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South Africa Geography 1999

    Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

    Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E

    Map references: Africa

    total: 1,219,912 sq km
    land: 1,219,912 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

    Area—comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas

    Land boundaries:
    total: 4,750 km
    border countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 855 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km

    Coastline: 2,798 km

    Maritime claims:
    continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    territorial sea: 12 nm

    Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

    Terrain: vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m

    Natural resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

    Land use:
    arable land: 10%
    permanent crops: 1%
    permanent pastures: 67%
    forests and woodland: 7%
    other: 15% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: 12,700 sq km (1993 est.)

    Natural hazards: prolonged droughts

    Environment—current issues: lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage threatens to outpace supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification

    Environment—international agreements:
    party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

    Geography—note: South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)