About South Africa

South Africa is one of the most diverse and interesting countries in the world. Vastly differing combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer the traveller a unique experience.

South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent, bordered by northern neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It also surrounds the independent mountainous  kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland. It is flanked by the cold Atlantic Ocean on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the east. These oceans give the country its unique range of eco systems.

South Africa enjoys a temperate and pleasant climate. Summers in the Cape Province are warm and winters cool. It enjoys a high number of sunshine hours annually. The seasons in South Africa are opposite to European seasons, which make it an ideal holiday destination for Europeans wishing to break the long winter months. There is no time difference between mainland Europe and South Africa during European summer time and 1 hour difference in winter. There is a 1 hour time difference between UK summer time and a 2 hour difference between UK winter time so jetlag is not an issue.

South Africa is home to about 43 million people. They are a colourful population made up of many different tribes and cultures. Almost 77% are black (or African), 11% white and 9% "coloured". Coloured is the local label for people of mixed African, Asian and white descent. Just over half the population live in the cities. Three-quarters are Christian and most of the other major world religions are represented here.

There are 11 officially recognised languages, most of them indigenous to South Africa. English is one of these, and everywhere you go, you can expect to find people who speak and understand it. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. Road signs and official forms are in English. The President makes his speeches in English and at any hotel or place of accommodation the service staff will speak English.

Provinces and major cities
South Africa is divided into nine provinces - Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu- Natal, Limpopo, Mpumulanga, Northern Cape, North West and the Western Cape. Major cities include the economic hub of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the north, Cape Town on the south western tip, Port Elizabeth in the south and Durban on the east coast.

The currency unit is the Rand (R), with 100 cents making up R1. Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Changes. ATM machines are found everywhere. Most major credit cards are accepted. Petrol stations only accept cash or garage cards. Credit or debit cards are not accepted.


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