Introduction to South Africa

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South Africa: Introduction to South Africa

Introduction to South Africa On 31 May, 1961 the Union of South Africa became a Republic and relinquished her membership of the Commonwealth.

Ostriches in South Africa
Introduction to South Africa

The country covers nearly half a million square miles. About 40 per cent of the White people are of British stock, and the rest are mainly Afrikaners, descendants of Dutch settlers. Only men and women of pure White descent were allowed to vote or to become a members of Parliament.

Of the non-White people majority are of Bantu origin. There are also Asians, who are chiefly Indians. Most of the Indians live in Natal, where many descendants of laborers who came from India to work on the plantations, on which number of Indians are still employed.

South Africa consists of four provinces namely Transvall, Natal, Orange Free State and Cape of Good Hope. Its area is 1221037 Sq. km. It is a federal republic and its capital is Cape Town. The main languages are Afrikaans and English. The white population is 20% in the country and the rest of the population is the black. The seat of the Legislature is at Cape Town; that of the Government at Pretoria.

The greater part of South Africa consists of a high plateau, most of which extends 4,000 feet, with considerable areas rising above 6,000 feet.

The Orange and its tributary the Vaal rise in the Drakensberg. The following Natural Regions are distinguished mainly by climate

  • (1) The High Veld, which forms the eastern part of the plateau receives summer rains, which are heavier in the east, and diminishes towards the west. Cattles are grazed in the wetter areas and sheep in the drier districts. Citrus fruits, especially oranges, and also tobacco, are grown in irrigated valleys in the Transvaal, which has a warmer climate than the south of the High Veld.
  • (2) The Western Portion of the Plateau, which receives even less rain than the High Veld, is a poor pastoral area. The northern part of this area forms the Republic of Botswana, an area inhabited mainly by pastoral tribes.

  • (3) The West Coast Plain which, north of the region round Cape Town, is almost rainless and very sparsely peopled. Its chief economic value lies in its diamonds.
  • (4) The Karroos are dry treeless plateaux whose surface, strewn with boulders and dotted with small bushes, is broken only by solitary flat-topped kopjes, as the little hills are called.
  • (5) The South West has a Mediterranean climate. It is the chief fruit-producing region in South Africa, growing oranges, peaches apricots, plums and pears; as well as grapes, both for table use and for wine. This is the chief wheat growing area in country
  • (6) The East Coast is a sub-tropical region with rain at all season but mostly in summer when the south-east trades blow strong on-shore.

    This country in whole of Africa is materially very prosperous and most industrialized. Out of the total population of Europeans in South Africa approximately 58% are the people of Dutch origin. They were known as Boers previously but at present are known as Afrikaans. The people of British origin are 42%. While Europeans of Dutch origin take interest in farming, the people of British origin are engaged in mining and commercial activities.

    Minerals. 65% of the world's gold is obtained from South Africa, where gold accounts for 66 percent, of the value of the country's exports. The chief producing area is the Rand (Witwaterstrand) a ridge in the south of the Transvaal forming the divide between the Limpopo and the Vaal. There are also important gold mines in the Orange Free State.

    South Africa produces 17 percent of the world's diamonds. They are obtained from mines at Kimberley, and in alluvial diggings along the west coast, north of the mouth of the Orange River. There are enormous deposits of low-grade iron ore in the Pretoria district and even in the town itself. Some of this used in the iron and steel works of the city, but more important the high-grade haematite, mined in the Crocodile River valley.

    Orange River project is larger project for supplying the hydroelectricity and water for irrigation. Sheep rearing is for meat and the world's finest memo wool is obtained from memo sheep. Mining has been the main activity. Gold and diamond are the main items of export. Coal is also mined and is used for domestic purpose. In the Kimberley district mining for obtaining diamonds is extensively done. South Africa is also an industrially developed country. Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg are the main industrial centres. The country's policy of Apartheid had become very controversial and throughout the world it was condemned and criticized.

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