Southern Africa

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Southern Africa (UN subregion)
Geographic, including above
Southern African Development Community (SADC) LocationSouthernAfrica.png
  Southern Africa (UN subregion)
  Geographic, including above

Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics, and including several countries. The term southern Africa or Southern Africa, generally includes Angola, Botswana, Eswatini (also known as Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, though Angola may be included in Central Africa and Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in East Africa. From a political perspective the region is said to be unipolar with South Africa as a first regional power.

South one of the four cardinal directions

South is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west.

In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics, human impact characteristics, and the interaction of humanity and the environment. Geographic regions and sub-regions are mostly described by their imprecisely defined, and sometimes transitory boundaries, except in human geography, where jurisdiction areas such as national borders are defined in law.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Contents

Definitions and usage

Another geographic delineation for the region is the portion of Africa south of the Cunene and Zambezi Rivers – that is: South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and the part of Mozambique which lies south of the Zambezi River. This definition is most often used in South Africa for natural sciences and particularly in guide books such as Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, the Southern African Bird Atlas Project and Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. It is not used in political, economic or human geography contexts because this definition cuts Mozambique in two.

Cunene River river in Southern Africa

The Cunene or Kunene is a river in Southern Africa. It flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia. It then flows west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the few perennial rivers in the region. It is about 1,050 kilometres (652 mi) long, with a drainage basin 106,560 square kilometres (41,143 sq mi) in area. Its mean annual discharge is 174 m³/s at its mouth. The Epupa Falls lie on the river. Olushandja Dam dams a tributary of the river, the Etaka, and helps provide the Ruacana Power Station with water.

Zambezi fourth-longest river in Africa

The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres (540,000 sq mi), slightly less than half of the Nile's. The 2,574-kilometre-long river (1,599 mi) arises in Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the north-eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana, then along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses the country to empty into the Indian Ocean.

The Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP) was conducted between 1987 and 1991. Because a new bird atlas was started in southern Africa in 2007, the earlier project is now referred to as SABAP1. The new atlas project is known as the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project, and is abbreviated to SABAP2. SABAP2 is still ongoing. It is now managed by the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. Most of the data capture happens through the application BirdLasser. The project is currently funded by BirdLife South Africa and the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

UN scheme of geographic regions and SACU

In the United Nations scheme of geographic regions, five states constitute Southern Africa: [1]

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international co-operation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It was established after World War II, with the aim of preventing future wars, and succeeded the ineffective League of Nations. Its headquarters, which are subject to extraterritoriality, are in Manhattan, New York City, and it has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.

United Nations geoscheme for Africa

The following is an alphabetical list of subregions in the United Nations geoscheme for Africa, used by the UN and maintained by the UNSD department for statistical purposes.

A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.

Botswana republic in southern Africa

Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has been a representative republic, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the best perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998. It is currently Africa's oldest continuous democracy.

Eswatini Country in southern Africa

Eswatini, officially the Kingdom of Eswatini and also known as Swaziland, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west and south. At no more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 mi) east to west, Eswatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa; despite this, its climate and topography are diverse, ranging from a cool and mountainous highveld to a hot and dry lowveld.

Lesotho kingdom in southern Africa

Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an enclaved country within the border of South Africa. It is one of only three independent states completely surrounded by the territory of another country, and the only one outside of the Italian peninsula. Lesotho is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size and has a population of around 2 million. Its capital and largest city is Maseru.

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU), created in 1969, also comprises the five states in the UN subregion of Southern Africa. [2]

Southern African Customs Union Customs union, established in 1910, among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is a customs union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini. Its headquarters are in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. It was established in 1910.

SADC membership

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) was established in 1980 to facilitate co-operation in the region. It includes: [3]

Southern African Development Community Intergovernmental trade and development body

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 southern African countries.

General usages

The region is sometimes reckoned to include other territories:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania, though more commonly reckoned in Central and Eastern Africa, respectively, are occasionally included in Southern Africa as they are SADC members.

Geography

A composite satellite image of Southern Africa Composite satellite image of South Africa in November 2002.jpg
A composite satellite image of Southern Africa

The terrain of Southern Africa is varied, ranging from forest [4] and grasslands to deserts. The region has both low-lying coastal areas, and mountains.

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, copper, titanium, iron and diamonds. [5]

History

Prehistory

Kingdom of Mapungubwe

Kingdom of Zimbabwe

Kingdom of Mutapa

Mwene mutapa

Kingdom of Butua

Torwa dynasty

Rozwi Empire

Ndwandwe Kingdom

Zulu Kingdom

Merina Kingdom

Mthethwa Paramountcy

Post-colonial eras

Economy

The region is distinct from the rest of Africa, with some of its main exports including platinum, diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt 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, [6] [7] 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. In terms of economic strength, South Africa is by far the dominant power of the region. South Africa's GDP alone (estimated at circa US$350 billion) is many times greater than the GDP's of all other countries in the region.

Generally, mining, agriculture and tourism sectors dominate the economies of Southern African countries, apart from South Africa which has a mature and flourishing financial sector, retail sector, and construction sector. Most global banks have their regional offices for Southern Africa based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the years, some the other Southern African nations have invested in economic diversification, and invested public funds into rail, road and air transportation as part of a concerted effort through SADC to boost regional trade and improve communication and transportation. The countries in this region also belong to the Southern Africa Power Pool, which facilitates the development of a competitive electricity market within the SADC region and ensures sustainable energy developments through sound economic, environmental and social practices. The main objective of the power pool is to develop a world class, robust and safe interconnected electrical system across the Southern African Region. According to a report by Southern Africa Power Pool, the three largest producers of electricity in Southern Africa as at 2017, include Eskom in South Africa with an estimated 46,963MW, Zesco in Zambia with 2,877MW and SNL of Angola with 2,442MW.

Environment

Southern Africa has a wide diversity of ecoregions including grassland, bushveld, karoo, savannah and riparian zones. Even though considerable disturbance has occurred in some regions from habitat loss due to human overpopulation or export-focused development, there remain significant numbers of various wildlife species, including white rhino, lion, [8] African leopard, impala, kudu, blue wildebeest, vervet monkey and elephant. It has complex Plateaus that create massive mountain structures along the South African border.

There are numerous environmental issues in Southern Africa, including air pollution and desertification.

Culture

Art

Architecture

Clothing

Cuisine

Music

Religion

Film industry

Demographics and languages

Southern Africa is home to many people. It was initially populated by indigenous or native Africans San, Khoikhoi [9] and Pygmies in widely dispersed concentrations. Due to the Bantu expansion which edged the previous native African peoples to the more remote areas of the region, the majority of African ethnic groups in this region, including the Xhosa, Zulu, Tsonga, Swazi, Northern Ndebele, Southern Ndebele, Tswana, Sotho, and Shona people, BaLunda, Mbundu, Ovimbundu, Shona, Chaga and Sukuma, speak Bantu languages. The process of colonization and settling resulted in a significant population of native European (Afrikaner, British, Portuguese Africans, etc.) and Asian descent (Cape Malays, Indian South Africans, etc.) in many southern African countries.

Science and technology

Agriculture and food security

Some key factors affecting the food security within the regions including political instability, poor governance, droughts, population growth, urbanisation, poverty, low economic growth, inadequate agricultural policies, trade terms and regimes, resource degradation and the recent increase in HIV/AIDS. [10] [11]

These factors vary from country to country. For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has favourable climatic and physical conditions, but performs far below its capacity in food provision due to political instability and poor governance. In contrast, semi-arid countries such as Botswana and Namibia, produce insufficient food, but successfully achieve food security through food imports due to economic growth, political stability and good governance. The Republic of South Africa is a major food producer and exporter in the region. [12]

Data on agricultural production trends and food insecurity especially in term of food availability for Southern Africa is readily available through the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) - Food, Agriculture and Nature Resource Directorate (FARN). However, this data might not fully capture the reality of a region with large urban populations and where food insecurity goes beyond per-capita availability to issues of access and dietary adequacy. [13] [14]

Urban food security has been noted as an emerging area of concern in the region, with recent data showing high levels of food insecurity amongst low-income households. In a study of eleven cities in nine countries: Blantyre, Cape Town, Gaborone, Harare, Johannesburg, Lusaka, Maputo, Manzini, Maseru, Msunduzi (Durban Metro) and Windhoek, only 17% of households were categorized as ‘food-secure’ while more than half (57%) of all households surveyed were found to be ‘severely food-insecure’. [15]

Some factors affecting urban food insecurity include climate change with potential impact on agricultural productivity, the expansion of supermarkets in the region, which is changing the way people obtain food in the city, rural-to-urban migration, unemployment, and poverty. [16] [17] [18] [19] The issue of food insecurity in general and urban food insecurity in particular in the region is also characterized by an increased consumption of caloric junk food and processed foods leading to potential increase in the co-existence of undernutrition and dietary-related chronic diseases such as obesity and hypertension. [20] [21] In South Africa for example, while over 50% experience hunger, 61% are overweight or morbidly obese. [22] [23] [24] There is only limited data on the other Southern African countries.

As of early 2019, parts of the region are suffering from a period of drought. [25]

See also

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References

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Further reading