South Africa

South Africa

How much do you think you know about South Africa? 



Brief history and cultural background of the country:

The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is the southernmost country in Africa.

There are five key periods in the country’s history: Pre-colonial, colonial, pre-Apartheid, Apartheid, post-apartheid. South Africa is a former British colony, and still part of the Common Wealth. South Africa was also a Dutch colony, who arrived before the British.

Nowadays South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. The population of the country is 55.6 million spread on a territory of 1,221,037 km2. There are eleven official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

Capital cities are Pretoria (Administrative capital), Cape Town (Legislative capital) and Bloemfontein (Judiciary capital)

South Africa is a secular state. Its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of the population, with Christianity overall being dominant.

Popular / Internationally Recognized resources

Geographic Landmarks:

  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  • Location: east coast of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Type –protected area spanning 280 km of coastline


  • Robben Island
  • Location: 6.9 kilometers west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Type – island

Robben Island has been used as prison and a place where people were isolated, banished and exiled to for nearly 400 years. It was also used as a post office, a grazing ground, a mental hospital and an outpost.

Initially the island was inhabited by a variety of wild life, including birds, penguins, seals and tortoises.


  • Vredefort crater
  • Location: Free State, South Africa
  • Type - crater

The Vredefort crater is the largest verified impact crater on Earth, more than 300 km (186 mi) across when it was formed. The crater is estimated to be 2.023 billion years old which makes it the second oldest crater on Earth.


Historical Heritage:

  • The Cradle of Humankind
  • Location: Gauteng
  • Type – It's the world's richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils.


  • Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
  • Location: Limpopo Province
  • Type - open savanna

It was the heart of the Mapungubwe Kingdom until the 14th century, when the area was abandoned, leaving untouched remains of palaces and settlements.


International events:

  • Cape Town International Jazz Fest
  • Location: Cape Town
  • Started from: Annually, in March

Known as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, and is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa.


Snapshot of the main challenges of the country


At the core of most of the issues highlighted in this section, is inequality. The World Bank reports that South Africa is in the bottom 3 countries (along with Haiti and Namibia) with the most unequal income distribution.


According to The Economist (2017), South Africa has one of the poorest education systems in the world.

“A shocking 27% of pupils who have attended school for six years cannot read, compared with 4% in Tanzania and 19% in Zimbabwe.”


The current unemployment rate sits at 27%, while youth unemployment sits at 50.1%.


Much of the current infrastructure that South Africa uses is from the Apartheid regime, which was not designed to cater to a population of 57 million.

Main areas of concern are electricity, transport, digital technologies.



Access to quality healthcare is an issue. While private healthcare is a thriving industry, free government healthcare still caters to 80% of the population, according to Brand South Africa.

“This two tiered system is not only inequitable and inaccessible to a large portion of South Africans, but institutions in the public sector have suffered from poor management, underfunding and deteriorating infrastructure. While access has improved, the quality of health care has fallen” – brand South Africa.

Snapshot of the main potential fields for growth, employment and tackle of social problems

South Africa’s economy was traditionally rooted in the primary sectors – the result of a wealth of mineral resources and favourable agricultural conditions. Since the early 1990s, economic growth has been driven mainly by the tertiary sector – which includes wholesale and retail trade, tourism and communications. Now South Africa is moving towards becoming a knowledge-based economy, with a greater focus on technology, e-commerce and financial and other services. The major sector of the economy is finance, real estate and business services, which contributes around 22% to GDP.

Traditional Cultural Characteristics and Art forms

South Africa has a rich history in arts and culture in the forms of theatre, music and literature. Much of the art created during the apartheid era was protesting and rebelling against the regime, coining terms like protest poetry and struggle songs.

Post 1994, the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) set out to preserve South African cultures and nurture cultural diversity. The term “Rainbow Nation” was a post-apartheid campaign aimed at embracing cultural and racial diversity in a country that was torn apart by it.

Over the last decade the influence of American and pan-African sounds and culture is undeniable. While the Rainbow Nation was supposed to foster national unity, there was no clear national identity. The digital space has allowed the red tape of publishing houses and record labels to be removed.

The National Arts Council (NAC), which is under DAC, is one of the sources of funding for arts and culture events in South Africa. In 2016, the Council celebrated 20 years, and published a report on the funding ventures over the years.

According to the 20 Years of Enabling The Arts report by the NAC in 2016, the Council has funded 5896 projects which include projects, artists and bursaries, with music being the biggest recipient of funding, totaling R146 million. Multi-disciplinary projects received the second highest amount of funding, coming up toR106 million. Literature is the discipline that received the least amount of funding, with its total coming up to just under R42 million, and craft being second last at R44 million.

Provincially, Gauteng Province, which is the largest contributor to the South African GDP, received the highest amount of funding, which is valued at just over R195 million. Western Cape received the second highest amount of funding.

Form of Arts popular among the young people

Craftwork is not as popular among the youth as it is in the other south African countries, but it is still being practiced.

The forms of Arts popular among the young generation are theater, open mics, live entertainment in poetry, music, dance, etc.