Comparison South Africa, USA and UK

Society and People

South Africa USA United Kingdom
Population 49,004,031 (July 2011 est.) 313,232,044 (July 2011 est.) 62,698,362 (July 2011 est.)
Abolition of the slavery 1833 (was decided by the Brits) 1865 (after the American Civil War 1861 – 1865)

Ethnic groups black African 79%,white 9.6%,colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% white 79.96%,black 12.85%,Asian 4.43%,Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%,native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%,two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate) white (of which English 83.6%,Scottish 8.6%,Welsh 4.9%,Northern Irish 2.9%) 92.1%,black 2%,Indian 1.8%,Pakistani 1.3%,mixed 1.2%,other 1.6%(2001 census)
Birth rate 19.48 births/1,000 populationcountry comparison to the world: 3 13.83 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)country comparison to the world: 148 12.29 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)country comparison to the world: 161
Death rate 17.09 deaths/1,000 populationcountry comparison to the world: 3 8.38 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)country comparison to the world: 89 9.33 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)country comparison to the world: 64
Religions Protestant 36.6% (Zionist Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%,Methodist 6.8%,Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%),Catholic 7.1%,Muslim 1.5%,other Christian 36%, other 2.3%,unspecified 1.4%,none 15.1%(2001 census) Protestant 51.3%,Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%,other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%,Buddhist 0.7%,Muslim 0.6%,other or unspecified 2.5%,unaffiliated 12.1%,none 4%(2007 est.) Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%,Muslim 2.7%,Hindu 1%,other 1.6%,unspecified or none 23.1%(2001 census)
Life expectancy at birth 49,33 yearscountry comparison to the world: 215 total population: 78.37 yearscountry comparison to the world: 50 total population: 80.05 yearscountry comparison to the world: 28
Maternal mortality rate 410 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)country comparison to the world: 35 24 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)country comparison to the world: 121 12 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)country comparison tothe world: 141
Infant mortality rate total: 43.2 deaths/1,000 live birthscountry comparison to the world: 58 total: 6.06 deaths/1,000 live birthscountry comparison to the world: 175 total: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live birthscountry comparison to the world: 189
Drinking water Source urban: 99% of populationrural: 78% of populationtotal: 91% of population urban: 100% of populationrural: 94% of populationtotal: 99% of population urban: 100% of populationrural: 100% of populationtotal: 100% of population (2008)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate 17,8% 0.6% (2009 est.) 0.2% (2009 est.)
People living with HIV 5,6 million (2008) 1,2 million 85,000 (2009 est.)
HIV deaths 310,000 (2009 est.) 17,000 (2009 est.) fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and writetotal population: 86.4%male: 87%female: 85.7% (2003 est.) definition: age 15 and over can read and writetotal population: 99%male: 99%female: 99% (2003 est.) definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schoolingtotal population: 99%male: 99%female: 99% (2003 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 total: 48.2%country comparison to the world: 3 male: 44.6%female: 52.5% total: 17.6%country comparison to the world: 66 male: 20.1%female: 14.9% (2009) total: 18.9%country comparison to the world: 63 male: 21.7%female: 15.6% (2009)




South Africa USA United Kingdom
Area total: 1,219,090 sq kmcountry comparison to the world: 25 and: 1,214,470 sq kmwater: 4,620 sq km total: 9,826,675 sq kmcountry comparison to the world: 3 land: 9,161,966 sq kmwater: 664,709 sq kmnote:includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia total: 243,610 sq kmcountry comparison to the world: 80 land: 241,930 sq kmwater: 1,680 sq km
Land boundaries total: 4,862 kmborder countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km total: 12,034 kmborder countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km total: 360 kmborder countries: Ireland 360 km
Climate mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast
Terrain vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast
Natural Resources vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, rare earth elements, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timbernote:the US has the world’s largest coal reserves with 491 billion short tons accounting for 27% of the world’s total coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, arable land
Coastline 2,798 km 19,924 km 12,429 km
Highest Point Njesuthi 3,408 m Mount McKinley 6,194 m Ben Nevis 1,343 m
Natural hazards prolonged droughtsvolcanism: the volcano forming Marion Island in the Prince Edward Islands, which last erupted in 2004, is South Africa’s only active volcano tsunamis; volcanoes; earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development winter windstorms; floods



South Africa USA United Kingdom
Country name Republic of South Africa United States of America United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Government type Republic Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition constitutional monarchy and Commonwealth realm
Capital Pretoria (administrative capital) note:Cape Town (legislative capital); Bloemfontein (judicial capital) Washington, DC London
Administration divisions 9 provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North-West, Western Cape 50 states and 1 district:Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming England: 27 two-tier counties, 32 London boroughs and 1 City of London or Greater London, 36 metropolitan districts, 56 unitary authorities (including 4 single-tier counties*)
Independence 31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared); 27 April 1994 (majority rule) 4 July 1776 (declared); 3 September 1783 (recognized by Great Britain) 12 April 1927 (Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act establishes current name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); notable earlier dates: 927 (minor English kingdoms united); 3 March 1284 (enactment of the Statute of Rhuddlan uniting England and Wales); 1536 (Act of Union formally incorporates England and Wales); 1 May 1707 (Acts of Union formally unite England and Scotland as Great Britain); 1 January 1801 (Acts of Union formally unite Great Britain and Ireland as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland); 6 December 1921 (Anglo-Irish Treaty formalizes partition of Ireland; six counties remain part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland)
Legal System mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and customary law common law system based on English common law at the federal level; state legal systems based on common law except Louisiana, which is based on Napoleonic civil code; judicial review of legislative acts common law system; has nonbinding judicial review of Acts of Parliament under the Human Rights Act of 1998
Constitution 10 December 1996; note – certified by the Constitutional Court 4 December 1996; was signed by then President MANDELA 10 December 1996; and entered into effect 4 February 1997 unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice
Suffrage 18 years 18 years 18 years
Executive Branch Chief of state:President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of governmentHead of government: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009)Cabinet:Cabinet appointed by the presidentElections:president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)Election results:Jacob ZUMA elected president; National Assembly vote – Jacob ZUMA 277, Mvume DANDALA 47, other 76 Chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of governmentHead of government: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)Cabinet:Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approvalElections:president and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held on 6 November 2012)Election results: Barack H. OBAMA elected president; percent of popular vote – Barack H. OBAMA 52.4%, John MCCAIN 46.3%, other 1.3%; Chief of state:Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Heir Apparent Prince CHARLES (son of the queen, born 14 November 1948)Head of government: Prime Minister David CAMERON (since 11 May 2010)Cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the prime ministerElections:the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually the prime minister
Legislative Branch bicameral Parliament -National Council of Provinces (90 seats; 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities)National Assembly (400 seats; members elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)Elections:National Assembly and National Council of Provinces – last held on 22 April 2009 (next to be held in April 2014) bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, 2 members elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the House ofRepresentatives (435 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)Elections:Senate – last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012); House of Representatives – last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012)Election results:Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – Democratic Party 51, Republican Party 47, independent 2; House of Representatives – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – Democratic Party 192, Republican Party 243 bicameral Parliament consists of House of Lords (741 seats; consisting of approximately 625 life peers, 91 hereditary peers, and 25 clergy – as of 15 December 2010) and House of Commons (650 seats since 2010 elections; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms unless the House is dissolved earlier)Elections:House of Lords – no elections (note – in 1999, as provided by the House of Lords Act, elections were held in the House of Lords to determine the 92 hereditary peers who would remain there; elections are held only as vacancies in the hereditary peerage arise); House of Commons – last held on 6 May 2010 (next to be held by June 2015)Election results:House of Commons – percent of vote by party – Conservative 36.1%, Labor 29%, Liberal Democrats 23%, other 11.9%; seats by party – Conservative 305, Labor 258, Liberal Democrat 57, other 30
Judical Branch Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts Supreme Court (nine justices; nominated by the president and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate; appointed to serve for life); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts Supreme Court of the UK (established in October 2009 taking over appellate jurisdiction formerly vested in the House of Lords); Senior Courts of England and Wales (comprising the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice, and the Crown Courts); Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland); Scotland’s Court of Session and High Court of the Justiciary
National Symbol Springbok, Antelope Bald eagle Lion (Britain in general); lion (England); lion, unicorn (Scotland); dragon (Wales); harp (Northern Ireland)




South Africa USA United Kingdom
Internet Users 4,42 million 245 million (2009) 33.32 million (2010)
Telephone- Main lines in use 4.225 million (2010) 151 million (2010) 80.799 million (2010)
Cell phones- Main lines in use 279 million (2010) 50,373 million (2010) 51.444 million (2009)





South Africa USA United Kingdom
Airports 578 (2010) 15,079 (2010) 505 (2010)
Pipelines condensate 11 km; gas 908 km; oil 980 km; refined products 1,382 km (2010) petroleum products 244,620 km; natural gas 548,665 km (2010) condensate 8 km; gas 14,071 km; liquid petroleum gas 59 km; oil 595 km; refined products 4,907 km (2010)
Railways total: 20,192 km total: 224,620 km total: 16,454 km
Roadways total: 362,099 km total: 6,506,204 kmcountry comparison to the world: 1 total: 394,428 km
Ports and Terminals Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay Cargo ports (tonnage): Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Plaquemines, Tampa, Texas Citycontainer ports (TEUs): Los Angeles (7,849,985), Long Beach (6,350,125), New York/New Jersey (5,265,058), Savannah (2,616,126), Oakland (2,236,244), Hampton Roads (2,083,278) (2008)cruise departure ports (passengers): Miami (2,032,000), Port Everglades (1,277,000), Port Canaveral (1,189,000), Seattle (430,000), Long Beach (415,000) (2009)oil terminals: LOOP terminal, Haymark terminal Dover, Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool, London, Southampton, Teesport (England); Forth Ports (Scotland); Milford Haven (Wales)




South Africa USA United Kingdom
Military Branches South African National Defense Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Military Intelligence, South African Military Health Services (2009) United States Armed Forces: US Army, US Navy (includes Marine Corps), US Air Force, US Coast Guard; note – Coast Guard administered in peacetime by the Department of Homeland Security, but in wartime reports to the Department of the Navy (2011) Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force (2010)
Military service age and obligation 18 years of age for voluntary military service; women are eligible to serve in noncombat roles; 2-year service obligation (2007) 18 years of age (17 years of age with parental consent) for male and female voluntary service; maximum enlistment age 42 (Army), 27 (Air Force), 34 (Navy), 28 (Marines); service obligation 8 years, including 2-5 years active duty (Army), 2 years active (Navy), 4 years active (Air Force, Marines) (2010) 16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service (with parental consent under 18); women serve in military services, but are excluded from ground combat positions and some naval postings; as of October 2009, women comprised 12.1% of officers and 9% of enlisted personnel in the regular forces; must be citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, or Republic of Ireland; reservists serve a minimum of 3 years, to age 45 or 55; 16 years of age for voluntary military service by Nepalese citizens in the Brigade of Gurkhas; 16-34 years of age for voluntary military service by Papua New Guinean citizens (2009)


42 Amazing Facts about South Africa


  1. The rand was the best performing currency against the US dollar between 2002 and 2005 (Bloomberg Currency Scoreboard).
  2. South Africa has 55,000 high net-wealth individuals holding at least one million US dollars in financial assets (World Wealth Report 2008).
  3. South Africa has the 27th biggest economy in the world, with a Gross Domestic Product of 254 billion US dollars (World Bank).
  4. South Africa accounts for almost 25% of the GDP of the entire African continent, with an economy more than twice the size of the second biggest – Algeria (World Bank).
  5. Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province but produces 34% of our GDP (Stats SA).
  6. The JSE Securities Exchange is the 14th largest equities exchange in the world, with a total market capitalization of some R2.3 trillion (JSE).
  7. More than 12,000 ‘Black Diamond’ families (South Africa’s new black middle class) – or 50,000 people – are moving from the townships into the suburbs of SA’s metro areas every month (UCT Unilever Institute).
  8. The black middle class grew by 30% in 2005, adding another 421,000 black adults to SA’s middle-income layer and ramping up the black population’s share of SA’s total middle class to almost a third. Between 2001 and 2004, there were 300’000 new black entrants to the middle class (Financial Mail).


  1. South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa’s electricity(Eskom).
  2. South Africa power supplier provides the fourth cheapest electricity in the world.
  3. Chris Hani-Baragwaneth Hospital in Soweto is the biggest hospital in the world.
  4. Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
  5. There are 39 million cell phone users in South Africa (International Telecommunication Union).


  1. The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown by 200% since 1994: from 3 million to over 9 million in 2007 (Dept of Environment and Tourism).
  2. The Singita game reserve, west of Kruger National Park, was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveler).
  3. The world’s best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus in the Western Cape.
  4. In 2002, South Africa was the world’s fastest growing tourist destination. In 2006, South Africa’s tourism grew at three times the global average.


  1. South Africa hosts the largest timed cycle race in the world (the Cape Argus Cycle Tour), the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon) and the world’s largestopen water swimming event (the Midmar Mile).
  2. South Africa will become the first African country to host the Soccer World Cup in 2010…and only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby and Soccer World Cups.
  3. Since the 1940s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the USA.
  4. In 1994 we won 11 medals in the Commonwealth Games. In 2006 we won 46.

SA teaching the World

  1. South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karroo.

  2. South Africa is the first, and to date the only country, to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons program.
  3. The South African oil company, Sasol, has established the onlycommercially viable oil-from-coal operations in the world.
  4. Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all of humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of “passive resistance” (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.


  1. The University of South Africa (UNISA) is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world, with 250,000 students.
  2. South Africa’s matric pass rate has improved from 49% in 1994 to 70% in 2004, but students receiving university exemptions have remained at 18%.
  3. The first MBA program outside of the US was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.


  1. Over thirteen million South Africans (a quarter of the population) have access to social grants (The Department of Social Development).
  2. Since 1994, 500 houses have been built each day for the poor and 1000 houses per day have received electricity.
  3. Seventy per cent of South Africa’s population is urbanized.


  1. The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
  2. The Cango Caves, near Oudtshoorn, is the world’s longest underground cave sequence.
  3. In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world toprotect the Great White shark.
  4. South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, at the Vredefort Dome, near Parys. The scar is 222 million years old. Thank you Victor from Vanderbijlpark for the correct timeline!
  5. South Africa has embraced the concept of trans-frontier ‘peace parks’linking ecological reserves across national borders.


  1. The Western Deep Levels is the world’s deepest mine at 3777 meters.
  2. South Africa has the world’s largest deposits of gold, chrome, platinum and manganese.
  3. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street in Orlano West.
  4. South Africa has the world’s second oldest air force,established in 1920.
  5. South African Breweries (SAB Miller) ranks as the second largest brewing company in the world. It supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.
  6. South Africa has the second oldest film industry in the world.