South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors and a stock exchange that is the 16th largest in the world. The country is politically stable and has a well-capitalized banking system, abundant natural resources, well developed regulatory systems as well as research and development capabilities, and an established manufacturing base.
The economy of South Africa is the second largest in Africa, behind Nigeria, it accounts for 24% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in terms of purchasing power parity, and is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank; this makes the country one of the only four countries in
Africa in this category (the others being Botswana, Gabon and Mauritius). South Africa's Gross Domestic Product has almost tripled to $400 billion, and foreign exchange reserves have increased from $3 billion to nearly $50 billion; creating a growing and sizable African middle class, within two decades of establishing democracy and ending apartheid.
The major contributors to the $400 billion South African GDP are; Agriculture: 2.2%, Mining: 10%, Manufacturing: 12.3%, Electricity and water: 2.6%, Construction: 3.9%, Wholesale, retail and motor trade: 16.2%, Transport, storage and communication: 9%, Finance, real estate and business services: 21.2%, Government services: 16.7%, Personal services: 5.9%.
Ranked number 5 in the mining of gold, South Africa remains a cornucopia of mineral riches; it is the world's largest producer of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculite. It is the second largest producer of ilmenite, palladium, rutile and zirconium. It is also the world's third largest coal exporter. South Africa is also a huge producer of iron ore and world's third biggest iron ore supplier to China, who are the world's largest consumers of iron ore.
South African GDP per province;
Of the nine provinces in South Africa, three power houses stand out, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and Western Cape collectively contribute a significant portion to the country’s value added, reported at over 60%.
According to official estimates, a quarter (25%) of the population is unemployed, and runs significantly higher among black youth. This is a serious concern in the country being blamed on corruption and inflation.
South Africa's main import and export partners are; China, United States, Japan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom.
In 2011 South Africa was added to the BRIC group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), now known as BRICKS with the inclusion of South Africa.