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Davao City , Philippines. At one glance I had my answer. North of the Vaal River , the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat.
Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare. The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter.
The Prince Edward Islands have colder average annual temperatures, but Sutherland has colder extremes. The deep interior of mainland South Africa has the hottest temperatures: South Africa signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 4 June , and became a party to the convention on 2 November Numerous mammals are found in the Bushveld including lions , African leopards , South African cheetahs , southern white rhinos , blue wildebeest , kudus , impalas , hyenas , hippopotamuses and South African giraffes.
South Africa houses many endemic species , among them the critically endangered riverine rabbit Bunolagus monticullaris in the Karoo.
Up to , more than species of fungi including lichen-forming species had been recorded. In at least some major South African ecosystems, an exceptionally high percentage of fungi are highly specific in terms of the plants with which they occur.
The most prevalent biome in South Africa is the grassland , particularly on the Highveld, where the plant cover is dominated by different grasses , low shrubs , and acacia trees , mainly camel-thorn Vachellia erioloba and whitethorn V.
Vegetation becomes even more sparse towards the northwest due to low rainfall. There are several species of water-storing succulents , like aloes and euphorbias , in the very hot and dry Namaqualand area.
The grass and thorn savannah turns slowly into a bush savannah towards the north-east of the country, with denser growth.
There are significant numbers of baobab trees in this area, near the northern end of Kruger National Park. The fynbos biome, which makes up the majority of the area and plant life in the Cape floristic region , one of the six floral kingdoms , is located in a small region of the Western Cape and contains more than 9, of those species, making it among the richest regions on earth in terms of plant diversity.
Another uniquely South African flowering plant group is the genus Protea. There are around different species of Protea in South Africa.
There are even smaller reserves of forests that are out of the reach of fire, known as montane forests. Plantations of imported tree species are predominant, particularly the non-native eucalyptus and pine.
South Africa has lost a large area of natural habitat in the last four decades, primarily due to overpopulation, sprawling development patterns and deforestation during the 19th century.
South Africa is one of the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to invasion by alien species with many e.
The original temperate forest found by the first European settlers was exploited ruthlessly until only small patches remained. Currently, South African hardwood trees like real yellowwood Podocarpus latifolius , stinkwood Ocotea bullata , and South African black ironwood Olea laurifolia are under government protection.
Statistics from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs show a record 1, rhinos have been killed in Climate change is expected to bring considerable warming and drying to much of this already semi-arid region , with greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves , flooding and drought.
The Cape Floral Kingdom , been identified as one of the global biodiversity hotspots , will be hit very hard by climate change. Drought, increased intensity and frequency of fire, and climbing temperatures are expected to push many rare species towards extinction.
South Africa is a parliamentary republic , although unlike most such republics the President is both head of state and head of government , and depends for his tenure on the confidence of Parliament.
The executive, legislature and judiciary are all subject to the supremacy of the Constitution , and the superior courts have the power to strike down executive actions and acts of Parliament if they are unconstitutional.
The National Assembly , the lower house of Parliament, consists of members and is elected every five years by a system of party-list proportional representation.
The National Council of Provinces , the upper house, consists of ninety members, with each of the nine provincial legislatures electing ten members.
After each parliamentary election, the National Assembly elects one of its members as President; hence the President serves a term of office the same as that of the Assembly, normally five years.
No President may serve more than two terms in office. The President and the Cabinet may be removed by the National Assembly by a motion of no confidence.
In the most recent election , held on 7 May , the ANC won South Africa has no legally defined capital city. The fourth chapter of the Constitution of South Africa , states that "The seat of Parliament is Cape Town, but an Act of Parliament enacted in accordance with section 76 1 and 5 may determine that the seat of Parliament is elsewhere.
Cape Town , as the seat of Parliament, is the legislative capital; Pretoria , as the seat of the President and Cabinet, is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein , as the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal , is the judicial capital [ citation needed ] , while the Constitutional Court of South Africa sits in Johannesburg.
Most foreign embassies are located in Pretoria. Since , South Africa has had many thousands of popular protests, some violent, making it, according to one academic, the "most protest-rich country in the world".
The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme rule of law in the country. The primary sources of South African law are Roman-Dutch mercantile law and personal law with English Common law , as imports of Dutch settlements and British colonialism.
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 19th century by English law , both common and statutory.
After unification in , South Africa had its own parliament which passed laws specific for South Africa, building on those previously passed for the individual member colonies.
The judicial system consists of the magistrates' courts , which hear lesser criminal cases and smaller civil cases; the High Court , which has divisions that serve as the courts of general jurisdiction for specific areas; the Supreme Court of Appeal , and the Constitutional Court , which is the highest court.
Nearly 50 murders are committed each day in South Africa. After apartheid ended, South Africa was readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations. The country is a member of the Group of 77 and chaired the organisation in Former South African President Jacob Zuma and former Chinese President Hu Jintao upgraded bilateral ties between the two countries on 24 August , when they signed the Beijing Agreement, which elevated South Africa's earlier "strategic partnership" with China to the higher level of "comprehensive strategic partnership" in both economic and political affairs, including the strengthening of exchanges between their respective ruling parties and legislatures.
South Africa is the only African country to have successfully developed nuclear weapons. It became the first country followed by Ukraine with nuclear capability to voluntarily renounce and dismantle its programme and in the process signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in Former president, FW de Klerk, maintained that South Africa had "never conducted a clandestine nuclear test.
Each of the nine provinces is governed by a unicameral legislature , which is elected every five years by party-list proportional representation.
The legislature elects a Premier as head of government, and the Premier appoints an Executive Council as a provincial cabinet. The powers of provincial governments are limited to topics listed in the Constitution ; these topics include such fields as health, education, public housing and transport.
The provinces are in turn divided into 52 districts: The district municipalities are further subdivided into local municipalities.
The metropolitan municipalities, which govern the largest urban agglomerations, perform the functions of both district and local municipalities.
South Africa has a mixed economy , the second largest in Africa after Nigeria. Despite this, South Africa is still burdened by a relatively high rate of poverty and unemployment, and is also ranked in the top ten countries in the world for income inequality ,    measured by the Gini coefficient.
Unlike most of the world's poor countries, South Africa does not have a thriving informal economy. After , government policy brought down inflation , stabilised public finances, and some foreign capital was attracted, however growth was still subpar.
South Africa is a popular tourist destination , and a substantial amount of revenue comes from tourism. In August , South Africa was ranked as the top African Country of the Future by fDi magazine based on the country's economic potential , labour environment, cost-effectiveness, infrastructure, business friendliness, and foreign direct investment strategy.
During —, the number of formal jobs decreased and informal jobs increased; overall unemployment worsened. The government's Black Economic Empowerment BEE policies have drawn criticism from Neva Makgetla, lead economist for research and information at the Development Bank of Southern Africa , for focusing "almost exclusively on promoting individual ownership by black people [which] does little to address broader economic disparities, though the rich may become more diverse.
Along with many African nations, South Africa has been experiencing a " brain drain " in the past 20 years. According to several surveys,   there has been a reverse in brain drain following the global financial crisis of — and expiration of foreign work contracts.
Several important scientific and technological developments have originated in South Africa. The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in December , Max Theiler developed a vaccine against yellow fever , Allan McLeod Cormack pioneered X-ray computed tomography CT scan , and Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy techniques.
With the exception of that of Barnard, all of these advancements were recognised with Nobel Prizes.
Sydney Brenner won most recently, in , for his pioneering work in molecular biology. Mark Shuttleworth founded an early Internet security company Thawte , that was subsequently bought out by world-leader VeriSign.
Despite government efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in biotechnology , information technology and other high technology fields, no other notable groundbreaking companies have been founded in South Africa.
It is the expressed objective of the government to transition the economy to be more reliant on high technology, based on the realisation that South Africa cannot compete with Far Eastern economies in manufacturing, nor can the republic rely on its mineral wealth in perpetuity.
South Africa has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. Two distinctive features of the South African water sector are the policy of free basic water and the existence of water boards , which are bulk water supply agencies that operate pipelines and sell water from reservoirs to municipalities.
These features have led to significant problems concerning the financial sustainability of service providers, leading to a lack of attention to maintenance.
South Africa is a nation of about 55 million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions.
The last census was held in , with a more recent intercensal national survey conducted in Statistics South Africa asks people to describe themselves in the census in terms of five racial population groups.
Black African at South Africa hosts a sizeable refugee and asylum seeker population. According to the World Refugee Survey , published by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants , this population numbered approximately , in South Africa has 11 official languages: In this regard it is fourth only to Bolivia , India , and Zimbabwe in number.
While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the census, the three most spoken first languages are Zulu Many of the unofficial languages of the San and Khoikhoi people contain regional dialects stretching northwards into Namibia and Botswana, and elsewhere.
These people, who are a physically distinct population from other Africans, have their own cultural identity based on their hunter-gatherer societies.
They have been marginalised to a great extent, and the remainder of their languages are in danger of becoming extinct. French is spoken in South Africa by migrants from Francophone Africa.
According to the census, Christians accounted for Christian category includes Zion Christian Muslims accounted for 1. African initiated churches formed the largest of the Christian groups.
It was believed that many of the persons who claimed no affiliation with any organised religion adhered to traditional African religion.
These healers use a combination of ancestral spiritual beliefs and a belief in the spiritual and medicinal properties of local fauna and flora, commonly known as muti , to facilitate healing in clients.
Many peoples have syncretic religious practices combining Christian and indigenous influences. South African Muslims comprise mainly of those who are described as Coloureds and those who are described as Indians.
They have been joined by black or white South African converts as well as others from other parts of Africa. South Africa is also home to a substantial Jewish population , descended from European Jews who arrived as a minority among other European settlers.
This population peaked in the s at ,, though only around 67, remain today, the rest having emigrated, mostly to Israel.
Even so, these numbers make the Jewish community in South Africa the twelfth largest in the world. The South African black majority still has a substantial number of rural inhabitants who lead largely impoverished lives.
It is among these people that cultural traditions survive most strongly; as blacks have become increasingly urbanised and Westernised , aspects of traditional culture have declined.
Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white but whose ranks include growing numbers of black, coloured and Indian people,  have lifestyles similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australasia.
South African art includes the oldest art objects in the world, which were discovered in a South African cave, and dated from 75, years ago.
New forms of art evolved in the mines and townships: The Dutch-influenced folk art of the Afrikaner trekboers and the urban white artists, earnestly following changing European traditions from the s onwards, also contributed to this eclectic mix which continues to evolve today.
South African literature emerged from a unique social and political history. One of the first well known novels written by a black author in an African language was Solomon Thekiso Plaatje 's Mhudi , written in During the s, Drum magazine became a hotbed of political satire, fiction, and essays, giving a voice to urban black culture.
When awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy stated that Coetzee "in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider.
Breyten Breytenbach was jailed for his involvement with the guerrilla movement against apartheid. While South Africa's many broadcasters and publications reflect the diversity of the population as a whole, the most commonly used language is English.
However, all ten other official languages are represented to some extent or another. There is great diversity in South African music.
Black musicians have developed a unique style called Kwaito , that is said to have taken over radio, television, and magazines.
More famous traditional musicians include Ladysmith Black Mambazo , while the Soweto String Quartet performs classic music with an African flavour.
Afrikaans music covers multiple genres, such as the contemporary Steve Hofmeyr , the punk rock band Fokofpolisiekar and the singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops.
South African popular musicians that have found international success include Johnny Clegg , as well as Seether.
Although few South African film productions are known outside South Africa itself, many foreign films have been produced about South Africa.
Arguably, the most high-profile film portraying South Africa in recent years was District 9. South African cuisine is diverse; foods from many cultures are enjoyed by all and especially marketed to tourists who wish to sample the large variety.
South African cuisine is heavily meat-based and has spawned the distinctively South African social gathering known as the braai , a variation of the barbecue.
South Africa has also developed into a major wine producer, with some of the best vineyards lying in valleys around Stellenbosch , Franschhoek , Paarl and Barrydale.
South Africa's most popular sports are soccer , rugby and cricket. Although soccer commands the greatest following among the youth, other sports like basketball, surfing and skateboarding are increasingly popular.
It followed the Rugby World Cup by hosting the African Cup of Nations , with the national team, the Springboks , going on to win the tournament.
South Africa's national blind cricket team also went onto win the inaugural edition of the Blind Cricket World Cup in In , Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympic Games in London.
In golf, Gary Player is generally regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, having won the Career Grand Slam , one of five golfers to have done so.
The adult literacy rate in was Learners have twelve years of formal schooling, from grade 1 to Grade R, or grade 0, is a pre-primary foundation year.
The National Senior Certificate NSC examination takes place at the end of grade 12 and is necessary for tertiary studies at a South African university.
Public universities in South Africa are divided into three types: There are 23 public universities in South Africa: Under apartheid, schools for blacks were subject to discrimination through inadequate funding and a separate syllabus called Bantu Education which was only designed to give them sufficient skills to work as labourers.
In , South Africa started reforming its tertiary education system, merging and incorporating small universities into larger institutions, and renaming all tertiary education institutions "university".
Public expenditure on education was at 5. South Africa is home to the third largest hospital in the world, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
The link between HIV, a virus spread primarily by sexual contact, and AIDS was long denied by former president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang , who insisted that the many deaths in the country are due to malnutrition , and hence poverty, and not HIV.
After the general elections , former president Jacob Zuma appointed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the new health minister and committed his government to increasing funding for and widening the scope of HIV treatment,  and by , South Africa had made significant progress, with the widespread availability of antiretroviral drugs resulted in an increase in life expectancy from From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
This article is about the modern state. For the geographical area, see Southern Africa. For other uses, see South Africa disambiguation.
Republic in the southernmost part of Africa. Pretoria executive Bloemfontein judicial Cape Town legislative.
Official names of South Africa. History of South Africa. This section has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
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Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. Geography of South Africa. Climate of South Africa. Biodiversity of South Africa.
King protea , national flower. Fynbos , Cape Floristic Region. Blue crane , national bird. Flowers in the West Coast National Park. Crime in South Africa.
Foreign relations of South Africa. South African National Defence Force. Provinces of South Africa. Economy of South Africa.
Science and technology in South Africa. Water supply and sanitation in South Africa. Demographics of South Africa.
Languages of South Africa. Largest cities or towns in South Africa Community Survey . Religion in South Africa. Religion in South Africa  religion percent Protestant.
Culture of South Africa. Sport in South Africa. Education in South Africa. Constitutional Court of South Africa.
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Mzansi is another black urban vernacular term popular with the youth and standing for South Africa. Deaf Federation of South Africa.
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