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South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It has of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. To the north lie the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; and within it lies Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 53 million people, is the world's 25th-most populous nation.
South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world. divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status.
The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century; however, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. Racial strife between the white minority and the black majority has played a large part in the country's recent history and politics. Apartheid was instituted in 1948 by the National Party, though racial segregation existed prior to that date. Discriminatory laws began to be repealed or abolished from 1990 onwards after a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists.
South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, and is considered to be a newly industrialised country. Its economy is the second largest in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa, although poverty and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.