This 144-page book offers a glimpse of every aspect of this diverse country called South Africa. This is a tall order, but Ritter is up to the task. Using engaging text and an excellent collection of color photographs, maps and charts, the author invites the reader to explore the history, geography, culture, politics and economy of all areas of South Africa from the sprawling Soweto slums to the lions and tigers roaming the wildlife preserves. Young researchers will find detailed geographic and climate maps, a list of world heritage sites in South Africa and an overview of land formations which include deserts, forests, pastures and an extensive seacoast. South Africa is one of the top three countries for biodiversity so it would be impossible to present more than a sampling in the chapter about Nature; instead, Ritter discusses threats to plants and animals, including poaching, pollution, and overfishing. The historical information concentrates primarily on the resistance movement, highlighting Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela; however, there are also discussions of the early Bushmen as well as European settlers and the slave trade in the 18-19th centuries. There is also a short chapter about the new constitution and the major political parties and leaders in the 21st century. Cultural information includes sections addressing original tribes and languages, sports, music, religion, media, and architecture. The economic discussion includes a brief look at mining, agriculture and tourism. Challenges in meeting energy needs and working within the infrastructure of an "emerging market" are also briefly reviewed. The final chapter views South Africa's future with a look at development goals for 2015 from the UN Millennium Summit. There are also summaries of the emerging middle class, health crises, housing issues and the role of education. Some useful facts are summarized at the end of the book, which also includes a timeline, additional resources and extensive source notes. Reviewer: Leigh Geiger, Ph.D.