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Country information: South Africa



1,219.912 square kilometres


49,05 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Pretoria (1,9 million inhabitants 2005)

Official languages

IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, Swati, Venda and Ndebele

GDP per capita (PPP)

US $ 10600 (2007)

Population growth

0,28 per cent (2009)

Life expectancy

49 years (2009)

Infant mortality

44,4 per 1 000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

13.6% (2003)




With the end of Apartheid, there was a boom in travel to South Africa, and tourism became the most important source of foreign earnings. The tourism sector has become indispensable in order to cope with the economic problems of the country. A improtant year for Southafrican tourism could get the year 2010, when the World Cup of football will bring a lot of fans to the country. South Africa will get the possibility to represent themselves the whole world. According to UNWTO in 2005, approximately 7,5 million guests visited the country and brought 5,9 billion Euro into the country.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

The opening of the country after the end of apartheid and the expansion in tourism, together with other factors, has led to a growth of the leisure infrastructure. This in turn has triggered a growth in prostitution and trafficking in humans. Prostitution is encouraged by the poverty of large parts of the population: In particular street children in the cities are threatened by commercial sexual exploitation. Some fall for traffickers offering well-paid jobs in the cities. In addition to commercial sexual exploitation there are also more cases of sexual abuse of children in their own families. Studies show that about one girl in three is the victim of sexual abuse, and some 28 000 children are exposed to commercial sexual exploitation. Both developments are also linked with the fear of contracting AIDS.


Along with the increased cases of prostitution there has also been an increase in human trade, with the development of Mafia-like structures. More and more frequently, women and children from neighbouring countries, and also from other parts of the world are abducted to South Africa and sold into prostitution.


South Africa ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on June 16, 1995, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


HIV / Aids

According to estimates by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, in 2005 there were 5.7 million people in South Africa infected with HIV, including 3.2 million women and 280.000 children. In the same year, 350.000 South Africans died following HIV infection. So AIDS is the most common cause of death in South Africa.

About 13 per cent of the population (18,1 per cent of grown-up between 15 and 49 years) are infected by HIV. The southern Africa is deemed to be the region with the highest prevalence rates of HIV in the world.

There is an increasingly widespread misconception among both men and women that children contract infection with HIV less easily and that sexual intercourse with a virgin has cleansing and healing effects. Of course this is not the case. Poor children, whose immune system is often already weakened by the effects of poverty, face an increased risk of infection with HIV, since in addition to the mental harm of forced sexual intercourse with adults, they often suffer significant physical injuries. 


Local Contacts


Terre des Hommes - Co-ordination South Africa and Namibia

Mr. Mafata Mogodi

P.O.Box 2428

Saxonwold 2132

Johannesburg, South Africa

7th Floor; Heerengracht

87, De Korte Street

Braamfontein 2017

Phone + 27 11 403 8570

Fax: + 27 11 403 8571




(South African Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect)

Postnet Suite 141 Private Bag X7

Parkview Gauteng 2122, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 481 5145

Fax: +27 33 3942080



Child Abuse Treatment and Training Services

41 Fox Street

Johannesburg, South Africa

Phone: +27 11 298 8500

Fax: +27 11 298 8590





State and society

South Africa is a parliamentary democracy with a state president elected by the National Assembly. The legislature is a bicameral parliament consisting of a National Assembly and a National Council of Provinces. Free elections on April 27 put the African National Congress (ANC) and its leader Nelson Mandela in power. Since 1999, Thabo Mbeki (ANC) has been chief of state and head of government. South Africa is still in a state of social and economic transition following the end of Apartheid in 1994. On the basis of free elections, the African National Congress ANC is in government. A new, liberal constitution came into force in 1997.

The consequences of Apartheid have not yet been overcome. A quarter of the population live in a state of absolute poverty. 2.3 million are malnourished. Some 40 per cent of the working population are unemployed. Levels of criminality have risen rapidly and the reorientation of the South African police force in a democratic system has proved difficult.


The population of South Africa consists of four main groups: three-quarters are Black (mainly Bantu), 13.6 per cent are White, 8.6 per cent Coloureds, and 2.6 per cent Asian. 92 per cent of the Whites and 74 per cent of the Blacks are Christians. Two-thirds of the Asians are Hindus. 



South Africa has the highest level of industrialisation in Africa. Its economy is export-oriented, and the irrigation systems mean that the agriculture is very productive. South Africa is among the most important producers of wool in the world.