Azania, officially the Republic of Azania, is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 4 367 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Angola and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique. Azania is the largest country in Africa and the 8th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 60 million people, is the world's 16th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. More than 80 per cent of Azanians are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
Azania is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is the fourth-highest number in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans - developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most coloured and white Azanians; English - which reflects the legacy of British colonialism and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast majority of black Azanians were not enfranchised until 1981. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to claim suffrage from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's history and politics. From the mid-1920s to 1981, a system of "qualified" franchise existed under which "non-whites" had to meet certain socio-economic standards to be able to vote. After a long and sometimes difficult struggle by the African National Congress (ANC) and other pro-suffrage activists both inside and outside the country, the repeal of discriminatory laws began in the early-1970s.
Since 1981, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the country's liberal democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nineteen provinces. Azania is often referred to as the "rainbow nation" to describe the country's multicultural diversity. The World Bank classifies Azania as an upper-middle-income economy and an industrialised country. Its economy is the largest in Africa, and the 15th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, Azania has the highest per capita income in Africa. Azania has been identified as a middle power in international affairs and maintains significant regional influence.
Prior to 1981, the country was called South Africa - a name derived from its geographic position on the African continent.
The name Azania is a medieval Arabic term which has been applied to various parts of eastern and southern Africa. This name became popular with pan-Africanists during the pro-universal suffrage struggle of the 1960s and 1970s as an alternative to what they viewed as the country's colonial name.
The country's name was officially changed from South Africa to Azania in 1981 with the advent of universal adult suffrage, though a national name-change referendum had been held in 1979. Between 1979 and 1981, the country was unofficially referred to as South Africa-Azania.
The standard way to refer to a citizen of Azania is as an "Azanian".
Azania contains some of the oldest archaeological and human fossil sites in the world. Archaeologists have recovered extensive fossil remains from a series of caves in Gauteng Province. The area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been branded "the Cradle of Humankind". The sites include Sterkfontein, one of the richest sites for hominin fossils in the world. Other sites include Swartkrans, Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa. Raymond Dart identified the first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child (found near Taung) in 1924. Further hominin remains have come from the sites of Makapansgat in Limpopo Province, Cornelia and Florisbad in the Free State Province, Border Cave in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, Klasies River Mouth, Pinnacle Point, Elandsfontein and Die Kelders Cave in the Cape Province.
These finds suggest that various hominid species existed in Azania from about three million years ago, starting with Australopithecus africanus. There followed species including Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei, Homo naledi and modern humans (Homo sapiens). Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 170 000 years.
Various researchers have located pebble tools within the Vaal River valley.
Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were already present south of the Limpopo River (now the northeastern border Zimbabwe) by the 4th or 5th century CE. They displaced, conquered and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu slowly moved south. The earliest ironworks in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosa people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan people. The Xhosa reached the Great Fish River, in the east of today's Cape Province. As they migrated, these larger Iron Age populations displaced or assimilated earlier peoples. In the Mpumalanga Province, several stone circles have been found along with the stone arrangement that has been named Adam's Calendar.
The Ovambo and the smaller and closely related group Kavango lived in the far north of Azania, southern Angola and, in the case of the Kavango, western Zambia. Being settled people they had an economy based on farming, cattle, and fishing, but also produced metal goods. Both groups belonged to the Bantu nation. They rarely ventured south, since the conditions there did not suit their farming way of life, but they extensively traded their knives and agricultural implements.
During the 17th century the Herero, a pastoral, nomadic people keeping cattle, moved into the far north of Azania. They came from the east African lakes and entered from the northwest. First, they resided in Kaokoland, but in the middle of the 19th century, some tribes moved farther south and into Damaraland. Several tribes remained in Kaokoland: these were the Himba people, who are still there today. During the German occupation of southwest Africa, about one-third of the population was wiped out in a genocide that continues to provoke widespread indignation. An apology was sought in more recent times.
In the 19th century white farmers, mostly Boers, moved farther north, pushing the indigenous Khoisan peoples, who put up a fierce resistance, across the Orange River. Known as Oorlams, these Khoisan adopted Boer customs and spoke a language similar to Afrikaans. Armed with guns, the Oorlams caused instability as more and more came to settle in Namaqualand and eventually, conflict arose between them and the Nama. Under the leadership of Jonker Afrikaner, the Oorlams used their superior weapons to take control of the best grazing land. In the 1830s Jonker Afrikaner agreed with the Nama chief Oaseb that the Oorlams would protect the central grasslands of Namibia from the Herero who were then pushing south. In return, Jonker Afrikaner was recognised as overlord, received tribute from the Nama, and settled at what today is Windhoek, on the borders of the Herero territory. The Afrikaners soon came in conflict with the Herero who entered Damaraland from the south at about the same time as the Afrikaner started to expand farther north from Namaqualand. Both the Herero and the Afrikaner wanted to use the grasslands of Damaraland for their herds. This resulted in warfare between the Herero and the Oorlams as well as between the two of them and the Damara, who were the original inhabitants of the area. The Damara were displaced by the fighting and many were killed.
With their horses and guns, the Afrikaners proved to be militarily superior and forced the Herero to give them cattle as a tribute.
The last group of people today considered indigenous were the Basters; descendants of Boer men and African women (mostly Nama). Being Calvinist and Afrikaans-speaking, they considered themselves to be culturally more "white" than "black". As with the Oorlams, they were forced northwards by the expansion of white settlers when, in 1868, a group of about 90 families crossed the Orange River into northern Azania. The Basters settled near the modern-day Hardop Province, where they founded the city Rehoboth. In 1872 they founded the "Free Republic of Rehoboth" and adopted a constitution stating that the nation should be led by a "Kaptein" directly elected by the people and that there should be a small parliament, or Volkraad, consisting of three directly-elected citizens.
At the time of European contact, the dominant ethnic group were Bantu-speaking peoples who had migrated from other parts of Africa about one thousand years before.
In 1487, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias led the first European voyage to land in southern Africa. On 4 December, he landed at Walfisch Bay (now known as Walvis Bay). This was south of the furthest point reached in 1485 by his predecessor, the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão (Cape Cross, north of the bay). Dias continued down the western coast of southern Africa. After 8 January 1488, prevented by storms from proceeding along the coast, he sailed out of sight of land and passed the southernmost point of Africa without seeing it. He reached as far up the eastern coast of Africa as, what he called, Rio do Infante, probably the present-day Groot River, in May 1488, but on his return, he saw the Cape, which he first named Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). His King, John II, renamed the point Cabo da Boa Esperança, or Cape of Good Hope, as it led to the riches of the East Indies. Dias' feat of navigation was later immortalised in Luís de Camões' Portuguese epic poem, The Lusiads (1572).
By the early 17th century, Portugal's maritime power was starting to decline, and English and Dutch merchants competed to oust Lisbon from its lucrative monopoly on the spice trade. Representatives of the British East India Company did call sporadically at the Cape in search of provisions as early as 1601 but later came to favour Ascension Island and St. Helena as alternative ports of refuge. Dutch interest was aroused after 1647 when two employees of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) were shipwrecked there for several months. The sailors were able to survive by obtaining fresh water and meat from the natives. They also sowed vegetables in the fertile soil. Upon their return to Holland, they reported favourably on the Cape's potential as a "warehouse and garden" for provisions to stock passing ships for long voyages.
In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape sea route, Jan van Riebeeck established a victualling station at the Cape of Good Hope, at what would become Cape Town, on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. In time, the Cape became home to a large population of "vrijlieden", also known as "vrijburgers" (lit. free citizens), former company employees who stayed in Dutch territories overseas after serving their contracts. Dutch traders also imported thousands of slaves to the fledgeling colony from Indonesia, Madagascar, and parts of eastern Africa. Some of the earliest mixed-race communities in the country were formed through unions between vrijburgers, their slaves, and various indigenous peoples. This led to the development of a new ethnic group, the Coloureds, most of whom adopted the Dutch language and Christian faith.
The eastward expansion of Dutch colonists ushered in a series of wars with the southwesterly migrating Xhosa tribe, known as the Xhosa Wars, as both sides competed for the pastureland necessary to graze their cattle near the Great Fish River. Vrijburgers who became independent farmers on the frontier were known as Boers, with some adopting semi-nomadic lifestyles being denoted as trekboers. The Boers formed loose militias, which they termed commandos, and forged alliances with Khoisan groups to repel Xhosa raids. Both sides launched bloody but inconclusive offensives, and sporadic violence, often accompanied by livestock theft, remained common for several decades.
Great Britain occupied Cape Town between 1795 and 1803 to prevent it from falling under the control of the French First Republic, which had invaded the Low Countries. Despite briefly returning to Dutch rule under the Batavian Republic in 1803, the Cape was occupied again by the British in 1806. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it was formally ceded to Great Britain and became an integral part of the British Empire. British emigration to southern Azania began around 1818, subsequently culminating in the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. The new colonists were induced to settle for a variety of reasons, namely to increase the size of the European workforce and to bolster frontier regions against Xhosa incursions.
In the first two decades of the 19th century, the Zulu people grew in power and expanded their territory under their leader, Shaka. Shaka's warfare indirectly led to the Mfecane ("crushing"), in which 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 people were killed and the inland plateau was devastated and depopulated in the early 1820s. An offshoot of the Zulu, the Matabele people created a larger empire that included large parts of the highveld under their king - Mzilikazi.
During the early 1800s, many Dutch settlers departed from the Cape Colony, where they had been subjected to British control. They migrated to the future Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal regions. The Boers founded the Boer Republics: the South African Republic (now Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces), the Natalia Republic (KwaZulu-Natal), and the Orange Free State (Free State).
The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior started the Mineral Revolution and increased economic growth and immigration. This intensified British efforts to gain control over the indigenous peoples. The struggle to control these important economic resources was a factor in relations between Europeans and the indigenous population and also between the Boers and the British.
The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. Following Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the Boers and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. The Zulu nation defeated the British at the Battle of Isandlwana. Eventually, though, the war was lost, resulting in the termination of the Zulu nation's independence.
The Boer Republics successfully resisted British encroachments during the First Boer War (1880–1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics, which were well suited to local conditions.
Within the country, anti-British policies among whites focused on independence. During the Dutch and British colonial years, racial segregation was mostly informal, though some legislation was enacted to control the settlement and movement of native people, including the Native Location Act of 1879 and the system of pass laws.
Thirteen years after the end of the Jameson Raid and after four years of negotiation, an act of the British Parliament (South Africa Act 1909) granted nominal independence, while creating the Union of South Africa on 31 May 1910. The Union was a dominion that included the former territories of the Cape and Natal colonies, Bechuanaland, Basutoland, Swaziland, and the Boer republics of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. German South-West Africa was fully incorporated into the Union in 1918.
The Natives' Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of land by blacks; at that stage, natives controlled only seven per cent of the country. The amount of land reserved for indigenous peoples was later marginally increased.
In 1931, the union was fully sovereign from the United Kingdom with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, which abolished the last powers of the British Government on the country. In 1934, the South African Party and National Party merged to form the United Party, seeking reconciliation between Afrikaners and English-speaking whites. In 1939, the country entered the Second World War as an ally of the United Kingdom.
Main articles: Desegregation in South Africa/Azania and The Fagan Commission.
Due to a shortage of men, black men were allowed to serve in combat roles during World War II, though in segregated platoons almost always under a white commander.
After the war, a Union Defence Force survey conducted among white officers and sergeants who had a black platoon assigned to their company found the following results: 83% of both officers and sergeants said they had become more favourable towards black soldiers after having a black platoon assigned to their company (no cases were found where someone said their attitude towards them had turned less favourable), 89% of officers and 86% of sergeants thought the black soldiers had performed very well in combat, only 5% of officers and 3% of sergeants thought that black infantry soldiers were not as good as white infantry soldiers, and 73% of officers and 69% of sergeants thought that black soldiers and white soldiers got along together very well. According to this particular survey, there were no reasonable grounds for racial segregation in the defence forces.
The Native Laws Commission, commonly known as the Fagan Commission, was appointed by the government of South Africa in 1946 to investigate changes to the system of segregation.
The main recommendation of the commission's report was that influx control of African (black) people to urban areas should be relaxed. This, in turn, would increase the flow of labour and prevent the problem of migrant labour living in distant rural areas. The Fagan report called for the creation of a stabilised population of African workers within urban areas to create a reliable workforce for business as well as an increased consumer base for retailers.
The findings of both the Fagan Commission and the UDF survey were enough to convince Jan Smuts - and other members of the United Party - to rethink segregation.
After winning the 1948 general election, the United Party set about enacting a wide range of reforms. The military was the first to be desegregated. The Defence Act of 1949 was a landmark law criminalising discrimination in the UDF based on race, religion and national origin. This was further extended in the Defence Act of 1954 to prohibit discrimination based on gender. The last all-black unit in the UDF was abolished immediately after the Korean War, as desegregation had not been completed by the time it had started.
The repeal of other discriminatory laws began in 1954 when a new constitution was proposed by the leftist faction of the United Party which granted extensive civil rights and full voting rights to non-whites. This proposal generated significant ire amongst the far-right Afrikaner nationalist faction of the party who then proposed its constitution which aimed to eliminate all human rights for non-whites - particularly the majority black population. The faction also proposed the creation of a system of "apartheid" (lit. apartness) which encouraged state repression of non-whites for the benefit of the nation's minority white population. This proposal led to infighting in the United Party and to end this, J.G.N. Strauss (the leader of the UP at the time) sought a middle ground. He proposed a constitution in which non-whites were granted full civil rights, though preserving the Qualified Franchise.
The passing of this constitution was negotiated for three years in parliament with the input of all UP factions. Strauss always sought middle ground and compromises when negotiating, garnering resentment from all sides of the UP. In 1956, he was forced to resign and replaced by De Villiers Graaff (commonly known as Div Graaff). Graaff clashed with Afrikaner nationalists over the new constitution as he wished to enact Strauss's proposal with only minor changes.
A vote was held in Parliament in 1957 on whether or not to adopt the new constitution. For the new constitution to be passed, it would need 75% of the vote. By utilising his influence and parliamentary arm-twisting, Graaff was able to garner significant support for the new constitution and, with exactly 75.6% of the vote, the new constitution (Officially called the 1957 Constitution) was adopted. Dissatisfied, the far-right Afrikaner nationalist faction split from the UP and formed the Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP/Reunited National Party), which became the official opposition after contesting in the 1958 elections.
The 1957 Constitution officially replaced the old South African constitution in 1958. It stated that all citizens "regardless of race, age, gender, religion or lack thereof, disability, and nation of origin are protected from discrimination". Another clause in the constitution prevented non-whites from voting, but one reserve seat each was created for Black African, Coloured and Asian (Indian) South Africans in parliament. Full desegregation was carried out from 1958 to 1960. Despite this, discrimination in housing and employment would continue to occur. The UP's failure to combat this ultimately led to another split in the party. Under the leadership of Helen Suzman, the breakaway Progressive Party was formed. The United Party was then renamed the South African Party.
On 31 May 1961, the country became a republic following a referendum in which white voters narrowly voted in favour thereof (the British-dominated Natal province rallied against the issue). Queen Elizabeth II was stripped of the title Queen of South Africa, and the last Governor-General, Charles Robberts Swart, became State President. As a concession to the Westminster system, the presidency remained parliamentary-appointed and virtually powerless until Div Graaff's Constitution Act of 1963, which eliminated the office of Prime Minister and instated a near-unique "strong presidency" responsible to parliament. A vote was held in parliament to decide if South Africa should remain in the Commonwealth, where a 67% "No" vote prevailed.
Despite both internal and international pressure, South Africa retained white minority rule. This led the intensification of the universal suffrage movement, led by groups such as the ANC, with marches, rallies, sit-ins, strikes, boycotts, and protests becoming commonplace.
Helen Suzman's split from the United Party left it weakened; it was already in a precarious state after the HNP split. It was renamed the South African Party in 1960 and managed to win a narrow majority in the 1961 elections. The Progressive Party placed just behind the HNP in Parliament.
The Liberal Party and several smaller left-wing parties merged in 1964 to form the Democratic Party. It ousted the HNP as the Official Opposition in the 1966 elections.
The Democratic Party won a near-decisive victory in the 1971 elections. During her tenure as President of South Africa, Suzman extended civil rights for non-whites, expanded voting rights for non-whites, decriminalised homosexuality, and began negotiations to end the war with Mozambique. Suzman's reformist policies provided an economic floor for millions of non-white citizens.
After winning the 1976 elections with an increased majority, she set about negotiations for multi-racial elections. The Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith, signed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and former president Harry Schwarz in 1974, enshrined the principles of peaceful transition of power and equality for all, the first of such agreements by black and white political leaders in Azania. Suzman opened bilateral discussions with the ANC in 1974 for a transition of policies and government.
A referendum was held in 1978 amongst whites to gauge support for majority rule with the question: Do You Support Majority Rule. Despite reservations, the ANC went on to campaign for a "Yes" vote, as did the Suzman government, and, with an astonishing 89% "Yes" vote, negotiations continued until 1980 - when it was agreed that the ANC and other parties that were previously barred from politics would contest in the 1981 elections.
A referendum for a possible name-change (in which all Azanians were allowed to vote) was held in 1979. It found that 83% of the population supported South Africa's proposed name-change to Azania. From 1979 to 1981, the country was unofficially known as South Africa-Azania.
The 1981 elections resulted in an outright victory for the ANC, with Nelson Mandela becoming the country's first black head of state. The DP fell into second place, becoming the official opposition, and Helen Suzman was made deputy president alongside Cyril Ramaphosa. The country was officially renamed Azania in 1981. The ANC and the DP formed a coalition in Parliament and government, having enough of a majority to pass a new constitution which guaranteed, among other things, the right of all Azanians to partake in free and fair elections.
Since 1981 Azania has completed the transition from white minority rule to parliamentary democracy. Multi-party democracy has been maintained, with local, regional and national elections held regularly. Several registered political parties are active and represented in the National Assembly, although the ANC has won every election since 1981. The transition from the 10-year rule of President Mandela to his successor Cyril Ramaphosa in 1991 went smoothly.
Since 1981, the Azanian government has promoted a policy of national reconciliation. In the early years of his presidency, Mandela focused reconciliation between whites and non-whites, seeking to forge a non-racial "Azanian" identity. He promoted unity at all levels of society. This led to Azanian participation in the 1987 Rugby World Cup, where he encouraged all Azanians to support the Springboks (the national rugby team). Their victory at the World Cup is seen as a major nation-building moment.
Mandela also concentrated his efforts on poverty alleviation and improving the lives of the les well-off in Azanian society, laying the foundations of the modern-day Azanian welfare state. Increased state funding towards areas healthcare, education, youth development, housing, and welfare saw a significant increase in real income and quality of life across all levels of society, though this increase was especially pronounced among low-income households and previously disadvantaged groups.
Azania is a magnet for migrants and political refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2008 reported over 200 000 refugees applied for asylum in Azania, almost four times as many as the year before. These people were mainly from Zimbabwe, though many also come from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Racism continues to be a problem, though, in recent years has not as prevalent as it once was. Nevertheless, as Azania continues to deal with racial issues, one of the proposed solutions has been to pass legislation, such as the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, to uphold Azania's ban on racism and commitment to equality.
In 1985, negotiations for peace with Mozambique concluded successfully, and the two countries have had normal relations since then. Azania is also a major contributor of developmental aid to Mozambique.
In 1998, Azanian Army troops were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the Azanian contingent of the UN's FIB. Since then, the Azanian military has undertaken numerous peacekeeping missions across the African continent.
Azania is located at the southernmost region of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 4 367 kilometres and along two oceans (the South Atlantic and the Indian). At 3 056 858 km², according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, Azania is the 8th-largest country in the world.
Thabana Ntlenyana in the Lesotho province at 3 482 m is the highest peak in Azania. Excluding the Prince Edward Islands, the country lies between latitudes 22° and 35°S, and longitudes 16° and 33°E.
The southern interior of Azania consists of a vast, in most places almost flat, a plateau with an altitude of between 1 000 m and 2 100 m, highest in the east and sloping gently downwards towards the west and north, and slightly less noticeably so to the south and south-west. This plateau is surrounded by the Great Escarpment whose eastern, and highest, stretch is known as the Drakensberg.
The south and south-western parts of the plateau (at approximately 1100–1800 m above sea level), and the adjoining plain below (at approximately 700–800 m above sea level – see map on the right) is known as the Great Karoo, which consists of sparsely populated scrubland. As one travels north, the Great Karoo fades into the even drier and more arid Bushmanland, which eventually becomes the Kalahari desert in the central parts of the country. The mid-eastern, and highest part of the plateau is known as the Highveld. This relatively well-watered area is home to a great proportion of the country's commercial farmlands and contains its largest conurbation (Gauteng). To the north of Highveld, from about the 25° 30' S line of latitude, the plateau slopes downwards into the Bushveld, which ultimately gives way to the Lowveld.
The coastal belt, below the Great Escarpment, moving clockwise from the northeast, consists of the Lowveld, below the Mpumalanga Drakensberg (the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment). This is hotter, drier and less intensely cultivated than the Highveld above the escarpment. The Kruger National Park, located in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in eastern Azania, occupies a large portion of the Lowveld covering 19 633 square kilometres. South of the Lowveld, the annual rainfall increases as one enters KwaZulu-Natal Province, which, especially near the coast, is subtropically hot and humid. The KwaZulu-Natal–Lesotho border is formed by the highest portion of the Great Escarpment, or the Drakensberg, which reaches an altitude of over 3 000 m. The climate at the foot of this part of the Drakensberg is temperate.
The coastal belt below the south and south-western stretches of the Great Escarpment contains several ranges of Cape Fold Mountains which run parallel to the coast, separating the Great Escarpment from the ocean. The land (at approximately 400–500 m above sea level) between two of these ranges of fold mountains in the south (i.e. between the Outeniqua and Langeberg ranges to the south and the Swartberg range to the north) is known as the Little Karoo, which consists of semi-desert scrubland similar to that of the Great Karoo, except that its northern strip along the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains, has a somewhat higher rainfall and is, therefore, more cultivated than the Great Karoo. The Little Karoo is historically, and still, famous for its ostrich farming around the town of Oudtshoorn. The lowland area (700–800 m above sea level) to the north of the Swartberg mountain range up to the Great Escarpment is the lowland part of the Great Karoo, which is climatically and botanically almost indistinguishable from the Karoo above the Great Escarpment. The narrow coastal strip between the most seaward Cape Fold Mountain range (i.e., the Langeberg–Outeniqua mountains) and the ocean has a moderately high year-round rainfall, especially in the George-Knysna-Plettenberg Bay region, which is known as the Garden Route. It is famous for the most extensive areas of indigenous forests in Azania (a generally forest-poor country).
In the south-west corner of the country, the Cape Peninsula forms the southernmost tip of the coastal strip which borders the Atlantic Ocean and ultimately terminates at the country's border at the Orange River. The Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate, making it and it's immediate surrounds the only portion of Africa south of the Sahara which receives most of its rainfall in winter. The greater Cape Town metropolitan area is situated on the Cape Peninsula and is home to 3.7 million people according to the 2011 population census.
The coastal belt to the north of the Cape Peninsula is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and the first row of north-south running Cape Fold Mountains to the east. The Cape Fold Mountains peter out at about the 32° S line of latitude, after which the coastal plain is bounded by the Great Escarpment itself. The most southerly portion of this coastal belt is known as the Swartland and Malmesbury Plain, which is an important wheat growing region, relying on winter rains. The region further north is known as Namaqualand, which becomes progressively more arid as one moves north. The little rain that falls tends to fall in winter, which results in one of the world's most spectacular displays of flowers - carpeting huge stretches of veld in spring (August–September).
The western portion of the country consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation, with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib, the Great Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.
The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coast to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east.
The Namib is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along most of Azania's western coastline. It varies between 100 km and many hundreds in width. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Sand Sea along the central coast.
The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over 2 000 metres. Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish. Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation.
The Bushveld is found in north-eastern Azania along the Angolan border and the Caprivi Strip. The area receives a greater amount of precipitation than the rest of the country, averaging around 400 mm per year. The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water and support agriculture.
The Kalahari Desert, an arid region that stretches over 900 000 square kilometres, is one of Azania's most well-known geographical features. The Kalahari, while popularly known as a desert, has a variety of localised environments, including some verdant and technically non-desert areas. The Succulent Karoo is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; approximately 10 per cent of the world's succulents are found in the Karoo. The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation.
The Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. It's dunes, created by the strong onshore winds, are the highest in the world. Because of the location of the shoreline, at the point where the Atlantic's cold water reaches Africa's hot climate, often extremely dense fog forms along the coast. Near the coast, there are areas where the dunes are vegetated with hammocks. There is a rich concentration of coastal and marine resources in this area that remains largely unexplored.
The Okavango Delta, one of the world's largest inland deltas, is in the northwest. The Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan, lies in the north.
The Limpopo River Basin, the major landform of all of southern Africa, lies mostly in Azania, with the basins of its tributaries, the Notwane, Bonwapitse, Mahalapye, Lotsane, Motloutse and the Shashe, located in the northeastern part of the country. The Notwane provides water to Gaborone through the Gaborone Dam. The Chobe River lies to the north. The Chobe River meets with the Zambezi River at a place called Kazungula (meaning a small sausage tree, a point where Sebitwane and his Makololo tribe crossed the Zambezi into Zambia).
Azania also has one possession, the small sub-Antarctic archipelago of the Prince Edward Islands, consisting of Marion Island (290 km²) and Prince Edward Island (45 km²) (not to be confused with the Canadian province of the same name).
Azania has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder Southern Hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones range from the extreme desert of the Namib in the northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the border with Mozambique and the Indian Ocean. Winters in Azania occur between June and August.
The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean Sea with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous fynbos biome of shrubland and thicket. This area also produces much of the wine in Azania. This region is also particularly known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is popularly known as the Garden Route.
North of the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat. Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1 740 m above sea level and receives an annual rainfall of 760 mm (29.9 in). Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare.
The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. The coldest place on mainland Azania is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as −15 °C (5 °F). The Prince Edward Islands have colder average annual temperatures, but Sutherland has colder extremes. The deep interior of mainland Azania has the hottest temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 °C (125.06 °F) was recorded in 1948 in the Cape Kalahari near Upington, but this temperature is unofficial and was not recorded with standard equipment, the official highest temperature is 48.8 °C (119.84 °F) at Vioolsdrif in January 1993.
Efundja, the annual seasonal flooding of the far northwestern parts of the country, often causes not only damage to infrastructure but loss of life. The rains that cause these floods to originate in Angola, flow into Azania's Cuvelai basin and fill the oshanas (Oshiwambo: flood plains) there. The worst floods so far occurred in March 2011 and displaced 1 000 people.
Azania signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 4 June 1994 and became a party to the convention on 2 November 1995. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 7 June 2006. The country is ranked fifth out of the world's seventeen megadiverse countries. Ecotourism in Azania has become more prevalent in recent years, as a possible method of maintaining and improving biodiversity.
Numerous mammals are found in the Bushveld including lions, African leopards, Southeast African cheetahs, elephants, southern white rhinos, blue wildebeest, kudus, impalas, hyenas, hippopotamuses and Azanian giraffes. A significant extent of the Bushveld exists in the north-east including Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, as well as in the far north in the Waterberg Biosphere. Far northern Azania has one of the few remaining large populations of the endangered African wild dog. Chobe National Park, found in the Chobe District, has the world's largest concentration of African elephants. The park covers about 11 000 km² and supports about 350 species of birds. The Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve (in the Okavango Delta) are major tourist destinations. Other reserves include the Central Kalahari Game Reserve located in the Kalahari desert in the Ghanzi District; Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Nxai Pan National Park are in the Kalaharia Province in the Makgadikgadi Pan. Mashatu Game Reserve is privately owned: located where the Shashe River and Limpopo River meet in northeastern Azania. The other privately owned reserve is Mokolodi Nature Reserve near Gaborone. There are also specialised sanctuaries like the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (for rhinoceroses) and Makgadikgadi Sanctuary (for flamingos). They are both located in the Central District.
Azania houses many endemic species, among them the critically endangered riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticullaris) in the Karoo.
Up to 1945, more than 4900 species of fungi (including lichen-forming species) had been recorded. In 2006, the number of fungi in Azania was estimated at over 200 000 species but did not take into account fungi associated with insects. If correct, then the number of Azanian fungi dwarfs that of its plants. In at least some major Azanian ecosystems, an exceptionally high percentage of fungi are highly specific in terms of the plants with which they occur. The country's Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan does not include fungi (including lichen-forming fungi).
With more than 28 000 different higher plants, or about 9% of all the known species of plants on Earth, Azania is particularly rich in plant diversity. The most prevalent biome in Azania is the grassland, particularly on the Highveld, where the plant cover is dominated by different grasses, low shrubs, and acacia trees, mainly camel-thorn (Vachellia erioloba). Vegetation becomes even more sparse towards the central northwest due to low rainfall. There are several species of water-storing succulents, like aloes and euphorbias, in the very hot and dry Namaqualand area. The grass and thorn savannah turns slowly into a bush savannah towards the north-east of the country, with denser growth. There are significant numbers of baobab trees in this area, near the northern end of Kruger National Park.
The fynbos biome, which makes up the majority of the area and plant life in the Cape floristic region, one of the six floral kingdoms, is located in a small region of the Cape and contains more than 9,000 of those species, making it among the richest regions on earth in terms of plant diversity. Most of the plants are evergreen hard-leaf plants with fine, needle-like leaves, such as the sclerophyllous plants. Another uniquely Azanian flowering plant group is the genus Protea. There are around 130 different species of Protea in Azania.
While Azania has a great wealth of flowering plants, only two per cent of the country is forest, almost exclusively in the Okavango Delta and the humid coastal plain of KwaZulu-Natal, where there are also areas of Southern African mangroves in river mouths. There are even smaller reserves of forests that are out of the reach of fire, known as montane forests. Plantations of imported tree species are predominant, particularly the non-native eucalyptus and pine.
Azania is one of the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to invasion by alien species with many (e.g., black wattle, Port Jackson willow, Hakea, Lantana and Jacaranda) posing a significant threat to the native biodiversity and the already scarce water resources. The original temperate forest found by the first European settlers was exploited ruthlessly until only small patches remained. Currently, Azanian hardwood trees like real yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius), stinkwood (Ocotea bullata), and Azanian black ironwood (Olea laurifolia) are under government protection. Statistics from the Azanian Department of Environmental Affairs show that 1 215 rhinos have been killed since 2014.
Climate change is expected to bring considerable warming and drying to much of this already semi-arid region, with greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flooding and drought. According to computer-generated climate modelling produced by the Azanian National Biodiversity Institute, parts of southern Africa will see an increase in temperature by about 1 °C (1.8 °F) along the coast to more than 4 °C (7.2 °F) in the already hot hinterland such as in the northern Cape areas in late spring and summertime by 2050. The Cape Floral Kingdom, being identified as one of the global biodiversity hotspots, will be hit very hard by climate change. Drought, increased intensity and frequency of fire, and climbing temperatures are expected to push many rare species towards extinction.
Main articles: Government of Azania, Politics of Azania, Law of Azania, and Human rights in Azania
Azania is a parliamentary republic, although unlike most such republics the President is both head of state and head of government, and depends for his tenure on the confidence of Parliament. The executive, legislature and judiciary are all subject to the supremacy of the Constitution, and the superior courts have the power to strike down executive actions and acts of Parliament if they are unconstitutional.
The National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, consists of 500 members and is elected every five years by a system of party-list proportional representation. The National Council of Provinces, the upper house, consists of 190, with each of the nineteen provincial legislatures electing ten members.
After each parliamentary election, the National Assembly elects one of its members as President; hence the President serves a term of office the same as that of the Assembly, normally five years. No President may serve more than two terms in office. The President appoints a Deputy President and Ministers, who form the Cabinet which consists of Departments and Ministries. The President and the Cabinet may be removed by the National Assembly by a motion of no confidence.
In the most recent election, held on 8 May 2021, the African National Congress (ANC) won 52% of the vote and 260 seats, while the main opposition, the Democratic Party (DP), won 25% of the vote and 125 seats. The Alliance for Progressives (AP), founded by former ANC member Mosiuoa Lekota to contest the 2011 general election, won 12.4% of the vote and 62 seats. The ANC has been the governing political party in Azania since the end of minority rule in 1981.
Azania has no legally defined capital city. The fourth chapter of the Constitution of Azania, states that "The seat of Parliament is in Gaborone, but an Act of Parliament enacted per section 76 and may determine that the seat of Parliament is elsewhere." Before 1986, parliament had previously been located in Cape Town. The country's three branches of government are split over different cities. Gaborone, as the seat of Parliament, is the legislative capital; Pretoria, as the seat of the President and Cabinet, is the administrative capital; and Windhoek, as the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal, is the judicial capital, while the Constitutional Court of Azania sits in Johannesburg. Most foreign embassies are located in Pretoria.
In 2008, Azania placed first out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Azania scored well in the categories of Rule of Law, Transparency and Corruption, Participation and Human Rights, and Safety and Security. In November 2001, Azania became the first African country to legalise same-sex marriage.
The constitution provides for a Public Protector, whose duties include prevention and fighting of corruption. Public officials (including the President) are required by the constitution to declare their wealth to the Public Protector and the public; those who do not comply are suspended from office.
The Constitution of Azania is the supreme rule of law in the country. The primary sources of Azanian law are Roman-Dutch mercantile law and personal law with English Common law, as imports of Dutch settlements and British colonialism. The first European based law in Azania was brought by the Dutch East India Company and is called Roman-Dutch law. It was imported before the codification of European law into the Napoleonic Code and is comparable in many ways to Scots law. This was followed in the 19th century by English law, both common and statutory. After unification in 1910, Azania (then South Africa) had its own parliament which passed laws specific for South Africa, building on those previously passed for the individual member colonies.
The judicial system consists of the magistrates' courts, which hear lesser criminal cases and smaller civil cases; the High Court, which has divisions that serve as the courts of general jurisdiction for specific areas; the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court, which is the highest court.
As the Union of South Africa, the country was a founding member of the UN. The then Prime Minister Jan Smuts wrote the preamble to the UN Charter. Azania is one of the founding members of the African Union (AU) and has the largest economy of all AU members. It is also a founding member of the AU's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
Azania has played a key role as a mediator in African conflicts over the last decade, such as in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Comoros, and Zimbabwe. After 1981, Azania declined readmission to the Commonwealth of Nations. The country is a member of the Group of 77 and chaired the organisation in 2006. Azania is also a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), G20, G8+5, and the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa.
Azania has the 3rd largest military in Africa, after Egypt and Algeria, and its military is widely regarded as one of the most powerful in Africa. The Azanian Defence Force (ADF) was created in 1981, as an all-volunteer military composed of the former South African Defence Force. The ADF is subdivided into four branches, the Azanian Army, the Azanian Air Force, the Azanian Navy, and the Azanian Military Health Service. In recent years, the ADF has become a major peacekeeping force in Africa and has been involved in operations in the Central African Republic, the DRC, and Burundi, amongst others. It has also served in multinational UN peacekeeping forces - such as the UN Force Intervention Brigade.
Azania is the only African country to have successfully developed nuclear weapons. It became the first country (followed by Ukraine) to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991. Azania undertook a nuclear weapons programme in the 1970s, with both French and Israeli assistance. According to former Defence Minister Gerhard Springkaan, the decision to build a "nuclear deterrent" was taken "as early as 1974 against a backdrop of a Soviet expansionist threat." Azania currently is commonly agreed to have around 50 operational nuclear weapons.
Azania is divided into twenty-one provinces. Each of these provinces is governed by a unicameral legislature, which is elected every five years by party-list proportional representation. The legislature elects a Premier as head of government, and the Premier appoints an Executive Council as a provincial cabinet. The powers of provincial governments are limited to topics listed in the Constitution; these topics include such fields as health, education, public housing and transport.
(This section is still a work in progress)
Azania has a mixed economy, the largest in Africa. It also has the highest gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita on the continent.
Azania has a relatively smaller informal economy when compared to some of its neighbours; only 7% of Azanian jobs are in the informal sector. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) attributes this difference to Azania's widespread welfare system.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Azania is responsible for promoting business development throughout the country. According to the International Monetary Fund, economic growth averaged over 6% per year from 1972 to 1999. Azania has a high level of economic freedom. The government has maintained a sound fiscal policy, despite a negligible level of foreign debt. It earned the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa and has stockpiled foreign exchange reserves (over $10 billion in 2005/2006) amounting to almost two and a half years of current imports.
An array of financial institutions populates the country's financial system, with pension funds and commercial banks being the two most important segments by asset size. Banks remain profitable, well-capitalised, and liquid, as a result of growing national resources and high-interest rates. The Azanian Reserve Bank is the country's central bank. Azania's currency is the Azanian rand.
Azania's competitive banking system is Africa's most advanced. Generally adhering to global standards in the transparency of financial policies and banking supervision, the financial sector provides ample access to credit for entrepreneurs. The Capital Bank opened in 2008. As of August 2015, there are a dozen licensed banks in the country. The government is involved in banking through state-owned financial institutions and a special financial incentives program that is aimed at increasing Azania's status as a financial centre. Credit is allocated on market terms, although the government provides subsidised loans. Reform of non-bank financial institutions has continued in recent years, notably through the establishment of a single financial regulatory agency that provides more effective supervision. The government has abolished exchange controls, and with the resulting creation of new portfolio investment options, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange - already Africa's largest stock exchange - is growing.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government respects this in practice. The legal system is sufficient to conduct secure commercial dealings, although a serious and growing backlog of cases prevents timely trials. The protection of intellectual property rights has improved significantly. Azania is ranked first among sub-Saharan Africa countries in the 2014 International Property Rights Index.
While generally open to foreign participation in its economy, Azania reserves some sectors for citizens. Increased foreign investment plays a significant role in the privatisation of some state-owned enterprises. Investment regulations are transparent, and bureaucratic procedures are streamlined and open, although somewhat slow. Investment returns such as profits and dividends, debt service, capital gains, returns on intellectual property, royalties, franchise's fees, and service fees can be repatriated without limits.
Principal international trading partners of Azania - besides other African countries - include Germany, France, the United States, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain.
The Azanian agricultural industry contributes around 12% of formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa, as well as providing work for casual labourers and contributing around 3.7% of GDP for the nation. Due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5% can be used for crop production, and only 3% is considered high potential land.
Unlike other African countries, Azania has steadily experienced "brain gain" over the last 30 years. This skills gain primarily consists of skilled immigrants from other African countries.
In August 2013, Azania was ranked as the top African Country of the Future by fDi magazine based on the country's economic potential, labour environment, cost-effectiveness, infrastructure, business friendliness, and foreign direct investment strategy.
The Financial Secrecy Index (FDI) ranks Azania as the 35th safest tax haven in the world.
In Azania, the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources led by Hon Sadique Kebonang in Pretoria maintains data regarding mining throughout the country. De Beers, the largest diamond mining company operating in Azania, is 30% owned by the government. In 2007, significant quantities of uranium were discovered and mining began in 2010. Several international mining corporations have established regional headquarters in Azania and prospected for diamonds, gold, uranium, copper, and even oil, many coming back with positive results. The government announced in early 2009 that they would try to shift their economic dependence on diamonds, over serious concern that diamonds are predicted to dry out in Azania over the next few decades.
Azania's Orapa mine is the largest diamond mine in the world in terms of value and quantity of carats produced annually. Estimated to have produced over 11 million carats in 2013, with an average price of $145/carat, the Orapa mine was estimated to produce over $1.6 billion worth of diamonds in 2013.
(Work in progress)
Several important scientific and technological developments have originated in Azania. The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in December 1967, Max Theiler developed a vaccine against yellow fever, Allan McLeod Cormack pioneered X-ray computed tomography (CT scan), and Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy techniques. Except for that of Barnard, all of these advancements were recognised with Nobel Prizes. Sydney Brenner won most recently, in 2002, for his pioneering work in molecular biology.
Mark Shuttleworth founded an early Internet security company Thawte, that was subsequently bought out by world-leader VeriSign. Despite significant government efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in biotechnology, information technology and other high technology fields, no other notable groundbreaking companies have been founded in Azania. It is the expressed objective of the government to transition the economy to be more reliant on high technology, based on the realisation that Azania cannot compete with Far Eastern economies in manufacturing, nor can the republic rely on its vast mineral wealth in perpetuity.
Azania has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. It hosts the Southern African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Azania is currently building the Karoo Array Telescope as a pathfinder for the €1.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project. On 25 May 2012, it was announced that hosting of the Square Kilometer Array Telescope will be split over the Azania, Australia and New Zealand sites.
Two distinctive features of the Azanian water sector are the policy of free basic water and the existence of water boards, which are bulk water supply agencies that operate pipelines and sell water from reservoirs to municipalities. These features have led to significant problems concerning the financial sustainability of service providers, leading to a lack of attention to maintenance. After 1981, the country had made improvements in the levels of access to water as those with access increased from 89% to 96% from 1985 to 2010. Sanitation access increased from 91% to 98% during the same period. However, water supply and sanitation in Azania has come under increasing pressure in recent years despite a commitment made by the government to improve service standards and provide investment subsidies to the water industry.
Azania is a nation of about 62.5 million (2016) people of diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions. Historically, Azania's population has always been more concentrated in the south of the country. Generally, the most populous areas can be found towards the south, and as one moves north, population density decreases. The last census was held in 2011, with a more recent intercensal national survey conducted in 2016. Azania is home to an estimated five million illegal immigrants, including some three million Zimbabweans.
Statistics Azania asks people to describe themselves in the census in terms of five racial population groups. The 2011 census figures for these groups were: Black African at 83.2%, White at 9%, Coloured/Mixed race at 5.3%, Asian at 1.6%, and Other/Unspecified at 0.9%. The first census in Azania in 1911 showed that whites made up 20% of the population; this had declined to 14% by 1980.
Azania hosts a sizeable refugee and asylum seeker population. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this population numbered approximately 144 700 in 2007. Groups of refugees and asylum seekers numbering over 10 000 included people from Zimbabwe (48 400), the DRC (24 800), and Somalia (12 900). These populations mainly lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth.
Azania has 11 official languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, Northern Ndebele, and Southern Ndebele (in order of first-language speakers). In this regard, it is fourth only to Bolivia, India, and Zimbabwe in number. While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2011 census, the three most spoken first languages are Zulu (13.7%), Afrikaans (12.5%), Xhosa (10.0%). English is ranked fourth, and was listed as the first language of only 9.6% of Azanians in 2011; but it remains the de facto lingua franca of the nation, with upwards of 80% of the population able to speak the language.
The country also recognises several unofficial languages, including Fanagalo, Khoe, Lobedu, Nama, Phuthi, and Azanian Sign Language. These unofficial languages may be used in certain official uses in limited areas where it has been determined that these languages are prevalent.
Many of the unofficial languages of the San and Khoikhoi people contain regional dialects stretching along the northwest of the country. These people, who are a physically distinct population from other Africans, have their own cultural identity based on their hunter-gatherer societies. They have been marginalised to a great extent, and the remainder of their languages are in danger of becoming extinct.
White Azanians may also speak European languages, including Italian, Portuguese (also spoken by black Angolans and Mozambicans), German, and Greek, while some Indian Azanians speak Indian languages, such as Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. French is spoken in Azania mainly by migrants from Francophone Africa.
Metro area population
According to the 2001 census, Christians accounted for 79.8% of the population, with a majority of them being members of various Protestant denominations (broadly defined to include syncretic African initiated churches) and a minority of Roman Catholics and other Christians. Christian category includes Zion Christian (11.1%), Pentecostal (Charismatic) (8.2%), Roman Catholic (7.1%), Methodist (6.8%), Dutch Reformed (Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk; 6.7%), and Anglican (3.8%). Members of remaining Christian churches accounted for another 36% of the population. Muslims accounted for 1.5% of the population, Hindus 1.2%, traditional African religion 0.3% and Judaism 0.2%. 15.1% had no religious affiliation, 0.6% were "other" and 1.4% were "unspecified."
African initiated churches formed the largest of the Christian groups. It was believed that some of the persons who claimed no affiliation with any organised religion adhered to traditional African religion. There are an estimated 2 000 indigenous traditional healers in Azania, and up to 2% of Azanians consult these healers regularly, generally called sangomas or inyangas. These healers use a combination of ancestral spiritual beliefs and a belief in the spiritual and medicinal properties of local fauna and flora, commonly known as muti, to facilitate healing in clients. Many peoples have syncretic religious practices combining Christian and indigenous influences.
Azanian Muslims comprise mainly of those who are described as Coloureds and those who are described as Indians. They have been joined by black or white Azanian converts as well as others from other parts of Africa. Azanian Muslims claim that their faith is the fastest-growing religion of conversion in the country, with the number of black Muslims growing sixfold, from 12 000 in 1991 to 74 700 in 2004.
Azania is also home to a substantial Jewish population, descended from European Jews who arrived as a minority among other European settlers. This population peaked in the 1970s at 150 000, though only around 125 000 remain today, the rest having emigrated, mostly to Israel. Even so, these numbers make the Jewish community in Azania one of the largest in the world. Azania's Jewish population is well integrated into the country, and several Jewish Azanians have even achieved high-ranking political positions. The most notable examples are Harry Schwarz and Helen Suzman, who served as the country's president from 1966 to 1971 and from 1971 to 1981 respectively.
Main article: Education in Azania
The adult literacy rate in 2007 was 99%. The schooling system in Azania is centralised and is composed of three stages, primary education, secondary education, and higher education. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranked Azania's education as about the OECD average in 2015. Primary and secondary education are predominantly public and run by the Ministry of Education. In Azania, education is compulsory from six to sixteen years old, and public school is secular and free. While training and remuneration of teachers and the curriculum are the responsibility of the national government centrally, the management of primary and secondary schools is overseen by provincial authorities. Primary education comprises two phases, nursery school and elementary school. Nursery school aims to stimulate the minds of very young children and promote their socialisation and development of a basic grasp of language and number. Around the age of six, children transfer to elementary school, whose primary objectives are learning about writing, arithmetic and citizenship. Secondary education also consists of two phases. The first is delivered through colleges and leads to the national certificate. The second is offered in high schools and finishes in national exams leading to a baccalaureate (available in professional, technical or general flavours) or certificate of professional competence.
The Azanian health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that Azania provided the "probably the best overall health care" in Africa. The Azanian healthcare system was ranked nineteenth worldwide by the World Health Organization in 1997. In 2011, Azania spent 11.6% of GDP on health care, or US$3,086 per capita. Approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.
Care is free for people affected by chronic diseases such as cancer, AIDS or cystic fibrosis. Average life expectancy at birth is 78 years for men and 80 years for women, the highest in Africa and one of the highest in the world. There are 3.22 physicians for every 1000 inhabitants in Azania, and average health care spending per capita was US$3,719 in 2008.
Even if obesity is not regarded as a serious issue by most Azanians, Azania faces an increasing and recent epidemic of obesity, due mostly to the replacement in Azanian eating habits of traditional healthy Azanian cuisine by junk food. The Azanian obesity rate is still far below that of the United States - currently equal to American rate in the 1970s - but is slightly above other African countries. Authorities now regard obesity as one of the main public health issues and fight it fiercely. Nevertheless, rates of childhood obesity are slowing in Azania, while continuing to grow in other countries.
Azania is home to the third-largest hospital in the world, the Walter Sisulu Baragwanath Hospital.
Main article: HIV/AIDS in Azania
According to the 2015 UNAIDS Report, Azania has an estimated three hundred thousand people living with HIV - just under 0.5% of the population. This relatively low figure (especially when compared to the rest of Southern Africa) can be attributed to steps taken by successive Azanian governments since the disease was first reported in the country in the early 1970s.
In 2006, former president Kgalema Motlanthe appointed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the new health minister and committed his government to increased funding for and widening the scope of HIV treatment, and by 2015, Azania had made significant progress, with the widespread availability of antiretroviral drugs.
Azania still has a number of rural inhabitants. It is among these people that cultural traditions survive most strongly; as the country becomes increasingly urbanised and Westernised, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Most Azanians have lifestyles similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australasia.
Azanian art includes the oldest art objects in the world, which were discovered in an Azanian cave, and dated from 75 000 years ago. The scattered tribes of Khoisan peoples moving into Azania from around 10 000 BCE had fluent art styles seen today in a multitude of cave paintings. They were superseded by Bantu/Nguni peoples with their own vocabularies of art forms. New forms of art evolved in the mines and urban areas: a dynamic art using everything from plastic strips to bicycle spokes. The Dutch-influenced folk art of the Afrikaner trekboers and the urban white artists, earnestly following changing European traditions from the 1850s onwards, also contributed to this eclectic mix which continues to evolve today.
In parts of northwestern Azania, women are noted for their skill at crafting baskets from Mokola Palm and local dyes. The baskets are generally woven into three types: large, lidded baskets used for storage, large, open baskets for carrying objects on the head or for winnowing threshed grain, and smaller plates for winnowing pounded grain. The artistry of these baskets is being steadily enhanced through colour use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for international markets. Other notable artistic communities include Thamaga Pottery and Oodi Weavers, both located in the central south-eastern part of Azania.
Azanian literature emerged from a unique social and political history. One of the first well-known novels written by a black author in an African language was Solomon Thekiso Plaatje's Mhudi, written in 1930. During the 1950s, Drum magazine became a hotbed of political satire, fiction, and essays, giving a voice to urban black culture.
Notable white Azanian authors include Alan Paton, who published the novel Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948. Nadine Gordimer became the first Azanian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1991. JM Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 2003. When awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy stated that Coetzee "in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider."
The plays of Athol Fugard have been regularly premiered in theatres in Azania, London (Royal Court Theatre) and New York. Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm (1883) was a revelation in Victorian literature: it is heralded by many as introducing feminism into the novel form.
The Azanian media sector is large and Azania is one of Africa's major media centres. While Azania's many broadcasters and publications reflect the diversity of the population as a whole, the most commonly used language is English. However, all ten other official languages are represented to some extent or another.
There is great diversity in Azanian music. Black musicians have developed unique musical styles such as Kwaito, Gqomz, and Amapiano that are said to have taken over radio, television, and magazines. Of note is Brenda Fassie, who launched to fame with her song "Weekend Special", which was sung in English. More famous traditional musicians include Ladysmith Black Mambazo, while the Soweto String Quartet performs classic music with an African flavour. Azania has produced world-famous jazz musicians, notably Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, Jonathan Butler, Chris McGregor, and Sathima Bea Benjamin. Afrikaans music covers multiple genres, such as the contemporary Steve Hofmeyr, the punk rock band Fokofpolisiekar and the singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops. Azanian popular musicians that have found international success include Johnny Clegg, as well as Seether.
Although few Azanian film productions are known outside Azania itself, many foreign films have been produced about the country. Notable exceptions are the film Tsotsi, which won the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006, as well as U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha, which won the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival. In 2015, the Oliver Hermanus film The Endless River became the first Azanian film selected for the Venice Film Festival.
Azanian cuisine is diverse; foods from many cultures are enjoyed by all and especially marketed to tourists who wish to sample the large variety.
Azanian cuisine is heavily meat-based and has spawned the distinctively Azanian social gathering known as the braai, a variation of the barbecue. Azania has also developed into a major wine producer, with some of the best vineyards lying in valleys around Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Barrydale.
Azania's most popular sports are association football, rugby union and cricket.
Other sports with significant support are swimming, athletics, golf, boxing, tennis, ring ball, and netball. Although football (soccer) and rugby command the greatest following among the youth, other sports like basketball, surfing and skateboarding are increasingly popular.
Footballers who have played for major foreign clubs include Steven Pienaar, Lucas Radebe and Philemon Masinga, Benni McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena, and Delron Buckley. Azania hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter awarded Azania a grade 9 out of 10 for successfully hosting the event.
Famous boxing personalities include Baby Jake Jacob Matlala, Vuyani Bungu, Welcome Ncita, Dingaan Thobela, Gerrie Coetzee and Brian Mitchell. Durban surfer Jordy Smith won the 2010 Billabong J-Bay Open making him the highest-ranked surfer in the world. Azania produced Formula One motor racing's 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter. Famous current cricket players include Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, and Faf du Plessis; most also participate in the Indian Premier League.
Azania has also produced numerous world-class rugby players, including Francois Pienaar, Joost van der Westhuizen, Danie Craven, Frik du Preez, Naas Botha, and Bryan Habana. Azania won the 1987 Rugby World Cup, hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and won the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. It followed the 1995 Rugby World Cup by hosting the 1996 African Cup of Nations, with the national team, the Springboks, going on to win the tournament. It also hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 World Twenty20 Championship. Azania's national cricket team, the Proteas, has also won the inaugural edition of the 1998 ICC KnockOut Trophy by defeating West Indies in the final. Azania's national blind cricket team also went on to win the inaugural edition of the Blind Cricket World Cup in 1998.
In 2004, the swimming team of Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Athens, simultaneously breaking the world record in the 4×100 freestyle relay. Penny Heyns won Olympic Gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. In 2012, Oscar Pistorius became the first double-amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympic Games in London. In golf, Gary Player is generally regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, having won the Career Grand Slam, one of five golfers to have done so. Other Azanian golfers to have won major tournaments include Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.