The nation of South Africa occupies the southern tip of the African continent; to the south of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. South Africa has emerged from decades of apartheid which came to an end in 1990s to become the leading economy in Africa and a prospering, developing nation.
The country is blessed with an abundance of mineral wealth and is the largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium. Other major industries here are vehicle assembly, metal works, textiles, food processing, chemicals, iron, steel, machinery and ship repair. The country is also one of the most visited in Africa home to a number of game parks and resorts lining its coastline.
South Africa has a unique capital city system with Pretoria as the administrative capital (commonly referred to as the country’s capital), Cape Town as the legislative capital and Bloemfontein as the judicial capital. The country is divided into nine provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape, Western Cape.
People of South Africa:
South Africa has an estimated population of 44, 187,637 people. Major ethnic groups include; African (Xhosa, Basotho, Bapedi, Tsonga, Tswana, Swazi, Ndebele, Zulu), Caucasian, Mixed race, Indian and Asian. Christianity is the main religion here though Islam is also practiced.
South African Economy:
South Africa is home to one of the strongest and fastest growing economies amongst developing nations. The country is blessed with an abundance of minerals and is the largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium. Other major industries here are vehicle assembly, metal works, textiles, food processing, chemicals, iron, steel, machinery and ship repair.
The country is also one of the most visited in Africa and has a healthy tourism industry which features a number of game parks, world class hotels and resorts lining its coastline. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is ranked amongst the top ten stock exchanges in the world.
The Agricultural sector in the country produces: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products.
South Africa Facts & Figures:
– Location: Southern Africa, to the south of Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
– Capital City: Pretoria.
– Population: 44, 187, 637.
– Other major towns and cities: East London, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Upington.
– Religion: Christian, Islam, Others.
– Languages: IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, English, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, other.
– Currency: South African Rand (ZAR).
South Africa Currency:
The Rand (ZAR) is the name of the South African Currency. The currency got its name from the Witwatersrand ridge and was introduced in 1961 following the formation of the South African Republic.
The Rand is one of the strongest currencies in Africa and trades steadily against major world currencies. At the time of writing (August 2006); One $ US was equivalent to 6.86 Rand, One British Pound was equal to 12.93 Rand and One Euro was equal to 8.76 Rand.
One Rand is equivalent to 100 cents. Coin denominations exist for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1, 2 and 5 Rand. Banknotes exist for 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Rand.
South Africa Flag
The present flag of South Africa designed by Frederick Brownell was adopted on the 27th of April 1994 following the end of apartheid and to signify a new era for the country’s people.
Red is for the blood spilt, White is for peace and the country’s Caucasian people, Green is for the land, Blue is for the clear skies, Yellow is for the mineral wealth and Black is for the country’s African people.
South Africa Map:
People & Culture
Education in South Africa:
South Africa has some of the best education facilities on the continent. The country is home to a number of world class universities which attract a large number of students from foreign countries including; Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
Major Universities in the country are; the University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of the Western Cape, University of KwaZulu Natal, University of Witwatersrand, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the University of South Africa.
The country has some of the highest literacy levels on the continent with more than twelve million South Africans attending formal education each year.
Sports in South Africa:
South Africa is a major sporting nation both on the African continent and around the world. The country has over the years produced world class players in various sports including; swimming, golf, rugby, cricket and soccer. The country’s performance at the Olympic Games has been improving steadily since its readmission.
Sporting facilities in the country are of the highest quality and include a number of international standard venues. South Africa has hosted a number of major international tournaments including; the Africa Nations Cup in 1996 and the Rugby World Cup in 1995. Added to this, the country is set to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup; the first time that the tournament will be hosted by an African Nation. South Africa was able to fend of strong bids by Morocco and Egypt.
Famous Sports Personalities:
Ernie Els: nicknamed “big easy” Els is one of the world’s top golfers and has won the U.S Open in 1994 and 1996 and a number of tournaments on the Professional Golf Tour.
Famous Soccer Players: Lucas Radebe (Leeds United), Quinton Fortuin (Manchester United), Benni McCarthy.
Famous Rugby Players: Jannie de Beer, Gary Teichmann, Francois Pienaar, Naas Botha, Joel Stransky, Corne Krige, Chester Williams, Joost van der Westhuizen.
South Africa Cricket:
South Africa together with Zimbabwe are the only cricket playing countries in Africa awarded the coveted test-status. The country is one of the major cricket playing nations in the world. The national team known as “the Proteas” has participated at every Cricket World Cup since its first appearance in 1992.
Its best effort to date though was reaching the semi finals at the 1992 and 1999 tournaments. The Proteas also won the ICC Knockout tournament in 1998 and the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Some famous Cricket Players: Shaun Pollock, Hansie Cronje, Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini.
South African Football:
Football is the most popular team sport in South Africa ahead of cricket and rugby. The sport is played widely in the country and South Africa is home to one of the leading professional soccer leagues in Africa. The national team christened “Bafana Bafana” won the 1996 Africa Nations Cup played in South Africa. The Bafana Bafana also participated at the Fifa World Cup in 1998 and 2002.
Soccer in the country received a significant boost when South Africa was awarded the right to host the 2010 World Cup, the first time the tournament will be played in an African Nation.
Major soccer clubs in the country include; the Orlando Pirates based in Orlando, Soweto in the City of Johannesburg; Kaizer Chiefs also from Soweto and the Mamelodi Sundowns from Pretoria.
Famous Soccer Players: Lucas Radebe (Leeds United), Quinton Fortuin (Manchester United), Benni McCarthy (FC Porto), Shaun Bartlett (Charlton FC).
South Africa Rugby:
Rugby is a very popular team sport in South Africa. The country is one of the sport’s superpowers and is ranked amongst the best in the world. The national team known as the “Springboks” competes in the annual “Tri-Nations” competition against New Zealand and Australia. The team also participates at the rugby world cup and to date its most notable performance was winning the 1995 World Cup which was hosted in the country.
South Africa has five teams that compete at the Super 14s; a club competition pitting fourteen teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The teams are; the Durban Sharks, Central Cheetahs, Bulls from Pretoria, Cats from Johannesburg and the Stormers from Cape Town.
The Currie Cup is South Africa’s domestic rugby competition pitting the best local teams. Fourteen teams participate in this competition which features some of the best talent in the country.
Tourism & Travel
Car Hire in South Africa:
There are a good number of car hire options for visitors to South Africa. A number of established car hire firms such as Hertz Car Rental, Europcar and Avis offer car hire services in South Africa. There are also a number of local car hire companies in the country; many of these very reliable.
You can hire a car prior to your arrival either online or via your travel agent. Most of the country’s major domestic and international airports have car rental offices.
Car rental services can also be easily found at major towns and cities including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Umhlanga, East London and Port Elizabeth.
South African Airways:
South African Airways is the national airline of South Africa and one of the largest in Africa and the Middle East. From its humble beginnings in 1934, the airline has grown steadily and now offers flights to more than 700 destinations worldwide; with an annual average of more than 6 million passengers. Its main hub is the Johannesburg International Airport and others are the Durban and Cape Town International Airports.
Domestic flights: Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London.
International flights: Abidjan, Nairobi, Luanda, Mahebourg, Maputo, Accra, Windheok, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Lagos, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Lusaka, Harare, Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Dubai, Perth, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Zurich, Frankfurt, New York, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, Athens, Auckland, Ankara, Bangalore, Belfast, Barcelona, Bucharest, Budapest, Melbourne, Marseille, Mombasa, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam, Prague, Tel Aviv, Salzburg.
Flights to South Africa:
There is a large number of international airlines that offer flights to South Africa from most parts of the world including major cities in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The country has a well developed air transport infrastructure that can be compared with some developed nations.
Almost every major city including; Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Kimberley and East London are served by airports that cater for frequent domestic and international flights. The Johannesburg International Airport is the busiest in the country and on the African continent.
Major airlines offering flights to South Africa include; South African Airways, British Airways, Qantas, Air Malawi, Air France, Emirates, Kenya Airways, Swiss International, TAP Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Air Mauritius, Air Austral, Aeroflot, Delta Airlines, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Iberia, Egyptair, Saudi Arabian.
Tourism in South Africa:
Following the end of apartheid in South Africa, the country’s tourism industry has grown steadily over the past decade making it one of the leading holiday destinations on the continent. South Africa boosts a number of wildlife parks and reserves (most notably the Kruger National Park), beautiful cities along its coastline, a wide range of quality accommodation options, entertainment, resorts and clean sandy beaches. In addition to this, the country is amicably served by a number of international airports with regular flights from most parts of the world.
Cities and Resorts:
Sun City: this resort city is very popular even with locals home to the four key hotels; Sun City Hotel, Cabanas, Palace of the Lost City and Cascades Hotel. The resort is also home to casinos, golf courses, play grounds for children, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and concert halls where a number of famous international artists have performed.
Other popular holiday cities in South Africa are; Durban, Pretoria, East London, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Game Parks and Reserves:
There are a number of game parks and reserves around the country which are home to some of the largest wildlife concentrations on the continent. Key game parks in South Africa are; Kruger National Park, Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Pilanesberg National Park, Royal Natal National Park, Golden Gate National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Karoo National Park, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Willem Pretorius Game Reserve and De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Wildlife Parks in South Africa:
There are a number of game parks and reserves around the country which are home to some of the largest wildlife concentrations on the continent. A number of tour operators conduct safaris for visitors to the parks. One can tour on foot, vehicle or by hot air ballon. For those opting to stay overnight at some of the parks, accommodation is provided in the form of lodges and campsites.
Key game parks in South Africa are:
Kruger National Park: situated in the South African province of Mpumalanga, this is the largest game park in the country covering an area of about 20,000 square km. The park is famed for being the location of a number of interesting archeological findings dating back more than 1.5 million years. The key aspect of Kruger however is its large wildlife population.
Pilanesberg National Park: located adjacent to the Sun City resort in the North West Province, this park is home to a healthy wildlife population and more than 300 bird species.
Golden Gate National Park: this park in Free State is home to some very interesting rock formations, caves and a variety of wildlife.
Other Game Parks: Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Royal Natal National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Karoo National Park, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Willem Pretorius Game Reserve and De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Kruger National Park:
Situated in the South African province of Mpumalanga, Kruger National Park s is the largest game park in the country covering an area of about 20,000 square km.
The park is famed for being the location of a number of interesting archeological findings dating back more than 1.5 million years. The key aspect of Kruger however is its large wildlife population which features; elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, black rhino, giraffe, hyena, antelope, warthog, white rhino and more than 500 bird species.
Getting to the park: Kruger has nine gates used for public entrance. The park is easily accessible by road from other parts of South Africa. The recently opened Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport situated about 60 km from the park, caters for a number of regular domestic flights to Kruger. A private shuttle service is available and offers a reliable means of transport from the airport to the park.
Kruger is adequately served by a number of campsites, tented camps, and lodges including a number offering luxury facilities.
South Africa Visa:
Visitors to South Africa usually require a visa prior to arrival in the country. South Africa has a number of embassies and consulates around the world. You should consult your nearest consulate or for contact details view the directory listings below.
Your nearest consulate or travel agent can provide you with up to date information including; travel conditions, visa requirements and assistance with submitting an application. South African visas are available for casual visitors, tourists, business travelers and international students.
South African Embassies and Consulates in Australasia:
The South African High Commission in Australia:
Corner Rhodes Place & State Circle
Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2600
Tel: 02 6272 7300
The South African High Commission in India:
B-18, Vasant Marg
New Delhi – 110057
Tel: 91-11-2614 9411
The Embassy of South Africa in Japan:
414 Zenkyoren Bld 2-7-9
Hirakawa-Cho, Chiyoda-Ku, 102-0093
Tel: 03 3265 3366
Fax: 03 3265 1108
The Embassy of South Africa in South Korea
South African Embassies and Consulates in Europe:
Embassy of South Africa in Belgium and Mission to the European Union:
Rue de la Loi 26/ Wetstraat 26
1040 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: 32 2 285 44 00
Fax: 32 2 285 44 02
Embassy of South Africa in the Netherlands:
2596 CJ Den Haag
Tel: 070 392 45 01
Fax: 070 346 06 69
The Embassy of South Africa in Norway
PO Box 2822 Solli
Tel: (47) 23 27 32 23
Embassy of South Africa in Portugal
Avenida Luis Bívar, 10 1069-024 Lisboa
(Metro: Picoas, Parque, São Sebastião)
Tel: 351 21 319 22 00
The Embassy of South Africa in Denmark
Gammel Vartov Vej 8
Tel: 45 39 18 01 55
Fax: 45 39 18 40 06
The Embassy of South Africa in Russia
Granatny Per. 1, building 9
Tel: 7 (495) 540 1177
The Embassy of South Africa in France:
59, Quai d’Orsay 75343 Paris
Tel: 01 53 59 23 23
The South African High Commission in the UK:
South Africa House
London WC2N 5DP
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7451 7299
South African Embassies and Consulates in North America:
The Embassy of South Africa in the US
051 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 232-4400
Fax: (202) 265-1607
South African Consulate in New York
333 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212 213 4880
Fax: 212 213 0102
South African Consulate in Los Angeles
300 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel: (323) 651-0902
Fax: (323) 651-5969
The South African High Commission in Canada:
15 Sussex Drive
Tel: (613) 744-0330