The Republic of South Africa

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					                               THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

                                           (updated July 2005)

Background: Dutch colonists were the first European settlers of South Africa. After the British seized the
Cape of Good Hope in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own
republics. The discovery of diamonds and gold spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the
subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments, but were defeated in the
Boer War (1899-1902). The resulting Union of South Africa operated under a policy of apartheid - the
separate development of the races. The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically and ushered in black
majority rule.

Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Area: 1,219,912 sq. km (slightly less than twice the size of Texas)

Boarder Countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe

Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Terrain: interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Natural Resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin,
uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

Natural Hazards: prolonged droughts

Environmental Issues: lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation
and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff
and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification

Population: 44,344,136 (takes into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS, resulting in lower
life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in
the distribution of population by age and sex)                      US: 297 million (2005 est)

Median Age: 23.98 years

Annual Population Growth Rate: -0.31%
Infant Mortality Rate: 61.81 deaths/1,000 live births                US: 7 deaths/1,000 births

Life Expectancy at Birth: 43.27 years                                US: 77.4 years

HIV/AIDS: adult prevalence = 21.5%; 5.3 million people living with and 370,000 deaths resulting from
HIV/AIDS (see below)                                                 US: 0.6%, 2003 est

Ethnic Groups: 79% black African, 9.6% white, 8.9% other

Religions: 81% Christian, 2% Muslim, 15% No Specified Religion, 2% Other.

Languages: 11 official languages (Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda,
Xhosa, Zulu)

Literacy: 86.4% of population (age 15 and over) can read and write

Health: 25% of children under 5 suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition; 87 % of total population has
access to safe drinking water; 67% has access to adequate sanitation facilities

Capital: Pretoria (Cape Town is the legislative center)

Government: South Africa is a republic. From 1949-1994 South Africa followed a policy of apartheid,
based on segregation of people of different races. But since 1994, open elections have been held with universal

President: Thabo Mbeki (has held office since 1999). He is coming under increasing pressure due to the
slow pace of land reform, social service improvements, a 40% unemployment rate, no significant decrease in
the income gap, and for his views on HIV/AIDS.

Constitution: certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996, was signed by then President
Mandela on 10 December 1996, and entered into effect on 3 February 1997; it is being implemented in phases

Legislative: bicameral Parliament, comprised of the National Assembly (400 members elected by popular
vote to serve five-year terms) and the National Council of Provinces (90 members elected by provincial
legislatures for five-year terms).

Economy: a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-
developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that ranks
among the 10 largest in the world; and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods
to major urban centers throughout the region.

GDP: $11,100 per capita.                                             US: $18,243

Poverty Line: 50% of population lives below the poverty line.

Agricultural Products: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy

Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly,
metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair

Exports: gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment
History of European Settlement in South Africa:

   Over a thousand years ago, South Africa was a multi-ethnic area. Groups living in South Africa included
    the San (remnants of San communities still survive today as so-called Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert),
    the Khoikhoi (called the Hottentots by the Dutch), and Bantu-speaking groups whose descendants make
    up the majority of today’s South Africans.
   1488, trade was established between Africa and Europe when Bartholomeu Dias rounded the Cape of
    Good Hope. A direct water route from Europe to Asia was established in 1497 and was dominated by the
    Portuguese until the end of the sixteenth century.
   The beginnings of a racially stratified society were put in place in the 1650s as the Dutch began
    “importing” slaves to build Dutch settlements in South Africa. Dutch East India Company employees
    were also allowed to create their own settlements, taking land from the Khoikhoi by engaging in a series
    of wars that, together with the effects of imported diseases, decimated the indigenous population.
   As the Dutch population increased in South Africa and people of Dutch ancestry were born in Africa, the
    group came to be known first as Boers and later as Afrikaners. Although of Dutch ancestry, they thought
    of themselves as White Africans.
   In 1795 the British seized the Dutch colony of South Africa, returned it to them in 1803, and seized it
    again in 1806. The British introduced racially discriminatory legislation to force Khoikhoi and other so-
    called "free" blacks to work for as little as possible. The Hottentot Code of 1809 required that all
    Khoikhoi and other free blacks carry passes stating where they lived and who their employers were.
   Parliament in London ordered an end to British participation in the slave trade everywhere in the world
    in 1807.
   Throughout the remainder of the 1800s the British and Afrikaners competed for more land and power
    over the Black Africans. Conflict between the British, Afrikaners, Khoikhois and Xhosa was common, as
    were high tensions between the British and the Afrikaners, leading the Afrikaners to establish 2
    independent republics.
   In the first half of the 19th century, thousands of Bantu people died because of ecological catastrophe and
    warfare; thousands more were displaced. Large centralized states of tens of thousands of people with
    standing armies of up to 40,000 men and autocratic leaders emerged where before there had been only
    small-scale political entities and no chief had had total power. This period of revolutionary change is also
    often referred to as "the time of troubles"
   British pressures on the Dutch-speaking population of the South African Republic became intense in the
    aftermath of industrialization. In 1877, fearing a collapse of the South African Republic in the face of
    defeat by a Pedi army, the British had formally annexed the Boer state, as the Transvaal. In 1880,
    however, the Transvaalers rose, and at the Battle of Majuba Hill in 1881, they defeated a British army.
    The British then withdrew, leaving the Boers victorious in what they would later call their First War of
   In his endeavors to assert South Africa’s strength then president Kruger was assisted by a growing sense
    of Afrikaner identity that had developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
   The South African War (1899-1902), fought by the British to establish their hegemony in South Africa
    and by the Afrikaners to defend their autonomy, lasted three years and caused enormous suffering.
    Ninety thousand Afrikaners fought against a British army that eventually approached 500,000 men. In
    1900, however, British forces overwhelmed the Boers, took Bloemfontein (capital of the Orange Free
    State), Johannesburg, and Pretoria (capital of the South African Republic), and forced Kruger into exile.
   Milner’s peace was drawn up on May 21, 1902. Milner, who drew up the terms, intended that Afrikaner
    power should be broken forever. He required that the Boers hand over all their arms and agree to the
    incorporation of their territories into the British empire. However, he made one significant concession to
    Boer sentiments by agreeing that the franchise would not be extended to Africans throughout South
    Africa until the local white population could decide that issue themselves. Milner himself believed that
    "political equality" of blacks and whites was "impossible" and that South Africa was really a white
    man's country in which the role of blacks should essentially be limited to that of "well-treated" labor.
   He sought to consolidate the military victory by adopting two policies. He planned to encourage large
    numbers to emigrate from Britain. He wanted to institute policies of denationalization and of
    Anglicization. To ensure the successful implementation of both policies, he intended to rule South Africa
    directly without local representation.
   As a result, relations between Africans and Europeans were increasingly strained as Milner's policies
    were implemented.
   In 1910 the Union of South Africa was created as a dominion of the British Commonwealth in 1910,
    creating its own government and incorporating the Afrikaner republics.
The Development and Practice of Apartheid:

      From it’s founding, South Africa legally supported racial discrimination. A number of acts were
       immediately passed that made it illegal for Blacks, but not for Whites, to break a labor contract,
       made it illegal for Blacks to become full members of the Church, and restricted Africans to semi- and
       un-skilled labor in mines.
      The Natives Land Act of 1913 separated South Africa into areas in which either Blacks or Whites
       could own freehold land: blacks, constituting two-thirds of the population, were restricted to 7.5
       percent of the land; whites, making up one-fifth of the population, were given 92.5 percent. The act
       also stated that Africans could live outside their own lands only if employed as laborers by whites.
       Thus, the legal structure of apartheid was created long before apartheid became official law.
      During this time, a growing population of Coloureds (people of “mixed race”) and Indians was
       developing as well. These groups were also legally discriminated against (Gandhi’s political career
       began in opposition to discrimination in South Africa).
      The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1911 to combat these racist practices, but it
       wasn’t until 1949 that it adopted a plan of action and civil disobedience to gain equal rights for non-
       White South Africans. The Congress (originally named the South African Native National Congress)
       was founded by an educated elite who felt that British rule had brought many benefits, but that their
       professional careers were being hindered by discrimination. Nelson Mandela became increasingly
       involved with the ANC, a multiracial nationalist movement which sought to bring about democratic
       political change in South Africa. Mandela helped establish the ANC Youth League in 1944 and
       became its president in 1951.
      The Apartheid System of racial segregation was established in South Africa in 1949, when the
       National Party, fearing that they might lose office in the next election, immediately set about
       introducing laws to give apartheid a legislative reality that could not easily be overturned.
      In 1952 the ANC staged a campaign known as the Defiance Campaign, when protesters across the
       country refused to obey apartheid laws. Mandela and others devised a plan called the “M” plan after
       Mandela, it organized the ANC into groups that encouraged grassroots participation in
       antiapartheid struggles.
      By the late 1950s Mandela, with Oliver Tambo and others, moved the ANC in a more militant
       direction against the increasingly discriminatory policies of the government. He was charged with
       treason in 1956 because of the ANC’s increased activity, particularly in the Defiance Campaign, but
       he was acquitted after a five-year trial.
      While Mandela was in prison, ANC colleagues who had been operating in hiding were arrested at
       Rivonia, outside of Johannesburg. Mandela was put on trial with them for sabotage, treason, and
       violent conspiracy. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1964. Despite the
       maximum security of the Robben Island prison, Mandela and other leaders were able to keep in
       contact with the antiapartheid movement covertly. Mandela became an international symbol of
       resistance to apartheid during his long years of imprisonment, and world leaders continued to
       demand his release.
      In 1973, the U.N. declared apartheid a crime against humanity
      In October 1986, the United States Congress, overriding a presidential veto, passed legislation
       implementing mandatory sanctions against South Africa; these included the banning of all new
       investments and bank loans, the ending of air links between the United States and South Africa, and
       the banning of many South African imports.
      Recognizing the need to bring the black majority of South Africans into the political process,
       Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, at age seventy-one after twenty-seven years in prison.
       His first words were to reassure whites that he intended to work toward reconciliation. He also
       quoted his well-known statement at the Rivonia trial in 1964, "I have fought against white
       domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic
       and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an
       ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to
   On June 17, 1991, the government repealed the Population Registration Act of 1950, the most
    infamous pillar of apartheid, which had authorized the registration by race of newborn babies and
   The National Peace Accord of September 1991 was signed by representatives of twenty-seven
    political organizations and national and homeland governments, set codes of conduct for all parties
    to the process, including the police.
   The National Assembly unanimously elected Mandela president on May 9, 1994, in Cape Town.
   On April 26, 1994 over 19 million people voted in the first popular election with universal suffrage.
    Mandela won 62% of the popular vote.
Post-Apartheid South Africa:
      Although all apartheid legislation was repealed, South Africa remained a country of extreme
       contradictions. Mandela’s government faced the challenge of restructuring the economy and
       redistributing economic benefits, providing housing and health care, and improving employment
       possibilities and educational opportunities.
      Another challenge Mandela’s government faced was how to handle the widespread allegations of
       human-rights violations and other atrocities committed by the former government during apartheid.
       In a move toward uncovering past events without further polarizing the society, the government
       created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
      On April 15, 1996, this 17-member commission began conducting hearings, presided by Archbishop
       Desmond Tutu. The purpose of the commission was to collect and investigate victims’ accounts from
       the period of 1960 through 1994, to consider amnesty for those who confess their participation in
       atrocities, and to make recommendations for reparations. The commission was established in the
       hope that it would foster healing and prevent such crimes from happening again.
      Many people in South Africa, however, wanted punishment for those responsible for the crimes, and
       the commission’s compromises involving amnesty and confession have been a source of controversy.
       Exposures of atrocities point to the highest levels of the apartheid regime. In 1998 the commission
       released its final report, which condemned actions of all the major political organizations during the
       apartheid period.
      The South African parliament approved a new constitution in May 1996. The right-wing Freedom
       Front, which seeks to establish an Afrikaner homeland, abstained from the vote in parliament. The
       representatives of the IFP did not participate in the session at all. IFP representatives refused to
       participate mainly because the party advocates more autonomy for the provinces than the ANC is
       willing to allow. The new constitution excludes any discrimination based on race, gender, age, or
       sexual orientation, and abolishes the death penalty. The new constitution was implemented in stages
       between 1997 and 2000.
      In late 1997 President Mandela retired as party leader of the ANC and was replaced by executive
       deputy president Thabo Mbeki. Mandela, who announced in 1996 that he would not seek another
       term as president, groomed Mbeki to succeed him. In June 1999 legislative elections the ANC won
       two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly and selected Mbeki as South Africa’s president.
      In the early 21st century South Africa grappled with high unemployment (around 40%), poverty
       (South Africa has the largest income disparity in the world), and a growing AIDS epidemic. Under
       Mbeki, the government extended the country’s infrastructure, bringing electricity and water to
       millions of South Africans, and built thousands of new houses for the poor. The government has
       pledged to provide those same basic necessities to the millions of South Africans who have not yet
       received them. In April 2004 parliamentary elections the ANC won almost 70 percent of the seats in
       the National Assembly, which reelected Mbeki as president.
      HIV/AIDS: South Africa has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. South Africa's first
       recorded death from AIDS occurred in 1982, although the risks of AIDS were not widely publicized
       at the time. In 1985 health officials began testing blood to prevent AIDS transmission through
       transfusion. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 1,123 cases of AIDS in South Africa in
       1992. By March 1996, the number of reported AIDS cases had reached 10,351. Some health
       researchers estimated that between 800,000 and 1 million South Africans were HIV-positive in the
       mid-1990s. More than 500--perhaps as many as 700--people were becoming infected each day,
       according to these estimates, and the rate of infection was likely to double every thirteen months in
       the late 1990s. These figures suggested that between 4 million and 8 million people would be HIV-
       positive by the year 2000. Estimates of the number of likely deaths from AIDS in the early twenty-
       first century ranged as high as 1 million. Recognizing the potential impact on the country's economic
       output, the South African Chamber of Mines, the nation's largest employer, began an aggressive
       campaign to educate workers and to curtail the spread of AIDS in the 1980s, after the chamber's
       health adviser warned that AIDS could be the country's most serious health problem by the late

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