English |  
Mission Statement
Wines of South Africa
Other Services
Quick Facts
South African Tourism
South African Tourism
Proudly South African

  South Africa at a Glance

   Developments since 1994

   Other Significant Developments

   Did you know that...

   National Symbols

   Nobel Prize Awardees

   Frequently Asked Questions

   Useful Links

Size:    1.2 million square sq kms (=Germany+France+Italy)

Key Economic Sectors: Mining, services and transport, energy, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture

Population: 53,139,528 (1 July 2014)

Official Languages
: English, isZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, siSwati, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga

Type of Government: Constitutional multi-party democracy with an independent judiciary.  The country is divided into nine provinces

Major Cities: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, East London, Kimberley

Currency: 100 Cents equals one Rand

Transport Infrastructure
: Excellent, 7,200 km of tarred national roads, 30,000 km of railway lines, 11 international-standard airports.

Since 1994, South African government has:
  • Built 1.2 million homes.  In 1994, two-thirds of South African households owned their own homes.  Seven years later, this figure has risen to 77%/

  • Redistributed more than 2.5 million acres of land

  • Provided running water for 7 million people.  Water is nor piped into 76% of households, compared to 68% in 1994

  • Provided electricity for 3.5 million.  80% of South African households now have electricity in their homes.  In 1994, this figure was only 58%.

  • Real wages and productivity have increased by over 20%

  • Spending on education has increased tremendously.  In 1994, the government spent R31,8 billion and by 2000, this figure had risen to R51,1 billion.  At 6% of the country’s GDP, the country’s investment in education rates among the highest in the world

  • 23% of South Africans have matric, compared to 14% in 1994.  Basic literacy is also up, from 87% to 92%

  • Government’s deregulation of the airwaves increased number of radio stations, 90% of the rural population listens to the radio, compared to 79% in 1994.

  • In 1994, 74% of all households had a monthly income of less that R2 499.  By 2001, only 62% were still in this category.  Higher-income brackets have grown.  Households earning a monthly income of R2 500 to R5 999 are up from 16% to 20%, and households that now have a monthly income of over R6 000 are up from 10% to 18%.
Other significant developments:
  • International ratings agency Standard and Poor’s in November 2002 revised its outlook on South Africa from “stable to positive”.

  • In August 1002, Fitch Ratings also revised the outlook on South Africa’s foreign currency debt from “stable to positive”.

  • South Africa climbed two places to 32nd out of 80 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest competitiveness index (2002-2003), boosted by its performance in the technology rankings, where it jumped eight places from 48 to 38.  Overall, South Africa was the highest-ranked African country.

  • South Africa’s score on 2002 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International (TI) slipped from 5.0 to 4.8 out of 10.  

  •  Conference destination - The International Convention and Conference Association places South Africa 20th on a list of top convention countries, and rates SA as the leading conference/meeting destination in Africa. For every eight tourists, one permanent job is created for a South African. About 30% of jobs created from tourism in South Africa are derived from conferencing.  

  • Exports - Japanese researchers acknowledge that South Africa's export performance in the last four years is better and broader that that of Japan in the fifties and sixties, considered their boom years. (Source: INSIG Magazine, August 2002)

  • GDP per capita - The 2002 World Competitiveness Yearbook notes that South Africa has the sixth biggest increase in GDP per capita, compared to ninth place in the previous year.

  • JSE - The JSE Securities Exchange is the most traded stock exchange of any emerging country. At least nine of the 22 developed country stock exchanges are smaller than the JSE. (Source: INSIG Magazine, August 2002)

  • Productivity - In the past 15 years, South Africans have become 50% more productive. In the same period, American productivity has improved by 30%. The pace of improvement in South African labour force productivity is among the four highest improvement rates globally. (Source: INSIG Magazine, August 2002)

  • Small business - Small businesses in South Africa absorb more than half the people formally employed in the private sector and contribute about 42% of the country’s GDP. (Source: Department of Trade & Industry)

  • Vehicle manufacture - South Africa is the sole producer of Mercedes Benz Class C right hand drive vehicles, and BMW of South Africa (a subsidiary of BMW AG Germany) provides more than 70% of the leather requirements of BMW AG’s worldwide production. (Sources: Dr Roelof Botha, Gordon Institute of Business School and 2002 Initial Quality Study, JD Powers & Associates)

  • Wine - South African wines win international awards every year, and we have the longest wine route in the world. (Source: Fair Lady Magazine, April 2002)  

Did you know that....

  • South Africa offers the lowest industrial electricity rates in the world

  • South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa’s electricity

  • 40% of the continent’s phones are in South Africa

  • 20% of the world’s gold is mined in South Africa

  • South Africa’s constitution is the world’s most progressive, drawing on the experiences of advanced democracies.

  • The world’s biggest man-made hole, dug entirely by human sweat, spades, pickaxes is in South Africa.
  • The Gandhian notion of “passive resistance”, the strategy that won independence for India in 1948 had earlier roots in South Africa.  Mahatma Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years from 1893.

  • The world’s first heart transplant was performed by Dr Chris Barnard in Cape Town on 3 December 1967. Now than 50 000 have now been performed worldwide

  • The world’s first and largest petroleum-from-coal refiners provide 40 percent of South Africa’s petrol. The company Sasol now competes globally in the energy industry.

  • The computed axial tomography scan was developed at Tufts University in the UK by South African physicist Allan Cormack and by Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI Laboratories.

  • The G5 long-range artillery piece manufactured in South Africa is exported to several parts of the world.

  • The swimming pool vacuum cleaner that does the job automatically, efficiently powered by the ordinary operation of the pool's filter, was invented in SA.

  • Large, unusually shaped concrete blocks weighing up to 20 tons. The structures are designed to break up wave action and protect harbour walls and costal installations. They were designed by Eric Merrifield and first installed in East London harbour. They are now used all over the world.
The following are South African Nobel Prize Awardees:

  • Max Theiler won the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1951, for his groundbreaking work on way to combat Yellow Fever.
  • Chief Albert Luthuli, former president of African National Congress (ANC), was the first South African to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.
  • Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of the South African Anglican Church, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
  • Nadine Gordimer was the first South African to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.  Through her magnificent epic writing, she has, in the words of Alfred Nobel, "been of very great benefit to humanity".
  • Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, was the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1993 for his work on the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.  The Prize was jointly won with FW de Klerk, who make history by releasing Nelson Mandela from prison.
  • JM Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003, for writing that "upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history", according to the Nobel Foundation.
More Information
Statistics South Africa
South Africa Reserve Bank
South African Revenue Services
Johannesburg Stock Exchange
Government Online
South African Airways
South African Tourism
South Africa Broadcasting Corporation
Trade and Investment of South Africa (TIISA)
Public holidays in South Africa
Study in South Africa
South African Links
© South African Consulate-General Los Angeles, United States of America | Disclaimer