Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa (a successor country to the Union of South Africa); nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.
Definitions and usage
UN scheme of geographic regions and SACU
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- South Africa
The region is sometimes reckoned to include other territories:
- Angola – part of Central Africa in the UN scheme.
- Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mayotte, Mauritius, Mozambique, Réunion, Seychelles, Zambia, Zimbabwe – part of Eastern Africa in the UN scheme.
Another geographic delineation for the region is the portion of Africa south of the Cunene and Zambezi rivers – that is, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and the southern half of Mozambique. This definition is most commonly used in South Africa.
In terms of natural resources, the region has the world's largest resources of platinum and the platinum group elements, chromium, vanadium, and cobalt, as well as uranium, gold, titanium, iron and diamonds.
The region is distinct from the rest of Africa, with some of its main exports including platinum, diamonds, gold, and uranium, but it is similar in that it shares some of the problems of the rest of the continent. While colonialism has left its mark on the development over the course of history,reference required today poverty, corruption, and HIV/AIDS are some of the biggest factors impeding economic growth. The pursuit of economic and political stability is an important part of the region's goals, as demonstrated by the SADC.
The region has a wide diversity of ecoregions including grassland, bushveld, karoo, savanna and riparian zones. Even though considerable disturbance has occurred in some regions from habitat loss due to human overpopulation, there remain significant numbers of various wildlife species, including White Rhino, lion, leopard, impala, kudu, blue Wildebeest, Vervet monkey and elephant.
Culture and people
Southern Africa is home to many cultures and people. It was once populated by San, Namaqua and Pygmies in widely-dispersed concentrations. Due to the Bantu expansion which edged the previous peoples to the more remote areas of the region, the majority of ethnic groups in this region, including the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele, Tswana, Sotho, and Shona people, BaLunda, Mbundu, Kikuyu and Luo, speak languages which share common Bantu language traits. The process of colonization and settling resulted in a significant population of European (Afrikaners, Anglo-Africans, Portuguese Africans, etc.) and Asian descent (Cape Malays, Koreans, Indians, etc.) in many southern African countries.
- "Africa." The Oxford Companion to the English Language (ISBN 0-19-214183-X). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 19 -- quotation reads: "South Africa: This term once referred to the south of the continent generally, but is currently restricted to the Republic of South Africa. The term Southern/southern Africa, however, generally includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe."
- "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings".
- Southern African Customs Union (SACU) official website
- SADC - Southern African Development Community official website