Why South Africa? South Africa is renowned and respected throughout the world for its innovative ways of solving challenges, its world-class business systems and infrastructure, its rich cultural diversity, and its sunshine and friendly hospitality. South Africa is a proven tourism destination blessed with amazing cultures, natural beauty and spectacular wilderness coupled with an excellent infrastructure makes it a great-value vacation.
Geography: Situated at the southern tip of Africa, South Africa has a landmass of 1,233,404km2 encompassed on three sides by a nearly 3,000km coastline washed by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered on the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also wraps itself around two independent countries, the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Climate: South Africa is situated below the Equator and is actually closer to the Antarctica Continent. South Africa has a temperate climate and is known for its long sunny days, hence the title: “Sunny South Africa”. Most of the provinces have summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape which has winter rainfall. Winter season is from May to August; Spring season is from September to October; Summer season is from November to February, and Autumn season is from March to April.
Provinces: There are nine provinces in South Africa, namely: Eastern Cape, Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal; Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
Capitals: South Africa has three capitals as follows: Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Administrative) and Bloemfontein (Judicial).
Political System: A well-known fact about South Africa is that since 1994 it has enjoyed democratic government and the apartheid policies of the past have been overthrown. South Africa’s constitution is regarded as an example to the world, and enshrines a wide scope of human rights protected by an independent judiciary. South Africa is headed by a State President, Jacob Zuma, of the African National Congress (ANC).
National Symbols: The South African flag is a much-loved symbol of patriotism and other significant national emblems include: National Bird – the Blue Crane, National Animal – the Springbok, National Fish – the Galjoen, National Flower – the Protea and National Tree – the Yellowood.
Population: The South African population of more than forty-nine million people is extremely diverse. Africans are in the majority with approximately forty million people (eighty percent of the population), followed by the white population of approximately four-and-a-half-million, the colored population at approximately four million and the Asian/Indian population at approximately one-and-a-half-million.
Languages: South Africa is a multi-lingual country and there are eleven official languages spoken including: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga. Composed by Enoch Sontonga in 1899, the Xhosa hymn “Nkosi Sikelel” iAfrika is South Africa’s national anthem.
Religions: Almost eighty percent of South Africa’s population is Christian. Other major religious groups include Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. A minority don’t belong to any of the major religions. The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship to all South African people.
Economy: A lesser-known fact on South Africa is that it has achieved steady economic growth in gross domestic product (GDP) since the late 1990s. South Africa, regarded as an emerging market, has a well-developed financial sector and an active stock exchange. Financial policies have focused on building solid macro-economic structures and the country’s central bank is the Reserve Bank of South Africa.
Currency: South Africa’s currency is the Rand, which offers visitors great value for their money. The Rand comes in a range of coins (R1 = 100 cents) and note denominations of R10, R50, R100.
Tourism: Since the demise of apartheid, international tourist arrivals have surged, making tourism one of the fastest growing sectors. The tourism industry is well-established with an exciting sector of emerging entrepreneurs. South Africa is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife travel and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism.
Animals and Plants: South Africa has been declared one of the eighteen “mega-diverse” destinations in the world. As a pioneer and leader in responsible tourism, South Africa has numerous conservation projects designed to protect its natural heritage – travelers can support and take part in many of these projects. South Africa is home to the famous “Big Five” (Rhinoceros, Elephant, Lion, Leopard, and Buffalo). In addition if you add the oceanic wildlife of the Great White Shark and the Whale you have the “Big Seven”.
Communications: South Africa has an exceptionally well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of mobile telephone providers offer national coverage and there are also several well-established landline telephone networks. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible inmost urban areas as well.
Water: Tap water is potable (drinkable). However, please ensure that you take bottled water with you when you are traveling to any remote rural areas and into the bush.
Electricity: The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. With a few exceptions (in deep rural areas) electricity is available almost everywhere.
Airports: There are three major international airports in South Africa: OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), Cape Town International Airport (Cape Town) and King Shaka International Airport (Durban) as well as ninety regional airports including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit.
Travel by Road and Rail: South Africa has an extensive road infrastructure including national highways and secondary roads. Speed limits are set at 120 kilometers on highways; 100 kilometers on secondary roads and 60 kilometers in urban areas. Recently, South Africa completed an integrated rapid-rail and bus network which provides safe, quick and comfortable commuting in Guateng province known as the Gautrain.
Entry Requirements: South Africa requires a valid Yellow Fever certificate from all foreign visitors and citizens over one year of age traveling from an infected areas or having been in transit through infected areas.
Health and Safety: South Africa is well-known for its medical skill since Professor Christian Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant in 1967. There are many world-class private hospitals and medical centers around the country, especially in the urban centers. Most of South Africa is malaria-free but you should always check with the game reserves that you are planning to visit and take necessary precautions. Make sure that you have the latest safety tips from the establishment where you will be staying and take common sense precautions as you would when traveling abroad or in the United States.
VICTORIA FALLS: It is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular natural phenomena and Africa’s precious wonder. First discovered in 1855 by the Scottish explorer David Livingstone, Victoria Falls has quickly become a tourist magnet. Victoria Falls are also known as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, or, “The Smoke That Thunders”. The Victoria Falls are 107 meters high (double the height of the Niagara Falls) and lie on the Zambezi River, on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. The immense water mass and great height has naturally gained respect and adoration for adrenalin junkies, who come to Victoria Falls for a variety of adventures to include bungee jumping, white water rafting, micro-gliding, helicopter and balloon rides.