South Africa profile - overview
South Africa has one of the continent's biggest and most developed economies. Up until 1994 it was ruled by a white minority which enforced a separation of races with its policy called apartheid. The apartheid government eventually negotiated itself out of power after decades of international isolation, armed opposition and mass protests. The democratically-elected leadership encouraged reconciliation and set about redressing social imbalances. Read more country profiles - Profiles by BBC Monitoring Population 50.7 million Area 1.22 million sq km (470,693 sq miles) Major languages 11 official languages including English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, Xhosa and Zulu Religions Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs Life expectancy 53 years (men), 54 years (women) Currency Rand Getty Images President: Jacob Zuma Image copyright Getty Images The leader of the ruling African National Congress party, Jacob Zuma, was chosen president by the newly-elected parliament in May 2009.
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