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South Africa Geography 1996

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

    • Map references:

    • Area:

        total area:
        1,219,912 sq km

        land area:
        1,219,912 sq km

        comparative area:
        slightly less than twice the size of Texas

        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:

        permanent crops:

        meadows and pastures:

        forest and woodland:


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

    • 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

        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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