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Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, and the 33rd-largest in the world.
In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa.
Since 1961, the long formal name in English has been the "Republic of South Africa" and Republiek van Suid-Afrika in Afrikaans.
However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.
During the 20th century, the black majority sought to claim more rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's recent history and politics.
Other sites include Swartkrans, Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa.
Raymond Dart identified the first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child (found near Taung) in 1924.