Country Profile on South Africa

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  • Topic: South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town
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  • Published : April 30, 2006
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Country Profile on South Africa
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 enclave entirely surrounded by South African territory. South Africa has experienced a significantly different evolution than other nations in Africa arising primarily from two facts: immigration from Europe reached levels not experienced in other African communities and a level of mineralogical wealth that made the country extremely important to Western interests particularly during the Cold War. As a result of the former, South Africa is a very racially diverse nation. It has the largest population of people of Coloured (i.e., mixed racial background), European, and Indian communities in Africa. Black South Africans account for roughly 75% of the population. Racial strife between the white minority and the black majority have played a large part in the country's history and politics, culminating in apartheid which was instituted in 1948 by the National Party. The laws that defined apartheid began to be repealed or abolished in 1990 after a long and violent struggle by the black majority, as well as some White, Coloured, and Indian South Africans. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century; black South Africans were only enfranchised in 1994. The economy of South Africa is the largest and best developed on the continent, with modern infrastructure common throughout the country. The following will discuss in more detail the Repulic of South Africa's geography, economics, history, and government. Geography- South Africa is located at the extreme south of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 kilometres (1,550 mi) and across two oceans (the Atlantic and the Indian). South Africa has a great variety of climate zones, from the extreme desert of the Kalahari near Namibia to lush subtropical climate along the border with Mozambique. It quickly rises over a mountainous escarpment towards the interior plateau known as the Highveld. Even though South Africa is classified as semi-arid, there is considerable variation in climate as well as topography. The interior of South Africa is a giant, mountainous, and sparsely populated scrubland Karoo plateau, which is drier towards the north-west along the Kalahari desert. In contrast, the eastern coastline is lush and well-watered which produces a climate similar to the tropics. The extreme south west has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers. This area also produces much of South Africa's wine. This region is also particularly known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the country's south coast rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is popularly known as the Garden Route. The Free State is particularly flat due to the fact that the eastern region of the Highveld does not extend as far north as the western region. North the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat. Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1,740 metres (5,709 ft) and receives an annual rainfall of 760 millimetres (30 in). Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare. To the north and east of Johannesburg, the altitude drops beyond the Highveld's escarpment, and turns into the Lowveld. The Lowveld has particularly high temperatures, and is also the location of traditional South African Bushveld. The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. The...
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