Area: 1.22 million sq km.
Location: South Africa is located in the south of the African continent. It borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho (enclave within South Africa) and is washed by the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The coastline is 2,800 km long.
Capital: Pretoria (2.9 million with suburbs). The parliament is located in Cape Town (4 million) and the Supreme Court is in Bloemfontein (750,000).
Largest cities: Johannesburg (agglomeration of 9.6 million), Durban (3.4 million) and Port Elizabeth (1.2 million).
Population: 57 million, with 66% living in cities.
Main religious denominations: Christianity (80%). Islam, Hinduism and traditional African beliefs are also popular.
Official languages: 11 languages of the main ethnic groups. English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa are the most widely spoken languages.
National day: Freedom Day marked on 27 April to commemorate the first post-apartheid universal democratic elections held in 1994.
Currency: Rand (14.07 rand for $1 as of 30 December 2019).
Administrative division. South Africa has nine provinces: Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
Head of State. The president, who is elected by the lower house of parliament from among its members for a term of five years (the time in office is limited to two consecutive terms), is also head of the government and commander-in-chief. In February 2018, after the early retirement of Jacob Zuma, ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa took office. On 22 May 2019 he was elected President of South Africa for a term of five years. David Mabuza is Deputy President and Naledi Pandor is Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
The Parliament consists of the National Council (the upper house with 90 members) and the National Assembly (the lower house with 400 members) elected for a term of five years. The latest universal elections to the parliament and provincial administrations were held on 8 May 2019. Thandi Modise is the National Assembly Speaker (served as the National Council Chair in 2014–2019) and Amos Masondo is Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.
Main political parties and organisations 14 out of 48 political parties which ran in the 2019 elections have seats in the parliament. The African National Congress (ANC) is the governing party (since 1994), which in domestic policy acts in alliance with the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
At the 2019 elections, ANC won the majority of votes (57.51%) and 230 seats in parliament.