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Unity in Diversity

Introduction

Flag of South Africa
Map of the South Africa within Africa.

The Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland, and entirely surrounds Lesotho.

South Africa has the largest population of people of European descent in Africa,one of the largest Indian population outside of Asia, as well as the largest Coloured (of mixed European, Asian and African descent) community in Africa, making it one of the most ethnically diverse countries on the continent. Racial and ethnic strife between the black majority and the white minority have played a large part in the country's history and politics. The National Party began introducing the policy of apartheid after winning the general election of 1948; however, it was the same party under the leadership of F.W. de Klerk who started to dismantle it in 1990 after a long struggle by the black majority, as well as many white, coloured and Indian South Africans.

The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular free and fair elections have been held since 1994, making it a regional power and among the most stable and liberal democracies in Africa.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. It has the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria, and the 34th-largest in the world. By purchasing power parity, South Africa has the 7th highest per capita income in Africa. Although being the second largest economy, South Africa has the most sophisticated economy in the continent, with modern infrastructure common throughout the country. The country is considered to be a newly industrialized country according to the World Bank classifications.

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Old Cape Town city hall
Credit: Douglas Scott
Taken on the 6th December 2013, the day after Nelson Mandela's death. Preparations begin and crowds begin to gather for a speech to be given in remembrance of Mandela at the old Cape Town City Hall.

Selected article

Lieut. Burne's Guns firing at Spion Kop.
The Battle of Spion Kop (Dutch: Slag bij Spionkop; Afrikaans: Slag van Spioenkop) was fought about 38 km (21 miles) west-south-west of Ladysmith on the hilltop of Spioenkop(1) along the Tugela River, Natal in South Africa. The battle was fought between Boer and British forces from 23-24 January 1900 as part of the Second Boer War, and resulted in a famous British defeat.

Selected picture

Afrikaans Language Monument'
Credit: C. Hill

The Afrikaans Language Monument (Afrikaans: Afrikaanse Taalmonument) is located on a hill overlooking Paarl, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Officially opened on 10 October 1975, it commemorates the semicentenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch. Also, it was erected on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (the Society of Real Afrikaners) in Paarl, the organization that helped strengthen Afrikaners' identity and pride in their language.

Did you know...

The upper canyon as seen from Bourke's Luck at the Treur-Blyde confluence

  • ...that the Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 2,789 feet. First place goes to the Angel Falls in Venezuela at 3,212 feet.
  • ...that Blyde River Canyon (pictured) is the third largest canyon in the world - and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the U.S. is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are very dry.
  • ...that South Africa is home to the world's smallest succulent plants (less than 0.39 inches) and the largest (the baobab tree).


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Selected biography

Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse (9 April 1860 – 8 June 1926) was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the deprived conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.

She became an honorary citizen of South Africa for her humanitarian work there. Her ashes were ensconced in a niche in the National Women's Monument at Bloemfontein, where she was regarded as a heroine; her memorial service was the greatest granted to a non–South African. The southernmost town in Eastern Free State is named Hobhouse, after her, as was a submarine: the SAS Emily Hobhouse, one of the South African Navy's three Daphné class submarines; the submarine was later renamed Umkhonto.

Selected quote

Harry Schwarz
It is important that in the process of change, existing institutions of value and means of production are not destroyed. The fabric of society, however critical one may be of its present structures, should be adopted and modified where required, but not destroyed.

Selected cuisine

A potjie on a log fire

In South Africa, a potjiekos /ˈpɔɪkkɒs/, literally translated "small-pot food", is a dish prepared outdoors. It is traditionally cooked in a round, cast iron, three-legged pot, the potjie, descended from the Dutch oven brought from the Netherlands to South Africa in the 17th century and found in the homes and villages of people throughout southern Africa. The pot is heated using small amounts of wood or charcoal or, if fuel is scarce, twisted grass or even dried animal dung. Small LPG gas cylinders (typically 3-5 kg) with a cooker top designed specifically for the potjie is also widely used in households in South Africa. Read more...

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