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South Africa is located, as one might expect, on the southern tip of Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Indian Ocean on the south and east. South Africa extends nearly 2000 km from the Limpopo River in the north to Cape Agulhas in the south and nearly 1500 km form Port Nolloth in the west to the eastern port city of Durban. All the former homelands have been absorbed into the country's nine provinces, but regional and historical distinctions remain.
South Africa's transportation infrastructure is well-developed and supports both domestic and regional needs, but is beginning to face capacity constraints. Major bottlenecks occurred due to the lack of investment in infrastructure maintenance and expansion during the 1990s. South Africa, on the continent's southern tip, is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and by the Indian Ocean on the south and east. Its neighbors are Namibia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, and Mozambique and Swaziland in the northeast. South Africa's nuclear parastatal, the Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC), which in 1990 changed its emphasis from nuclear deterrence to industrial and economic needs, assists in the marketing of more than 150 products and services in the mid-1990s. These products have applications in mining and aerospace development, food production, transportation, and environmental preservation.
South Africa may be known as Africa for beginners, but this does not mean that the rich and varied landscape of this the most southerly country in Africa is tame. It is simply that South Africa has the most diverse and sophisticated tourist industry on the continent. South Africa is a world leader in the production of platinum, gold, chromium, diamonds, aluminosilicates, manganese, and vanadium. Other leading minerals extracted are copper ore, coal, asbestos, iron ore, silver, titanium, and uranium. South African Airways, our domestic airline, offers regular scheduled flights between the major centers, as do many international airlines. Day tours and fully organised extended tours are available from Tour Operators, all of whom are registered with either SATSA or FGASA.
South Africans have a mixture of ethnic backgrounds: black people account for 75% of the population, whites make up around 13%, Asians make up about 3%, and other people of mixed racial heritages account for about 9%. There are 11 official languages and many dialects; around 86% of the population is literate. South Africa has only had modest growth rates in recent years and this is put down to the populations low saving levels. The relaxation of exchange controls makes the country increasingly vulnerable to erratic capital inflows. South Africa also has the highest incidence of reported rape in the world. Foreigners are not specifically targeted, but several have been the victims of rape.
South Africa's nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile programs reflected perceptions of internal and external threats stemming from its former government's policy of apartheid, as well as the country's advanced state of technical development. Pretoria developed nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles but relinquished these armaments in the early 1990s. South Africa is, in many respects, well prepared for the revolution in the field of 'intellectual property rights'. Although new to the western world, the idea that collective knowledge should form the starting point of a fluid, continuously-evolving creation process is not new to South Africans. South Africa, Africa's southernmost nation, is also Africa's largest and most developed economy. Diamond and gold strikes in the late 19th century began transforming this land of African tribespeople, Boer farmers, and British traders into an industrial colossus.
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