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South Africa - Overview

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Capital:: Pretoria
Area:: 1.219 km2
Total Population:: 49.320
Annual growth rate:: 1.00%
Density:: 41.00/km2
Urban population:: 61%
Population of Johannesburg (5.700), Johannesburg (town) (3.200), Durban (3.100), Cape Town (2.900), Pretoria (2.000)
Official language: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu.
Other languages spoken: Fanagalo, Hindi, Sotho, Tsotsitaal, Venda,
Business language: English and Afrikaans. Advertising in local languages has a wider reach.
Ethnic Origins:: Black African 79.6%, White (Italians, Germans, English...) 9.1%, Coloured 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5%.
For more information, visit Statistics South Africa.
Beliefs: Almost 80% of the population follows Christianity. Small segment of the society follows Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and traditional African beliefs.
Telephone codes:
To make a call from: 0
To make a call to: +27
Internet suffix:: .za
Type of State::
South Africa is a federal republic state based on parliamentary democracy.
Type of economy::
Upper-middle-income economy, Emerging Financial Market
The wealthiest country in Africa (GDP); the world's leading producer of gold.

Economic overview

South Africa is the economic giant of the African continent, contributing nearly 40% to the total African GDP. In the secondary sector, 75% of the biggest African companies are South African. Rebonding after the severe international economic crisis and enjoying the benefits of the organization of the World Football Cup in 2010, the South-African economy  has experienced a slight recovery in 2010, with an estimated growth at 3%, with an expectation of a speedier growth in 2011.


The government is mainly focusing on the construction of infrastructure, support of the industry, improvement of labor skills, on speeding up the agricultural reform and reducing criminality. After pursuing the policy of economic stimulus in 2010, the government is planning to tighten its budgetary policy in 2011 and reduce non-priority expenses in order to contain the deficit.

Unemployment, which affects nearly a third of the country's active population and AIDS (infecting nearly 12% of the population) are a cause for major concerns to the country's overall economic development. A third of the population continues to live below the poverty line and social inequalities remain high.

Main industries

South Africa has a subsoil rich in mineral resources. It is the world's largest producer and exporter of gold and platinum and the 5th largest producer of diamonds. The country produces 70% of the world's platinum and also has 60% of the world's coal reserves.

The country has diverse manufacturing industries and is a world leader in several specialized sectors, including railway rolling stock, synthetic fuels, mining equipment and machinery. The services sector is flourishing (almost two thirds of the GNP) and tourism should continue to grow after the stimulus it has received from the World Football Cup.  Agriculture only represents a small part of the GNP but employs 30% of the country's active population. South Africa is the 6th largest producer of wine in the world.

South Africa has a sophisticated financial structure with an active stock exchange that ranks among the world's top 20 in terms of market capitalization. Nevertheless, it has to be pointed out that the Rand weakened considerably during the financial crisis. Consequently, the South African government has put in place funds to support companies to guard against a higher depreciation.

Foreign trade overview

South Africa is very open to international trade. The share of international trade in the country's GNP exceeded 64%, an increase of almost 20% over the last 4 years. The three top trade partners of South Africa are: the United States, Japan, and the European Union. Since the beginning of the world economic crisis, the country's exports remain weak, while import is steadily increasing, leaving the trade balance in deficit.


Being largely a free-market economy, South Africa encourages foreign investment in both private and public sectors. Factors attracting FDI into the country include: transparent regulatory framework, large population, access to raw materials and political stability.

According to the UNCTAD World Investment Report, the potential apeal for foreign investment in South Africa is strong compared with other countries in the world, but performances are poor in terms of FDI attraction. Since the global financial crisis which affected the world at the end of 2008 - beginning 2009, South Africa is suffering from the lack of foreing investor interest and the net capital export is higher than the income.

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