South Africa


Following the first democratic, free and fair elections, held in 1994, numerous changes were made to legislation in order to correct the injustices of the past. One of the most fundamental changes in the political landscape, particularly from an economic and environmental perspective, was the Water Act (1998), which shifted ownership of water rights from the individual to the state, who act as custodians for the people. While the economy of South Africa is by far the largest in southern Africa, with steady growth since 1994; the government is subject to increasing demand for water to meet the needs of the population and the key economic sectors, while faced with limited, if not dwindling water resources.

There are four water management areas found in the Limpopo River basin in South Africa: Limpopo WMA, Luvuvhu and Letaba WMA, Olifants WMA and Crocodile (West) and Marico WMA (LBPTC 2010). With the exception of the Crocodile (West) and Marico WMA, the majority of the population is rural and the distribution of wealth is very uneven. 

Key Indicators and Data

Capital city Pretoria
Population (estimate for 2009) 49 320 500
Population density (estimated average) 40,2/km2
Population in the Limpopo River basin (2007) 10 720 838
Date of independence 31 May 1910 (colonial independence)
27 April 1994 (democracy)
Human Development Index (2009) 0,683
129th out of 182 countries
Access to improved drinking water sources (2006) Urban: 100 % 
Rural: 82 %
Access to improved sanitation (2006) Urban: 66 %
Rural: 49 %
GDP (2008/2009 est) US$ 506,1 billion (total)
US$ 9 961 (PPP-per capita)
Economic Growth Rate (est. 2008) 3,7 %
Primary sectors Agriculture: 3,4 %
Industry: 31,3 %
Services: 65,3 %
Main exports Gold, diamonds, metals and minerals, cars, machinery
Neighbouring countries Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland
Area of land in the Limpopo River basin 184 150 km2
Percentage of the Limpopo River basin 45 %

Sources: Statistics South Africa (2001), Limpopo Basin Permanent Technical Committee(2010), World Health Organization (2008), International Monetary Fund (2009)Globalis GVU UNEP (2009), World Factbook (2009), BBC Monitoring (2009), UNHDR (2008).


Coat of Arms for South Africa.
( click to enlarge )