Welcome to the tip of Africa. 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 Far East, founding the city of Cape Town . This is where humanity began: our ancestors’ traces are still evident in fossilized footprints 80 000 years old, and in the world’s oldest rock paintings. Today, South Africa is the powerhouse of Africa, the most advanced, broad-based economy on the continent, with infrastructure to match any first-world country. You can drive on wide, tarred highways all 2 000 kilometers from Musina at the very top of the country to Cape Town at the bottom. Or join the millions of international travelers who disembark at our airports every year. About two-thirds of Africa’s electricity is generated here. Around 40% percent of the continent’s phones are here. Over half the world’s platinum and 10% of its gold is mined here. And almost everyone who visits is astonished at how far a dollar, euro or pound will stretch. Welcome to the Republic of South Africa. South Africa is a nation of 51.77-million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages and beliefs. Around 79% are black (or African), 8.9% “colored” – the local label for people of mixed African, Asian and white descent – 8.9% white, and 2.5% Indian or Asian. Around 280 000 people classified themselves as “other” in the census undertaken in 2011.There are 11 officially recognized languages, most of them indigenous to South Africa. Just under 40% of the population speak either isiZulu or isiXhosa. You don’t speak either? If your English is passable, don’t worry. Everywhere you go, you can expect to find people who speak or understand English. Summery, without being sweltering. In Johannesburg, the country’s commercial capital, the weather is mild all year round, but can get cool at night. Durban, the biggest port, is hot and sometimes humid, a beach paradise. And in Cape Town, where travelers’ flock to admire one of the world’s most spectacular settings, the weather is usually warm, though temperamental. If you’re visiting from the northern hemisphere, just remember: when it’s winter over there, it’s summer over here. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen; leave the raincoat at home. South Africa, on the continent’s southern tip, is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and by the Indian Ocean on the south and east. Its neighbors are Namibia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, and Mozambique and Swaziland in the northeast. The kingdom of Lesotho forms an enclave within the southeast part of South Africa, which occupies an area nearly three times that of California.
Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
The world is divided into six floral kingdoms. All these kingdoms encompass several countries, and in some cases, several continents. South Africa, which has a floral kingdom wholly contained within the country, is the one exception. The Cape Floral Kingdom has 9,600 plant species, 70% of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
Table Mountain alone has over 1,500 species of plants, more than the entire United Kingdom.
South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.
Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are tearing down fences between the countries’ game parks to create a 13,500 square mile game park, which will become the largest conservation area in the world. It will be bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan.
South Africa has a penguin colony, which thrives thanks to the cold Antarctic currents on the west coast near the Cape.
South Africa is rated 3rd in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water.
The Palace of the Lost City resort hotel is the largest theme resort hotel in the world as well as the largest building project undertaken in the southern hemisphere.