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South Africa-Northern Sotho





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South Africa Index

The heterogeneous Northern Sotho are often referred to as the Pedi (or BaPedi), because the Pedi make up the largest of their constituent groups. Their language is sePedi (also called seSotho sa Leboa or Northern Sotho). This society arose in the northern Transvaal, according to historians, as a confederation of small chiefdoms some time before the seventeenth century. A succession of strong Pedi chiefs claimed power over smaller chiefdoms and were able to dominate important trade routes between the interior plateau and the Indian Ocean coast for several generations. For this reason, some historians have credited the Pedi with the first monarchy in the region, although their reign was marked by population upheaval and occasional military defeat.

During the nineteenth century, Pedi armies were defeated by the Natal armies of Mzilikazi and were revived under the command of a Pedi chief, Sekwati. Afrikaner Voortrekkers in the Transvaal acquired some Pedi lands peacefully, but later clashed with them over further land claims. By the 1870s, the Voortrekker armies were sufficiently weakened from these clashes that they agreed to a confederation with the British colonies of Natal and the Cape that would eventually lead to the South African War in 1899.

The smaller Lobedu population makes up another subgroup among the Northern Sotho. The Lobedu are closely related to the Shona population, the largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe, but the Lobedu are classified among the Sotho primarily because of linguistic similarities. The Lobedu were studied extensively by the early twentieth-century anthropologist J.D. Krige, who described the unique magical powers attributed to a Lobedu female authority figure, known to outsiders as the rain queen.

The Northern Sotho homeland of Lebowa was declared a "self-governing" (not independent) territory in 1972, with a population of almost 2 million. Economic problems plagued the poverty-stricken homeland, however, and the population was not unified by strong ethnic solidarity. Lebowa's chief minister, Cedric Phatudi, struggled to maintain control over the increasingly disgruntled homeland population during the early 1980s; his death in 1985 opened new factional splits and occasioned calls for a new homeland government. Homeland politics were complicated by the demands of several ethnic minorities within Lebowa to have their land transferred to the jurisdiction of another homeland. At the same time, government efforts to consolidate homeland territory forced the transfer of several small tracts of land into Lebowa.

Southern Sotho

The Southern Sotho peoples are a diverse group that includes almost 2 million South Africans, many of whom live in the area surrounding Lesotho, and 1.6 million residents of Lesotho. The Southern Sotho were unified during the reign of King Moshoeshoe I in the 1830s. Moshoeshoe established control over several small groups of Sotho speakers and Nguni speakers, who had been displaced by the mfecane . Some of these communities had established ties to San peoples who lived just west of Moshoeshoe's territory. As a result, Southern Sotho speech, unlike that of Northern Sotho, incorporates a number of "click" sounds associated with Khoisan languages.

Southern Sotho peoples were assigned to the tiny homeland of QwaQwa, which borders Lesotho, during the apartheid era. QwaQwa was declared "self-governing" in 1974, but Chief Minister Kenneth Mopeli rejected independence on the grounds that the homeland did not have a viable economy. Only about 200,000 Sotho people lived in QwaQwa during the 1980s.

A community of more than 300,000 people, Botshabelo, was incorporated into QwaQwa in 1987. Officials in the homeland capital, Phuthaditjhaba, and many homeland residents objected to the move, and the South African Supreme Court returned Botshabelo to the jurisdiction of the Orange Free State a short time later. The homeland continued to be an overcrowded enclave of people with an inadequate economic base until the homelands were dissolved in 1994.

Data as of May 1996



BackgroundDutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the Far East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson MANDELA, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo MBEKI resigned, and Kgalema MOTLANTHE, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob ZUMA became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009.
LocationSouthern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Area(sq km)total: 1,219,090 sq km
land: 1,214,470 sq km
water: 4,620 sq km
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)
Geographic coordinates29 00 S, 24 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 4,862 km
border countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km

Coastline(km)2,798 km

Climatemostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m
Natural resourcesgold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas
Land use(%)arable land: 12.1%
permanent crops: 0.79%
other: 87.11% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)14,980 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)50 cu km (1990)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 12.5 cu km/yr (31%/6%/63%)
per capita: 264 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsprolonged droughts
Environment - current issueslack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - noteSouth Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland
Population49,052,489
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 28.9% (male 7,093,328/female 7,061,579)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 16,275,424/female 15,984,181)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,075,117/female 1,562,860) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 24.4 years
male: 24.1 years
female: 24.8 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)0.281% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)19.93 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)16.99 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-0.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there is an increasing flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and Botswana in search of better economic opportunities (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 44.42 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 48.66 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 40.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 48.98 years
male: 49.81 years
female: 48.13 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.38 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: South African(s)
adjective: South African
Ethnic groups(%)black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

Religions(%)Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)
Languages(%)IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa
former: Union of South Africa
abbreviation: RSA
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Pretoria (administrative capital)
geographic coordinates: 25 42 S, 28 13 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cape Town (legislative capital); Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
Administrative divisions9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape
Constitution10 December 1996; note - certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996; was signed by then President MANDELA on 10 December 1996; and entered into effect on 4 February 1997

Legal systembased on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Jacob ZUMA elected president; National Assembly vote - Jacob ZUMA 277, Mvume DANDALA 47, other 76

Legislative branchbicameral Parliament consisting of the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities) and the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms); note - following the implementation of the new constitution on 4 February 1997, the former Senate was disbanded and replaced by the National Council of Provinces with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution's responsibilities have been changed somewhat by the new constitution
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held on 22 April 2009 (next to be held in April 2014)
election results: National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 65.9%, DA 16.7%, COPE 7.4%, IFP 4.6%, other 5.4%; seats by party - ANC 264, DA 67, COPE 30, IFP 18, other 21

Judicial branchConstitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts

Political pressure groups and leadersCongress of South African Trade Unions or COSATU [Zwelinzima VAVI, general secretary]; South African Communist Party or SACP [Blade NZIMANDE, general secretary]; South African National Civics Organization or SANCO [Mlungisi HLONGWANE, national president]
note: note - COSATU and SACP are in a formal alliance with the ANC
International organization participationACP, AfDB, AU, BIS, C, FAO, G-20, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, NSG, OPCW, Paris Club (associate), PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag descriptiontwo equal width horizontal bands of red (top) and blue separated by a central green band that splits into a horizontal Y, the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side; the Y embraces a black isosceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes

Economy - overviewSouth Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth was robust from 2004 to 2008 as South Africa reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom, but began to slow in the second half of 2008 due to the global financial crisis' impact on commodity prices and demand. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$492.2 billion (2008 est.)
$477.4 billion (2007 est.)
$454.2 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$276.8 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)3.1% (2008 est.)
5.1% (2007 est.)
5.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$10,100 (2008 est.)
$9,900 (2007 est.)
$9,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 3.3%
industry: 33.7%
services: 63% (2008 est.)
Labor force17.79 million economically active (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 9%
industry: 26%
services: 65% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)22.9% (2008 est.)
24.3% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)50% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 44.7% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index65 (2005)
59.3 (1994)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)23.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $77.43 billion
expenditures: $79.9 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)11.3% (2008 est.)
6.5% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$44.66 billion (31 December 2008)
$58.49 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$124.1 billion (31 December 2008)
$141.9 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$214.8 billion (31 December 2008)
$254.9 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$491.3 billion (31 December 2008)
$833.5 billion (31 December 2007)
$715 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$700 million (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)31.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
45.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productscorn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
Industriesmining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair

Industrial production growth rate(%)1% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$20.98 billion (2008 est.)
-$20.78 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$86.12 billion (2008 est.)
$75.92 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment
Exports - partners(%)Japan 11.1%, US 11.1%, Germany 8%, UK 6.8%, China 6%, Netherlands 5.2% (2008)
Imports$90.57 billion (2008 est.)
$81.66 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs
Imports - partners(%)Germany 11.2%, China 11.1%, US 7.9%, Saudi Arabia 6.2%, Japan 5.5%, UK 4% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$34.07 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$32.94 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$71.81 billion (31 December 2008)
$75.28 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$120 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$110.4 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$63.57 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$65.88 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesrand (ZAR) per US dollar - 7.9576 (2008 est.), 7.05 (2007), 6.7649 (2006), 6.3593 (2005), 6.4597 (2004)

Currency (code)rand (ZAR)

Telephones - main lines in use4.425 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular45 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: the system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity exceeds 110 telephones per 100 persons; consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international: country code - 27; the SAT-3/WASC and SAFE fiber optic cable systems connect South Africa to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean)
Internet country code.za
Internet users4.187 million (2008)
Airports607 (2009)
Pipelines(km)condensate 11 km; gas 908 km; oil 980 km; refined products 1,379 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 362,099 km
paved: 73,506 km (includes 239 km of expressways)
unpaved: 288,593 km (2002)

Ports and terminalsCape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay
Military branchesSouth African National Defense Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Military Intelligence, South African Military Health Services (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service; women are eligible to serve in noncombat roles; 2-year service obligation (2007)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 11,622,507
females age 16-49: 11,501,537 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 7,641,557
females age 16-49: 6,518,793 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 511,616
female: 510,540 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)1.7% of GDP (2006)
Military - notewith the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule, former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces were integrated into the South African National Defense Force (SANDF); as of 2003 the integration process was considered complete
Disputes - internationalSouth Africa has placed military along the border to apprehend the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political persecution; as of January 2007, South Africa also supports large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (33,000), Somalia (20,000), Burundi (6,500), and other states in Africa (26,000); managed dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River; in 2006, Swazi king advocates resort to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 10,772 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 7,818 (Somalia); 5,759 (Angola) (2007)
Trafficking in personscurrent situation: South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation; women and girls are trafficked internally - and occasionally to European and Asian countries - for sexual exploitation; women from other African countries are trafficked to South Africa and, less frequently, onward to Europe for sexual exploitation; men and boys are trafficked from neighboring countries for forced agricultural labor; Asian and Eastern European women are trafficked to South Africa for debt-bonded sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - South Africa is on the Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year for its failure to show increasing efforts to address trafficking; the government provided inadequate data in 2007 on trafficking crimes investigated or prosecuted, or on resulting convictions or sentences; it also did not provide information on its efforts to protect victims of trafficking; the country continues to deport and/or prosecute suspected foreign victims without providing appropriate protective services (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)240.3 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 93.5%
hydro: 1.1%
nuclear: 5.5%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)215.1 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)14.16 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)10.57 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)195,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)583,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)128,500 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)490,500 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)15 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)3.25 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)6.45 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)27.16 million cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)18.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS5.7 million (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths350,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 87%
female: 85.7% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2004)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)5.4% of GDP (2006)








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