South Africa has one of the continent's biggest and most developed economies. It is one of the most geographically varied countries on the continent, with a coastline that stretches 1,600 miles, vast desert plains and mountainous terrain. It is the world's leader in mining and minerals and has nearly 90% of the platinum metals and 41% of the gold on earth.

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and although the crime rate has slowed in recent years, problems persist in the densely populated urban areas on the edge of cities (called townships).

Poverty increased slightly, estimated at 19% in 2018. High unemployment remains a key challenge, standing at 27.2% in the second quarter of 2018. The unemployment rate is even higher among youths, at around 50%.

Bikes empower people and they provide cheap transport for people living below the poverty line, giving the more access to employment.

Facts

Population: 507 Million

Capital: Pretoria (administrative)

Area: 1.22 million sq km (470,693 sq miles)

Major languages: English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, Xhosa and Zulu 

Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs

Life expectancy: 53 years (men), 54 years (women)

Currency: Rand

UN, World Bank