Learning More About South Africa

As the orientation continued in Washington, DC, we learned more about the economic conditions of South Africa and the impact of the FIFA World Cup on its economy. Some statistics and information about the country include:


  • 25th in the world in terms of overall area land mass, with about 1.2 million square km
  • Nearly 3,000 km of coastline, providing for many options with trade at sea and with other countries through its ports
  • Mostly semi-arid climate, with sunny days and cooler nights; warmer in summer
  • Their summer is winter in the U.S., so they are in the middle of their winter during the June-August months (our summer)
  • Many valuable natural resources, such as gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas
  • Very prone to prolonged droughts for substantially long periods of time


  • Population of 49.1 million people
  • 79% are Black African; 10% are White; 9% are Mixed Race; 2% are Indian/Asian
  • About 5.7 million people in South Africa are living with HIV/AIDS (about 18%)
  • Only 6 percent of people are over 65 years of age (high mortality/death rate due to HIV/AIDS and other diseases
  • 29 percent of South Africans are under the age of 14
  • The population growth rate is actually declining, at -0.051% (2010 est.)
  • South Africa has the 5th highest death rate in the world, behind countries like Angola, Mozambique and Zambia


  • South African GDP: $495 billion annually, but this is declining
  • The unemployment rate is 24%
  • GDP per capita (per person) is about $10,100; but this too is declining
  • Nearly 50 percent of South Africans are living BELOW the poverty line
  • Inflation rate is a very high 7 percent annually, at least twice as much as ours here in the U.S.


  • 66% of jobs are in the services sector
  • 31% of jobs are in the industrial sector (many of these are multinational companies)
  • Only 3% of jobs are in agricultural or farming occupations today

Given these statistics, we can quickly see the challenges facing the South African people, in terms of business and industry, jobs and economy, and life and family.

As our orientation drew to a close, we were welcomed at the U.S. Capitol by our members of Congress as well as by the Embassy of South Africa. In this photo (above), Mr. Rodman is being greeted by South African Ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Johnny Meloto.