Southern Africa, southernmost region of the African continent, comprising the countries of Angola, Botswana,Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The island nation of Madagascar is excluded because of its distinct language and cultural heritage. The interior of Southern Africa consists of a series of undulating plateaus that cover most of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana and extend into central Angola. Contiguous with this are uplands in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Coastal mountains and escarpments, flanking the high ground, are found in northern Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border. Coastal plains about the Indian Ocean in Mozambique and the Atlantic in Angola and Namibia. Below are some of the things you need to know about the Southern African countries.
The Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost sovereign state in Africa. It is bounded on the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, on the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and on the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland, and surrounding the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and also the world’s 24th-most populous nation. It is the only country that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, ivied among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status.
South Africa is a multi ethnic 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 among the highest number of any country in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans; English reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though it 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 South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.
Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have had political representation in the country’s democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” to describe the country’s newly developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology. The World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy, and a newly industrialized country. Its economy is the largest in Africa and its also among the Africa’s richest countries. However, this is contrary to the fact that at least a quarter of the country’s population is unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 per day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence. The first Africa’s solar powered airport is in South Africa named George airport.
Officially the Republic of Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens refer to themselves as Batswana. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections.
Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert.
Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone. Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960. Botswana is among the world’s most peaceful countries in the Global Peace Index 2016.
The country has been among the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The death rate due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes has fallen sharply (57%) from 2005 to 2013 and the number of new infections in children has also fallen. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available to those infected, and to educate the populace in general about how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013. Despite these reasons for hope, Botswana has the third highest prevalence rate for HIV AIDS, reported in 2014.
Officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an enclaved, landlocked country in southern Africa completely surrounded by South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size and has a population slightly over two million. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.
Officially, the Republic of Namibia is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by the San, Damara, and Nama peoples. Since about the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then the Bantu groups in total, known as the Ovambo people, have dominated the population of the country and since the late 19th century, have constituted a large majority.
Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals – form the basis of its economy. The large, arid Namib Desert has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Namibia enjoys high political, economic and social stability.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is a sovereign state in Southern Africa. It is neighboured by Mozambique to its east and by South Africa to its north, west and south. The country and its people take their names from Mswati II, the 19th-century king under whose rule Swazi territory was expanded and unified. The Swaziland is well known for its culture “Umhlanga”, held in August/September and “incwala”, the kingship dance held in December/January, are the nation’s most important events.
The population is primarily ethnic Swazis whose language is Swati. They established their kingdom in the mid-18th century under the leadership of Ngwane III; the present boundaries were drawn up in 1881. After the Anglo-Boer War, Swaziland was a British protectorate from 1903 until 1967. It regained its independence on 6 September 1968.
The country is an absolute monarchy, currently ruled by Ngwenyama (“King”) Mswati III. He is head of state and appoints the country’s prime ministers and a number of representatives of both chambers (Senate and House of Assembly) in the country’s parliament. Elections are held every five years to determine the House of Assembly majority. The current constitution was adopted in 2005.
Swaziland is a developing country with a small economy. It’s GDP per capita of $9,714 means it is classified as a country with a lower-middle income. As a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), its main local trading partner is South Africa. Swaziland’s currency, the lilangeni, is pegged to the South African rand. Swaziland’s major overseas trading partners are the United States and the European Union. The majority of the country’s employment is provided by its agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
The Swazi population faces major health issues: HIV/AIDS and, to a lesser extent, tuberculosis are serious challenges. As of 2013, Swaziland has an estimated life expectancy of 50 years.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife, much of it within parks, reserves and safari areas. On the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls make a thundering 108m drop into narrow Batoka Gorge, where there’s white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. Downstream are Matusadona and Mana Pools national parks, home to hippos, rhinos and birdlife.
The Republic of Zimbabwe is an ethnically diverse nation, with a population of around 13 million people. Its official languages are English, Shona, Ndebele. The nation has poor human rights record. Zimbabwe has a presidential system of government. Gold, mineral exports, agriculture and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of the country. The mining sector continues to be very lucrative.