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Union of South Africa

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UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA, a legisla tive union of the four self-governing colonies of South Africa, effected by the South Africa act, which was promulgated by royal proclama tion of Great Britain 20 Sept. 1909, and became effective 31 May 1910. The original provinces of the union were Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State. United they are bounded on the north by the former colony of German Southwest Africa, Bechuanaland Protectorate, Matabeleland and Portuguese East Africa, on the east by the Indian Ocean, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and the former colony of German Southwest Africa.

The area of the Union is 473,075 square miles, distributed as follows: Cape Colony, 276, 966 square miles; Natal, 35,290 square miles; Transvaal, 110,430 square miles; and Orange Free State, 50,389 square miles. The total pop ulation of the Union is 5,973,394 (1,276,242 Europeans), distributed as follows : Cape Colony, 2,564,965; Natal, 1,194,643; Transvaal, 1,686,212; Orange Free State, 528,714. The capitals of the four provinces composing the Union are Cape Town (Cape Colony), Pietermaritzburg (Natal), Pretoria (Transvaal), and Bloem fontein (Orange Free State). The principal cities, with populations, are: Johannesburg (119, 953), Durban (31,783), Cape Town (29,863), Pretoria (29,611), Pietermaritzburg (14,737), and Bloemfontein (14,730). The total imports for 1916 were valued at $188,622,000, and ex ports$104,237,000, the United States being credited with 15.7 of the former and 14.8 of the latter. The public debt of the Union ex ceeds $756,000,000. There are 8,924 miles of railway and over 16,000 miles of telegraph line.

Provision was made by which other British colonies might join the Union. Before the day appointed for the establishment of the Union (31 May 1910), the elective members of the senate of the Union to represent the respective provinces were chosen by the two legislative houses of each colony sitting together, and within six months after the date of the estab lishment the first parliament was summoned.

Under the enactment of the British Parliament it was provided that the new commonwealth was to be governed by a governor-general ap pointed by the king, an executive council appointed by the governor-general, and a Parliament of two houses, the membership of which was to be limited to persons of European descent. Ministers of state, not more than 10, administer departments. All the powers, au thorities and functions which at the establish ment of the Union were in any of the colonies vested in the governor or in any authority of the colony, so far as they continue in existence and are capable of being exercised, are vested in the governor-general or the governor-general in council, or in the authority exercising similar powers under the Union, except such powers and functions as are or may be expressly vested in some other authority. The command of the naval and military forces is vested in the governor-general. The seat of government is Pretoria but the legislature sits at Cape Town. A principal feature of the membership in the senate and house of assembly is the tenure of office. The first senate was made up of eight senators nominated by the governor-general in council for 10 years, and for each of the orig inal provinces eight senators are to be elected for 10 years by the two houses of the colonial legislature sitting together. The house of as sembly consists of members chosen in electoral divisions in numbers as follows: The Cape of Good Hope, 51; Natal, 17; Transvaal, 45; Orange Free State, 17. With the increase in European population the representation will in crease. The house of assembly was to continue five years from the date of its first meeting unless sooner dissolved. All money bills origi nate in the house of assembly, but the assembly may not pass a bill for taxation or appropria tion unless it has been recommended by message from the governor-general during the session.

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