The country of South Africa is a diverse and varied nation. As an international player in the economic and political system many comparisons between nations have been made. One comparison that is often analyzed is the one between the United States and South Africa. Though demographically the two countries are quite different there are several similarities worth note and of coarse the interplay between these two nations is a crucial point of analysis, for the development of a more comprehensive understanding of world relations. This work will compare the demographic structure between the United States and South Africa and will further discuss issues associated with cooperation between the two nations.
According to the CIA World Fact Book for 2003 South Africa is comprised of approximately 42,768,678 people, who live within a land-mass of 1,219,912 sq km, including the Prince Edward Islands, geographic entity roughly twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas. (CIA World Fact Book South Africa 2003)
The United States by comparison constitutes 9,629,091 sq km and has a total population of 290,342,554 (CIA WFB United States 2003). The United States maintains a population that is slightly less than seven times that of South Africa within a land mass that is slightly over seven times greater than that of South Africa.
The age structure of South Africa is broken down thusly: "0-14 years: 30% (male 6,460,273; female 6,377,090), 15-64 years: 65% (male 13,807,922; female 13,970,088) 65 years and over: 5% (male 864,441; female 1,288,864)" according to a 2003 estimate. (CIA: World Fact Book, South Africa, 2003) Conversely the age structure of the United States is broken down thusly: "0-14 years: 20.9% (male 31,098,473; female 29,675,712) 15-64 years: 66.7% (male 96,628,469; female 97,061,559) 65 years and over: 12.4% (male 14,888,185; female 20,990,156)" again according to a 2003 estimate. (CIA: World Fact Book, United States, 2003) Life expectancy at birth differences, that will be addressed later may owe to the only real statistical difference per capita between the percentages of those aged 65 and over in South Africa and the Untied States.
Religion in the South Africa is statistically more diverse than the United States, though like the United States has relatively high percentage of people who proclaim Christianity, in some form or another as their belief system. "Christian 68% (includes most whites and Coloreds, about 60% of blacks and about 40% of Indians), Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5% (60% of Indians), indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%." (CIA, WFB, SA, 2003)In the United States religious affiliation was broken down in 1989 thusly: "Protestant 56%, Roman Catholic 28%, Jewish 2%, other 4%, none 10%" (CIA, WFB, USA, 2003).
Geographic location as well as the diverse cultural configuration of South Africa and the fact that many more people within the country are what would be considered indigenous to the area lends to the greater percentages of non-European centered faith practices. Where as many faiths are practiced with in the United States those not relying upon what is known as the Old Testament only constitute 4% of the population, less than half that of those who proclaim to have no faith. Yet, it seems clear that more of the total population of South Africa proclaim affiliations with some form of faith.
South Africa boasts eleven officially recognized languages within the country including, "Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu." (CIA, WFB, SA, 2003) While the United States recognizes only English as an official language yet it also acknowledges that, Spanish is spoken by a relatively large minority of the U.S. population. (CIA, WFB, USA, 2003) According to one source English is spoken in an official capacity throughout most of the nation but ranks fifth in common usage.
According to the 2001 census isiZulu is the mother tongue of 23.8% of South Africa's roughly 45 million people, followed by isiXhosa at 17.6%, Afrikaans at 13.3%, Sepedi at 9.4%, and English at 8.2%. Setswana is the mother tongue of 8.2% of South Africans, followed by Sesotho at 7.9%. The remaining four official languages are spoken at home by less than 5% of the population each. (International Marketing Council of South Africa "South Africa: Alive With Possibilities.")
South Africa also has a slightly lower literacy rate, those over the age of 15 who can read and write compared to the U.S. 86.4% compared to 97% in the U.S.
The economic climate of South Africa differs a great deal from that of the U.S. In industry, labor and income. Many of the disparities are associated with the relatively recent disintegration of the Apartheid system of racial segregation and also the extreme losses the country is facing as the AIDS epidemic continues to grow almost unchecked within its boarders.
The unemployment rate in South Africa is approximately 37%, as compared to the U.S. At 5.9% as of November 2003 (U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics) "Although South Africa is regarded as a medium income country, it is characterized by tremendous social inequality and high levels of poverty, with 11.5% of the population living below U.S.$1 per day in 1993."
Binns and Nel)
Additionally Binns and Nel discuss issues associated with tourism, as an important indicator of overall economic health and as an important part of industry goals in South Africa " In 1998, the tourism industry contributed 8.2% of South Africa's Gross Domestic Product and 7% of total employment. Whilst this represents an increase from a GDP contribution of only 2% in 1994, it is still lower than the world average of over 10% (Roe and Urquhart 2001, 3)."
Binns and Nel) Tourism, as a special point of economic and international concern, between the United States and South Africa is predominantly associated with the elite, given the costs of international travel. The movement in South Africa toward regional tourism has historically been focused upon northern whites, from the United States and elsewhere, using regional attractions like wild game refuges as an international draw.
Binns and Nel) In the reverse travel from South Africa to the United States is also limited to the elite, often of European white decent. Migration patterns between the two nations can be said to mirror tourism trends, and are limited by immigration legislation within the U.S.
The U.S. And South Africa share similar governmental structures (U.S. democratic republic and South Africa a simple republic) both based in part upon the colonial histories of European settlement and government germination. (CIA, WFB, SA, 2003) and (CIA, WFB, USA, 2003) The United States and South Africa both belong to several common defense organizations and usually profess common goals associated with human rights and intervention, and have had strong diplomatic relations since the end of Apartheid. The United States is known to have been an integral part of the abolition of the apartheid system of government within South Africa, and for this reason the two countries have had warm diplomatic relations, over the last 20 years. Yet, it is also the case that the recent armed intervention in Iraq has caused considerable realignment in the European defense organizations (especially the UN Security Council), which South Africa and the United States each hold strong voices in. (U.S. Embassy South Africa Press Release January 28, 2003)
One striking difference between the United States and South Africa is the statistical prevalence of adults living with HIV / AIDS. In South Africa according to a 2001 estimate, 20.10%, or 5 million of the adult population is living with the HIV virus, seventh highest in the world. Comparatively the United States, has an HIV prevalence ranking sixty-fifth in the world at, 0.60%. Additionally, South Africa ranks highest in the world for total number of deaths associated with the AIDS epidemic, 350,000. While the United States ranks twenty-eighth with a comparatively small 15,000 AIDS…