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Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the Far East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which
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became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson MANDELA, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo MBEKI resigned, and Kgalema MOTLANTHE, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob ZUMA became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009. In January 2011, South Africa assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.

From the CIA World Fact Book
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Diversity is a key feature of South Africa. It is not surprising that South Africa is known as the "Land of Contrasts" when you consider that 11 languages are recognized as official; community leaders include rabbis and chieftains, rugby players and returned exiles; traditional healers and witch doctors ply their trades around the corner from stockbrokers; and housing ranges from mud huts to palatial homes with swimming pools and sprawling English gardens. With 11 national languages, you can imagine the number of people groups that call this amazing country home. With large numbers of people groups also come many, many religions. South Africa is officially considered a pluralist nation, meaning all religions are equally recognized and respected. Practically, this also means that many people who claim to believe and follow Christianity have blended their belief in Jesus with their beliefs in ancestral worship, witchcraft, or other cultural traditions.

South Africa is a beautiful country with a stunning landscape, fascinating animals, diverse people, and colorful cultures. South Africa is also a country with unique challenges. Although South Africans are very open to the Gospel of Jesus, they are also very protective of their culture and traditions.

A Look At HIV/Aids

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5.2 Million
Number of people living with HIV/Aids

3.9 Million
Orphans in South Africa (2009)

Prevalence of HIV among children 2-14 years of age

1 in 16
Children die before their 5th birthday

Percentage of all children living in poverty

Women who die during their pregnancy every year

Reported Cases of violence, abuse, or exploitation of children between 2008/09 and 2009/10

These statistics come from the
UNICEF 2010 Annual Report - South Africa

5.7 million
Number of people living with HIV/Aids

3 million
Number of women (ages 15 and up) living with HIV

Number of children (ages 0-14) living with HIV

Prevalence of HIV among youth ages 15-24 (2008).
This is down from 10.3% in 2005

1 in 3
Prevalence among women ages 25-29
(this is the worst affected group nationally)

New HIV infections

Aides Deaths

These statistics come from the
2010 UNAIDS Report - South Africa

Eyes of Africa
This is why we devote our lives to making an impact in the lives of orphaned and hurting children...If we don't who will?