South Africa

By: Donovan

Bodies of Water that Border South Africa

The Indian Ocean forms the eastern border of South Africa. A strong current, called the Agulhas flows south along South Africa’s coast toward Antarctica. The current is stronger and swifter than the Gulf Stream and more dangerous to vessels, because it flows between land masses. The Atlantic Ocean forms the western border of South Africa. A strong cold current, the Benguela current flows north from Antarctica along South Africa’s western coast. This current carries large amounts of plankton and provides food for the abundant fishing grounds. The Limpopo River runs through South Africa and neighboring Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. It empties into the Indian Ocean. It's the second longest river in Africa. The slow-moving Limpopo is not navigable but does provide a source of water for villages located along its length.The Orange River forms the border between Namibia and South Africa before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The river is bordered by rough mountain terrain and, in some areas, desert sand dunes. This river is responsible for the rich diamond deposits found in Namibia. It carried the diamonds from South Africa’s volcanic pipes to the ocean. Ocean currents transported the diamonds to Namibia’s coast.

Natural resources

There are many natural resources in South Africa. These are the natural resources are gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas.The country is a leading supplier of a variety of minerals and mineral products that are exported to 87 countries. Each year, approximately 55 different minerals are produced from more than 700 mines, with gold, platinum, coal and diamonds dominating exports and revenue earnings. There are also important deposits of iron and copper.

Ethnic Groups

Until 1991, South African law divided the population into four major racial categories: (1.) The Black Africans, of which the Nguni and Sotho groups account for 90% of the Black population. Black population accounts 75% of the South Africa's entire population. (2.) The Whites who account for about 13% of the population. (3.) The Indians who account for around 3 % and (4.) the Coloreds who are mixed White and Black descent and account for 9% of the population. Although the South African law of racial categories has been abolished, many South Africans still view themselves according to these categories. The black population consists of several groups: Khoi-San, Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, Sotho, Shangaan and Venda, just to name a few. The biggest groups are Zulus (21 %), Xhosas (17 %) and the Sotho (15%). Next smaller minorities are the Tswana, Venda, Ndebele, Swasi, and Pedi.


South Africa was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. English domination of the Dutch descendents (known as Boers or Afrikaners) resulted in the Dutch establishing the new colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal. The discovery of diamonds in these lands around 1900 resulted in an English invasion which sparked the Boer War. Following independence from England, an uneasy power-sharing between the two groups held sway until the 1940's, when the Afrikaner National Party was able to gain a strong majority. Strategists in the National Party invented apartheid as a means to cement their control over the economic and social system. Initially, aim of the apartheid was to maintain white domination while extending racial separation. With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of ``white-only'' jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. Classification into these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance, and descent. For example, a white person was defined as ``in appearance obviously a white person or generally accepted as a white person.'' A person could not be considered white if one of his or her parents were non-white. The determination that a person was ``obviously white'' would take into account ``his habits, education, and speech and deportment and demeanor.'' A black person would be of or accepted as a member of an African tribe or race, and a colored person is one that is not black or white. The Department of Home Affairs (a government bureau) was responsible for the classification of the citizenry. Non-compliance with the race laws were dealt with harshly. All blacks were required to carry ``pass books'' containing fingerprints, photo and information on access to non-black areas.


The first democratically elected president of South Africa was Nelson Mandela, who served as president from 1994- 1999."We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered," he declared.The power that had belonged to whites since they first settled on this cape 342 years ago passed on May 10, 1994 to a Parliament. He is the First Black President of South Africa.Africa faces challenges caused by natural factors such as drought and poor soils. Health problems and a high death rate, particularly from AIDS, are other challenges. Ethnic and political conflict, especially south of the Sahara, remains a problem both within and between national borders. Africans also suffer from poverty and problems associated with trying to modernize economies.