"Over a decade after the South African majority gained its independence from white minority rule under apartheid, a system of racial segregation, the Republic of South Africa is firmly established as a regional power. With Africa's largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a diverse economy, and a government that has played an active role in the promotion of regional peace and stability, South Africa is poised to have a substantial impact on the economic and political future of Africa. […]. Its political system is regarded as stable, but South Africa faces serious long-term challenges arising from poverty, unemployment, and AIDS. […]. The country has weathered a series of corruption scandals, and continues to struggle with high crime and unemployment rates. Mounting social tensions related to the competition for jobs, resources, and social services led to an eruption of xenophobic violence against immigrants in mid-2008. The government and the private sector have undertaken a wide variety of construction and infrastructure projects in preparation for the upcoming 2010 soccer World Cup. South Africa has benefitted from steady economic growth in recent years, although economists predict weaker growth prospects for the near future. South Africa is considered to be one of the United States' two strategic partners on the continent, along with Nigeria. Bilateral relations are cordial, however, the U.S. and South African administrations have expressed differences with respect to the situations in Zimbabwe, Iran, and Iraq, and U.S. officials have articulated frustration with the South African government on positions it took while serving on the United Nations Security Council."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31697