Geography of South Africa

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South Africa occupies the southern tip of Africa, its coastline stretching more than 2,500 km (1,553 mi) from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic (western) coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then north to the border with Mozambique on the Indian Ocean. The low-lying coastal zone is narrow for much of that distance, soon giving way to a mountainous escarpment (Great Escarpment) that separates the coast from the high inland plateau. In some places, notably the province of KwaZulu-Natal in the east, a greater distance separates the coast from the escarpment. Although most of the country is classified as semi-arid, it has considerable variation in climate as well as topography.

Contents

General information

  • total: 1,219,912 square kilometres (471,011 sq mi)
  • land: 1,219,912 square kilometres (471,011 sq mi)
  • water: 0 square kilometres (0 sq mi)
  • note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)
  • territorial sea: 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi)
  • contiguous zone: 24 nmi (44 km; 28 mi)
  • exclusive economic zone: 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi)
  • continental shelf: 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi) or to edge of the continental margin

gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

  • arable land: 12.1%
  • permanent crops: 0.79%
  • other: 87.11% (2005)
  • 14,980 square kilometres (5,784 sq mi) (2003)
  • prolonged droughts
  • lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification
  • party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, ship pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

General geography

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