South Africa - Statistics and National Symbols at a Glance

South Africa - Quick Statistics

South Africa - Quick Statistics

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South Africa - National Symbols

South African FlagNational Flag

The South African National Flag was designed by the former South African State Herald, Mr Fred Brownell, and was first used on 27 April 1994. The design and colours are a synopsis of principal elements of the country's flag history. Individual colours, or colour combinations represent different meanings for different people and therefore no universal symbolism should be attached to any of the colours.

The central design of the flag, beginning at the flagpost in a 'V' form and flowing into a single horizontal band to the outer edge of the fly, can be interpreted as the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity.

The theme of convergence and unity ties in with the motto "Unity is Strength" of the previous South African Coat of Arms.

National Symbol, Coat of ArmsCoat of Arms - Symbolism

A national Coat of Arms, or state emblem, is the highest visual symbol of the State.

The Coat of Arms is also a central part of the Great Seal, traditionally considered to be the highest emblem of the State. Absolute authority is given to every document with an impression of the Great Seal on it, as this means that it has been approved by the President of South Africa.

South Africa’s Coat of Arms was launched on Freedom Day, 27 April 2000. The change reflected government's aim to highlight the democratic change in South Africa and a new sense of patriotism.

The Symbolism and History of the South African Coat of Arms

National Symbols, National AnimalNational Animal
Antidorcas marsupialis

Typical of this species is the pronk (jumping display), which led to its common name. Both sexes have horns but those of the ram are thicker and rougher. This species has adapted to the dry, barren areas and open grass plains and is thus found especially in the Free State, North West province and in the Karoo up to the west coast.

They are herd animals and move in small herds during winter, but often crowd together in bigger herds in summer. They eat both grass and leaves and can go without drinking-water, because they get enough moisture from the succulent leaves. Where drinking-water is available they will use it.

Springbuck stand 75 cm high and weigh about 40 kg. They breed throughout the year and lambs are born after a 6-month gestation period.

National Symbol - National BirdNational Bird
Blue Crane
Anthropoides paradiseus

This elegant crane, that stands about one meter high, is almost entirely restricted to South Africa in its distribution. The blue crane is a light blue-grey, has a long neck supporting a rather bulbous head, long legs and elegant wing plumes which sweep to the ground. It eats seeds, insects and reptiles. Blue cranes lay their eggs in the bare veld, often close to water. They are quite common in the Karoo, but are also seen in the grasslands of KwaZulu-Natal and the highveld, usually in pairs or small family parties.

The blue crane has a distinctive rattling croak, fairly high-pitched at call, which can be heard from far away. It is, however, usually quiet.

The habitat of the blue crane is open grass fields or Karoo-like plains with low shrubby bushes. It likes wet parts and lays its eggs on the ground. It grazes in the field and eats seeds, insects and small reptiles.

National Symbol - National FishNational Fish
Galjoen (Coracinus capensis)

The galjoen is found only along the South African coast. It keeps to mostly shallow water, is often found in rough surf and sometimes right next to the shore and is known to every angler. Near rocks, the colour of the galjoen is almost completely black, while in sandy areas the colour is silver-bronze. It is also known in KwaZulu-Natal as blackfish or black bream. The record size is over 55 cm and 7 kg, however the average is much smaller. The galjoen is a game fighter.

The diet of the galjoen consists mainly of red bait (ascidians), small mussels and barnacles. The scales are very firmly attached. The fins are well-developed with prominent spines.

National Symbol - National FlowerNational Flower
Giant or King Protea (Protea cynaroides)

The giant or king protea is widely distributed in the south-western and southern areas of the Western Cape, from the Cedarberg up to just east of Grahamstown.

The artichoke-like appearance of the flower-heads of the king protea lead to the specific name ‘cynaroides’, which means ‘like cynara’ (the artichoke). The name does not do justice to the beautiful flower-heads of this protea, which is the largest in the genus. A number of varieties in colour and leaf shapes are found, but the most beautiful is the pink coloured flower.

National Symbol - National TreeNational Tree
Real Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius)

The yellowwood family is primeval and has been present in this part of Africa for more than 100 million years. The species is widespread and is found from Table Mountain, along the southern and eastern Cape coast, in the ravines of the Drakensberg up to the Soutpansberg and the Blouberg in Limpopo.

In forests, they can grow up to 40 metres in height with the base of the trunk sometimes up to 3 metres in diameter. In contrast, trees that grow in unsheltered places like mountain-slopes, are often short, bushy and gnarled. The bark of the real yellowwood is khaki-coloured to grey when it is old, deeply split and peels off in strips. The crown is relatively small in relation to its height and is often covered with grey lichen. Male and female cones resemble pine cones and are white, light green or pink. The female cone has a fleshy podocarpium on which the seed, which takes on the shape and colour of a cherry, develops.

South Africa - Quick Statistics

Official Name Republic of South Africa
Area 1,219,090 km˛
Population 49.9 million (Mid 2010)
Currency 1 Rand = 100 cents
Capitals Cape Town - Legislative
Pretoria - Administrative
Bloemfontein - Judicial
Head of State President Jacob Zuma
Main Languages There are 11 official languages
English is the preferred language of business
  • English
  • Afrikaans
  • IsiNdebele
  • IsiZulu
  • IsiXhosa
  • Sepedi
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana
  • SiSwati
  • Tshivenda
  • Xitsonga
National Anthem Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika - Click for Words
Provinces There are nine provinces
  • Western Cape
  • Northern Cape
  • Eastern Cape
  • Free State
  • Gauteng
  • North West
  • Limpopo
  • Mpumalanga
  • KwaZulu Natal
Religion Predominantly Christian
Form of State Quasi-federal. Central Government and nine provincial governments
Legal System Based on Roman-Dutch Law and 1996 Constitution
National Legislature Bi-cameral parliament, elected every 5 years, comprising a 400-seat National Assembly, and a 90-seat Council of Provinces.
Electoral System List-system with proportional representation based on universal adult suffrage.
Total GDP R2,450 billion (December 2009)
GDP per capita R49,696.00
GDP Growth -1.8% (2009)
Inflation 6.3%
Prime Interest Rate 10.5%
Unemployment 24.5%
Exports Gold, minerals, diamonds, metals and metal products, foods, autos, automotive components
Imports Machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, oil
Main Trading Partners Germany, USA, UK, China, Japan, France
Time GMT +2 Hours
International Dialing Code +27
Public Holidays There are 10 fixed dates
  • 1 January - New Year's Day
  • 21 March - Human Rights Day
  • 27 April - Freedom Day
  • 1 May - Workers Day
  • 16 June - Youth Day
  • 9 August - Women's Day
  • 24 September - Heritage Day
  • 16 December - Reconciliation Day
  • 25 December - Christmas Day
  • 26 December - Day of Goodwill

There are 2 variable dates

  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
South Africa - Wildlife
South Africa - Wildlife
South Africa - Culture
South Africa - Wildlife
South Africa - Culture
Afrikaans history and development is linked to the Malay
South Africa - Pilanesberg Game Reserve
South Africa - Adventure Travel - Dive Boat Launch - Sodwana Bay
South Africa - National Bird
Afrikaans - The Malay Heritage



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South Africa - Statistics and National Symbols at a Glance