Which Countries Are Part Of Southern Africa?

According to the UN geoscheme, Southern Africa is composed of five countries.

The African continent is typically divided up into five regions namely Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, Central Africa, Western Africa, and Southern Africa. Some of the criteria may divide the continent into four (by doing away with Central Africa) or they may include the Horn of Africa as its own region and end up with six subdivisions. The divisions are made based on certain criteria. Some divisions are based on the general direction of the four cardinal points, based on physiographic features, and a few other criteria.

Which Countries Are Included in Southern Africa?

Southern Africa, as the name suggests, is the southernmost part of Africa and includes a number of countries aside from the country of South Africa.

The landlocked countries of Southern Africa include Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, and Malawi. The coastal towns of Southern Africa are Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa. However, an argument can be made that Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique are in East Africa. Another argument is for the inclusion of Angola in Central Africa.

Based on the membership in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), an extra five countries are added to the list. These countries are Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Seychelles, and Mauritius.

Most of the time, in the nation of South Africa, a different geographic definition is used to represent the region of Southern Africa. This delineation views Southern Africa as the region of Africa that is situated to the south of the River Zambezi and Cunene. This description is mainly used for some educational purposes and not in any official usage since it divides Mozambique into two.

In the UN scheme, there are only five countries in the region namely Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland.

Agriculture and Food Security

A number of factors such as poor leadership, high rates of population growth, low economic growth, poverty, political instability, an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS, among other factors, affect food security in the region. Obviously, the situation is not the same in all the countries. For example, the political instability and poor leadership in the Democratic Republic of Congo have seen to it that the fertile soils and favorable climatic conditions are not fully utilized for farming activities. This situation is laughable compared to countries that do not have favorable climatic conditions such as Namibia. While such countries produce less food than is required for sustaining the country, they are able to supplement their reserves through imports because of favorable political situations, economic growth, and competent leadership. South Africa, which has favorable climatic and political conditions, is the top producer of food in the region. In fact, South Africa produces enough food for exportation.

An emerging area of concern in the region is urban food security. Recent data shows that low-income households living in urban areas are having problems getting food. A recent study that was done in eleven cities in the region showed that only 17% of the households were deemed to be secure in matters relating to food security. The bigger chunk, 57%, of the households were deemed to be in severe states of food insecurity.

Urban food security has proven to be a difficult thing to study. However, the studies that have been done have been able to show that factors that come into play include climate changes (which may affect agricultural productivity), poverty, unemployment, and a few other factors. The consumption of foods that have high calories and generally unhealthy is also a sign of food insecurity in the urban areas. Consequently, people eating these foods end up with problems such as malnutrition, obesity, and hypertension. An interesting case is South Africa. While half of the population experiences hunger, at least 61% of the population is mildly obese or overweight.


When it comes to the economy, the region is decidedly different from other parts of Africa. The main exports include diamonds, platinum, gold, and uranium. At the same time, it has similar challenges that other regions face. Similar problems it faces in economic development include poverty, poor leadership, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and corruption.

To fight these problems in order to advance the region economically, the nations have come together to establish international bodies that further that agenda such as the SADC. Individually, South Africa is, unsurprisingly, the strongest economy among all the countries. To provide perspective on the strength, the combined GDP of all the other countries does not even come close to South Africa’s GDP.

Culture and People

Home to many cultures, the region was initially occupied by native African tribes like the San, Pygmies, and Khoikhoi. Eventually, the Bantu expansion came and had some influence on the native tribes. Due to the Bantus, several ethnic groups such as the Zulu, Swazi, Northern Ndebele, the Shona people, Southern Ndebele, and other groups ended up speaking Bantu languages. Further changes were made after the colonials arrived in Africa. Native Europeans (such as the British and Portuguese Africans) and tribes of Asian roots (such as Indian South Africans) showed up in the region.

Geography and Environment

The landscape of the region is a bit varied with some areas being forested while others are deserts or simple grasslands. Expectedly, the region has places that are mountainous, coastal regions, and low-lying regions. Looking at the natural resources of the area, the region is endowed with the most expansive resources of platinum in the world. In addition, all the group elements of platinum namely chromium, cobalt, and vanadium are available in huge amounts. Other resources include uranium, diamonds, iron, gold, and titanium.

In terms of the environment, the region has several eco-regions that are full of diversity such as savannahs, grasslands, riparian zones, karoo, and bushveld. A significant number and diversity of wildlife remains in these regions despite the considerable amount of human interference that these areas have experienced. Wildlife species include the likes of white rhinos, blue wildebeest, elephants, impalas, velvet monkeys, and many more. Along the South African border, there are complex and eye-catching plateaus that make up enormous mountain structures. Environmental issues in the region that have become (or have been) problematic include desertification and air pollution.


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