South Africa is a nation known for her wildlife, her gold and her rich cultural diversity. Her celebrated sons and daughters are known the world over. South Africa is also known for her bitter past, her victory over apartheid, and her ongoing struggle to emerge as a united nation in the aftermath of political and economic injustice. Despite great triumphs, ongoing corruption, violence and racial tension remain her formidable and all too present enemies.
But these are not the only demons South Africa must fight. There is another scourge – the plague of HIV / AIDS. Without intervention, many of South Africans will face a very bleak future. Widespread poverty, joblessness and despair abound, with tragic effects being felt especially by children.
The traditional family, once the strength of the South African culture, has been ravaged by AIDS, with a sea of children left to defend themselves against unthinkable odds. There are over 4 million orphaned children in South Africa, 2.5 million of them orphaned because of AIDS. (Source: UNICEF, 2014)
South Africa, the southernmost country in Africa, has a diverse and dramatic landscape. Most of the interior is covered by high plateaus, which are separated from the country’s long coastline by chains of tall mountains. South Africa is rich in minerals such as gold and diamonds, and its industrial base grew up around the mining industry. South Africa stretches for some 1,500 km (950 mi) from east to west and 1,000 km (640 mi) from north to south. It has an area of 1,219,090 sq. km (470,693 sq. mi). Population: Black Africans comprise three quarters of South Africa’s population, and whites, Coloureds (people of mixed race), and Asians (mainly Indians) make up the remainder. Among the black population there are numerous ethnic groups and 11 official languages.
Until recently, whites dominated the nonwhite majority population under the political system of racial segregation known as apartheid. Apartheid ended in the early 1990s, but South Africa is still recovering from the racial inequalities in political power, opportunity, and lifestyle. The end of apartheid led to the lifting of trade sanctions against South Africa imposed by the international community. It also led to a total reorganization of the government, which since 1994 has been a nonracial democracy based on majority rule. South Africa is divided into nine provinces. These provinces are Gauteng, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, North-West Province, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal. The country has three capitals: Cape Town is the legislative capital; Pretoria, the executive capital; and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.
Half of South Africa’s population does not have access to clean water and many urban residents do not have access to adequate sewage disposal and waste removal. Such problems are particularly acute on the fringes of cities in informal settlements, or shantytowns, where water courses are often used as dumping grounds.
About 73% are Christian, 17%; 12% Non Religious; 8%Traditional; 2% percent Hindu; 2% Muslim. (Source: Operation World, 2014).