South Africa South Africa is the southernmost part of the continent of Africa. It is one of the earth’s oldest and stable landmasses. This is why there are no folded mountain ranges. The only mountain ranges that are similar to that kind of range, would be those in the southern tip. This is where the north-south ranges meet an east-west range in the Paarl area.
The rest of the country has been slightly pitted so that interior lakes like the Okovango Delta have no outlet to the sea. Most of the country is at an elevation of 3,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. South Africa lies north of 35 S latitude and is surrounded on three sides by the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Two large high-pressure areas control the weather in South Africa brought over by both of the oceans, in the winter a belt of depressions moves northward to bring rains to the south. During the summer moist tropical air masses migrate southward, bringing frequent thunderstorms. There are not many rivers in South Africa, and those few are not navigable. The unpredictable rainfall makes drought in the areas a very common problem.
The towns and cities cannot depend on a consistent source of water for the year. Water supplies for both the town and the country must be very well planned, so there is no drought. Wells are usually the source for irrigation and general water supply in the countryside, however the urban and industrialized areas need the use of dams. On the major rivers of South Africa it is easy to see many of the plus 360 dams that have been built. These are easily found on the Orange, Vaal, Limpopo, and the Tugela rivers.
Many of the dams provide hydroelectric power to the national electricity grid. Located on the upper Orange River are two of the largest dams in South Africa. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project was developed to supply water to the Transvaal industrial area by mid 1990’s. Even though there are an abundant amount of dams in the country, the populations of both city and town must persevere intermittent water rationing. In spite of the amount of land that South Africa encompasses, surprisingly only 15% of the land is arable.
Even so, South Africa exports any of its crops including wine, fruits, vegetables, corn, and cane sugar. Dairy and beef cattle are raised in many different areas, including sheep and Angora goats to provide wool and mohair. Natural vegetation has been changed greatly through overgrazing, seasonal burning, and introducing new species. Subtropical forests nurtured by spring and summer rains have been displaced by grasslands, exotic trees; east of the Drakensburg escarpment. Only one area of the Southern cape has a perennial rainfall, the Knysna and George districts.
This rainfall has a true hardwood temperate forest in which the species such as stinkwood, sneezewood, yellowwood, and ironwood survive. Farther westward, the natural tree life fades and the grassy upland, otherwise known as the Highveld, prevails. As one travels further west the rainfall decreases and the thorn-tree country begins. Thin grasses and sparsely covered areas become more prevalent. These areas are commonly called the Kalahari Desert and the bare Namib desert.
The Western Cape province has a Mediterranean type of climate, referred to as a “summer dry” climate. The vegetation is found to be shrubby with waxy leaves, and pine and oak trees. Northwest of this region are low scrub, cactus, and aloes. These plants dominate the areas of Little and Great Karroo. It is quite obvious that the areas change very much by each mile because of the unsteady amount of precipitation, and South Africa’s climate.
Gold mining produces as by-product called uraninite. This product is then converted into uranium oxide for local use and export. Gem-quality and industrial diamonds are both mined in large quantities and sold on world markets. Significant deposits of iron ore are mined for local use and export. Immeasurable reserves of bituminous coal are exploited for thermo-electric power and for worldwide export. There is a singular nuclear power plant at Koeburg that supplies the west with electric power, because this area is very far from the coalfields. South Africa does have a lack of petroleum, however it has built the wold’s only plants that create oil from coal.
These three plants supply 70% of South Africa’s gasoline needs and a large volume of the petrochemicals that are used in industry. There was a large find of natural gas near Mossel Bay that has been changed to gasoline production. The animal life in South Africa is very rich in animals from the “Old World.” It has large cats, such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs. These cats roam freely in parts of South Africa and feed on the many species of antelope and monkey. A large variety of reptiles that include crocodiles, iguanas, and snakes are found in the countryside. Large quantities were reduced in large numbers during the 19th century for gaming purposes.
Hunters killed large numbers of elephants, rhinoceros, and other animals in search of trophy. Unfortunately there were not many animals to survive this hunting. To protect these animals, four different game reserves were established in Natal in 1897 and the Kruger National Park in 1898. There are ten major reserves today, and strenuous efforts are being made to save these endangered animals. The white rhinoceros is one of the many animals trying to be saved today.
Some of the reserves have become tourist attractions. The many peoples of South Africa are put into many categories. These groups include blacks, whites, Coloreds, and Asians (sometimes referred to as Indians). The largest group to represent South Africa is the blacks. The blacks originated in the area of the Cameroons and emigrated southward, eventually spreading over Central and Southern Africa.
They are easily distinguished by their (Bantu) languages that are represented in South Africa today by Nguni, Sotho, Venda, and Shangaan Tsonga. The blacks are usually sheepherders and cultivators. During the 19 century the British colonial government placed the various tribes in reservations after they were defeated in war. In these reservations the men herded livestock, and the women cultivated corn and sorghum. The people that originate from these reservations, today, large numbers of the men travel to various mines (gold, platinum, diamond, and coal.) In these mines they work as migrant laborers, that live in the mining compounds only to return home periodically.
Other people work in the fast growing industrial cities accompanied by their families. These people at first lived in shantytowns in the outskirts of town. Over time the government replaced many of the shantytowns with rented low income housing in separate areas. However, immigration from reservations in the surrounding areas has completely besieged any of the planned development. The occupants can now buy the houses. An example of a black city would be Soweto, on the edge of the city of Johannesburg, has an estimated 2 million or more residents.
It does have primary and secondary schools, a …