South Africa

Population  53,675,563



South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho (which0 is completely surrounded by South Africa). It is a vast country with widely varying landscapes and has 11 official languages, as well as an equally diverse population. South Africa is renowned for its wines and is one of the world's largest producers of gold. South Africa has the strongest economy in Africa, and is an influential player in African politics. In 2010, South Africa hosted the first Football World Cup to be held on the African continent.


South Africa is divided into 9 regions:


  • Gauteng

  • Western Cape

  • Eastern Cape

  • Northern Cape

  • Free State

  • KwaZulu-Natal

  • North West

  • Mpumalanga

  • Limpopo

People and Groups

South Africa is a nation of diversity, with nearly 52-million people and a wide variety of cultures, languages and religious beliefs.


Africans are in the majority, making up 79.2% of the population; coloured and white people each make up 8.9% of the total; and the Indian/Asian population 2.5%. "Other" population group makes up 0.5% of the total.


The African population is made up of four broad groupings:

  • The Nguni, comprising the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi people

  • The Sotho-Tswana, who include the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana people)

  • The Tsonga

  • The Venda

White South Africans include:

  • Afrikaners, descendants of Dutch, German and French Huguenot who came to the country from the 17th century onwards.

  • English-speakers, descendants of settlers from the British Isles who came to the country from the late 18th century onwards.

  • Immigrants and descendents of immigrants from the rest of Europe, including Greeks, Portuguese, Eastern European Jews, Hungarians and Germans.


South Africa has eleven official languages (see below). The three most common languages spoken are Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans however, prevalence varies on region and english speakers can be found in almost all regions of South Africa.

  • IsiZulu 22.7% 

  • IsiXhosa 16%

  • Afrikaans 13.5%

  • English 9.6%

  • Sepedi 9.1%

  • Setswana 8%

  • Sesotho 7.6%

  • Xitsonga 4.5%

  • siSwati 2.5%

  • Tshivenda 2.4%

  • isiNdebele 2.1%

Political Structure

South Africa has a vibrant multiparty political system, with 13 parties represented in the National Assembly of Parliament.


The African National Congress (ANC) is the majority party, with 249 of the 400 National Assembly seats. The party controls eight of the country's nine provinces, with the exception of the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance has been in power since 2009 elections. 

South Africa's Parliament is made up of two houses: the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly is the more influential, passing legislation and overseeing executive performance. Its members are elected for a term of five years.


South Africa has a rich variety of visual art, with influences ranging from pre-historic, ancient and indigenous art to western, Asian and contemporary art.

Art galleries, ranging from small privately owned commercial galleries, to major regional galleries such as the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, the Durban Art Gallery in KwaZulu-Natal, theJohannesburg Art Gallery in Gauteng and King George VI Gallery in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, showcase collections of indigenous, historical and contemporary works.


Dancing is part of the African way of life and has become a prime means of artistic expression, with dance companies expanding and exploring new territory.

Contemporary work ranges from normal preconceptions of movement and performance art or performance theatre to the completely unconventional.

Added to this is the African experience, which includes traditional dance inspired by wedding ceremonies, battles, rituals and the trifles of everyday life.


The theatre scene is buzzing in South Africa, with over 100 active spaces across the country offering everything from indigenous drama, music, dance, cabaret and satire to West End and Broadway hits, classical opera and ballet.


South Africa is the 25th largest market for recorded music. Local music accounts for a third of all the music bought by South Africans. Township jazz and blues, especially the kwêla music of the forties and fifties are being redefined; the country also has a rich choral tradition, and pop and rock musicians have made their mark internationally.


The public holidays in South Africa are:

  • New Year's Day (1 January)

  • Human Rights Day (21 March)

  • Easter weekend (4-day long weekend in March/April)

  • Freedom Day (27 April)

  • Workers Day (1 May)

  • Youth Day (16 June)

  • Woman's Day (9 August)

  • Heritage Day (24 September)

  • Day of Reconciliation (16 December)

  • Christmas Day (25 December)

  • Day of Goodwill (26 December) - Often referred to as 'Boxing Day'.

**If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, then the Monday following will be a holiday


South Africa has eleven universities throughout the country. The University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch have ranked as top universities throughout all of Africa. The universities of South Africa include: 

  • Cape Peninsula University

  • University of Cape Town

  • University of Fort Hare 

  • University of Johannesburg

  • University of Kwazulu-Natal

  • North-West University

  • University of Pretoria

  • Rhodes University

  • University of South Africa

  • Stellenbosch University

  • Tshwane University

  • University of Venda

  • University of the Western Cape

  • University of the Witwatersrand

Literacy  94.3%


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