South Africa, formally known as the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is Africa’s southernmost country. It is surrounded on the south by 2,798 kilometers of Southern African coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, on the north by Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and on the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland, and it surrounds the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the world’s 25th-largest country by land area and the world’s 24th-most populous country, with about 53 million inhabitants. It is the southernmost country in the Old World’s or Eastern Hemisphere’s mainland.
It is the only country that has boundaries with both the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Around 80% of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African descent, split into ethnic groupings that speak several Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population is made up of the continent’s largest groups of European (white), Asian (Indian), and mixed (colored) heritage.
South Africa is a multiethnic society with a diverse range of cultures, languages, and faiths. Its diverse nature is reflected in the constitution, which recognizes 11 official languages, the most of any country in the world. Two of these languages are from Europe: Afrikaans evolved from Dutch and is the first language of the majority of white and colored South Africans; English represents the heritage of British colonization and is widely utilized in public and business life, while ranking fourth in terms of spoken first language.
The country is one of the few in Africa that has never had a coup, and regular elections have been conducted for over a century. However, until 1994, the great majority of black South Africans were denied the right to vote. The black majority fought to reclaim its rights from the ruling white minority during the twentieth century, with this fight having a significant part in the country’s recent history and politics. Apartheid was implemented by the National Party in 1948, formalizing earlier racial segregation. From 1990 onwards, after a protracted and often violent fight by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid campaigners both inside and outside the nation, discriminatory legislation were repealed or eliminated.
Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups in the country’s democracy, which consists of a parliamentary republic and nine provinces, have had political representation. South Africa is sometimes referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” to reflect the country’s newly emerging multicultural variety in the aftermath of apartheid ideology. South Africa is classified as an upper-middle-income economy and a recently industrialized country by the World Bank. It has the second-largest economy in Africa and the 34th-largest in the world. South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa in terms of purchasing power parity. Poverty and inequality, however, remain pervasive, with almost a quarter of the population jobless and living on less than US$1.25 per day. Nonetheless, South Africa is regarded as a medium power in international affairs and wields substantial regional power.