Republic of South Africa
South Africa occupies the southern tip of Africa and its coastline stretching more than 2,500 kilometres from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast, around the south-most tip of Africa, and around the northeast to the border with Mozambique on the Indian Ocean. The low-lying coastal zone is narrow and gives way to a mountainous escarpment, the Great Escarpment that separates the coast from the high-lying inland plateau. In some places, notably the province of KwaZulu-Natal in the east, a greater distance separates the coast from the escarpment. Although most of the country is classified as semi-arid, it has considerable variation in climate as well as topography.
The South African central plateau contains only two major rivers, namely the Limpopo and the Orange river which runs with a variable flow across the central landscape from east to west, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at the Namibian border.
Main Cities and Towns
Political Economy Summary
Coat of Arms
The present South African coat of arms was introduced on Freedom Day, 27 April 2000, and replaced the earlier national arms, which had been in use since 1910. The change reflected government's aim to highlight the democratic change in South Africa and a new sense of patriotism. The first element is the motto, in a green semicircle. The motto is: !ke e: /xarra //ke, which means "Diverse People Unite" in the Khoisan language of the /Xam people. It represents individual effort to harness the unity between thought and action. On a collective scale it calls for the nation to unite in a common sense of belonging and national pride - unity in diversity.
Completing the semicircle are two symmetrically placed pairs of elephant tusks pointing upwards. Within the oval shape formed by the tusks are two symmetrical ears of wheat that in turn frame a centrally placed gold shield. The ears of wheat are a symbol of fertility and the idea of germination, growth and the feasible development of any potential. Elephant tusks symbolise wisdom, strength, moderation and eternity. The shield represents a dual function as a vehicle for the display of identity and of spiritual defence. It contains the primary symbol of the nation.
The human figures of red ochre are depicted in an attitude of greeting, symbolising unity. This also represents the beginning of the individual's transformation into the greater sense of belonging to the nation and by extension, collective humanity. The spear and knobkerrie (club) represent a dual symbol of defence and authority; and are lying down, which symbolises peace.