South Africa Country Profile and News Stories

National Geographic News
March 18, 2005
South Africa, Africa's southernmost nation, is also Africa's largest and
most developed economy. Its premier city, Johannesburg, and its
satellite cities are home to more than eight million
people—generating 9 percent of all economic activity in Africa.

South Africa is a democratic country representing all its diverse people—often called the rainbow nation. The government recognizes 11 official languages.

Area: 470,693 square miles (1,219,090 square kilometers)

Capital: Pretoria (administrative capital), Bloemfontein (judicial capital), Cape Town (legislative capital)

Religion: Christian, indigenous beliefs, Muslim, Hindu

Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu

Life Expectancy: 53

Currency: rand

GDP per capita: the equivalent of U.S. $10,000

Economy: mining, automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, agriculture

Exports: gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment

Adapted from the National Geographic Atlas of the World

South Africa Photo Galleries

Faces of South Africa
South Africa Tourism: Ten Things to See and Do

South Africa News Stories

Land Animals

S. Africa Weighs Killing "Excess" Elephants in Parks
Rare Two-Headed Tortoise Found in South Africa
Chinese Tigers Learn Hunting, Survival Skills in Africa
Has Rare Lion of Africa's Cape Eluded Extinction?
"Killer Bee" Touted as Economic Lifesaver in S. Africa
Cross-Border Park Is Africa's Largest Wildlife Refuge
African Air Base Loses Cheetah "Watchdog"
Africa's New Safari Trend Is for the Birds
Time Running Out for Exotic Tahrs in Cape Town
Gamblers Fuel Trade in "Lucky" Vulture Heads in Africa
Crocodile, Scientist "Communicate" by Mobile Phone
Hunters Pay to Tranquilize Game for Research
On the Trail of Africa's Endangered Wild Dogs
Tiny Bugs Enlisted to Fight Invading Water Hyacinths
Grasshoppers Used to Fight "Worst Water Weed"
Model Jerry Hall's Albatross Wins the Big Bird Race
Killer Cats Hunted Human Ancestors
Wild Dog Urine May Be Used as "Fences" in Africa
Cheetah Conservation Hopes Fall on "Ambassador" Cat
Rare Leopard Behavior Documented on Film
Meerkats Become Fat Cats in Large Cooperatives

Marine Animals

South Africa Sardine Migration Draws Crowds
Poaching, Smuggling Threaten Abalone in S. Africa
Africa's Penguins Still Reeling From "Guano Craze"
Photographing Africa's "Flying Sharks"
Tags Hobble Penguins, Some Researchers Contend
Satellites Spy on Lives of Great White Sharks
Underwater Photographer On Swimming With Sharks
Penguin Tags Are a Drag—Can Rubber Improve Them?
Satellite Tags Keep Track of Great White Sharks
Rotten-Egg Gas Suffocating Fish Off African Coast
Swimming With Sharks Photo Gallery 1
Swimming With Sharks Photo Gallery 2

Plant Life

Saving South Africa's Floral Heritage

Archaeology & Paleontology

Oldest Jewelry? "Beads" Discovered in African Cave
African Bone Tools Dispute Key Evolution Idea
New Dino Species Found on Dusty Shelf
3.5-Billion-Year-Old Lava Yields Signs of Early Life
Fossil Tusks Indicate Earliest Sexual Differentiation
Is Bead Find Proof Modern Thought Began in Africa?
Africa's Rock Art Documented Before it Disappears

Environment & Conservation

South African Desert Becomes Global-Warming Lab
Fire Sparks Conservation Movement in South Africa
Penguin Decline Due to Global Warming?
Shampooing to Stop Oil Spill Bird Deaths
Poaching, Smuggling Threaten Abalone in South Africa

History & Culture

Game-Filled Park Is School for South African Kids
Jason Carter Discusses South Africa
Africa's Bushmen May Get Rich From Diet-Drug Secret
Nelson Mandela Bows Out of Public Life
Africa Explorer Takes Off on Yearlong Aerial Survey
Photo Gallery: South Africa Tourism
Photo Gallery: Faces of South Africa

Space & Science

S. African Tech Tycoon Soars as Space Tourist

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