"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 remains a regional superpower and is considered to be one of the United States' two strategic partners on the continent, along with Nigeria. With the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the continent and a President eager to play 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. President Mbeki took a lead role in founding the African Union (AU), successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). South Africa, twice the size of Texas, has a population of 44 million, of which about 79% is African and 10% white, and a diverse economy. The South African political system is regarded as stable, but it faces serious longterm challenges arising from poverty, unemployment, and the AIDS epidemic.[…] U.S. relations with South Africa are cordial, and South Africa has benefitted from export opportunities offered under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA, P.L. 106-200). 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 expressed frustration with the South African government on positions it has taken while serving on the United Nations Security Council."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31697