The Geography of the Republic of South Africa

[Note: This information derives primarily from the 1995 edition of the CIA World Factbook.]

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

Map references: Africa

total area: 1,219,912 sq km
land area: 1,219,912 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)

Land boundaries: total 4,750 km, 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 fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Swaziland has asked South Africa to open negotiations on reincorporating some nearby South African territories that are populated by ethnic Swazis or that were long ago part of the Swazi Kingdom;

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

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

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%
meadows and pastures: 65%
forest and woodland: 3%
other: 21%

Irrigated land: 11,280 sq km (1989 est.)

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
natural hazards: prolonged droughts
international agreements: party to - Antarctic Treaty, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Note: South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland

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