South Africa (6do encyclopedia)

South Africa, located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, is a diverse and multicultural country known for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant culture.

Geography and Climate
With a total land area of approximately 1.22 million square kilometres, South Africa borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho. The country has a diverse topography, with plains, plateaus, mountains, and forests. The Drakensberg mountain range, which runs along the eastern border, is a popular hiking and skiing destination. The country’s most famous natural landmark is Table Mountain in Cape Town, which is also one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
South Africa’s climate is mainly subtropical, with some regions enjoying a Mediterranean climate. The coastal areas experience temperatures averaging around 18°C, while inland areas can reach 30°C or higher in summer. The country has a marked rainy season in the summer months that can cause severe flooding and occasional droughts.

South Africa’s history is a rich and complex tapestry that dates back to the Stone Age. The country’s first human inhabitants were the San and Khoikhoi peoples, who were later displaced by Bantu-speaking tribes. The Dutch East India Company established a settlement at Cape Town in 1652, which became an important stopover point for European ships traveling to India and later became a British colony in 1795. This marked the beginning of the country’s apartheid era, which lasted until the 1990s and was characterized by institutionalized racism, segregation, and discrimination against non-white populations.

In the 20th century, South Africa became known for its anti-apartheid movement, led by Nelson Mandela and other prominent activists. After decades of resistance, Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and in 1994, the country held its first democratic elections, ushering in a new era of political freedom and social progress.

Demographics and Culture
South Africa is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, with 11 official languages and a diverse population of over 60 million people. The majority of the population is Black African, with other significant populations including Coloured (mixed-race), Indian, and White. Christianity is the dominant religion, while traditional African religions and Islam also have significant followings.

South African culture is heavily influenced by the country’s history of colonialism and apartheid, with many artists and writers exploring themes of identity, race, and legacy in their work. The country is also known for its music, particularly jazz and traditional African styles like mbaqanga, as well as its cuisine, which incorporates elements of African, Indian, and European cooking.

South Africa is the second-largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of around $350 billion. The country is rich in natural resources, particularly minerals like gold, diamonds, and platinum. However, despite its natural wealth, the country has struggled with income inequality and unemployment, which remains high at over 25%. In recent years, the government has implemented various economic reforms aimed at boosting job creation and investment.

South Africa is a major tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year with its natural beauty, safari opportunities, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. Popular tourist attractions include the Kruger National Park, Robben Island, and the many wineries of the Cape Winelands.

South Africa is a complex and fascinating country, with a rich history, diverse population, and stunning landscapes. Despite its challenges, the country has made significant progress in recent years and is poised to continue growing and evolving.

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Solar start-up M-Kopa secures $250mn in one of Africa’s biggest tech fundraisings

Financial Times

23-05-15 04:23

Kenyan tech start-up M-Kopa has raised over $250m in debt and equity, one of the largest fundraisings by an African tech firm. The funds will allow the company, which pioneered pay-as-you-go solar panels and smartphones in east Africa, to acquire up to 100,000 new customers per month, said CEO Jesse Moore. Standard Bank has lent $100m of the $202m in debt, while Investment Corporation, Lion Head’s Group and British International Investment are also lenders. M-Kopa is testing the South African market and pilot schemes for financing electric motorbikes are under way as part of a new e-mobility strategy.
Canadian rugby men finish season-best fourth at HSBC France Sevens

The Globe and Mail

23-05-15 04:10

Canada have finished in fourth place at the HSBC Sevens, losing to Argentina and France, but achieving their best finish on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this season. The result will provide a timely boost for the men’s team ahead of next weekend’s relegation play-off in London to save their status as a core team next season. New Zealand won the men’s competition in the final match against Argentina whilst Ireland joined the New Zealand, U.S. and Australia sides, who also qualified, to play at the 2024 Olympics. The Canadian teams will now focus on the Rugby Americas North Sevens Olympic qualifier in Langford, Canada, in August.
Biden, India’s Modi out to deepen their bonds, but geopolitical friendships have their limits

The Toronto Star

23-05-15 04:04

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to visit Washington on 22 June on a trip that marks the importance Joe Biden is placing on relations between the US and India. However, the situation is complicated by tensions and policy differences between the countries. India abstained from voting on UN resolutions criticising Russia following its annexation of Crimea, and has not joined the coalition formed by the US and other countries. The relationship with the US is important to India as its relations with China have become more fraught, with the two nations embroiled in a three-year standoff involving thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. Both the US and India have been emphasising technology partnerships, including defence, clean energy and space, which are likely to be discussions at the upcoming meetings.
Biden, India's Modi out to deepen their bonds, but geopolitical friendships have their limits

The Independent

23-05-15 04:03

President Biden has made it a priority to strengthen relationships with India, but the alliance has its challenges, including the fact that Biden champions democratic ideals while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of eroding democratic traditions. Both nations, however, currently share an interest in containing China's economic rise and increased global prominence. Although Modi had a good relationship with Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, and has made some efforts to forge a connection with Biden, the future of this geopolitical friendship isn't guaranteed. Experts believe the relationship between India and the US will largely depend on the pace of India’s progress and whether or not it chooses to expand its security ties with Washington. Meanwhile, relations between India and China have become increasingly strained, with the two nations becoming engaged in an intense three-year standoff along the disputed border in the Ladakh region.
‘Genuinely worried’: US dollar woes fuel gold rush in Hong Kong, Singapore

South China Morning Post

23-05-15 01:30

Gold is becoming increasingly popular among investors in Singapore and Hong Kong as they search for safe havens to store money since the recent banking turmoil in the United States. Trade volumes have surged in the Asian trading hubs, with gold now being viewed more as a currency than a commodity. Hong Kong-based Precious Metals Asia reported that gold turnover in April increased by 40% since March and 110% since January. One of its founders, Padraig Seif, said investors were worried that keeping their money in low-yield deposit accounts would erode the long-term value of their savings. Gold has risen by 13% since March amid signals of a US economic slowdown, and fears of a potential credit crunch as a US debt default looms as the White House and Congress have been unable to reach agreement over raising the government's $31.4tn borrowing limit.
South African rand regains some ground against the dollar


23-05-16 00:04

South Africa's rand has rebounded from an all-time low against the dollar amid concerns of possible US sanctions. The US alleged that South Africa had shipped arms to Russia in December, spooking investors. However, South African officials rejected the US allegations, and the rand has since recovered, trading at 19.0325 against the dollar. Last week, the currency plummeted to 19.51 to the dollar.
Simon Pegg says he doesn’t ask Tom Cruise about Scientology

The Independent

23-05-15 23:39

Simon Pegg has discussed the friendship between himself and Tom Cruise, reflecting on their time working together on the Mission: Impossible franchise. There have been several allegations of abuse and mistreatment of members within the Church of Scientology, of which Cruise is a prominent figure. However, Pegg states that he avoids discussing the topic of religion with Cruise: “I don’t ask him about stuff like that because I feel that would be me abusing my privileged access that I get to him, you know what I mean?” Pegg also stated that his relationship with Cruise was “simple and amiable. We're friends”. The latest Mission: Impossible film, Dead Reckoning Part One, is set to be released on 12 July. Pegg has also recently discussed his previous battles with addictions, which he experienced during his filming of Mission Impossible III.
FirstFT: High Court judges invested in tax avoidance schemes

Financial Times

23-05-16 04:19

Three high court judges in the UK invested in controversial tax avoidance schemes, including one judge who has ruled on tax avoidance cases. The investments date back about a decade, but records show the judges retained their interests in the schemes after taking their positions. The issue has raised questions about the country's lax approach to disclosure of judicial interests. There are no formal rules requiring UK judges to make public disclosures about their finances.
Are killer ro­bots the fu­ture of war?

Al Jazeera

23-05-16 03:08

Killer robots, driven by developments in artificial intelligence (AI), are transforming the future of conflict and prompting intense debate over the ethical, legal, and technological implications of their use. While many nations have invested heavily in developing lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), including China, Iran, Israel, South Korea, the UK, and the US, global consensus over their use and regulation remains elusive. A report from the United Nations suggests that the Turkish-made Kargu-2 drones marked a new era in warfare as they attacked combatants in Libya in 2020 without an officer directing the attack or a soldier pulling the trigger. A blanket ban on autonomous weapons systems does not currently look likely, but there is a growing call for regulation, with some experts suggesting a global taboo of the kind in place for chemical weapons.

Advocates suggest that autonomous weapons systems could eliminate human error and bias, reduce accidental human casualties, and carry out some battlefield tasks without endangering human soldiers. However, critics argue that machines that make life and death decisions must not be allowed in the field without human oversight. There are ethical concerns over emotionless machines making such decisions, and it may be challenging to determine who is accountable if a robot commits a war crime. The international community has yet to agree on a definition of autonomous weapons systems and may struggle to achieve global consensus on how to approach their regulation.

As autonomous weapons become increasingly sophisticated and are deployed on the battlefield, the potential implications of their use on international law and ethics and their impact on human rights remain unclear. Countries such as Russia have already expressed their objections to legally binding instruments, and more research is needed to determine what types of weapon or scenario are particularly problematic. While researchers suggest that the beneficial technology used in autonomous weapons systems could improve car safety systems, trying to put control measures in place once a device is operational is difficult. A two-tier set of regulations could be more realistic, with some systems prohibited and others allowed only if they meet a strict set of requirements.

S Africa army chief vis­its Moscow in wake of US weapons claim

Al Jazeera

23-05-16 03:01

In a "goodwill visit", South Africa's ground forces commander Lawrence Mbatha visited Moscow for talks with Russian counterparts days after the US accused the country of secretly providing arms to Russia. South African officials swiftly rejected the claim made by Reuben Brigety, the US Ambassador to Pretoria. South Africa refused to condemn Russia's war on Ukraine, claiming impartiality, but the US believes that in December weapons were loaded onto a Russian freighter that docked at a Cape Town naval base.
South Africa's unemployment rate rises to 32.9% in Q1


23-05-16 09:37

South Africa's unemployment rate rose to 32.9% in Q1 2023 from 32.7% in Q4 2022, according to data from Statistics South Africa. The number of unemployed people in the country rose to 7.933 million in January-March, from 7.753 million in the last three months of 2022. The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition, which includes those discouraged from seeking work, was 42.4%. The country has faced power outages due to Eskom's inability to produce enough megawatts, which is expected to put pressure on firms and lead to further unemployment. South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates globally.
Jofra Archer to miss Ashes summer with fresh stress fracture in his elbow

The Independent

23-05-16 09:01

Jofra Archer has been ruled out for the entirety of England’s Ashes summer after being diagnosed with a fresh stress fracture in his right elbow. Archer has not played Test cricket for over two years and had planned to return for the Ashes against Australia after recovering from numerous surgeries. Archer recently had scans which showed a recurrence of his injury. ECB director of men’s cricket Rob Key said, “We wish him the best of luck with his recovery. I’m sure we will see Jofra back to his best and winning games for England, whatever the format.”
Move over, U.S. dollar. China wants to make the yuan the global currency.

Washington Post

23-05-16 09:00

Large Argentinian home appliance retailer, Newsan, has started to settle its deals in Chinese yuan in a bid to protect itself from the weakening American economy. With access to US dollars in short supply, and Argentine companies being prevented from importing goods as a result of it, Newsan started ordering its products in yuan, and is being joined by others, including importers in Brazil which has just announced the ability for its companies to settle their trade in yuan. The use of the yuan by more economies, particularly as it is used instead of the dollar for large amounts of trade, is the first indication that it could be successful in causing a shift in the current global economic order. Furthermore, as western sanctions have been applied to Russia, and Russia and China conduct more trade, the use of the yuan is likely to become more commonplace.
How England and Australia are shaping up for the Ashes


23-05-16 09:00

The England cricket team's preparations for the upcoming Ashes series against Australia are looking mixed, with fitness and form concerns. While some players, such as Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley, are securing their spots, other batsmen are struggling. Meanwhile, Stuart Broad and James Anderson have joined the injury list, creating concerns for the team. Despite having fitness concerns themselves, Australia are reportedly less certain of their approach to the series, while England's batting lineup is more settled. One of the highlights of the series is sure to be David Warner facing his kryptonite, Stuart Broad.
Red Roses set to be boosted by involvement of ex-England coach Ashton

The Independent

23-05-16 07:23

Brian Ashton has been brought in to help the coaching team for England’s women's rugby team ahead of the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Ashton, who guided the men's team to the final in 2007, will help out in an unofficial capacity, and the move has been interpreted as an effort to develop the coaching team within the Rugby Football Union. John Mitchell has recently been appointed England's new head coach following Simon Middleton's departure after the Women’s Six Nations.
Quade Cooper handed late Rugby World Cup audition – and can fit Eddie Jones’ ‘smash and grab’ plan


23-05-16 13:11

Australian rugby union coach Eddie Jones has overseen the Barbarians’ team which included Australian players Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi. Although Cooper ruptured his Achilles tendon last August, he and Kerevi could play the roles of the Wallabies’ 10 and 12 over the early part of Jones’s tenure. Australia could enter the World Cup later this year using the two rugby stars as their front-line duo, while youngster Mark Nawaqanitawase is also viewed as an exciting prospect. Australia's opening match of the international rugby season is July 8 against South Africa in Pretoria.
Highs and lows of Jofra Archer’s England career after Ashes setback

The Independent

23-05-16 12:26

Jofra Archer's injury has cast another shadow over his rollercoaster England career. The article provides an overview of his highs and lows, including his selection for the England World Cup team months after becoming eligible, his crucial role in their run to the final and his Test team debut in the 2019 Ashes. However, his career has also been riddled with injuries, and he has been criticised for various actions, such as riding a segway on the field before play and breaching bio-security protocols, which cost the ECB "tens of millions of pounds."
Prominent foe of female circumcision wins prestigious $1.4 million Templeton Prize

The Toronto Star

23-05-16 12:14

Edna Adan Ismail has been named the winner of the 2023 Templeton Prize for her efforts to reduce female genital mutilation and improve healthcare for women. The prize, valued at almost $1.4m, is one of the world’s largest individual awards. Ismail, the first African woman to win the prize, is a nurse-midwife and hospital founder, known for reducing maternal mortality in Somaliland. She will donate some of the prize money to Friends of Edna Maternity Hospital in the US, a charity that funds equipment and educators, and trains the next generation of healthcare workers in East Africa.
Archer ‘distraught’ after being ruled out of Ashes summer

The Independent

23-05-16 11:43

Jofra Archer will miss England's Ashes summer Test cricket and there are doubts over whether the 28-year-old will return to the format. Archer had made a return from injury and was expected to face Australia, but will not feature due to a new stress fracture injury to his elbow. Archer, who has had multiple setbacks due to surgery on his elbow and a stress fracture of the back, underwent further treatment on his elbow while playing in the Indian Premier League. There remain questions over his ability to again play Test cricket, where he made his debut at Lord's in 2019.