The Republic Of South Africa Essay, Research Paper
The republic of South AfricaLAND AND RESOURCESThe republic of South Africa is located one the southern-mosttip of Africa. It’s bordered on the north by Namibia, Bostwana,Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland; on the east and south by theIndian Ocean; and on the west by the Atlantic ocean. South Africaoccupies a land area of about 1,221,037 sq km (471,445 sq mi). SouthAfrica’s population almost reached 39 million people in 1991. SouthAfrica is a multiethnic, multiracial society comprised of 75.2% blackAfricans, 13.6% whites, 8.6% are known as coloureds, and 2.6% are ofAsian decent. South Africa consists primarily of a great plateau, ittakes up approximately two-thirds of the country. It reaches its greatheights along the Drakensberg Mountains, a Mountain range that is partof the Great Escapement. The Great escarpment separates the plateaufrom the coastal areas of South Africa. There are three regionsdistinguished in the plateau: The Highveld, the Bushveld, and theMiddleveld. The Highveld is characterized by mostly level or gentlyrolling ground. The Highveld covers the majority of the plateau and ismostly higher than 5000ft above sea level. The northern limit of thehighveld is marked by a great rock ridge called the Witwatersrand. Thecity of Johannesburg is located here. North of the Highveld is theBushveld or as also referred to the Transvaal Basin. The Bushveldaverages some 4000ft in height. This veld is characterized by basinsand rock ridges which slope westerly toward the Limpopo River. TheWesternmost section of the plateau is known as the Middle Veld it tooslopes in a westerly direction and the average height is 3000ft. Betweenthe edge of the plateau and the eastern and southern coastline thelandscape descends towards the sea in a series of abrupt, steep dropoffs. There are also other Mountain Ranges in South Africa such asthe Swatberg mountain range, the Langerberg mountain range. SouthAfrica includes parts of two major deserts, in the northwest the KalahariDesert and a small section of the Namib Desert in the west. The majorrivers of South Africa are the Orange, Vaal, and Limpopo. The Orangeis the longest river in the country, it originates in Lesotho (a smallcountry located inside of South Africa). South Africa happens to enjoya mild yet temperate climate. Laden with moisture the Trade Windsbring about 35 inches of rain yearly to the Eastern Lowveld, the EasternUplands and as far west as the Drakensburg. The Highveld receivesabout 15 to 30 inches of rain annualy. The amount of annualprecipitation decreases amazingly as you move west. On the westerncoast the annual rain fall often goes as low as 2 inches. The extremeSouthwest receives 22 inches of rain annually, mostly because thisregion is dominated by the western winds that originate over theeAtlantic Ocean. The average daily temperature in January in Durban,which is located on a low lying part of the northeastern coast is about75 degrees Fahrenheit. The corresponding temperature inJohannesburg, in the north central area is about 66 degrees Fahrenheit.The average daily temp in January in Cape Town is about 69 degreesFahrenheit. The average daily July temperature in Durban is 62 degrees,49 degrees in Johannesburg, and about 54 degrees in Cape Town.PEOPLEAs mentioned earlier South Africa is a multiethnic, multiracialcountry. Comprised of Black Africans, Whites, Coloureds and Asians.The income gap between blacks and whites is among the largest in theworld. The average household income for a white is more than 12times that of the common black family. More than half the blacks inSouth Africa live below the poverty line. In rural areas the livingstandards gap is even larger. Due to residential segregation laws,whites generally live in the center of major urban areas, relatively closeto the central business district, while blacks live in outlying townships.Incomes from the poorest 40% of black South Africans decreasedsignificantly and steadily since 1975. Although on a better note thenumber of wealthy blacks has increased since 1975. The officiallanguages of South Africa are Afrikaans and English. English is theprimary language for almost all whites and for some Asians and blacks.Most blacks though speak or use a Bantu language. About four-fifthsof South Africans are Christians, mainly protestant. Most Asians comefrom Hindu or Muslim decent. Blacks on the other hand belong to theDutch Reformed church, and most. South African whites who speakEnglish as their primary language belong to the Anglican,Congregational, Methodist, or Roman Catholic churches. South Africahas a Jewish community of some 120,000 members. NATURAL RESOURCES The mining industry has been a leading segment of the SouthAfrican economy since the late 19th century, when the large-scalediamond and gold productions started. South Africa is very rich in
mineral resources. Gold, coal and diamonds are the chief mineralsmined in South Africa. Witwatersrand located in South Africa is thesite of the richest gold field in all the world, it was discovered in 1886.Diamonds are the other important source of mineral wealth SouthAfrica, most diamonds come from fields near the city of Kimberly.These diamond fields were discovered in 1870. Some of the otherminerals found, mined, and extracted from South Africa are copper,nickel, platinum, asbestos, chromite, fluorite, phosphates, vanadium,tin, titanium, and manganese and iron ores. Agriculturaly South Africais severely restricted in crop raising because of the infertile soil andlimited rainfall. Because of that almost all (85%) of the farmland isdedicated to raising livestock. The livestock includes sheep, goatscattle, hogs, and poultry. Even though 85% is used for livestock theystill produce all the crops that they need for food. The whites own thelarge farms while the blacks own the smaller less modern farms. Hereare some figures on South Africa’s estimated annual agricultural outputin the early 1990’s: sugarcane, 18.7 million metric tons; maize, 9.4million; wheat, 1.8 million; grapes, 1.4 million; potatoes, 1.3 million;citrus fruit, 650,00; sorghum, 400,000; and apples, 450,00. Livestockincluded an estimated 29.8 million sheep, 11.8 million cattle, 5.8 milliongoats, 1.5 million pigs, and 37 million chickens. Forestry and timberproduction in South Africa comes mostly from stands of eucalyptus,pine and wattle planted under the forestation program of thegovernment. The bark from the wattle tree, used in tanning products, isa very important export for South Africa. In the late 80’s annual timberharvest was somewhere around 27 million cu m (953 million cu ft). Inthe late Fishing is also one of the more important industries in SouthAfrica. The fish caught in the waters around South Africa are mostcommonly hake, anchovy, pilchard, herring, and mackerel. Most of thefish caught are processed into forms of fish meal. In the 1990’s annualfish catch was somewhere upwards of 536,400 metric tons. Prior tothe second world war manufacturing was of much less importance thanmining and agriculture. After and during the second world war is whena susbstantial expansion of manufacturing took place, and in the early90’s this specific sector of South Africa’s economy contributed andestimated 25 percent to the gross domestic product of South Africa.Most of the money for this manufacturing expansion came from privatesources and funds, both domestic and foreign. The leadingmanufactures of South Africa include the following chemical products,petroleum and coal products, tobacco products, processed food andbeverages, transportation equipment, iron and steel, metal products,machinery, paper, and textiles. In the early 90’s South Africas yearlyexport earned quite a bit more that its exports, this was most largely theresult of great revenue from the foreign sales of gold. Annual exportstotaled approximately $23.1 billion and the imports totall a so called$16.9 billion. Gold totals about 30% of the total annual value ofexports, which also include metals and steel products, foodstuffs,diamonds and other precious stones, iron and steel, and chemicals.Major imports include machinery and electrical equipment,transportation equipment, chemicals, and foodstuffs. Their main tradingpartner’s are and include Japan, Great Britain, the United States,Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands. Therailroad system, which links all main centers, is almost but not entirelyowned by the state and is controlled by a government agency ( theSouth African Transport Services Board ). The country is also servedby some 115,000 miles (185,000 km) of road, 30 percent of which arepaved. Approximately 3.4 million passenger cars are in use. The majorairline is South African Airways, and the country also is served byseveral smaller carriers and charter services as well as foreign airlines.South Africa’s main seaports are located in the following cities CapeTown, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Saldanha,and Richard’s Bay. Television Broadcast began in 1976. Telegraph,postal, and telephone services are operated by the government. Radiobroadcasting is provided by the state-controlled South AfricanBroadcasting Corporation, which produces many local programs innative black African languages. Amazingly the country has more than20 daily newspapers. GOVERNMENTSouth Africa is a parliamentary government that is split into three partsthe legislature, executive, and judiciary branches much like are own.Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa at the firstsession of the new parliament. Thabo Mbeki was elected first deputypresident and F. W. de Klerk was named second deputy president. BIBLIOGRAPHY1.Microsoft Encarta 1995, 95 edition2.Smith, Linda M. South Africa and its People, Philadelphia,Pennsylvania: running press, 19733.Encyclopedia of South Africa, 4th edition. London, England.Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.