Country of the World South Africa

About the country South Africa, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: The Republic of South Africa sprawls across the foot of the African continent. The Indian Ocean washes the east coast of the country, and the Atlantic the west coast. The two oceans merge south of the port city of Cape Town.

Size: 472,359 sq. mi. (1,221,042 sq. km.).

Population: 27.4 million. Whites number 4.5 million; colored (mixed African, white, and Malay heritage), 2.2 million; Asian (Pakistani, Indian, or Chinese descent), 0.8 million; and black Africans (called Bantu by the South African whites, a term considered derogatory by the Africans), 19.9 million.

Who Rules: The government, in which blacks and coloreds have no voice, consists of a two-house Parliament headed by the prime minister. A state president exists but is primarily ceremonial. The Senate consists of 44 members elected by the provinces and 10 appointed by the state president. The House of Assembly consists of 165 members elected by whites in the Republic of South Africa and 6 representatives from Namibia (South-West Africa).

Who REALLY Rules: Within the ruling National party, the right-wing rural Afrikaner racial extremists (locally called the Verkrampte) have been the base of power since 1948. although there has been a slight shift in recent years to a more moderate group of Afrikaners. All South Africans are really in the clutches of BOSS (The Bureau of State Security), the country's secret police who have to answer to no one save the prime minister and have the right of life and death over the citizens of the country--both black and white. The head of BOSS, together with the prime minister, can circumvent parliament and law courts to deal with people as they wish. BOSS has the power to ban, imprison, and even execute without due course of law.

Thousands of African students fled the country in the wake of the repressive moves following the 1976 Soweto riots. Many of these students are now training to become guerrillas in Mozambique, Angola, and other African countries. Anticipating an increase in guerrilla warfare, the South African government, despite a severe recession, allocated nearly $2 billion for defense in 1977, a 21% increase over the previous year. The length of compulsory military service has been doubled to two years, and men up to the age of 55 are now eligible to be called up in emergencies.

About 350 U.S. companies operate in South Africa despite pressure by U.S. groups opposed to apartheid. Many enter partnerships with South African firms and take different names. For example, Union Carbide, a company which has been under pressure for years to pull out of South Africa, conducts most of its business through subsidiaries with names like Ucar and Electroda Maatskappy.

Thousands of Africans remain in detention throughout the country with little hope of being brought to trial.

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