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South Africa / Suid-Afrika

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Dutch 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.

Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Geographic coordinates:
29 00 S, 24 00 E

Map references:

total: 1,219,090 sq km
country comparison to the world: 25
land: 1,214,470 sq km
water: 4,620 sq km
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Land boundaries:
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

2,798 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin

Current Weather
mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m

Natural resources:
gold, 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:
14,980 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
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 hazards:
prolonged droughts

Environment - current issues:
lack 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 agreements:
party 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 - note:
South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland

country comparison to the world: 25
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 2010 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.6% (male 7,043,566/female 7,007,484)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 16,340,284/female 16,007,248)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 1,100,202/female 1,610,323) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 24.7 years
male: 24.4 years
female: 25 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.051% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203

Birth rate:
19.61 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98

Death rate:
16.99 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5

Net migration rate:
-3.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population
country comparison to the world: 147
note: there is an increasing flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and Botswana in search of better economic opportunities (2010 est.)

urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
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: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 43.78 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 61
male: 47.88 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 39.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.2 years
country comparison to the world: 215
male: 50.08 years
female: 48.29 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
2.33 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
18.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5.7 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
350,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2009)

noun: South African(s)
adjective: South African

Ethnic groups:
black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

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)

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)

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):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2004)

Education expenditures:
5.4% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 52

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of South Africa
conventional short form: South Africa
former: Union of South Africa
abbreviation: RSA

Government type:

name: 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 divisions:
9 provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape

31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared) 27 April 1994 (majority rule)

National holiday:
Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

10 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 system:
based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief 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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
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 branch:
bicameral 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 elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
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 branch:
Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts

Political parties and leaders:
African Christian Democratic Party or ACDP [Kenneth MESHOE]; African National Congress or ANC [Jacob ZUMA]; Congress of the People or COPE [Mosiuoa LEKOTA]; Democratic Alliance or DA [Helen ZILLE]; Freedom Front Plus or FF+ [Pieter MULDER]; Independent Democrats or ID [Patricia DE LILLE]; Inkatha Freedom Party or IFP [Mangosuthu BUTHELEZI]; Pan-Africanist Congress or PAC [Motsoko PHEKO]; United Christian Democratic Party or UCDP [Lucas MANGOPE]; United Democratic Movement or UDM [Bantu HOLOMISA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Congress 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 participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ebrahim RASOOL
chancery: 3051 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-4400
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1607
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Donald GIPS
embassy: 877 Pretorius Street, Pretoria
mailing address: P. O. Box 9536, Pretoria 0001
telephone: [27] (12) 431-4000
FAX: [27] (12) 342-2299
consulate(s) general: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg

Flag description:
two 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; the flag colors do not have any official symbolism, but the Y stands for the "convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity"; black, yellow, and green are found on the flag of the African National Congress, while red, white, and blue are the colors in the flags of the Netherlands and the UK, whose settlers ruled South Africa during the colonial era
note: the South African flag is the only national flag to display six colors as part of its primary design

Economy - overview:
South 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 18th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis. State power supplier Eskom encountered problems with aged plants, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities. 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. GDP fell nearly 2% in 2009. Unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. 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 Africa's former economic policy was fiscally conservative, focusing on controlling inflation, and attaining a budget surplus. The current government largely follows the same prudent policies, but must contend with the impact of the global crisis and is facing growing pressure from special interest groups to use state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas and to increase job growth. More than one-quarter of South Africa's population currently receives social grants.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$495.1 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26
$504.2 billion (2008 est.)
$486.2 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$280.6 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
-1.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
3.7% (2008 est.)
5.5% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$10,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
$10,300 (2008 est.)
$10,100 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 31.1%
services: 65.8% (2009 est.)

Labor force:
17.38 million economically active (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 26%
services: 65% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate:
24% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173
22.9% (2008 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 index:
65 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 2
59.3 (1994)

Investment (gross fixed):
22.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67

revenues: $77.68 billion
expenditures: $94.57 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt:
29.5% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
24.9% of GDP (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
11.3% (2008 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
11.5% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 32
11% (31 December 2007)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
15.13% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 63
13.17% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money:
$44.66 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 28
$58.49 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$124.1 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 24
$141.9 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:
$214.8 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 31
$254.9 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$805.2 billion (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 18
$491.3 billion (31 December 2008)
$833.5 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:
corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products

mining (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:
-7.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126

Electricity - production:
240.3 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16

Electricity - consumption:
215.1 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17

Electricity - exports:
14.16 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
10.57 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:
191,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43

Oil - consumption:
579,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30

Oil - exports:
128,500 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63

Oil - imports:
490,500 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25

Oil - proved reserves:
15 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84

Natural gas - production:
3.25 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53

Natural gas - consumption:
6.45 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Natural gas - imports:
3.2 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40

Natural gas - proved reserves:
27.16 million cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102

Current account balance:
-$11.53 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177
-$20.08 billion (2008 est.)

$66.64 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
$86.12 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:
gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment

Exports - partners:
China 10.34%, US 9.19%, Japan 7.59%, Germany 7.01%, UK 5.54%, Switzerland 4.72% (2009)

$66.02 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$90.57 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs

Imports - partners:
China 17.21%, Germany 11.24%, US 7.38%, Saudi Arabia 4.87%, Japan 4.67%, Iran 3.95% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$39.68 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$34.07 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$73.84 billion (30 June 2009)
country comparison to the world: 39
$71.81 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$73.67 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
$67.99 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$51.36 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$49.77 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
rand (ZAR) per US dollar - 8.54 (2009), 7.9576 (2008), 7.05 (2007), 6.7649 (2006), 6.3593 (2005)

Telephones - main lines in use:
4.425 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 35

Telephones - mobile cellular:
45 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 25

Telephone system:
general 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)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:
556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:

Internet hosts:
1.73 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 34

Internet users:
4.187 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 49

607 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 11

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 148
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 52
914 to 1,523 m: 68
under 914 m: 12 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 459
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 298
under 914 m: 125 (2009)

1 (2009)

condensate 11 km; gas 908 km; oil 980 km; refined products 1,379 km (2009)

total: 20,872 km
country comparison to the world: 14
narrow gauge: 20,436 km 1.065-m gauge (8,271 km electrified); 436 km 0.610-m gauge (2008)

total: 362,099 km
country comparison to the world: 19
paved: 73,506 km (includes 239 km of expressways)
unpaved: 288,593 km (2002)

Merchant marine:
total: 3
country comparison to the world: 139
by type: container 1, petroleum tanker 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Denmark 1)
registered in other countries: 8 (Bahamas 1, Nigeria 1, NZ 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Seychelles 1, UK 3) (2008)

Ports and terminals:
Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay

Military branches:
South 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:
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 service:
males age 16-49: 13,508,255
females age 16-49: 12,541,371 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 7,676,331
females age 16-49: 6,521,338 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 492,743
female: 496,374 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.7% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 92

Military - note:
with 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 - international:
South 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 persons:
refugees (country of origin): 10,772 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 7,818 (Somalia); 5,759 (Angola) (2007)

Illicit drugs:
transshipment center for heroin, hashish, and cocaine, as well as a major cultivator of marijuana in its own right; cocaine and heroin consumption on the rise; world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries, but increasingly producing its own synthetic drugs for domestic consumption; attractive venue for money launderers given the increasing level of organized criminal and narcotics activity in the region and the size of the South African economy


Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010




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