South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to
the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of
Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland; and it surrounds the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in
Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with close to 56 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost
country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic
groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (white),
Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
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. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans; English
reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though it is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. 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. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in
the country's recent history and politics. The National Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalising previous racial segregation. After a long and sometimes violent
struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists both inside and outside the country, the repeal of discriminatory laws began in 1990.