South Africa Basic Facts:South Africa is just packed with natural beauty, culture and wildlife. Many of these positive features were overshadowed by a repressive racist government. All that changed with South Africa's first multi-racial elections in 1994. South Africa is Africa's wealthiest country with good infrastructure, but there's still plenty of poverty. South Africa was the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
Location: South Africa is located on the southern tip of Africa, see map.
Area: South Africa covers 1,219,912 sq km (471 011 square miles), slightly less than twice the size of Texas and twice the size of France.
Capital City: Pretoria (Tshwane) is the administrative capital, Cape Town is the Legislative Capital and Bloemfontein the Judicial capital.
Population: Just under 48 million people live in South Africa.
Language: South Africa has 11 official languages (and plenty more are spoken): Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Religion: Christian 68%, Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5%, indigenous beliefs and animist 28.5%
Climate: South Africa's summers (November to March) are generally warm with average temperatures around 77 Fahrenheit (25 C). Winters (June to August) can get quite cold especially at night with temperatures averaging around 50 Fahrenheit (10 C). More about South Africa's weather and average temperatures.
When to Go: Best time to see wildlife is May - September. Best time to visit Cape Town and Western SA is October - March; best time to visit the North and Eastern SA, is May - October.
Currency: South African Rand, click here for currency converter.
South Africa's Main Attractions:
- Cape Town: The natural beauty of Cape Town makes it one of the most attractive cities in the world. Cape Town has excellent beaches as well as the impressive Table Mountain right in the heart of the city. The restaurants are world class, and so are the wines. More about Cape Town...
- Kruger National Park: Kruger National Park is Africa's oldest established wildlife park (1898) and offers one of the best safari experiences in Africa. It boasts the highest variety of wildlife in Africa which includes the "Big Five", hippos, crocodiles, giraffe, cheetah and much more. More about Kruger...
- The Drakensberg Mountains: The Drakensburg Mountains stretch the entire length of KwaZulu-Natal's western boundary, about 600 miles. You can enjoy hiking trails, bird watching, game viewing, horse trails, rock climbing and more. More about the Drakensberg...
Travel to South AfricaSouth Africa's International Airport: OR Tambo International Airport (Airport code: JNB) is South Africa's busiest international airport and it lies just 14 miles east of Johannesburg. Cape Town (Airport code: CPT) and Durban (Airport code: DUR) also have international airports.
Getting to South Africa: Most visitors to South Africa fly in to either Johannesburg or Cape Town. You can cross in to South Africa by land from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, bus services ply regular routes. More about getting in and around SA...
South Africa's Embassies/Visas: Most nationalities don't need a visa to enter South Africa as a tourist as long as your stay doesn't exceed 30-90 days. For a list of visa requirements per nationality see the South Africa Department of Home Affairs site.
South Africa's Tourist Information Office: Web Site: http://www.southafrica.net/ and E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
South Africa's Economy and PoliticsEconomy: South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.
History/Politics: Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in black majority rule under the African National Congress (ANC). ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 after President Thabo Mbeki resigned. Kgalema Motlanthe, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded as interim president until general elections scheduled for 2009.
More About South Africa and SourcesSouth Africa Map and Basic Facts
South Africa's Top Attractions
Best Thing To Do in South Africa
South Africa's Best Hotels
South Africa's Climate and Weather
2010 FIFA World Cup Information
CIA Factbook SA