Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and is widely regarded as the most socially and economically developed country on the continent.
South Africa has experienced a different history from other nations in Africa as a result of early immigration from Europe and the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route. European immigration started shortly after the Dutch East India Company founded a station at (what was to become) Cape Town in 1652. The closure of the Suez Canal during the Six-Day War exemplifies its significance. The country's relatively developed infrastructure made its mineral wealth available and important to Western interests, particularly throughout the late nineteenth century; then, with international competition and rivalry during the Cold War. South Africa is an ethnically diverse nation with the largest white, Indian, and racially-mixed communities in Africa. Black South Africans, who speak nine officially-recognised languages and many more dialects, account for slightly less than 80% of the population.