Were traders that landed at the southern tip of South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East, founding the city of Cape Town.
Their main intention was to make fruit and vegetable gardens so the ships that stopped there could load up with fresh produce. In 1806, many of the Dutch settlers trekked north to found their own republics.
This was known as The Great Trek. The discovery of diamonds and gold in 1886 was the start of the gold rush. The British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa
• Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
• Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E
• Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
• Climate: mostly semiarid, subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights
• Natural resources: gold, coal, iron ore, diamonds, platinum, copper, natural gas
• Natural hazards: prolonged droughts
• Ethnic groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)
• Religions: 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)
• Languages: 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)
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 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region.
Growth has been robust since 2004, as South Africa has reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth.
At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating “load-shedding” cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities.
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 African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.