At a glance

South Africa at a glance

Location The southernmost country in Africa, run through by the Tropic of Capricorn, enclosing the Kingdom of Lesotho, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, Mozambique and Swaziland to the northeast, and Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north.

Size 1,221,037km2 (25th largest in the world and 9th in Africa)

Status Republic

Population 50 million (2011 estimate)

Life expectancy Has declined from 62 years in 1990 to 50 years today, mainly due to HIV/AIDS

Capital Pretoria (population 250,000)

Largest municipalities Johannesburg (3.8 million), Cape Town (3.5 million), eThekweni (3.45 million, includes Durban), Ekurhuleni (2.7 million, includes Germiston), Tshwane (2.4 million, includes Pretoria) and Nelson Mandela Bay (1.1 million, includes Port Elizabeth). Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and the smaller Emguleni all lie within the tiny province of Gauteng and form part of one extended urban conglomeration of 8+ million people.

Economy Diverse but mining, agriculture, services, manufacturing and tourism are all significant contributors.

Languages 11 official languages including English

Religion 80% Christian or syncretism (combining Christian and traditional beliefs), 1.5% Muslim, 1.5% Hindu, 17% other or none.

Currency South African rand

Head of State President Cyril Ramaphosa

National airline South African Airlines (SAA)

International dialling code 27

Time GMT+2

Electrical voltage 220/40V 60Hz. Round three-pinned plugs as were standard in the UK prior to 1962.

Weights and measures Metric

Flag Green Y-shape rotated 90° anticlockwise, with red band on top and blue underneath, separated by narrow white bands, and a black triangle separated from the arms of the Y by a narrow yellow band.

Public holidays 1 January, 21 March, 27 April, 1 May, 16 June, 9 August, 24 September, 16 December, 25 & 26 December, plus Good Friday & Family Day (Easter Monday)