South Africa

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The Republic of South Africa (also known by other official names) is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. South Africa's coast stretches 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi)[4][5] and borders both the Atlantic and Indian oceans.[6] To the north of South Africa lie Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, while the Kingdom of Lesotho is an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory.[7] Modern human beings have inhabited South Africa for more than 100,000 years.[8]
  The Republic of South Africa (also known by other official names) is a country located at the southern tip of Africa.South Africa's coast stretches 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) [4][5] and borders both the Atlantic and Indian oceans. [6] Tothe north of South Africa lie Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, while the Kingdom of Lesotho is an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory. [7]  Modern human beings have inhabited South Africa for more than 100,000 years. [8] However, with the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, the Dutch East India Company founded a refreshment station at what would become Cape Townin 1652. [9] Cape Town became a British colony in 1806. European settlement expanded during the 1820s as the Boers(srcinal Dutch, German and French settlers) and the British 1820 Settlers claimed land in the north and east of thecountry. Conflicts arose between the srcinal inhabitants of the land, the Xhosa and Zulu, and the new Europeansettlers. However, the discovery of diamonds and later gold triggered the conflict known as the Anglo-Boer War asthe Boers and the British fought for the control of South Africa's mineral wealth. Although the Boers were defeated,limited independence was given to South Africa in 1910 as a British dominion. Anti-British policies focused onultimate independence which was achieved in 1961 when South Africa was declared a republic. The leading NationalParty legislated for a continuation of racial segregation begun by the Dutch (and which later became segregationknown as apartheid  ), despite opposition both in and outside of the country. In 1990 the then president F.W. de Klerk began to dismantle this legislation, and in 1994 the first democratic election was held in South Africa. This electionbrought Nelson Mandela and the current ruling party, the African National Congress to power.South Africa is known for its diversity, and eleven official languages are recognised in its constitution. [6] English isthe most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life, however it is only the fifth most spokenhome language. [6] South Africa is ethnically diverse, with the largest Caucasian, Indian, and racially mixedcommunities in Africa. Although 79.6% of South Africa's population is Black, [2] this category is neither culturally nor linguistically homogenous, as they speak a number of different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. [6]  Midyear 2007, South Africa's population was estimated at 47.9 million. [2]   H istory South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological sites in Africa. Extensive fossil remains at the Sterkfontein,Kromdraai and Makapansgat caves suggest that various australopithecines existed in South Africa from about threemillion years ago . [10] These were succeeded by various species of  Homo , including Homo habilis , Homo erectus andmodern humans, Homo sapiens . Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists andherdsmen, were already present south of the Limpopo River by the fourth or fifth century (see Bantu expansion)displacing and absorbing the srcinal KhoiSan speakers. They slowly moved south and the earliest ironworks inmodern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosapeople, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier KhoiSan people, reaching the Fish River,in today's Eastern Cape Province. These Iron Age populations displaced earlier people, who often had hunter-gatherer societies, as they migratedIn 1487, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to reach the southernmost tip of Africa.The King of Portugal, John II, named it the Cab o da Bo a E  sperança or Cape of Good Hope as it led to the riches of India. In 1652 a refreshment station was established at the Cape of Good Hope by Jan van Riebeeck on behalf of theDutch East India Company. Slaves were brought from Indonesia, Madagascar, and India as a labour source for theDutch immigrants in Cape Town. As they expanded east, the Dutch settlers eventually met the south-westerlyexpanding Xhosa people in the region of the Fish River. A series of wars, called the Cape Frontier Wars, ensued,mainly caused by conflicting land and livestock interests.Great Britain took over the Cape of Good Hope area in 1795 ostensibly to stop it falling into the hands of theRevolutionary French, but also seeking to use Cape Town in particular as a stop on the route to Australia and India. Itwas later returned to the Dutch in 1803, but soon afterwards the Dutch East India Company declared bankruptcy, andthe British annexed the Cape Colony in 1806. The British continued the frontier wars against the Xhosa, pushing theeastern frontier eastward through a line of forts established along the Fish River and consolidating it by encouragingBritish settlement. Due to pressure of abolitionist societies in Britain, the British parliament first stopped its global  slave trade in 1807, then abolished slavery in all its colonies in 1833. During the 1830s, approximately 12 000 Boers(later known as Voortrekkers), departed from the Cape Colony, where they were subjected to British control, to thefuture Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal regions. The Boers founded the Boer Republics - the South AfricanRepublic (Gauteng) and the Orange Free State (Free State).The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior encouraged economic growth and immigration,intensifying the subjugation of the indigenous peoples. The Boer Republics successfully resisted Britishencroachments during the First Boer War (1880±1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics, much better suited to localconditions. However, the British returned in greater numbers without their red jackets in the Second Boer War (1899± 1902). The Boers' attempt to ally themselves with German South-West Africa provided the British with yet another excuse to take control of the Boer Republics. Ind epe nd e n ce After four years of negotiating, the Union of South Africa was created from the Cape and Natal colonies, as well asthe republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal, on May 31, 1910, exactly eight years after the end of the SecondBoer War. The newly-created Union of South Africa was a dominion. The Natives' Land Act of 1913 severelyrestricted the ownership of land by 'blacks', at that stage to a mere 7% of the country, although this amount waseventually increased marginally. [11] The union was effectively granted independence from the United Kingdom withthe passage of the Statute of Westminster, which morphed the British king's position within South Africa into that of the distinct King of South Africa. In 1934, the South African Party and National Party merged to form the UnitedParty, seeking reconciliation between Afrikaners and English-speaking Whites , but split in 1939 over the Union'sentry into World War II as an ally of the United Kingdom, a move which the National Party strongly opposed.In 1948, the National Party was elected to power, and intensified the implementation of racial segregation that hadbegun under British rule. The Nationalist Government added to the British list of segregationist laws, and the systemof segregation became known collectively as apartheid. Not surprisingly, this segregation also applied to the wealthacquired during rapid industrialisation of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. While the White minority enjoyed the higheststandard of living in all of Africa, often comparable to First World western nations, the Black majority remaineddisadvantaged by almost every standard, including income, education, housing, and life expectancy. On 31 May1961, following a whites-only referendum, the country became a republic and left the Commonwealth. The office of Governor-General was abolished and replaced with the position of State President.Apartheid became increasingly controversial, leading to widespread sanctions and divestment abroad and growingunrest and oppression within South Africa. (See also the article on the History of South Africa in the apartheid era.) Along period of harsh suppression by the government, and at times violent resistance, strikes, marches, protests, andsabotage by bombing and other means, by various anti-apartheid movements, most notably the African NationalCongress (ANC), followed. In the late 1970s, South Africa began a program of nuclear weapons, and in the followingdecade it produced six deliverable nuclear weapons. The rationale for the nuclear arsenal is disputed, but it isbelieved that Vorster and P.W. Botha wanted to be able to catalyse American intervention in the event of a war between South Africa and the Cuban-supported MPLA government of Angola. Democracy In 1990 the National Party government took the first step towards negotiating itself out of power when it lifted theban on the African National Congress and other left-wing political organisations, and released Nelson Mandela fromprison after twenty-seven years' incarceration on a sabotage sentence. Apartheid legislation was gradually removedfrom the statute books, and South Africa also destroyed its nuclear arsenal and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The first multi-racial elections were held in 1994, which the ANC won by an overwhelmingmajority. It has been in power ever since.Despite the end of apartheid, millions of South Africans, mostly black, continued to live in poverty. This is partlyattributed to the legacy of the apartheid system and, increasingly, as what many see as the failure of the current  government to tackle social issues, coupled with the monetary and fiscal discipline of the current government toensure both redistribution of wealth and economic growth. Since the ANC government took power, South Africa'sUnited Nations Human Development Index has fallen dramatically, while it was steadily rising until the mid-1990s. [12] Much of this could be attributed to the AIDS pandemic and the government's failure to take steps to addressit. [13] However, the ANC's social housing policy has produced some improvement in living conditions in many areasby redirecting fiscal spending and improving the efficiency of the tax collection system. P olitics  South Africa is the only country with three capital cities [ citati o n   needed  ] : Cape Town, the largest of the three, is the legislative capital; Pretoria is the ad  m inistrative capital; and Bloemfontein is the judicial  capital. South Africa has abicameral parliament: the National Council of Provinces (the upper house) has 90 members, while the NationalAssembly (the lower house) has 400 members. Members of the lower house are elected on a population basis byproportional representation: half of the members are elected from national lists and the other half are elected fromprovincial lists. Ten members are elected to represent each province in the National Council of Provinces, regardlessof the population of the province. Elections for both chambers are held every five years. The government is formed inthe lower house, and the leader of the majority party in the National Assembly is the President.The primary sources of South Africa law are Roman-Dutch mercantile law and personal law with English Commonlaw, as imports of Dutch settlements and British colonialism. [14] The first European based law in South Africa wasbrought by the Dutch East India Company and is called Roman-Dutch law. It was imported before the codification of European law into the Napoleonic Code and is comparable in many ways to Scots law. This was followed in the 19thcentury by English law, both common and statutory. Starting in 1910 with unification, South Africa had its ownparliament which passed laws specific for South Africa, building on those previously passed for the individualmember colonies.Current South African politics are dominated by the African National Congress (ANC), which received 69.7% of thevote during the last 2004 general election and 66.3% of the vote in the 2006 municipal election. The current (2004-2009 term) President of South Africa is Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded former President Nelson Mandela. The mainchallenger to ANC's rule is the Democratic Alliance party, which received 12.4% of the vote in the 2004 election and14.8% in the 2006 election. The party's leader is Helen Zille (elected 6 May 2007), and the previous leader was TonyLeon. The formerly dominant New National Party, which introduced apartheid through its predecessor, the NationalParty, chose to merge with ANC on 9 April 2005. Other major political parties represented in Parliament are theInkatha Freedom Party, which mainly represents Zulu voters, and the Independent Democrats, who took 6.97% and1.7% of the vote respectively, in the 2004 election.Since 2004, the country has had many thousands of popular protests, some violent, making it, according to oneacademic, the most protest-rich country in the world . [15] Many of these protests have been organised from thegrowing shanty towns that surround South African cities. F oreig n relatio n s a nd military  Since the end of apartheid, South Africa's foreign policy has focused on its African partners particularly in theSouthern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union. South Africa has played a key role as amediator in African conflicts over the last decade, such as in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, theComoros, and Zimbabwe. After apartheid ended, South Africa was readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations. Asthe Union of South Africa, South Africa was a founding member of the United Nations and the then Prime Minister Jan Smuts wrote the preamble to its constitution. South Africa is currently a non-permanent member of the UnitedNations Security Council and has attracted controversy by voting against a resolution criticising the Burmesegovernment in 2006 and against the implementation of sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2008. South Africa is amember of the Group of 77 and chaired the organisation in 2006. South Africa is a member of the South Atlantic  Peace and Cooperation Zone, Southern African Customs Union, World Trade Organization, International MonetaryFund, G20 and G8+5.South Africa's armed forces, known as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), was created in 1994 [16][17] . Previously known as the South African Defence Force (SADF), the new force is an all volunteer army andconsists of the forces of the old SADF, as well as the forces of the African nationalist groups, namely Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), and the former Bantustan defence forces. [16] The SANDF issubdivided into four branches, the South African Army, the South African Air Force, the South African Navy, andthe South African Military Health Services. [18]  In recent years, the SANDF has become a major peacekeeping force in Africa , [19] and has been involved inoperations in Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, [19] and Burundi, [19] amongst others. It has alsoparticipated as a part of multi-national UN peacekeeping forces.South Africa undertook a nuclear weapons program in the 1970s [20] and may have conducted a nuclear test over theAtlantic in 1979 . [21] It is the only African country to have successfully developed nuclear weapons. It has become thefirst country (followed by Ukraine) with nuclear capability to voluntarily renounce and dismantle its program and inthe process signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991 . [20]   P rovi n ces, d istricts a nd mu n icipalities 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 provincesof South Africa (Cape Province, Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal) and replaced them with nine fullyintegrated provinces. The new provinces are usually much smaller than the former provinces, which theoreticallygives local governments more resources to distribute over smaller areas.The nine provinces are further subdivided into 52 districts: 6 metropolitan and 46 district municipalities. The 46district municipalities are further subdivided into 231 local municipalities. The district municipalities also contain 20district management areas (mostly game parks) that are directly governed by the district municipalities. The sixmetropolitan municipalities perform the functions of both district and local municipalities. The new provinces are: P rovi n ce F ormer homela nd s a nd provi n ces CapitalArea(km²)Area(sq mi) P opulatio n  (2001) Eastern Cape   Cape Province, Transkei, Ciskei Bhisho   169,580 65,475 6,436,761Free State   Orange Free State, QwaQwa Bloemfontein   129,480 49,992 2,706,776Gauteng   Transvaal   Johannesburg   17,010 6,568 8,837,172KwaZulu-Natal   Natal, KwaZulu Pietermaritzburg   92,100 35,560 9,426,018Limpopo   Transvaal, Venda, Lebowa, Gazankulu Polokwane   123,900 47,838 5,273,637Mpumalanga   Transvaal, KwaNdebele, KaNgwane,Bophuthatswana, LebowaNelspruit   79,490 30,691 3,122,994NorthernCape   Cape Province   Kimberley   361,830 139,703 822,726North West   Transvaal, Cape Province, Bophuthatswana Mafikeng   116,320 44,911 3,669,349Western 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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