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THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA is a constitutional democracy whose basic laws are enshrined in the Constitution of 1996. The constitution transformed an apartheid state based on racial segregation to an egalitarian democracy. Reflective of the will of the black African majority, South African government has a strong central bureaucracy with a powerful presidency. The president is both the head of state and government leader. Modern South Africa consists of an ethnically diverse population of 43,586,097 (2004). The constitution recognizes 11 official languages and specifies nine provinces with defined authority. The South African parliament is bicameral. Citizens vote directly for 400 members of the National Assembly, while their provincial legislators select representatives to serve in the 90-seat National Council of the Provinces.

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