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South Africa

South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent and surrounds the small nation of Lesotho. A variety of beautiful landscapes fill the country, from lush forests and breathtaking beaches along the Indian Ocean.

  • Population: 50,133,000
  • Life Expectancy: 52 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 91%
  • School Enrollment: 90%
  • Land Mass: 470,693 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 89%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 57/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 6,100

Facts about South Africa

Economic Development

Years of apartheid have left a mark on South Africa’s struggling economy. About 24 percent of South Africans are unemployed, and at least 50 percent live below the poverty line.


The HIV and AIDS pandemic is threatening the health of millions of South Africans. The country has about 5.7 million HIV-positive people — the highest in the world — and one of the highest prevalence rates among adults at more than 18 percent. At least 1.4 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV and AIDS.

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Progress in South Africa

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Worked with leaders to respond to reports of abuse or other violations against children's rights.

  • Helped farmers gain access to local markets where they could sell their produce and earn income for their children's education and healthcare.

  • Coordinated with the department of education to improve the quality of schools and encourage parents to send their children to school.

  • Created vegetable gardens to help families provide nutritious food for their children and sell their produce in local markets to generate extra income.

  • Worked with schools and healthcare workers to educate youth about the prevention and treatment of STDs, and HIV and AIDS, in order to help them make healthy, informed life choices.

  • Installed new water tanks for 32 households in order to increase access to clean water, reduce disease, and improve hygiene and sanitation.

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    World Vision in South Africa Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of South Africa to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 13,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in South Africa. Highlights include:

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    World Vision History in South Africa

    World Vision began a sponsorship program in South Africa in 1965 and opened an office in 1967. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Providing children who lack adequate nutrition and education with immunizations, education, clothing, and feeding programs since the 1970s.
    • Improving water sources and offering agricultural training and supplies during the 1980s.
    • Helping people suffering from drought and implementing disaster preparedness programs in the 1990s.
    • Reducing maternal, infant, and child illnesses and deaths by improving healthcare systems and raising HIV and AIDS awareness since the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent and surrounds the small nation of Lesotho. A variety of beautiful landscapes fill the country, from lush forests and breathtaking beaches along the Indian Ocean to the dry, grassy savannah of the interior plateau.

    Natural resources include a large variety of metals and minerals—such as gold and diamonds—and natural gas.

    The majority of the population is of African descent, with a small amount of European descent and mixed race. South Africa has 11 official languages, including English, Afrikaans (a Dutch dialect), Zulu, and Xhosa.

    Most people profess to be Christian, although millions still follow traditional African religions. In recent years, the Christian church has played a major role in the political struggle for equality.


    South Africa has a long history of European rule and influence. The Dutch East India Company brought the first European settlers in 1652, and Great Britain took possession in 1806. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886 brought more Europeans to the country.

    Following the Boer War between the Dutch and British, the Union of South Africa was established in the early 1900s. Racial tension, however, overshadowed the country’s progress over the next few decades. The National Party started racial segregation, known as apartheid, in 1948.

    The separation of races lasted until 1994 when South Africa held its first multi-racial elections. South Africa continues to hold democratic, multi-racial elections today despite lingering racial tensions.

    Prayer Requests for South Africa

    • Children striving to improve their reading and math skills.
    • South African youth who are the future of the country.
    • Families living in poverty to find the resources and help they need.
    • The recovery of people affected by the heavy floods.