The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region covers 14 sovereign states (Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), two of which are islands (Mauritius and Madagascar). The 12 mainland African states are linked by 21 river basins that cross international political borders, 15 of which are considered to be the most important in terms of socioeconomic development. The SADC region is characterized by a specific hydrological regime, arising from the fact that the majority of the area lies between the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and the Southern Ocean, both of which drive different patterns of weather and precipitation. To further complicate matters, the two dominant weather systems are also mediated by the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which introduces a further element of unpredictability into the equation. This biophysical characteristic is superimposed onto a set of countries, each with different developmental trajectories, different political histories, differing legal systems that reflect previous colonial legacies and diverse natural resource endowments. The ending of the Cold War has resulted in an attenuation of localized theatres of political instability, which in turn has meant that the SADC region is now set to grow economically into a more integrated regional grouping, possibly along similar lines to that of the European Union (EU).
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