South Africa is often called ‘A World in One Country’ because it displays a contrast between an advanced economy rivaling that of the developed world co-existing with another that has only the most basic infrastructure, and a variety of peoples and cultures that make up the South African ‘rainbow’ nation.
There are some 49.9 million people in South Africa, with 18.6 million being children under the age of 18 years. Of these children, 85 per cent are Black African; 8 per cent are Coloured; 5 per cent are White; and 2 per cent are Indian/Asian. The overall population is growing at 1.06 per cent per annum. Migration is an important demographic process in shaping the age structure and distribution of the population. The constitution recognises 11 official languages, namely Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. South Africa is divided into nine provinces, each with its own legislature, premier and executive councils.
The South African economy is the largest on the continent of Africa with a GDP of US$493 billion (PPP) and a GDP per capita of US$10,135 (PPP) in 2008.3 Since 1994, it has recorded positive real GDP growth, except for 2009 when there was contraction by almost 2 per cent due to the global financial crisis. Unemployment is a major economic policy problem for the country.4 One in four working-age South Africans, some 4.5 million people, are unemployed (out of a total labour force of 17 million). Among young people aged 18 to 24 years, 41 per cent are not working and not in school. Other major development challenges include inequality, poverty and HIV and AIDS.The document is available for download and printing, a great resource for people involved in children’s rights in South Africa.