South Africa: Politics, Economy, and U.S. Relations [May 5, 2014]   [open pdf - 502KB]

"South Africa is a multi-racial, majority black southern African country of nearly 52 million. It held its first universal suffrage elections in 1994, after a transition from white minority rule under apartheid, a system of state-enforced racial segregation and socioeconomic discrimination. South Africa entered a period of mourning in late 2013, upon the death of its first post-apartheid president, Nelson Mandela. He is viewed as the founding father of the country's nonracial democratic system, the 20th anniversary of which was recently celebrated prior to national elections on May 7. South Africa is influential regionally, due to its political, trade, and investment ties across Africa and its active role within the African Union. It is viewed as a U.S. strategic partner in Africa, despite periodic foreign policy differences. In mid-2013, President Obama traveled to South Africa, among other African countries. Key issues addressed in South Africa included bilateral political and trade and investment ties, development cooperation, and shared U.S.-South African aims regarding similar issues across Africa, as well as democracy, youth leadership development, and peace and security. Congress has long been engaged with South Africa, notably during the anti-apartheid struggle, and with regard to post-apartheid socioeconomic development efforts, a key focus of bilateral ties. Since 1992, South Africa has been a leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid, mostly devoted to addressing HIV/AIDS and other health challenges."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43130
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