Geography of South Africa

by | April 26, 2022

Located between 16°24′ and 31° East longitude and 22° and 34°42′ South latitude; in the south it is washed by the Atlantic and Indian oceans. In the west, the cold Benguela Current approaches the shores, and in the east, the warm Mozambique Current. The coastline is not indented, but there are very convenient bays. It borders Namibia to the northwest, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, Mozambique and Swaziland to the northeast. Inside South Africa is an enclave – the kingdom of Lesotho.

According to Allcitycodes, most of the territory is a hilly plateau, bordered in the east by the Dragon Mountains up to 3000 m high, and in the south by the Cape Mountains up to 2000 m high. The highest point is Mount Nyesuti (3408 m) in the Dragon Mountains. In the northwest, the plateau drops and passes into the low-lying Kalahari desert. The Drakensberg Mountains drop steeply to the Indian Ocean (Great Ledge). Between

they and the ocean stretches the coastal lowland, which in the south passes into the Great Karru depression, which separates the Drakensberg Mountains from the Cape Mountains.

The main rivers of South Africa originate in the Dragon Mountains. The longest is the Orange River (length – 1860 km, and with the Vaal tributary 2200 km), which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It is not navigable, its mouth sometimes dries up. The rivers flowing into the Indian Ocean are not very long, but full-flowing. The largest of them are Tugela, Great Fish, tributaries of the Limpopo. The Limpopo itself flows along the border with Zimbabwe.

The soils are varied and mostly fertile: red-brown, black, gray-brown, sandy, alluvial, etc.

Vegetation north of 32 ° south latitude – different types of savannas (shrub, steppe, desert). Along the banks of the rivers, gallery tropical forests have been preserved. In the south of the country – subtropical forests and evergreen shrubs, and in the northwest – desert flora. Plant species are diverse: baobabs, acacias, ironwood, fragrant tree, boxwood, etc. Eucalyptus and American pine dominate in artificial plantings.

Animal world. Large animals are almost exterminated, South African endemics have disappeared from the face of the earth – the black-maned lion and the quagga zebra. Typically African fauna is preserved only in reserves, the largest of which is the Kruger National Park. The world of insects (termites, tsetse flies), birds (swallows from Russia winter here) is very diverse.

The bowels are exceptionally rich in minerals. South Africa ranks first in the world in terms of reserves (t, % of world reserves): manganese ore (12.2 billion, 82%), chromites (3.3 billion, 56%), platinum and platinoids (31 thousand, 69 %), gold (33.7 thousand, 40%), vanadium ores (14 million, 29%), aluminosilicates (37%), fluorite (47.5 million), corundum (104 million), asbestos (4.3 million), some rare earth elements, as well as 1st place in Africa in terms of coal reserves (115 billion tons), uranium oxide, iron ore (9.5 billion tons), titanium (40 million tons), antimony (297 thousand tons ), lead (8.5 million tons), zinc (15.4 million tons), nickel (5.9 million tons), apatite (160 million tons). There are significant deposits of diamonds (125 million carats of gem diamonds), copper, tin, magnesite, silver, aluminum and other minerals. A natural gas field has been discovered on the shelf. South Africa has almost everything except oil.

The climate is subtropical and tropical only in the far north. The average temperatures of the summer months are + 18°-27°C, and the winter months + 7°-15°C. Temperature contrasts are explained by the difference in latitude, the influence of warm and cold ocean currents, and the difference in altitude above sea level. Precipitation is unevenly distributed. In the deserts, no more than 100 mm falls per year, and on the coastal strip of the Indian Ocean up to 2000 mm.

Population of the Republic of South Africa

In 1984-2002 the population increased by 30%. Population growth rate in the 1980s were 2.9%, but then began to gradually decline, and in con. 1990s fell sharply; in 2002 experts estimated them at 0.02 to 1.04% due to the AIDS pandemic. Birth rate 20.63%, mortality 18.86%, infant mortality 61.78 people. per 1000 newborns (2002).

Average life expectancy (2002) 45.43 years (women – 45.68, men – 45.19). Sex and age structure (2002): 0-14 years – 31.6% (6,943,761 men and 6,849,745 women), 15-64 years – 63.4% (respectively 13,377,011 and 14,300,850), 65 years and older – 5% (816,222 and 1,360,069). In 2002, 50% of the population lived in cities and towns. Literacy of the population is 85.5%. Retirement age 65 years.

South Africa is a multiracial state. The four main races are Africans (77%), Whites (10.7%), Asians (2.6%), Koikoins – Bushmen and Hottentots (several thousand). In addition, a special ethnic group is made up of mestizos – “colored” (8.8%). Africans are divided into many ethnic communities, the largest of them: Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, Swazi, Ndebele, Pedi, Tsonga, Venda. The two main ethnic groups of Europeans are the Afrikaners (descendants of settlers from Holland and France) and the English-speaking population. The main population of Asian origin is Indians, but there are also Malays and Chinese. The most common languages are English, Afrikaans (the language of Afrikaners) and the languages of the aforementioned African ethnic groups.

More than 80% of the population is Christian. Other religions are Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and traditional African religions.

Geography of South Africa