growing farms in the western Cape can be traced back to them.

    After they reached the Bantu settlement border eastwards in 1770 , they waged a series of wars - the border wars - against the Xhosa people . The Cape Dutch brought numerous slaves into the country from Indonesia , Madagascar and India . At the beginning of 1743 the number of slaves in the province was significantly higher than that of the European settlers. The descendants of these slaves, who often married European settlers, were later classified together with the San in the population class of the "colored" or "Cape Malay" and now make up the majority of the population in the Western Cape with around 50%.

    19th century

    Langlaagt, a farm near Johannesburg , where the first gold was found on the Witwatersrand

    When the VOC was near bankruptcy and the influence of Dutch traders waned, troops of the Kingdom of Great Britain occupied the region around the Cape of Good Hope in 1797 . The Netherlands was occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte's troops during the coalition wars and the Batavian Republic , founded in 1795, was no longer allied with the British. The Cape region was occupied against the background that this strategically important location for trade should not fall into the hands of the French. The British had to return the land to the Netherlands after the Peace of Amiens in 1802, recaptured it in 1806 and permanently established a British crown colony , the Cape Colony . The border wars with the Xhosa continued and enlarged the country further and further to the east bank of the Great Fish River . The border of the new crown colony was heavily fortified by the British and the land behind it was quickly populated by whites. When the British Parliament decreed the abolition of slavery in their global sphere of influence in 1833 , this deprived many Boers of their livelihoods. In order to escape the sphere of influence of British law and to be able to continue the exploitation of non-whites, they avoided the hinterland. In the big trek from 1835 to 1841 around 12,000 Boers, the so-called Voortrekkers , emigrated to the areas north of the Orange River . There they founded numerous Boer republics , including the South African Republic , also known as the Transvaal , and the Orange Free State .

    The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886 led to strong economic growth and the immigration of many Europeans, further driving the deprivation and exploitation of the original population. During the so-called First Boer War (1880–1881), the Boers fought against British expansionist efforts. Although the Boers were vastly outnumbered, they successfully resisted because they were more strategically adaptable to local conditions. For example, Boer soldiers wore khaki uniforms that camouflaged them better, while the British wore their traditional red coats , which made them easy targets for Boer snipers.

    20th century

    Until 1945

    Historic flag? Flag of South Africa from 1928 to 1994, aspect ratio 2: 3

    In the years 1899–1902 the British returned even more numerous and fought against the Boers in the Second Boer War . Among other things, the war aimed at controlling the rich gold deposits on the Witwatersrand . The Boer attempt to ally with the German Empire and the colony of German South West Africa was an additional reason for the British to now take complete control of the Boer republics. This time the Boers resisted in vain, as the British outnumbered them and had better supplies. In the Peace of Vereeniging , the two Boer republics were incorporated into the British Empire, but otherwise the Boers were granted generous peace conditions, such as the recognition of Dutch as the official language. In order to continue pacifying the Boers, the British also agreed to discriminatory regulations in the treaty that restricted the civil rights of non-white residents of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. After four years of negotiations, the South African Union was founded on May 31, 1910 from the four colonies Natal , Transvaal , Orange River Colony and Cape Colony , exactly eight years to the day after the end of the Second Boer War.

    In 1930 white women were given the right to vote for the first time . In 1934, the British South African Party and the Boer right-wing Nasionale Party merged to form the United Party , with the intention of reconciling the British and the Boers . This community party fell apart again on the side of Great Britain in 1939 when the republic entered the Second World War . After the declaration of war on Germany on September 5, 1939, more than 330,000 South Africans fought as volunteers in the South African army in East Africa , North Africa , in Italy and as members of the British Air Force and Navy in World War II. The National Party sympathized with Hitler's Germany and strove for radical racial segregation .

    After 1945, apartheid

    "For whites only" sign from the apartheid period in English and Afrikaans

    After the end of the Second World War , the white minority population under the political leadership of the National Party was able to consolidate its power and develop the apartheid structures in an authoritarian manner by having an increasing number of laws passed through parliament that consistently and systematically govern the country and everyday life divided up a two-class law and comprehensively restricted many civil rights.

    The concrete consequence of this policy was a progressive spatial separation of the dwellings between the European descent and the other population groups with increasing economic exploitation and disenfranchisement of the disadvantaged inhabitants, primarily blacks. In addition, the repression against the Coloreds , Indians and Cape Malays grew . The aim was to permanently settle the Africans (black population) in areas that had been known as Native Reserves for a long time (the later Bantustans ), the formal state independence of which was gradually prepared and in four cases also achieved. In the 20th century, several government commissions had dealt with the socio-economic development of these areas and their population, mainly from the point of view of “white” political models, although there were also alternative approaches.

    South Africa experienced rapid economic growth in the 1960s and was the only country on the African continent to be included in the First World . Investments flowed into the country and numerous foreign companies founded their own branches or subsidiaries because of the large number of cheap labor available. However, the prosperity generated mainly benefited the white minority, which was also reflected in the education, training and wage policy of the country over several decades. After a referendum (1960) and with the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act ( Act No. 32/1961 ), the former South African Union was renamed the Republic of South Africa and the reference to the Commonwealth was transformed into a new concept of the state. The Republic of South Africa introduced the metric system on January 1, 1970 .

    Apartheid was a major area of ​​conflict during the second half of the 20th century. At the urging of the African and Asian member states, South Africa had to leave the Commonwealth of Nations (1961) and was only re-admitted in 1994. Growing resentment among oppressed populations peaked in 1976 when security forces cracked down on a student demonstration during the Soweto uprising , killing 176 black students. In the 1980s, South Africa came under further international pressure, as it was increasingly subject to political and economic sanctions in order to bring about a relenting in the areas of its racist domestic and foreign policy. The imposition of UN sanctions and an international divestment campaign that triggered a flight of capital from the mid-1980s onwards were effective .

    End of apartheid

    Nelson Mandela , President of the Republic of South Africa 1994–1999

    In 1990, after a long period of resistance with strikes, protest marches, international activities, sabotage and also terrorist attacks by various anti-apartheid movements - the most famous being the African National Congress (ANC) - the now internationally isolated government of the National Party collapsed first step towards her own disempowerment when she lifted the ban on the ANC and other political organizations and released Nelson Mandela - one of the most famous resistance fighters - from prison after 27 years. The apartheid structures gradually disappeared from legislation and so the first free elections for all residents were possible on April 27, 1994 . The ANC won an overwhelming election and has been the ruling party ever since. Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa and, along with the last president of the National Party, Frederik Willem de Klerk , received the Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions to ending apartheid.

    Mandela's successor was Thabo Mbeki in 1999 . Despite the originally left-wing political concept, the ANC governments always pursued aspects of a liberal economic policy, which has contributed significantly to strong economic growth, but also to new disparities in the country's social structure. As a result, a small black, affluent middle class emerged. Nevertheless, the situation of millions of non-white South Africans has not improved, or has improved only slightly, compared to the previous apartheid period.

    21st century

    Cyril Ramaphosa , President of South Africa since 2018

    In the third free elections in 2004 , the ANC rose from 66.4 to 69.7% of the vote. President Mbeki was confirmed in office by Parliament.

    On May 15, 2004, South Africa was chosen by the FIFA delegates in Zurich as the first African country to host a soccer World Cup . The tournament was held from June 11th to July 11th, 2010.

    In mid-May 2008 there were considerable xenophobic attacks by black South Africans, especially against refugees from Zimbabwe and Somalia, especially in the townships. The failure of South African politicians to tackle xenophobic violence in the past also contributed to the events of 2008.

    On September 25, 2008, President Mbeki resigned after speculation that he had influenced the trial of his party rival Jacob Zuma . Kgalema Motlanthe was installed as interim president. The elections in spring 2009 were again won by the ANC. Jacob Zuma was subsequently elected president. On May 7th, 2014 was elected again . The ANC was again able to achieve an absolute majority with around 62% of the vote, but lost a few percentage points. Zuma was confirmed in his office. The Democratic Alliance was the second strongest party with around 22%, ahead of the newly founded Economic Freedom Fighters .

    In 2015 there were again xenophobic attacks on African migrant workers, whose center was the industrial region of Durban. In the course of this unrest , several thousand people were killed, looted and displaced. In February 2018, under pressure from his own party, President Zuma resigned and was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa (also ANC), who won the 2019 elections.


    Political indices
    Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
    Fragile States Index 70.1 out of 120 85 of 178 Stability of the country: increased warning
    0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
    Democracy index   7.05 out of 10   45 of 167 Incomplete democracy
    0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
    Freedom in the World 79 of 100 --- Freedom status: free
    0 = not free / 100 = free
    Freedom of the press ranking 22.41 out of 100 31 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
    0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
    Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)   44 out of 100   69 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

    Constitution and civil rights

    The South African Constitutional Court in Johannesburg

    After the 1994 elections, South Africa had an interim constitution. A constituent assembly had to be convened, which drafted and passed a new permanent constitution by May 9, 1996 . This was recognized by the South African Constitutional Court on December 4, 1996 , signed by President Nelson Mandela on December 10, and has been in effect since February 3, 1997. Since then, the constitution has been the supreme legal basis of the state.

    The constitution consists of a preamble , 14 chapters and seven appendices, in which a certain sub-area, such as human rights or the separation of powers , are laid down. The Bill of Rights of the new constitution guarantees citizens extensive rights, such as equality in court and protection from discrimination. The right to life, protection against slavery and forced labor, protection of privacy and personal property, and the right to freedom and integrity are enshrined in it as further human rights. Other important points are freedom of speech, religion, assembly and association. The rights of prisoners and remand prisoners are also listed. The constitution also provides for an independent and impartial judiciary.

    The equality between the sexes for the entire population took place gradually with the end of apartheid in the course of the transitional constitution up to the constitutional law of 1996. In February 1994, Cathi Albertyn from the Gender Research Project at the Center for Applied Legal Studies at the Witwatersrand University described the situation according to which women were not yet given equality with the constitution that existed at the time, but that women defend their rights themselves and have equality in the Under the constitution. However, common law that gave the husband complete authority over matters relating to his spouse had already been abolished by the General Law Fourth Amendment Act of December 1993. Under the Guardianship Act of 1993 , the spouses have had equal rights to guardianship over children since January 1994 ( entry into force ).

    legislative branch

    South African National Assembly building in Cape Town

    The country's legislature consists of a bicameral parliament based in Cape Town. The first chamber, the National Assembly, is elected by proportional representation, with half of the 400 members entering parliament via national lists and provincial lists. The second chamber is the Provincial Council ( National Council of Provinces ). Each of the nine provinces of South Africa, regardless of their size or population, sends ten members to this representation , six of whom are permanent (elected representatives from the provincial assemblies / Provincial Legislature ) and four special delegates, including always the prime minister of the respective province and members of the provincial Legislature rotating delegates based on thematic criteria. The respective prime minister is the chairman of his provincial delegation.

    A legislative period lasts five years in both houses. The government is elected and formed by the National Assembly . According to the constitution of 1996, the Provincial Council (National Council of Provinces) replaces the previous Senate ( Senate according to the transitional constitution of 1993), although the principle of sending delegates appointed by the provincial assemblies has not changed, although the list of members has changed and the responsibilities of the new institution. The provincial council today to represent the task of regional interests and concerns of the provinces primarily through elected representatives, which also includes the protection of cultural and linguistic traditions of minorities, and it's field of action of the constitutional government concept co-operative government (basically about: partnership activities between national, provincial and local leaders).

    Since 1995, parliamentary work has been accompanied by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, which is independent of it . Her work promotes the public provision of correct and verifiable information.

    The parliament of South Africa has its own library. It has around 120,000 print products in its inventory on topics relevant to members of parliament and members of parliament and enables access to various electronic databases via SABINET, a nationwide networked application server . Around 150 magazines and newspapers provide up-to-date information. There are also special collections with rare monographs , works of art, historical maps, manuscripts , photos and other collection items. Well-known are the Mendelssohn Collection / Africana collection (photos), Jardine collection (graphics) and Anglo Boer War collection (photos, documents).

    • Suffrage

    On May 21, 1930, white women were granted active and passive women's suffrage (Women's Enfranchisement Act, No. 41 of 1930). Property barriers still applied to white men, but not to women. Men and women of the colored and Indian populations were eligible to vote in 1984, but they were only allowed to vote for their respective chambers in parliament and, according to the constitutional provisions, had deliberately little influence on government policy. The elections to the two chambers were very controversial and were rejected by most of the voters from these sections of the population (turnout: Colored 17.6%; Indians 8%). The right to vote was extended to black women and men in January 1994. It was not until 1994 that universal suffrage for both sexes and all ethnicities was practiced. The 1996 Bill of Rights laid down the right to vote and stand for election in section 21 - Political rights for all citizens, but as early as 1994 women and men were exercising these rights.


    The Union Buildings in Pretoria, seat of the executive branch

    According to the Constitution is President of South Africa , both head of state and head of government . Since February 14, 2018 this has been Cyril Ramaphosa . The President is usually elected every five years by the National Assembly and is represented by a Vice-President, who is also the Leader of Government Business . Ministers are appointed and dismissed by the President as members of the Cabinet . The offices of the President and the Vice-President each have an independent office with a staff. In addition, three further principals are involved in the presidential administration : the ministers of the performance, monitoring and evaluation as well as administration (target fulfillment, monitoring, evaluation and administration) and women as well as the deputy minister for planning, performance, monitoring and evaluation.

    In the area of ​​presidential administration there is the Cabinet Office, divided into the main departments Cabinet Secretariate and Cabinet Operations, which coordinates the political work between the President's Office and the Cabinet. Another area called Policy Coordination and Advisory Services (PCAS), the main task of which is the development and implementation of state policy according to an integrative concept. In doing so, political debates are monitored on strategically important topics, for example on poverty reduction, rural development and the restructuring of state assets. For this task there are four main departments (chief directorate) with the departments Governance and Administration (government work and administration), International Relations, Peace and Security (international relations, peace and security policy), Economic Cluster (economic cooperation), Justice, Crime Prevention and Security ( Justice, Crime Prevention and Security) and Social Sector .

    Government and parliament

    Session room of the National Assembly of South Africa

    South Africa has been an official republic since 1961 . The first democratic elections did not take place until after the end of apartheid in April 1994. Until the early 1990s, life in South Africa was determined by the internationally outlawed apartheid policy (Afrikaans separation; policy of the separate development of white, black and colored population groups). The so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commission (English Truth and Reconciliation Commission ), chaired by the Nobel Peace Bishop Desmond Tutu tried between 1996 and 1998, politically motivated crimes committed during the apartheid era, work up to investigate and. Official government releases are published through the Government Gazette .

    Since the end of apartheid, South African politics has been significantly influenced by the former anti-apartheid movement, the African National Congress (ANC), which received around 57% of all votes and 230 of the 400 seats in the 2019 elections . The ANC acts together with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the trade union umbrella organization COSATU as a Tripartite Alliance . The second strongest party and therefore the most important opposition party is the Democratic Alliance (DA). The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reached the National Assembly for the first time in 2014, and in 2019 they received around 11% of the vote. Other MPs are provided by smaller parties. The current head of state and government, Cyril Ramaphosa, is, like his predecessors Jacob Zuma , Kgalema Motlanthe , Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela , a member of the ANC. All ministers in the Ramaphosa II cabinet are provided by the Tripartite Alliance .

    Foreign policy


    Countries with diplomatic representation in South Africa in blue
    BRICS Summit in Goa, 2016: From left to right: President Michel Temer (Brazil), President Vladimir Putin (Russia), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (India), President Xi Jinping (China) and President Jacob Zuma
    Indian High Commission official building in Pretoria

    South Africa was a founding member of the League of Nations and began establishing diplomatic missions in 1927 in major Western European countries and the United States . The former German colony Deutsch-Südwestafrika (today Namibia) became a League of Nations mandate area after the First World War and was placed under South African administration as South West Africa . The then South African armed forces fought on the side of the Allies during the two world wars .

    After the end of the Second World War, South Africa was again one of the founding members of the United Nations and the then Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts was very much involved in the drafting of the Charter of the United Nations . From 1950 to 1953, the South African army took part in the Korean War as part of the UNO troops . As a result of the apartheid policy, which had been tightened since 1948, the country fell into foreign policy isolation for decades . Leaving the Commonwealth of Nations in 1961 after a referendum in 1960 was followed by the UN arms embargo in 1977 and several UN resolutions and sanctions. The economy collapsed noticeably, investors withdrew from the country, refused to invest or stopped trading with South African companies. Athletes and sports teams were excluded from international events and tourism was boycotted. An extremely worsening domestic political crisis flanked the country's international isolation. In view of this situation, the then Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha spoke of a total onslaught (German: total attack) and from 1978 opposed it with his government program known as Bothanomics .

    The South African armed forces of that time were used for various missions in Africa during the apartheid period. For example, troops were sent to the civil war in Angola , in part a proxy war between the USA and the Soviet Union . This happened despite diplomatic isolation on the American side. South Africa was a nuclear power until 1991 and possessed six nuclear weapons from its own production and intercontinental ballistic missiles of the type RSA-3 . The atomic explosives built in Pelindaba 's nuclear weapons facility were voluntarily destroyed before joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty .

    As part of a new policy that began when President F. W. de Klerk took office in 1989 and which marked the end of apartheid, Namibia was able to declare independence in 1990, with the exception of the small exclave of Walvis Bay , which was only handed over to Namibia in March 1994 . After the first elections in April 1994, which were also open to non-whites, and the election of the first black president, Nelson Mandela, most of the sanctions imposed on the country by the international community were lifted. On June 1, 1994, the Republic of South Africa re-entered the Commonwealth and was re-admitted to the UN General Assembly on June 23 of the same year. South Africa also joined the Organization of African Unity ( OAU ), which has been called the African Union since 2002 .

    After the country overcame international isolation with the end of apartheid, it has become a recognized partner again. The most important foreign policy objectives today are to maintain and develop good diplomatic relations, especially with neighboring countries and the members of the African Union.

    South Africa is the only African representative in the G-20 group and the BRICS countries . As early as 2007, the country was invited to the G-8 negotiations in Heiligendamm alongside China, India, Brazil and Mexico . There is also “increased cooperation with a view to possible membership” with the OECD . The country is considered an advocate of the African continent and the developing and emerging countries as well as a new world economic order. However, it is also accused of wanting to build a hegemonic position of power in Africa.

    Foreign representation of South Africa

    The country maintains diplomatic and consular relations with many countries in the world in 2014 . To this end, 104 embassies or high commissioners' offices , 15 consulates general and 84 honorary consulates, honorary consulates general, consular agencies and vice consulates are operated. South Africa has official representations in nine international organizations.


    The Constitutional Court , based in Johannesburg, is the highest instance in constitutional matters, while the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa in Bloemfontein is the highest ordinary court. Most of the negotiations are held at the local level in the local courts. The constitution guarantees every citizen the right to a fair, public hearing, a reasonable period for judgment and the right to appeal .


    Soldiers of the SANDF

    South Africa has its own army, the South African National Defense Force (SANDF). This volunteer army consists of around 74,500 professional soldiers (as of 2019) and is divided into the armed forces Army ( South African Army ), Air Force ( South African Air Force ), Navy ( South African Navy ) and Medical Service ( South African Military Health Service ) . The compulsory military service was abolished in the year 1994th The Armed Forces Commander (since 2011 General Solly Shoke ) is appointed by the President and reports to the Minister of Defense (currently Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ). The SANDF was recomposed in 1994 from various military groups and organizations in the country. South Africa spent almost 1 percent of its economic output or 3.6 billion US dollars on its armed forces in 2017.

    Since the end of apartheid, the South African army has mainly carried out peacekeeping missions in Africa (as in Lesotho). South Africa also provides a significant number of blue helmets for UN peace missions. In 2008, 1158 soldiers were deployed for the UN peacekeeping mission MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 604 soldiers for UNAMID in Darfur, Sudan .

    The state armaments procurement for the armed forces and the police in South Africa is the responsibility of the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR), which also maintains a liaison office in the South African representation of the European Union .

    Administration and administrative structure


    The Republic of South Africa is divided into three administrative levels on the basis of its 1996 constitution. At the top is the state administration with the president , the national government led by him and its subordinate administrative bodies.

    The next level below the government are the nine provinces ( Section 103 of the South African Constitution), each with a Prime Minister ( Section 127 of the South African Constitution) who heads the Executive Council (Cabinet, Section 132 of the South African Constitution). Public control is exercised by a freely elected body of representatives, the provincial legislature ( Section 104 of the South African Constitution). The provinces are represented at the national level by the National Council of Provinces , which, in conjunction with the National Assembly, represents the bicameral system of South Africa.

    The South African provinces consist of eight metropolitan municipalities and 44 district municipalities , which together with their subdivisions, the local municipalities , represent the level of local government according to Section 151 of the constitution. There are municipal councils (Munizipalräte, Section 157 of the South African Constitution) made up of freely elected members for public control of these administrations .

    The districts are made up of a total of 205 local municipalities (2016). Up until 2011, there were 20 district management areas in addition to these administrative units , which were managed by their respective district administrations.

    Public service

    A separate ministry is responsible for the development and maintenance of the public service, which is based on the Public Service Act of 1994 ( Proclamation 103 of June 3, 1994 in Government Gazette No. 15791) and its amending law (Act No. 30/2007 ) as well as other legal provisions. This ministry operates a specific educational institution for senior civil servants in South Africa. This is the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA), whose tasks include the further training of agency managers and senior staff at the middle levels. The ministry also deals with development tasks in some African countries in its area of ​​expertise. These include the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Burundi , Rwanda , and South Sudan . To promote the principle of good governance , South Africa is involved in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) program sector.

    According to government information at the end of October 2011, the civil service, including members of the armed forces, consisted of around 1.28 million employees. These included 391,922 people in the service of the national level and 891,430 people in the provincial administrations.


    With the end of apartheid in 1994, the formerly independent and quasi-self-governing homelands had to be reintegrated into the political structure of South Africa. This led to the dissolution of the previous four provinces ( Cape Province , Natal , Orange Free State and Transvaal ), which were replaced by nine differently structured provinces and which now encompass the entire national territory of South Africa. The provinces are divided into a total of 44 districts . The provinces of South Africa are:

    Namibia Botswana Simbabwe Mosambik Eswatini Lesotho Limpopo (Provinz) Gauteng Mpumalanga Nordwest (Südafrika) KwaZulu-Natal Freistaat (Provinz) Ostkap Nordkap (Provinz) WestkapThe nine provinces of South Africa
    About this picture
    Districts of South Africa (as of 2006)
    No. province Former provinces and homelands Capital Area (km²) Population (Oct. 1994) Population (2011) Population (2017) Population (June 2020)
    1 Western Cape
    (Western Cape)
    Cape Province Cape Town 129,462 3,676,335 5,822,734 6,510,312 7.005.741
    2 North Cape
    (Northern Cape)
    Cape Province Kimberley 372,889 739.450 1,145,861 1,213,996 1,292,786
    3 Eastern Cape
    (Eastern Cape)
    Cape Province of
    Transkei , Ciskei
    Bhisho 168,966 6,416,965 6,562,053 6,498,683 6,734,001
    4th KwaZulu-Natal Natal
    KwaZulu , Transkei
    Pietermaritzburg 94,361 8,577,799 10,267,300 11,074,784 11,531,628
    5 Free State
    (Free State)
    Orange Free State of
    Bophuthatswana , QwaQwa
    Bloemfontein 129,825 2,749,583 2,745,590 2,866,678 2,928,903
    6th Northwest
    (North West)
    Transvaal , Cape Province of
    Mahikeng 104,882 3.315674 3,509,953 3,856,174 4,108,816
    7th Gauteng Transvaal Johannesburg 18,178 6,946,953 12,272,263 14,278,669 15,488,137
    8th Mpumalanga Transvaal
    KwaNdebele , KaNgwane ,
    Bophuthatswana, Lebowa
    Mbombela 76,495 2,953,232 4,039,939 4,444,212 4,679,786
    9 Limpopo Transvaal
    Venda , Lebowa, Gazankulu
    Polokwane 125,754 5,272,583 5,404,868 5,778,442 5,852,553

    cities and communes

    Map of the metropolitan communities in South Africa (as of August 2016)

    In the great community reform of 2000, many South African cities were united with their surrounding communities and townships . Some of these newly created metropolitan communities (English metropolitan municipality ) were renamed in this context, the new names mostly have meanings derived from Bantu languages ​​and are intended to represent the new South Africa in this way.

    Here is an overview of the metropolitan municipalities:

    rank local community Biggest town Area (km²) Population (2011) province
    1 City of Johannesburg Johannesburg 1644 4,434,827 Gauteng
    2 City of Cape Town Cape Town 2499 3,740,026 Western Cape
    3 eThekwini Durban 2292 3,442,361 KwaZulu-Natal
    4th City of Ekurhuleni Germiston 1924 3,178,470 Gauteng
    5 City of Tshwane Pretoria 2198 2,921,488 Gauteng
    6th Nelson Mandela Bay Port Elizabeth 1952 1,152,115 Eastern Cape
    7th Buffalo City East London 2528 755.200 Eastern Cape
    8th Mangaung Bloemfontein 6284 747.431 free State


    Economic history

    Kimberley Diamond Mine (1892)

    In today's South Africa, subsistence farming dominated for a long time . The first white settlers set up a supply station for ship crews in Cape Town from 1652, for which food had to be grown. Agriculture dominated until the first diamonds were discovered on the banks of the Orange River in 1867 . As a result, diamonds were mined, especially in Kimberley . The first gold discoveries in the eastern Transvaal attracted many gold diggers. Gold was first found in the Witwatersrand in 1886 , followed by a gold rush at the end of the century , which led to the emergence of large cities such as Johannesburg. As a result, the Second Boer War broke out , in which the British gained sovereignty over the area. Further mineral resources were found in quick succession. During apartheid , the high profits mainly benefited the white population group. Black miners mostly had to do risky, badly paid jobs. Often they were migrant workers - in 1977 over 128,000 miners from Lesotho worked in the South African mines. In the years after 1980, many jobs were lost, especially in mining.

    Economic structure and labor market

    Center of Johannesburg
    Per capita income of various ethnic groups in South Africa relative to the income of whites

    With a gross domestic product of over 351 billion US dollars in 2019, South Africa is the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria and belongs to the G8 + 5 . However, parts of the rural areas in the former homelands resemble a developing country . The GDP per capita is 5067 dollars per capita, which puts it in 6th place in Africa (as of 2019). In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, South Africa was ranked 61st out of 137 countries (as of 2017-18). In 2017, South Africa ranked 81st out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .

    South Africa dominates the economy of southern Africa and has formed the Customs Union of Southern Africa (SACU) together with Eswatini , Namibia , Lesotho and Botswana since 1910 . South Africa is also a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) development program of the African Union .

    The contribution of the various economic sectors to the gross domestic product is 66% for the service sector and 31% for industry . South Africa has a well-developed financial and legal system and generally well-developed infrastructure (communications, energy and transport). In the period 2005–2007, South Africa grew at an annual rate of 5%; in 2012, growth slowed to an estimated 2.6%. The rate of economic growth had slowed in the 2010s. The national debt in 2012 was 43.3% of GDP. With the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation , the country has an experienced influencing factor in the field of industrial and infrastructure development that has grown over decades.

    In 2012 the inflation rate was five to six percent, the unemployment rate was officially 27% in 2017 and youth unemployment was almost 50%. In addition, only 13.6 million South Africans have a job, around 13 million are welfare recipients. The Gini coefficients as a measure of the imbalance in income and consumption are among the highest in the world.

    The economic disadvantage of the non-white population could not be fundamentally eliminated after the end of apartheid. Between 1994 and 2004, black unemployment rose from 36% to 47%. Their average income actually fell by 19% in real terms, while that of whites rose by 15%. The poverty rate also increased. However, the proportion of black managers in listed companies rose from 0% to 20%. In order to end the economic disadvantage of the black population, the ANC-led government is trying to fill positions in administration and large industrial groups with more black applicants as part of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Program. Representatives of the white population criticize the South African version of affirmative action , that performance does not stand more prominent. Many professionals, especially doctors and engineers, respond by emigrating , especially to Australia , Canada and the USA .


    Industrial products, in both the primary and secondary sectors , make up a large part of South Africa's export revenue.


    Iron ore mining near Thabazimbi in Limpopo Province

    The country is very rich in mineral resources , the extraction of which is responsible for 40 to 50 percent of South Africa's export revenues. The country has the world's largest production quantities of chromium (44% of world production), platinum (47%), manganese and vanadium (57%). It also has large deposits of gold (21%), diamonds (9%), coal (6%), iron ore , nickel , titanium , antimony and palladium .

    Mining is dominated by a few corporations that are among the largest in the world, such as Anglo American , Glencore , ARMgold , Anglogold Ashanti and Implats . The Lonmin group , which controls platinum mining, and the diamond producer De Beers are wholly or partly owned by Anglo American.

    The competitiveness of the South African mining industry is weakened by frequent strikes due to the low wages and poor working conditions. One of the more recent major events of this type is the 2012 strike . Working in the mines is risky. Between 1984 and 2005, over 11,100 miners died in South Africa. The number of employees in gold and hard coal mining fell by around 200,000 between 1987 and 1996. In 1997, 560,000 people were employed in the mining industry.

    The ports of Saldanha , Richards Bay and Ngqura are of great economic importance for the export of mineral raw materials and metallurgical products as bulk goods . They are managed and operated by the state-owned transport company Transnet .

    Other branches of industry

    Fruits are packed in Ceres for export

    The manufacture of motor vehicles, their supply industry as well as the textile industry and the telecommunications industry are of importance . The armaments industry was greatly expanded during the apartheid period because the import of armaments from other countries was made very difficult by embargoes, and is still operated by Denel and ARMSCOR , for example .

    Energy supply and chemical industry

    The energy supply is largely the responsibility of the Eskom Group, which is the seventh largest electricity producer in the world in terms of production. Around 91% of the energy was obtained from fossil fuels in 2009, mostly in coal-fired power plants . In addition, South Africa relies to a lesser extent on nuclear energy , but increasingly on renewable energies such as hydropower plants , solar energy systems and wind turbines . A government program to promote renewable energies has existed since 2011 . Off the coast of Mossel Bay is natural gas extracted.

    Since South Africa has hardly any crude oil , large coal liquefaction plants were built in Sasolburg and Secunda at the time of apartheid , with which fuels and raw materials for the chemical industry are obtained. Renewable energies, especially wind energy and solar energy , are to be greatly expanded and are heavily subsidized by state tenders. By 2030, the output of renewable energies should increase to around 18 GW or 42% of the total output; for this purpose support measures were put in place. The producers of renewable energy have come together to form an industrial association, the South African Renewable Energy Council .


    Cornfield in South Africa
    Amarula Cream is made in South Africa from the marula fruit and marketed worldwide.

    Although only 2.4 percent of South African gross domestic product comes from agriculture , this sector is responsible for around 5% (2020) of jobs in South Africa, but this share has been falling steadily since 2016. Mainly grain (mainly corn and wheat), sugar cane, fruit and vegetables, meat and wine are produced. Regions with intensive agriculture can be found in the climatically favored areas of the country, namely in the region around Cape Town with a humid and moderate climate, where mainly vegetables and fruit such as apples or grapes for wine are grown, and on the coast of the Indian Ocean Many exotic fruits but also sugar cane are grown here due to the tropical climate. Furthermore, in the Highveld , a high plateau in the interior of the country, you will find mainly grain cultivation, which, due to the altitude, has significantly better climatic conditions than elsewhere in the interior. As one of the areas with the most demanding climate in South Africa, you can only breed cattle in the Kalahari Desert and other desert regions on the northern border of South Africa. B. for the production of mohair . In the other regions, agriculture for self-sufficiency predominates, as no economically viable agriculture is possible outside of the above-mentioned areas. However, on the basis of extensive irrigation systems, additional areas were opened up for agriculture in the 20th century, such as Vaalharts Water . These early investments have resulted in 60% of South Africa's water use coming from agriculture, as systems are often outdated and inefficient. A problem for a country like South Africa that is marked by water scarcity.

    The South African wine can be found internationally on the front seats and was by French Huguenots who because of persecution during the French Revolution on Holland fled to South Africa, popular. The first vines were planted by the Dutch founder of Cape Town Jan van Riebeeck in 1656. His successor also set up the first winery in South Africa in 1679. Today a total of 425 estates produce almost 4000 different wines. The well-known wine-growing regions around Stellenbosch , Franschhoek , Paarl and Somerset West form the focus of this agricultural sector in the Western Cape Province. More than 300 wineries are located in this area alone. Since 1994, South Africa's wine export has increased from 51 million to 420 million liters in 2018. The greater part of the total production volume of 960.2 million liters (as of 2018) is consumed or processed in the country itself. About 163.9 million liters were exported as bottled wines in the same year. The wine has also been exported to Germany since the 1980s, following the lifting of trade restrictions due to the apartheid policy. The prices in this country start at around € 5 per liter. Of course, there is no upper limit here, as the wine-growing region is now very renowned and is also becoming increasingly popular with wine connoisseurs due to high-quality wines, so that a kind of wine tourism has now established itself, to which the goods respond with high-quality guest houses and hotels. They not only benefit from an additional source of income, but also from the direct marketing of their products. In total, viticulture in South Africa creates 300,000 jobs nationwide, both directly and indirectly. South Africa also exports high-proof alcoholic beverages on a larger scale. Spirits such as liqueurs . A specialty is the marula fruit , a fruit of the elephant tree native to South Africa , the distillate of which is also sold extensively in Germany as a cream liqueur, as one of the few South African branded products, namely as amarula liqueur .

    Agriculture in South Africa produces a wide range of plant-based products, including fruits, vegetables and teas. The fruits in particular not only serve to supply the domestic market, but also belong to the high-yield export goods. These include citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines, mandarins, grapefruits, satsumas and lemons. Other fruits are also part of the agricultural export volume, which includes deliveries from Eswatini's plantations. The main products are apples, pineapples, apricots, avocados, bananas, pears, strawberries, persimmons, cherries, kiwis, litchis, mangoes, melons, nectarines, peaches, plums and grapes. Major export customers in this area are China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, South Korea and the United States. A big advantage in marketing is the reversed annual cycle of the southern hemisphere , on which South Africa lies, so that the fruits have no competition at their harvest time on the domestic markets of the importing countries in the northern hemisphere . Overall , South Africa exports twice as much agricultural products as it imports (by value), so it is theoretically independent of food imports, a rarity for a country in Africa with a large population , but many imports are due to products that are not grown in Africa can such as B. Rice .

    Several higher education institutions in this sector contribute to the recruitment and further development of the South African agricultural economy.


    View of Cape Town and Table Mountain
    Entrance to the Kruger Park

    The tourism has become an important economic factor since the end of the 20th century. Major attractions in South Africa include:

    In 2002 more than six million tourists visited the country, in 2005 the share of tourism in the gross domestic product was estimated at more than seven percent. Around three percent of employed South Africans work in the tourism industry, for which further growth rates are forecast.

    Economic indicators

    The important economic indicators of gross domestic product , inflation , budget balance and foreign trade developed as follows:

    Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real
    in% compared to the previous year
    year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
    in% compared to the previous year
    0.8 2.0 3.5 2.7 3.7 3.0 4.6 4.9 5.6 5.4 3.2 −1.8 3.0 3.3 2.2 2.3 1.6 1.6 0.4
    Sources: World Bank
    Development of GDP (nominal)
    year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
    GDP absolute (in billion US $) 299 286 295 375 416 396 366 350 317 294
    GDP per inhabitant (in thousands of US $) 6.1 5.7 5.8 7.3 8.0 7.5 6.6 6.8 5.7 5.2
    Sources: gtai IMF , World Bank
    Development of the inflation rate Development of the budget balance
    in% compared to the previous year in% of GDP
    ("minus" = deficit in the national budget)
    year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 year 2016 2017 2018
    inflation rate 7.1 4.2 5.0 5.6 5.7 6.1 4.6 6.3 Budget balance −3.5 −3.5 * −3.4 *
    Sources: IMF, gtai * = Forecast
    Development of foreign trade
    in billion US $ and its change compared to the previous year in%
    2014 2015 2016
    Billion US $ % year-on-year Billion US $ % year-on-year Billion US $ % year-on-year
    import 99.9 −3.4 79.6 −20.3 74.7 −6.1
    export 90.6 −4.7 69.6 −23.2 74.1 +6.4
    balance −9.3 −10.0 −0.6
    Source: gtai
    Largest trading partners in South Africa 2016 (GTAI)
    Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
    China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 9.2 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 18.1
    United StatesUnited States United States 7.4 GermanyGermany Germany 11.8
    GermanyGermany Germany 7.1 United StatesUnited States United States 6.7
    BotswanaBotswana Botswana 5.0 IndiaIndia India 4.2
    NamibiaNamibia Namibia 4.8 Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 3.8
    JapanJapan Japan 4.7 JapanJapan Japan 3.4
    United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 4.3 FranceFrance France 3.0
    United NationsU.N. other states 57.5 United NationsU.N. other states 49.0

    State budget

    The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 86.5 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 76.6 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 3.5% of GDP . The national debt in 2016 was $ 129.7 billion, or 43.4% of GDP.

    Share of government expenditure in 2006 (in% of GDP) in various areas:

    International agreements

    A double taxation agreement with Germany has been in force since 1975, and there has been a text for a new agreement since 2008, but it has not yet come into force.

    Since September 21, 2010, South Africa has been an official member of the BRIC community of states, which has thus been expanded to become the BRICS community.

    Transport infrastructure

    In the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of the infrastructure, South Africa was ranked 33rd out of 160 countries in 2018. The country thus has the best infrastructure on the African continent.

    Air traffic

    The OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, the busiest airport in Africa

    The two largest and most important airports in the country are in Johannesburg and Cape Town . The state-owned South African airline South African Airways (SAA) offers international connections to and from these two airports. Other major international airlines such as British Airways , KLM , Lufthansa / Swiss , Iberia and Air France also fly daily to Johannesburg or Cape Town. For domestic flights in South Africa or flights to neighboring African countries there are many offers from SAA, Comair , Nationwide , , 1time and Air Namibia . The much smaller airports in Durban , Port Elizabeth , East London , George , Lanseria , Bloemfontein , Kimberley and Upington are also served.

    Rail transport

    Shosholoza Meyl railway network , 2012
    South Africa's railway network (gray lines: not in service)

    The South African rail network is mainly operated by Transnet Freight Rail . It has a length of around 24,000 kilometers, on which mainly freight trains run. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is mainly responsible for handling the passenger traffic that also runs on it .

    The luxury trains Blue Train and Pride of Africa are among the best known of their kind. In the upper class, there are also Premier Class trains from the PRASA Luxrail area . In addition, other long-distance trains of different standards run as Shosholoza Meyl . There are also regular passenger train connections between the larger cities, but also on some branch lines. They run up to once a day. The cruising speeds are relatively low on most routes , partly because of the use of the Cape Gauge.

    In the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg / Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth / East London, S-Bahn -like Metrorail trains, which belong to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, operate .

    The Gautrain is a local transport system in the Johannesburg / Pretoria metropolitan area. It has been operating since 2010.

    In Johannesburg, the City Deep Container Terminal accepts a significant proportion of container freight from the industrial conurbation of Gauteng , which mainly reaches the seaports by rail. 30 percent of South Africa's export volume is handled here.

    Bus transport

    International bus connections are provided by the Intercape Mainliner from Windhoek to Cape Town and Translux from Harare via Bulawayo to Johannesburg. Like the Greyhound Coach Lines, the Baz buses and Intercape, Translux also operates within South Africa. The stops are often flexible.

    Road network and car traffic

    The South African national road network (N1-N18)

    In South Africa there is left-hand traffic . The country has a well-developed road network, with highways in and partly between the major cities. The longest motorway is National Route 3 (N3) between Johannesburg and Durban. In 2014, the entire road network covered around 747,014 km, of which 158,952 km were paved. There are speed limits on all public roads in South Africa. These are 120 km / h on motorways, 100 km / h on country roads and 60 km / h within towns. Large sections of the autobahn are now subject to tolls and are subject to a toll that depends on the size of the vehicle . One of the largest infrastructure projects in recent, the Maputo Development Corridor is that starting from the industrial areas around Pretoria and Johannesburg, efficient transport links in the form of the N4 and N12 as well as the railway Pretoria-Maputo on South African-Mozambican border towards the metropolitan Maputo with its keeps modernized port facilities available for the transport of goods and people.

    Since the public transport system is less well developed in many regions, commuters there are dependent on shared taxis, buses or private transport. This increases the volume of traffic on the roads considerably and leads to overcrowded motorways and traffic jams in the metropolitan areas during rush hour.

    Bicycle traffic

    For many South Africans, the bicycle is a common mode of transport. In rural areas in particular, bicycles are often the only affordable private means of transport for the poor. In view of the sometimes great distances, the topography and the climatic conditions, cyclists are still quite seldom seen in the streets. It is also dangerous to cycle on urban roads in South Africa and the number of fatal accidents involving cyclists is increasing significantly.

    In the cities there are rather few amateur and sport cyclists, there are hardly any bike paths. The Argus Tour, which takes place in March on a 105 km route on the Cape Peninsula, is one of the world's largest one-day bike tours with 35,000 participants.

    Problems of the country

    Despite the upward trend in South Africa since the 1994 elections, there are still very large social disparities . Even after the end of apartheid, blacks are usually still paid far less than whites. Large parts of the population live in townships on the outskirts of many cities. These are residential areas in which, despite the positive development, the standard of living is still very low today. While the wealthy inhabitants of the country, still predominantly white, but now also increasingly black, live in closed housing estates, which are sometimes surrounded by fences and security guards, the majority of the poor, mainly black and colored, live in the townships and simple rural areas Settlements. This population group finds it difficult to get in touch with the education and training opportunities of the South African state. A direct effect of these conditions is the enormously high crime rate in some underdeveloped regions. The immunodeficiency disease AIDS continues to play a central political role in the state planning and implementation of medical and socio-economic projects in South Africa.

    Former homelands and townships

    Map of former homelands in South Africa
    Soweto settlement area in 2005

    Before and during apartheid in South Africa, townships served as residential areas near large cities or industrial settlements for the black, colored (colored) or Indian population . They can take on the proportions of a medium-sized city. Well-known examples are Soweto (South Western Townships), today a district of Johannesburg in the province of Gauteng in the northeastern part of the country, or Cato Manor on the outskirts of the city of Durban.

    During apartheid, homelands were the residential areas allocated to the black population in South Africa and what was then South West Africa , which were mainly based on the former reservations and which had already received a legislative basis in 1913 with the Natives Land Act (Act No. 27). In the political understanding of the Bantu administration at that time , they were pejoratively called Bantustans. With the homeland politics, apartheid's racial segregation found its demographic and territorial basis according to the declared principle of a “separate development”. A large part of the black majority population in South Africa was disintegrated in this way, not least to prevent a unitary state ruled by blacks. The homelands were envisaged as formally independent states as part of a multi-year process with partial legislative steps , whose inhabitants were to be granted (pseudo) independence , but they were not even involved in this development. The South African government took this step for four of these territories. However, they were economically, financially and militarily almost completely dependent on South Africa. In fact, they were de facto merely self-governing areas separated from the rest of the state. The Transkei was first declared independent in 1976, followed a year later by Bophuthatswana , Venda in 1979 and Ciskei in 1981. In the context of South African industrial policy , the homelands played a prominent role because they played an important role Represent a reservoir of low-paid and predominantly unskilled labor. First with domestic, later also with foreign investments and with the help of the state development bank Industrial Development Corporation , the apartheid government created a so-called border industry, a specifically planned industrial concentration on the borders of the homeland areas. Political control was the responsibility of the government's Permanent Committee for the Location of Industry and the Development of Border Areas .

    In the 1980s and early 1990s, vocational qualification measures began here too in order to be able to maintain the efficiency of the companies. With the country's increasing international isolation as a result of its policy of repression against the non-European population, the economic effects of this industrial policy did not materialize to the extent that the government had hoped for.

    After the end of the apartheid regime, the homelands were integrated into the nine new and structurally changed provinces of the Republic of South Africa.

    South Africa is still struggling with the socio-economic and infrastructural effects of this separate development. The areas of the former homelands are the least developed, some have very high population densities and the lowest per capita income. For example, the Eastern Cape Province, into which the largest and most populous homelands Transkei and Ciskei have been integrated, is the poorest and economically weakest province. Due to the low standard of living in the former homelands and most townships, the risk of illness is higher and life expectancy is lower.

    Rural people and the landless

    About 40 percent of the South African population live outside the cities and industrial metropolitan areas. The living conditions of the black part of this rural population are mostly poor to precarious. Around 12 million people live in the regions that do not belong to the technically highly developed agricultural zones. Their long-term perspectives seem to be largely ignored under the current political priorities, because these rural areas are viewed within the South African government's land policy as marginal relics of regional planning from an apartheid point of view and receive little attention. For a large part of the affected population, welfare state transfer payments are the only form of their regular income. Because most of the government's strategic objectives are concerned with improving living and infrastructure conditions in urban areas, the problems arising from rural living conditions are clearly underrepresented in the political process.

    The unsatisfactory results of a politically intended land reform in South Africa that was hoped for after 1994 , including, for example, restitutions and financial compensation in response to the redistribution measures under the Natives Land Act of 1913, as well as an increasingly widespread practice of employing black farm workers only seasonally and the subsequent Displacement of no longer employed people from farmland (farm dwellers) created a worsening situation among the affected population group. The investor-friendly ANC government contributed significantly to this situation with its GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution Plan) program from 1996. This program, together with experts from the World Bank (World Bank), the South African Central Bank (South African Reserve Bank) and the Development Bank for Southern Africa developed (Development Bank of Southern Africa). Its goals include measures to make the labor market more flexible , to reduce import and export duties, for a free flow of capital, tax breaks for investments and a reduction in government borrowing. Possible land reform programs were only mentioned marginally in this political concept. Government policy thus favored the primacy of the market, even before the state's own prospects for action. Under the direction of the then Finance Minister Trevor Manuel , the GEAR program was prepared without public participation.

    A decisive political reaction from those affected to the negative effects of this policy did not take place until after the year 2000. Only 2.3 percent of the agriculturally significant land area of ​​South Africa was transferred between 1994 and 2000 in favor of a harmonization of the land ownership structures, whereby only a small part of it went to new black owners. The number of incomeless and homeless people in rural areas rose steadily. In 2001, representatives of South African landless initiatives met in Durban to discuss the problems that had grown as a result. The participants agreed to found an umbrella organization they called the Landless People's Movement (LPM). Initially, this organization managed to mobilize politically among the landless. This happened in 2002, for example, when, parallel to the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, around 5,000 representatives of the landless movement met near Soweto and expressed their criticism of the neoliberal tendencies of the WSSD in a final demonstration with 25,000 participants. The positions of the LPM, which were critical of the ANC and thus of the government, were also taken up by the trade union association COSATU and the SACP , but the South African government was not prepared to change course. As a result, the regional structures of the LPM disintegrated again in large parts of the country. One reason for this development was that despite some newly acquired land ownership, it was not possible to achieve a sustainable level of existence from it. With the help of two non-governmental organizations , some landless initiatives have been preserved in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces .

    In February 2018, the National Assembly decided to set up a commission to prepare the constitutional amendment necessary for land expropriation without compensation. As both the ANC President and the State President, Ramaphosa spoke out after previous consultations with traditional leaders of various groups in favor of the need for land reform, which, according to the perspective on which it is based, would compensate for expropriations (for example on the basis of the Natives Land Act and the Group Areas Act ) during the colonial and apartheid periods and aims to increase food production for domestic needs. He sees this as an opportunity for young people to find a professional future in the agricultural sector and defends land reform as a necessary “agricultural revolution”. Opposition to this plan came along with other voices from the largest opposition faction in the National Assembly , from DA chairman Mmusi Maimane , who called on Ramaphosa to protect current property rights. Critical voices from South Africa saw Ramaphosa's move as the programmatic prelude to the parliamentary elections in 2019 , when the ANC wanted to defend its government position.


    AIDS was the main cause of the temporary decline in life expectancy in South Africa (source: World Bank World Development Indicators, 2004)

    AIDS is one of the biggest health problems in South Africa . According to estimates by UNAIDS from 2014, 6.5 to 7.5 million people are infected with the HI virus , and around 19% of the 15 to 49 year olds are affected by it. This development and the further spread of the disease had at times dramatic demographic consequences for the country: from 1990 to 2005, life expectancy fell from just under 65 years to 52 years, but rose again to 61 years by 2014.

    According to UNAIDS , the causes of the spread of HIV / AIDS are due to the early sexual activity of adolescents (the average age at first sexual intercourse is 16.4 years for men and 17 years for women) in connection with poor or lacking prevention education. 4.8% of 15 to 19 year olds are infected, and 16.5% of 20 to 24 year olds (as of 2014). Sexual violence also plays a major role in South Africa: around 28% of women state that they have been pressured into sexual intercourse against their will at least once.

    In 2005 around 364,000 people died from AIDS in South Africa; in 2014 the number fell to around 172,000. According to many scholars, former President Thabo Mbeki , an AIDS denier, was partly to blame for the spread of AIDS in the 2000s . Mbeki repeatedly denied the link between HIV and AIDS, as well as the fact that AIDS was a disease at all. In 2016, the Ministry of Health announced that all South African people infected with HIV would be treated free of charge.

    In 2018, infant mortality in South Africa was estimated at 33.8 per 1,000 births, almost halving from the figure of 64.8 in 2008. In 2013 health expenditure was 8.9% of GDP.

    Tuberculosis (TB) is another disease that is growing, partly connected with the HIV problem . In 2013 there were around 450,000 cases of TB, of which 270,000 were HIV-positive. In 2012, the South African government started a three-year medical program aimed at reducing TB deaths by 50% by 2015. In 2013, the cure rate was 77% and thus below the 85% mark set by the WHO .

    The country's water supply, on the other hand, is almost at the level of industrialized countries : according to the WHO and UNICEF, over 90% of South Africans have access to clean drinking water, a human right demanded by the UN since 2010 . In neighboring Mozambique , less than half of the people have access to drinking water.

    Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University was founded in 2014 to strengthen and streamline the country's medical higher education education . It emerged from a previous institution. Your training hospital is the second largest hospital in South Africa.

    The global COVID-19 pandemic reached South Africa with the first case reported in the country on March 5, 2020. The country's government responded by declaring the disaster and with curfews.

    See also: COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa

    Development of life expectancy
    Period Life expectancy in
    Period Life expectancy in
    1950-1955 48.5 1985-1990 61.0
    1955-1960 51.3 1990-1995 62.3
    1960-1965 53.0 1995-2000 59.2
    1965-1970 54.8 2000-2005 53.8
    1970-1975 56.7 2005-2010 53.1
    1975-1980 57.3 2010-2015 59.5
    1980-1985 58.4


    Notice of dangerous hijacking point on the N4 motorway at eMalahleni

    South Africa is one of the countries with the highest crime rates among the countries with reliable police statistics . For example, the homicide rate in 2017 was 36 per 100,000 population.

    Homicide rate in South Africa. The values ​​in the 20th century are probably underestimated.

    In criminology, murder rates are used as an index for comparing crime levels over long periods of time. This is particularly reliable for violent crime and theft. The graph shows an increase in the homicide rate in South Africa from below 10 per 100,000 population by the 1930s to 30 by 1965, where they remain until 1980. After that, the rates rose to around 80 in 1993 in just 13 years. By 2011 they fell again to 30. (In Western European countries this value is around 1.) The time course with an increase from the 1960s to the early The 1990s, followed by an extensive decline in crime , is similar to the pattern in Western countries , but on a much higher level. The values ​​shown in the diagram for the 20th century are presumably set far too low due to a lack of data and legal inconsistencies. However, the rate in South Africa has been above the world average since at least the 1920s. At least parts of the increase are attributed to the apartheid policy, which violently tore people from communal and social relationships and triggered political conflicts. This changed factors that have an influence on the level of crime.

    In 1994 there were approximately 26,000 homicides, or 63 per 100,000 population. By the 2017/18 reporting year (which ended at the end of March 2018), the annual number had dropped to a good 20,000 or 36 per 100,000, which is almost halving the rate. The main reason given for the changes is the reduced availability of firearms, and the second most important policy improvement. From 2011 to 2017 the rate rose from 30 to 36 per 100,000 inhabitants. The reasons cited are the improved availability of firearms by corrupt police officers and unrest among the frustrated population. In contrast to the time course of the homicide rate, there was only a minimal increase in serious crime after 2011. However, after 2013 this rate fell sharply and reached its lowest values.

    In a study in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces , 27.6% of all men surveyed said they had raped a woman at least once, half of whom admitted multiple rapes. Converted to the size of the population, millions of rapes can be expected in the last few decades. Statistically, 40% of South African women have to expect to be raped at some point in their life. A special feature are the so-called corrective rapes , in which lesbian women are raped by men with the ostensible aim of changing the victim's sexual orientation. In addition, 40% of South African students say they have been raped at least once. In the 2017/2018 reporting year, around 50,000 cases of sexual offenses were registered, including around 40,000 rape, which is very high. Ten years before that (2008/2009), however, there were still almost 70,000 sexual offenses.

    On the one hand, the country has made progress, such as a decline in violent crime and sexual offenses, on the other hand, the number of drug-related crimes has almost tripled over the same period.

    Crosses at Polokwane in memory of murdered farmers

    Between 1994 and 2001, over 1,100 white people were murdered in more than 5,500 raids on mostly remote farms. Between 2010 and 2014 around 60 white farmers were murdered each year; 62 murders on farms and homesteads were reported for the 2017/2018 reporting year.

    The high murder and rape rates in particular continue to pose a major threat to the population. This has meanwhile led to many affluent South Africans of all population groups moving into residential areas that are now referred to by the term compound , which has since changed its meaning . Such residential areas can have their own infrastructure with shops and schools, are cordoned off all around with high fences and are guarded around the clock by private security services . Even electric fences are very common. These measures offer a certain protection against robberies and enable a life in relative safety.

    The causes for the enormously high crime rate are diverse. For centuries, South Africa has had a society in which violence is often not only accepted but advocated. Added to this was the system of racial segregation, with its long-term effects beyond 1994, which caused traditional black societies to destroy and dysfunctional families as well as domestic violence that is passed on to children or other people.

    Demonstration against xenophobia in Johannesburg

    Economic reasons are just as important. The bulk of the population is still very poor and unemployment is high, especially among the young, black population. Boredom and a lack of prospects often lead to violence. Then there is the great social inequality with its extreme contrasts between poor (mostly black) and rich residents in the cities of South Africa, which leads to high crime rates. While rich South Africans can protect themselves against this, this does not apply to the numerous immigrants from poorer African countries, so that especially these, seen by poor South Africans as unpleasant competitors on the labor market, are particularly often victims of attacks and pogroms .

    Police and judiciary inefficiency and corruption are also a major problem in some regions. Many criminals are not brought to justice despite being reported, and legal proceedings - especially in cases of rape - are often dropped due to a lack of evidence.

    After the Corruption Perception Index ( Corruption Perceptions Index ) of Transparency International was South Africa in 2016 by 180 countries, along with Vanuatu and Bulgaria on the 71st place with 43 out of a maximum 100 points.

    Above and below

    After the end of apartheid, only fragmentary and largely unsatisfactory progress could be achieved with regard to the ideal goal of equal individual development opportunities for all citizens and a better standard of living for the large group of very poor citizens. Despite notable successes in improving domestic conditions, such as water and electricity supply in rural areas and townships, as well as in expanding the education and training sector, health care and transport infrastructure, the improvement in employment conditions for large parts of the non-European population took a restrained course. With the elimination of the principle of job reservation ( job profiles originally reserved for whites), which had been consolidated over the decades of apartheid, and with the new government program Black Economic Empowerment , the labor market structures shifted so that less well-educated whites became unemployed more often or were threatened with job loss. The macroeconomic pattern, however, have changed little after the end of apartheid policy as a whole.

    Accordingly, in the post-apartheid phase that began after 1994, only a relatively small number of people are said to have benefited more. This includes public sector employees and entrepreneurs . The Gini coefficient even increased in South Africa after 1995. According to the South African sociologist Lawrence Schlemmer , the socio-economic decline at the lower end of the income chain has lasted for a long time since 1994 and could only be stopped with substantial transfers from the state at a low level. In contrast, the rise of a “black” middle class, which is often propagated in the media, is much less in reality than shown and it will take longer than officially to complete. According to a study by the International Council for Human Rights Policies (ICHRP) from 2001, economic marginalization and racial discrimination are said to reinforce each other. In South Africa a stereotypical attitude is establishing that the poor population can continue to work for low wages. The ruling group (no longer just white, but representatives from all groups) is increasingly moving away from the ruled population.

    The country continues to be characterized by high levels of poverty and inequality. The Gini coefficient also continued to rise during the investment boom before the 2008 financial crisis. While it was 57.8 in 2000, it was 65 in 2011. This means that South Africa is one of the world's countries with extremely unequal income distribution, which is increasingly being discussed in public.

    The criticism of the long-time finance minister and then Minister for National Planning Trevor Manuel in April 2013 of the current conditions in the public sector aimed at this disproportion between the rulers and the ruled. With his National Development Plan , the minister made proposals on the one hand for measures to "radically" combat poverty and inequality and on the other hand for the development of a competent, professional public service in the country. He pointed out that many employees “do not need any legislative changes or political guidelines, just common sense to do things right”. At the center of his argument is the criticism that apartheid would still be cited across the board as the cause of any undesirable development in current political action in 2013 , and he therefore calls for general and transparent accountability at all levels of the public sector.

    “No matter how you were appointed, no matter who appointed you, you are not accountable to the ruling party. You are civil servants who are meant to serve all citizens irrespective of political persuasion. "

    “No matter how you were called, no matter who appointed you, you are not accountable to the ruling party. You are civil servants to serve all citizens regardless of your political beliefs. "

    - Trevor Manuel, April 2013

    In May 2013 Desmond Tutu referred with international media coverage to the country's growing problems caused by corruption and the party system, and consequently to the need for changes in constitutional law with regard to the electoral system.


    Robben Island prison . Location where several anti-apartheid fighters, including Nelson Mandela, were held. UNESCO - World Heritage Site in 1999.

    Due to its historical development and ethnic diversity, South Africa does not have a uniform culture; the customs and traditions differ greatly depending on the region and population structure. That is why the country is now often referred to as the rainbow nation , as only a few countries in the world are home to such different cultures from all parts of the world.

    A significant proportion of the black majority of the population still live in poor conditions in economically weak, rural areas. Especially by these the traditional rites with dance and music are still cultivated and kept alive today, since with the increasing urbanization and Europeanization of South Africa and the original population also traditional customs and habits have lost their importance.

    The black South Africans who live in the cities almost all speak English or Afrikaans in addition to their mother tongues. At the beginning of the 21st century there are still small groups of people speaking the Khoisan languages. Although these are not official national languages, they are recognized as one of the other eight main languages. Furthermore, there are several small groups who speak endangered languages, mostly from the Khoi - San language family , and fight for official recognition of their language and its preservation.

    The living habits of the white minority population are in many respects similar to those in Western Europe , North America or Oceania . Historical hostilities between Africans and whites of British origin have meanwhile been cleared up, paving the way for peaceful coexistence between the two ethnic groups.

    Despite the discrimination during the apartheid period, the Coloreds today feel closer to white culture than to black South African culture. This is particularly noticeable among those who speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue and who have the same or similar religions as whites. Only a small minority of the Coloreds known as Cape Malays are Muslims .

    Asians, mainly of Indian origin, maintain their own cultural heritage, languages ​​and religions. The Indians were settled on the southern tip of the African continent in the 18th century, initially to work on the sugar cane fields in Natal . Most are Hindus or Sunni Muslims and now speak English as their mother tongue, while languages ​​such as Tamil or Gujarati are increasingly rare in South Africa.


    School children in Mitchell's Plain
    Administration building of the University of Pretoria

    The vast majority of schools are public; there are also private schools. From the age of 7, pupils attend Primary School for seven years . There is compulsory schooling ; School fees are not charged at the primary schools. As in all schools, a school uniform is worn. This is followed by a visit to a high school (secondary school). It is chargeable; compulsory schooling has existed since 1996 up to the 9th grade. Students choose courses at three different levels. At the end of the 12th grade, the final exams ( Matric ) are taken in seven subjects. In 2010, 76% of the students passed the Matric, 28% of all candidates acquired the right to attend university. If necessary, the results are standardized, which means that if the examination results are poor nationwide, the requirements can be subsequently reduced and vice versa. Students pass the Matric with 30% of the achievable number of points. In South Africa, the mean school attendance for over 25s increased from 6.5 years in 1990 to 10.5 years in 2015, making it the longest in Africa.

    The country's universities vary in quality, with several ranked among the best universities in Africa. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010 , the University of Cape Town is the best university in Africa with 107th place. The Technical University of Tshwane in Pretoria is the largest university in southern Africa with 60,000 students (apart from the fast-growing (distance) university of South Africa with over 300,000 students. Overall, the country's higher education system is nowhere near meeting the demand for university places. Tuition fees have to be paid for studying .

    The rapid growth in the number of students has led to significant quality deficiencies, as two reports from 2011, which are largely in agreement, show - one led by the University of Cape Town , the other led by the University of Johannesburg . In particular, the social, human and cultural sciences suffered heavily in the post-apartheid period, and the number of students in these areas is permanently falling. The bachelor’s training is characterized by the management of shortages, the lack of educational concepts and “intellectual stagnation”, while the resources are largely diverted to the master’s training and to elite professorships.

    During the apartheid period , the educational institutions of the black majority were particularly disadvantaged. The main cause was the 1953 Bantu Education Act , which produced a poor quality education and undermined the basis of many traditionally rooted mission schools in the country. At the University of Fort Hare in Alice , indigenous people were able to receive limited higher education throughout the apartheid period. At the instigation of the opposition ANC, secondary school and higher education for black pupils and students were temporarily outsourced to the SOMAFCO camp in Tanzania . While in South Africa around 96% of teachers in white schools had such training, the figure was only 15% in black schools. There were 18 white students and 39 black students for each teacher. Unequal educational opportunities persist after the end of apartheid and represent a major socio-political challenge. Despite high financial expenditures, the government has so far hardly succeeded in countering this problem. Education spending amounts to around 20% of total government spending, making it the highest single budget in the budget. Even so, public schools have an average of over 30 students per teacher.

    The six German schools in South Africa are the German School Pretoria , the German School Hermannsburg , the German International School Cape Town , the German International School Johannesburg , the German School Durban and the German School Kroondal .


    South African specialties

    In South African cuisine, the focus is on meat dishes of all kinds, from which a popular leisure activity for South Africans developed: grilling (Afrikaans Braai ). Typical dishes and dishes for braai among the affluent population are boerewors (a spicy, coarse sausage), steaks , lamb, pork chops and fish grilled over charcoal. Another specialty is biltong , a type of dried beef or game that is often eaten as a snack in South Africa. Indian-inspired curry dishes are often eaten. The cuisine of the poor, mostly black population is dominated by simple dishes. The best known is Mealie-Pap , a type of corn porridge.

    Furthermore, South Africa developed into a large wine producer. Some of the best wineries in the world are located near Stellenbosch , Franschhoek and Paarl in the Western Cape.


    South African music is characterized by great diversity. Pop, rock and jazz music in numerous sub-genres are popular, especially music styles typical of the country, some of which are linked to certain population groups.

    In the early 20th century, a mixture of European church music, North American gospel music and local traditions formed a special form of church music, which is characterized on the one hand by numerous choirs and on the other hand is popular as music performed by soloists such as the gospel singer Rebecca Malope . The Soweto Gospel Choir is also dedicated to gospel music. The church musician Enoch Mankayi Sontonga wrote the song Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika around 1900 , which has been part of the national anthem of South Africa since 1996 . It was often sung as a symbol of resistance during the apartheid period.

    Regional styles of music emerged early in the various ethnic groups. To this day, Zulu, Xhosa and Basotho maintain these styles, which also incorporate modern musical styles. The Isicathamiya sung by male choirs is characteristic of the Zulu . A modern style of Zulu music is Maskandi , also called Maskanda . Famo is popular with the Basotho , and at times it was accompanied by sexually provocative dances.

    The world's most famous jazz musicians from South Africa include the saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi , the trumpeter and singer Hugh Masekela and the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim , whose style is called Cape Jazz . The forerunner of Cape Jazz is the Marabi music, which was played as dance music mainly in the shebeens of the townships and which also shaped other South African styles of music.

    The oldest existing choir is the Stellenbosch University Choir . The Stellenbosch University choir, founded in 1936 , which is known for a cappella sung music. The first hit, which sold more than 100,000 records in South Africa, was Mbube, composed by Solomon Linda in 1939.

    Building on Rock 'n' Roll and Swing that emerged in the 1950s Kwelamusik , characterized by the use of sheet metal flutes distinguished. The Johannesburg district of Sophiatown was then considered the Mecca of South African jazz. Probably the best known representative of South African music is Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), who also celebrated her first successes in Sophiatown and landed a world hit in the 1960s with the song Pata Pata sung on isiXhosa . Because of her great popularity she was nicknamed Mama Africa .

    Mbaqanga is another popular style of music that originated in the 1960s and is characterized by danceable rhythms and traditional influences. A special form, the Mgqashiyo music, was made famous by the Mahotella Queens . The singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka is one of the successful Mbaqanga musicians . Her song I'm in Love with a DJ , released in 1985, is considered the first hit of bubblegum music, a Mbaqanga variant that was characterized by the use of synthesizers and electric keyboards . In the 1990s, the South African style of music Kwaito , a mixture of African pop music, rap and house, developed . Well-known representatives were the singer Brenda Fassie , who had previously become popular with Mbaqanga music, and the singer Mandoza .

    The group Ladysmith Black Mambazo sings a cappella music and, along with other groups such as Stimela, became known worldwide through their collaboration with the American musician Paul Simon in 1986. Numerous other bands and soloists became successful in southern Africa, such as the reggae musician Lucky Dube and the Scottish-born Johnny Clegg , who was popular with black and white people in the 1980s with his bands, half of which consisted of Zulu.

    In the 19th century, based on European influences, the Boeremusiek was created , an instrumental dance music that is popular among the Boers to this day. Your main instrument is the concertina . One of the most famous musicians was the accordionist Nico Carstens (1926–2016). There is also music sung in Afrikaans, which often contains elements of country music . Often it is marketed under the name Sokkie Dans after a dance . The Gereformeerde Blues Band of Johannes Kerkorrel played blues and was the founder of the alternative Voëlvry movement. Karen Zoid belongs to the alternative scene of Afrikaans-speaking musicians in the 2010s.

    There was a lively rock scene in Cape Town in the 1970s. Different varieties of rock such as disco , punk , gothic rock ( No Friends of Harry ) and alternative metal were also represented at times. The singer Nianell sings pop music with folk influences in English or Afrikaans. Also singer-songwriters such as Zahara and Jennifer Ferguson occur in South Africa.

    Mimi Coertse became a well-known opera singer who was engaged in Vienna for a long time . The Soweto String Quartet performs classical music with European characteristics, mixed with African elements.

    The South African Music Awards are presented annually in over 20 categories.

    Today internationally known South African bands include Die Antwoord , Seether , The Parlotones , Kongos and Watershed .

    The only opera in Africa that is open all year round is located in Cape Town - the Cape Town Opera .


    Many of the first black authors learned to read and write from European missionaries , which is why the majority of the first South African books were written in English or Afrikaans . One of the first known novels to be written in an African language by a black author was Mhudi by Sol Plaatje in 1930.

    Well-known South African writers also include Nadine Gordimer , born in 1923, who was the first South African and seventh woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991 , and Athol Fugard , whose plays regularly premiered in South Africa, London and New York .

    Alan Paton published his highly acclaimed novel Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948 , which was later made into a film. The story of a black priest who comes to Johannesburg to find his son became a bestseller worldwide . Nadine Gordimer , who later won the Nobel Prize , began publishing her works in the 1950s . Their most tester novel July's People (original: July's People ) was published in 1981 and deals with the case of white minority rule.

    Writers who wrote in Afrikaans also published controversial works. Breyten Breytenbach was imprisoned for his involvement in the guerrilla movement against the apartheid regime. André Brink was the first Afrikaaner whose books were indexed by the government after he published the novel A Dry White Season , which is about a white man who finds out the truth about the death of a black friend in police custody .

    Some important black writers became famous in the 1970s, such as Mongane Wally Serote , whose work No Baby Must Weep gives an insight into the everyday life of a black South African during apartheid. Zakes Mda , another well-known black novelist, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2001 for his novel The Heart of Redness . His work became an integral part of the curriculum in South African schools. JM Coetzee , who began his work as a writer in the 1970s, only became internationally known two decades later. His novel Schande (original: Disgrace ), published in 1999, brought him the renowned Man Booker Prize and the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature .


    Magnolias from Frans Oerder

    In the 19th century, most of the images were imported from England and the Netherlands. These historical pieces still form part of the museum's holdings today. Among the few painters who had been the late 19th century academic training, was one of of Rotterdam native landscape and portrait painter Frans Oerder (1867 to 1944), who with his picture magnolia one of the most reproduced images from the South African National Gallery created that hangs as a print in many living rooms today. Hugo Naudé (1868–1938) also belonged to the generation of romantic painters . had studied in Munich. The partly romantic-impressionist, partly expressionist or factual-realistic landscape pictures by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (1886–1957) are characterized by a wide variety of styles .

    tree by JH Pierneef (1934)
    Annie of the Royal Bafokeng Tribe by Maggie Laubser (1945)

    Many painters of the 1920s and 1930s were of German or Polish-Jewish descent, according to Irma Stern , who, together with the portrait painter Maggie Laubser (1886–1973), who was born in Dutch, and Wolf Kibel, who was born in Russian Poland, is considered to be the founder of Expressionism in South Africa . Pranas Domšaitis (actually Franz Carl Wilhelm Domscheit) studied with Lovis Corinth in Berlin, he only emigrated to South Africa in 1949 at the age of 69 and is also considered one of the most important expressionists in South Africa. Austrian-born Jean Welz created still lifes, Dorothy Kay created sensitive portraits. Alexis Preller studied in Paris and based himself on Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh . Freida Lock , who came from England and studied there, co-founded the New Group in 1938 , an artist group that has held numerous exhibitions.

    Many non-white South African artists in exile also oriented themselves towards Expressionism or represented social realism, for example Gerard Sekoto or Gavin Jantjes , who studied in the Federal Republic of Germany. David Koloane created the first black art gallery in Johannesburg . The white opponent of apartheid, poet and author Breyten Breytenbach created surrealistic images in exile .

    After the end of apartheid, South African artists quickly became known in the USA and Great Britain. Her art is often political and socially critical, such as the work of Tracey Rose , which also includes performance and video art. Marlene Dumas experiments with the human figure and deals with the conflict between white and black.

    public holidays

    The public holidays in South Africa are as follows. If one of these days falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a public holiday.

    date German name South African name Remarks
    January 1st New Year New Year's Day
    March 21st Human Rights Day Human Rights Day Anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960
    March or April Good Friday and Easter Monday Good Friday and Family Day Friday before and Monday after Easter Sunday
    April 27 Freedom day Freedom Day Anniversary of the first democratic elections in 1994
    1st of May Labor Day Workers' Day
    June 16 Youth day Youth Day Anniversary of the start of the student protests in Soweto in 1976 (former name: Soweto Day )
    August 9 women's Day National Women's Day Anniversary of the women's demonstration against the so-called passport laws in 1956
    September 24th Day of Heritage Heritage Day
    December 16 Day of Atonement Day of Reconciliation Anniversary of the Battle of the Blood River between Boers and Zulu in 1838 . This day was already a public holiday during apartheid as the "pledge day" or "oath day" and in 1995 it got its new meaning.
    25./26. December Christmas Christmas Day and Boxing Day


    Soccer City in Johannesburg, Africa's largest soccer stadium
    Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town

    In South Africa's sport, as in almost all other public areas, a separation into ethnic groups can be observed. By far the most popular sport among the black population is football . Since whites also play the sport at a high level, football was less affected by ethnic demarcation than, for example, rugby during the apartheid period. The South African national soccer team , known by fans as Bafana Bafana (from isiZulu: “our boys”), has qualified twice for the final round of the World Cup ( 1998 and 2002 ) since the end of apartheid and the return to FIFA . After an unsuccessful application attempt, the country was the first African nation to be awarded the contract to host the 2010 World Cup , although the team was the first host to be eliminated in the preliminary round. Another success of the national soccer team is winning the African Championship in 1996 . After that, South Africa hosted the 2013 Africa Cup , where they reached the quarter-finals. The South African national soccer team for women , known by the nickname Banyana Banyana (from isiZulu: "our girls"), is considered to be somewhat more successful .

    The main sport for whites is rugby union , followed by cricket . During apartheid, these two sports were almost exclusively reserved for the white minority. Rugby is particularly popular with Afrikaans, while cricket is still traditionally played by English-speaking whites. The greatest sporting successes of the Springboks , as the rugby national team is called, were wins at the Rugby Union World Cups in their own country in 1995 , in France in 2007 and in Japan in 2019 , as well as wins in the Tri-Nations tournaments and the rugby championship in 1998, 2004, 2009 and 2019. The Springboks were a symbol of racial segregation during apartheid due to their exclusion of non-white players, but became part of New South Africa during the 1995 World Cup when then President Nelson Mandela did Chasing the final in a Springbok jersey. The national rugby championship is the Currie Cup , four teams play in the international Super Rugby league .

    After football and rugby, cricket is the third most popular sport in South Africa. The Proteas , the South African national cricket team, are the most successful international team in South Africa after the Springboks . In 1889, South Africa was the third country ever to be awarded test status by the World Association of ICC , which entitles it to participate in the most prestigious level of cricket. As in rugby, South Africa was boycotted internationally in cricket during apartheid and returned to the international stage in 1992. That year, South Africa took part in the World Cup for the first time and reached the semi-finals, which has since been achieved three more times ( 1999 , 2007 and 2015 ). In 2003 they hosted this tournament together with Kenya and Zimbabwe, but were eliminated in the preliminary round. South Africa also hosted the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 , the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy and will host the 2022 ICC Women's T20 World Cup . The national first-class championship is the Sunfoil Series , followed by the List-A competition One-Day Cup and the Twenty20 competition of the Mzansi Super League, the successor to the Ram Slam T20 Challenge .

    The South African freestyle relay surprisingly won the first South African Olympic gold medal in 2004 over the 4 × 100 m freestyle route, which is otherwise dominated by Americans and Australians , in a world record time. It triggered a swimming boom in South Africa . Roland Schoeman , Ryk Neethling and Chad le Clos have been among the most successful swimmers in the country ever since.

    On the Grand Prix round course of Kyalami was until 1993 Grand Prix of South Africa of Formula 1 extended. The driver Jody Scheckter won the world championship in 1979 .


    South Africa has had an extensive, free and very active media landscape since the end of apartheid. The many different television , radio and print media in the country, which broadcast and publish in the various official languages, illustrate the cultural diversity of the residents. However, English has established itself as the most widely used language in the media in recent years , followed by Afrikaans .

    Freedom of the press has not been guaranteed at all times in South Africa. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Steyn Commission worked out proposals for political influence on the media and the necessary legislative steps for this. Because several South African media openly criticized the apartheid system, they were increasingly restricted by state censorship until the early 1990s . After the end of white minority politics, censorship was abolished and a new, liberal, non-discriminatory constitution with a bill of rights came into force. This also included the civil right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and media, and the right to artistic freedom and scientific research. In 2016, the country was ranked 39th out of 180 states on the World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders .

    Despite all of this progress, there is still some criticism of freedom of the press. Almost all of the major daily newspapers are published by only four major media companies, which could lead to one-sided reporting in the future. In addition, it is criticized that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the state radio and television broadcaster, reports too pro-government or ANC, as the majority of the broadcaster's executives are members of the ANC or are influenced by it. Also problematic are the newly enacted laws according to which the reporting of the South African media, especially that of the newspapers, can be regulated.


    Naspers main building in Cape Town

    The history of the newspaper in South Africa begins in 1800 when the then governor of the Cape Colony initiated the Cape Town Gazette and the African Advertiser . The first private newspaper, the SA Commercial Advertiser , was published from 1824. The first Dutch-language newspaper De Zuid Afrikaan was published in 1830, the first newspaper in an African language, Umshumayeli Wendaba in 1837, and the first newspaper in Afrikaans, The Afrikaanse Patriot, in 1876.

    According to a report by the South African Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) there are 36 daily and weekly newspapers in the cities, 29 in English, four in Afrikaans, two in Zulu and one in Xhosa. The contrast between the population structure and the languages ​​of the published newspapers can be explained by the different literacy rates, the widespread use of English or the former state censorship, which slowed the development of a mixed newspaper culture. There is also a very large number of free (ad-supported) local newspapers in various languages. About 1.3 million newspapers are sold across the country every day. In contrast to many other countries, there are very few national daily newspapers; this function is largely reserved for the Sunday newspapers.

    Some newspapers are not yet owned by major media companies, but the majority are published by the country's four major corporations, Johnnic Publishing, Nasionale Pers, Independent News and Media, and CTP / Caxton .

    watch TV

    SABC headquarters in Auckland Park, a suburb of Johannesburg

    Although South Africa is the most developed country on the African continent, the country was one of the last to introduce television . The reasons for this were the ideological ideas of the white minority government, which viewed television as a threat to state control of the media. It was also seen as a threat to the Afrikaans and the Dutch population who feared unfair competition against the Afrikaans press.

    In 1971, the state-owned media company South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which until then had a de facto monopoly over radio, was allowed to broadcast a television program. Test broadcasts began in major cities in 1975 and nationwide broadcasts began in 1976. In the beginning, South African television was fully royalty-free , which changed with the introduction of television advertising in 1978.

    Television is still the most regulated media sector in South Africa today and is (like radio) regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Broadcasting rights, especially for television, are only granted by this institution. To date, only two private television stations have received permission to broadcast programs. The broadcasting licenses contain requirements for the design of the program, such as the educational component, which the broadcasters must adhere to.

    In 2005 there were in South Africa only four free to air TV stations, channels 1, 2 and 3 of the SABC and the transmitter . The only providers of paid programs and satellite TV are Multichoice with the terrestrial pay TV channel M-Net and DStv , digital satellite TV with around 50 national and international channels, and Star Sat, which took over Top TV in 2013. Commercial television in South Africa now has several hundred thousand subscribers.


    The radio in South Africa is the long-standing mass medium with the largest circulation. The liberalization of this sector in 1996 resulted in a sharp increase in the number of broadcasting stations. In 2005, for example, Johannesburg had more than 40 different radio stations. The operation of radio stations is far less regulated by the state than the television division.

    In South Africa there are radio stations with regional coverage as well as nationwide radio programs. There are different models with regard to financing: from the state radio stations of the SABC to completely advertising-financed private stations that target a specific city, a district or a section of the population. The majority of the stations broadcast in English, although the other official languages ​​of the country are also taken into account in the program broadcast.


    Librarianship in South Africa began in the second half of the 18th century, when the first missionary libraries were established. From 1928 the modern library system slowly emerged, although there are still great differences between rich and poor or within different regions. Each province has its own library authority. Most of the individual libraries are concentrated in the greater Johannesburg and Cape Town areas.

    See also

    Portal: South Africa  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of South Africa


    Web links

    Commons : South Africa  - collection of images, videos and audio files
    Wikimedia Atlas: South Africa  - geographical and historical maps
    Wiktionary: South Africa  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wikivoyage: South Africa  Travel Guide

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    Coordinates: 29 °  S , 24 °  E