SOUTHERN AFRICA

This part of Africa has a narrow coastal plain running up to a ridge of hills surrounding a huge central plateau of high land. The eastern coast is subtropical; the south has a Mediterranean-style climate, where fruit and other crops can be grown; and the interior is desert or dry grassland. South Africa is highly industrialized and there are large mineral mines in Namibia and Zambia.

CAN ANYONE LIVE IN THE KALAHARI DESERT?

Only one tribe lives in this desert, which covers much of Botswana, Namibia, and northwest South Africa and is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. The San people have managed to live here for thousands of years by searching for their food instead of growing it. People, plants, and wildlife must be able to withstand drought conditions for up to ten months of the year.

HOW HAVE BORDERS MADE LIFE DIFFICULT?

The national borders of some African nations follow natural features, such as rivers and lakes, but many were drawn as straight lines on maps by the European nations who divided Africa between them in the late 19th century. As a result, many African peoples are split between several countries and do not feel part of any of them. This has caused great unrest and even civil war in some areas.

WHERE ARE GOLD AND DIAMONDS FOUND?

Vast deposits of gold and diamonds were first found in South Africa in the late 19th century and have made the country rich. One-third of the world’s gold is still produced in the Witwatersrand gold field around Johannesburg. Its neighboring country Namibia is also rich in diamonds and other minerals, such as copper and tin. In fact, minerals make up 90 percent of Namibia’s total income from exports.

WHAT ARE THE SPRINGBOKS?

The South African national rugby team is named after the springbok, a fast-running local antelope. Rugby is one of the two national games of South Africa, with cricket also attracting a large following. Under apartheid, the national rugby team was all-white. Today, the team is multiracial and has huge support from all South Africans.

WHAT IS APARTHEID?

The word apartheid means “apartness” in the Afrikaans language. It was a policy introduced in South Africa by the government (in which only white people were allowed to participate) in 1948 that said that black and white people must live and work separately. It caused great hardship to black people and was widely condemned. Apartheid was abolished in 1994 when South Africa became a multiracial state.

IS SOUTHERN AFRICA CHANGING?

The end of apartheid in South Africa has led to huge changes in the region. Although the old conflict between black and white peoples has been replaced by a desire to work together, poverty, violence, and high crime rates are widespread. With thousands of people currently dying each day from AIDS, many families are left without a main earner.

FACTFILE: SOUTHERN AFRICA

ANGOLA

Capital city: Luanda

Population: 13.9 million

Official language: Portuguese

Major religion: Roman Catholic

NAMIBIA

Capital city: Windhoek

Population: 1.8 million

Official language: English

Major religion: Christian

SOUTH AFRICA

Capital city: Pretoria; Cape Town; Bloemfontein

Population: 44.2 million

Official languages: Afrikaans, English, and African dialects

Major religion: Various

BOTSWANA

Capital city: Gaborone

Population: 1.6 million

Official language: English

Major religion: Traditional beliefs

ZAMBIA

Capital city: Lusaka

Population: 10.9 million

Official language: English

Major religion: Christian

ZIMBABWE

Capital city: Harare

Population: 13.1 million

Official language: English

Major religion: Syncretic (Christian/Traditional beliefs)

LESOTHO

Capital city: Maseru

Population: 2.1 million

Official languages: English and Sesotho

Major religion: Christian

SWAZILAND

Capital city: Mbabane

Population: 948,000

Official languages: English and Siswati

Major religion: Christian

MOZAMBIQUE

Capital city: Maputo

Population: 19 million

Official language: Portuguese

Major religion: Traditional beliefs

MALAWI

Capital city: Lilongwe

Population: 11.8 million

Official language: English

Major religion: Protestant

COMOROS

Capital city: Moroni

Population: 749,000

Official language: Arabic, French

Major religion: Muslim

MADAGASCAR

Capital city: Antananarivo

Population: 16.9 million

Official languages: French and Malagasy

Major religion: Traditional beliefs

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley