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South Africa

free send smsSouth Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Lesotho is an independent enclave entirely surrounded by South African territory.

South Africa has experienced a significantly different evolution from other nations in Africa as a result of two facts. Firstly, immigration from Europe reached levels not experienced in other African communities. Secondly, the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route, as emphasised by the closure of the Suez Canal during the Six Day War, and mineral wealth made the country extremely important to Western interests, particularly during the Cold War. As a result of immigration, South Africa is a very racially diverse nation. It has the largest population of people of Coloured (i.e. mixed racial background), whites, and Indian communities in Africa. Black South Africans account for slightly less than 70% of the population.

Racial strife between the white minority and the black majority has played a large part in the country's history and politics, culminating in apartheid, which was instituted in 1948 by the National Party (although segregation existed prior to that date). The laws that defined apartheid began to be repealed or abolished by the National Party in 1990 after a long and sometimes violent struggle (including economic sanctions from the international community) by the Black majority as well as many White, Coloured, and Indian South Africans.

free send sms worldwideTwo philosophies originated in South Africa: ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity); and Gandhi's notion of "passive resistance" (satyagraha), developed while he lived in South Africa.

The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'etat, and regular elections have been held for almost a century; however, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. The economy of South Africa is the largest and best developed on the continent, with modern infrastructure common throughout the country.

South Africa is often referred to as "The Rainbow Nation", a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and later adopted by then-President Nelson Mandela as a metaphor to describe the country's newly-developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology.

South Africa will be the host nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It will be the first time the tournament is held in Africa.

map of south africaAdministrative divisions

When apartheid ended in 1994, the South African government had to integrate the formerly independent and semi-independent Bantustans into the political structure of South Africa. To this end, it abolished the four former provinces of South Africa (Cape Province, Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal) and replaced them with nine fully integrated provinces. The new provinces are usually much smaller than the former provinces, which theoretically is in order to give local governments more resources to distribute over smaller areas.

The nine provinces are further sub-divided into fifty-two districts, six of which are metropolitan and forty-six district municipalities. The forty-six district municipalities are further subdivided into 231 local municipalities. The district municipalities also contain twenty district management areas (mostly game parks) which are directly governed by the district municipalities. The six metropolitan municipalities perform the functions of both district and local municipalities. The new provinces are:

Province Former homelands and provinces Capital Area (km?) Area (mi?) Population (2001)
Eastern Cape Cape Province Transkei Ciskei Bisho 169 580 65 475 6 436 761
Free State Orange Free State, QwaQwa Bloemfontein 129 480 49 992 2 706 776
Gauteng Transvaal Johannesburg 17 010 6 568 8 837 172
KwaZulu-Natal Natal, KwaZulu Pietermaritzburg 92 100 35 560 9 426 018
Limpopo Transvaal, Venda, Lebowa, Gazankulu Polokwane 123 900 47 838 5 273 637
Mpumalanga Transvaal, KwaNdebele, KaNgwane, Bophuthatswana, Lebowa Nelspruit 79 490 30 691 3 122 994
Northern Cape Cape Province Kimberley 361 830 139 703 822 726
North West Transvaal, Cape Province, Bophuthatswana Mafikeng 116 320 44 911 3 669 349
Western Cape Cape Province Cape Town 129 370 49 950 4 524 335
Total 1 219 080 470 688 44 819 768
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