65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,075,117/female 1,562,860) (2009 est.)
Male to female ratio: 99/100 (2009).
Birth rate: 19.9 per 1,000 people.
Life expectancy at birth: 49.8 for males, 48.1 for females.
Infant mortality rate: 44.4 per 1000 live births.
Official Languages: IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census)
Ethnic Groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)
Religious affiliations: 68% Christian, 28.5% Traditional, Animistic.
Religious group representation: 83.1% Christian (30,942,000), 8.4% Ethno-religionist (3,375,777), 2.4% Hindu (959,356), 2.4% Nonreligious (957,006), and 2.4% Muslim (947,148). Less than 1% of the following: Baha’i, Jew, Atheist, Buddhist, Sikh, Chinese folk-religionist, Spiritist, Confucianist and other.
Education: 13 years from primary to tertiary.
Literacy rate: 86.4%.
GDP per capita: $10,136.
National GDP: $493.5 billion.
Major Industries: Mining, steel, chemicals, vehicles, machinery, textiles.
Chief crops: Corn, wheat, vetatables, sugar and fruit.
Electricity production: 240.3 bil kWh (2007).
TV Sets: 101 per 1000 people.
Radios: 273 per 1000 people.
Telephones: 95 per 1000 people.
Daily newspaper circulation: 33 per 1000 people.
Government type: Constitutional Democracy.
Head of state and government: President Jacob Zuma.
International organization memberships: United Nations, the Commonwealth, Organization for African Unity.
Historical Background: There is evidence that the San bush people-traditionally hunters and gatherers-and the Khoikhoi-traditionally nomadic herders-lived thousands of years ago in the region now known as South Africa. Long before European settlers, Bantu-speaking people migrated here from central Africa and are thought to be the ancestors of the Zulu, Xhosa, and Swazi peoples. In the mid 1600s, the Dutch East India Company established a fort in what came to be known as Cape Town. Dutch, Germans, and French Huguenots were encouraged to immigrate here, establishing the Cape Colony. These became known as Boers or Afrikaners. By the early 1700s, the Khoikhoi had lost most of its land due to war, and the devastation of European-imported diseases and the San had been forced further north. The mixing of these ethnic groups spawned the distinct ethnic group known as the Cape Coloreds. In the early 19th century, the competition for land between the Sotho and Nguni Bantu groups forced further migration of the Bantus, known as the crushing. This period of devastation for some groups led to the strengthening of the Zulu, Swazi, and Sotho kingdoms. These new kingdoms came into direct conflict with European expansion. In 1814, Britain was given control of the Cape Colony in negotiations following the Napoleanic Wars. By 1820, thousands of British colonists began to impose English law, which encouraged the northern migration of the Afrikaners. The increasing migration of Europeans sparked bloody battles between indigenous Africans, especially the Xhosa, and those of European heritage beginning in 1781 and continuing on for over 100 years. The British parliament established its control with the South Africa Act of 1910. From 1924 until the 1990s, South Africa’s system of Apartheid legally divided the country by race. In the 1990s, the Apartheid laws were repealed and a transitional government was instituted to bring South Africa to a more democratic society. On May 9, 1994, Nelson Mandela, a black African leader, was elected President.
Trends and Social Issues
Understanding the trends and social issues of a particular country should always take into consideration the opinions of persons within the country. The Center for Youth Studies is looking for contributors from each country to add to our appreciation and understanding of South Africa’s culture, potential, trends, and critical issues.
We currently have several contacts in South Africa from whom we look forward to hearing their insights. The world press has reported extensively on AIDS and South Africa, the current status of race relations, and South Africa’s role in OAU. What are the most important issues for South African’s today? This will be added as we receive this information.
Barrett, D., Kurian, G., & Johnson, T. (2001). World Christian Encyclopedia 2nd Edition: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World. Oxford: University Press.
Turner, B. (2000). The World Today: Essential Facts in an Ever Changing World 2000. New York, NY: St. Marten’s Press.
McGeveran, Jr., W. (Ed.). (2001). The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Mahwah, NJ: World Almanac Books.