North America
North America
South America
South America


Administrative divisions (GPS Maps)


People and Society






Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the Far East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson MANDELA, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo MBEKI resigned, and Kgalema MOTLANTHE, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob ZUMA became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009. In January 2011, South Africa assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.


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Military branches
South African National Defense Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Military Intelligence, South African Military Health Services (2009)

Military service age and obligation
18 years of age for voluntary military service; women are eligible to serve in noncombat roles; 2-year service obligation (2007)

Manpower available for military service
Males age 16-49 13,439,781
Females age 16-49 12,473,641 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service
Males age 16-49 7,617,063
Females age 16-49 6,476,264 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually
Male 482,122
Female 485,017 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures World Ranking: 84
1.7% of GDP (2006)

Military - note
With the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule, former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces were integrated into the South African National Defense Force (SANDF); as of 2003 the integration process was considered complete


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  South Africa (Pretoria):

  GPS points from South Africa (Pretoria)

Sterkspruit Mpumalanga

Hoewal Province Of North-west

Mount Desire Kwazulu-natal

Nooitgedacht Northern Cape

Yellow Woods Province Of Eastern Cape

Mgwenyane Mpumalanga

Swartberg Northern Cape

Shishwani Limpopo Province
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