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General about SA

All kinds of interesting facts about South Africa

South Africa is in the south of the African continent. The country is divided into nine provinces; Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Free State. South Africa has a turbulent history, colonization and apartheid. Today diverse populations live side by side, although the gap between rich and poor is still clearly visible. Because of the great diversity of the population there is a mix of cultures, traditions and languages. The landscape is very diverse, ranging from high mountain ranges and wide rivers to dry deserts, savannahs and flat beaches and coves on the coast. There are several national parks and nature reserves where you can go on safari and the great diversity of species that lives here can be admired in the country

Location and capital

It is in the south of the continent of Africa, in the north bordering Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and to the northeast Mozambique and Swaziland. On the west coast is the Atlantic Ocean and on the east coast the Indian Ocean. The country of Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa.

From north to south the country stretches out approximately 1600 km and from east to west approximately 1000km. The total length of the coastline is about 3000km.


Society and history

The history of South Africa is mainly the theme of colonization and the so-called apartheid. It is estimated that South Africa was inhabited 20 000 years ago by the Bushmen. Then the European colonization of South Africa began, even though the Portuguese were the first who arrived in the country in 1652, with the arrival of the Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck. Van Riebeeck built a refreshment station at the Cape of Good Hope, on behalf of the VOC (Dutch East India Company). At the end of the 18th century, the British took control of the Dutch. Many whites had meanwhile settled in South Africa as farmers. Several conflicts arose between the British and the (Dutch) white settlers, the so-called farmers. The farmers had a lot of power in the country and the white minority determined the life of the black majority. This eventually led to the so-called policy of apartheid, which officially distinct between the whites, blacks, coloured's and Asians. The whites had more rights than non-whites. In 1960 South Africa became independent from the British. In the early 90's apartheid was officially abolished, thanks to the efforts of Nelson Mandela.

52.98 million (2013)

Over two thirds of the population is Christian, a small portion is Muslim or Hindu.


South Africa has 11 different languages, Zulu (24%), Xhosa (18%), Afrikaans (13%), Northern Sotho (9%), English (8%), Tswana (8%) , Southern Sotho (8%), Tsonga (4%), Swazi (3%), Venda (2%) and South Ndebele (2%)

The bulk of South Africa has a temperate climate with little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. An exception is the Western Cape, where a Mediterranean climate prevails, and KwaZulu-Natal and part of the Eastern Cape, where there is a subtropical climate. In the north and east is the most precipitation during the summer time, in the Western Cape is the most precipitation, however, during the winter season. Because of its location in the southern hemisphere it is winter in South Africa in June -  Aug and summer in Dec - Feb

Nature, culture

South Africa has a rich flora and fauna. There are high mountain ranges, characterized by deep gorges and rivers. The savannas consist mainly of dry grasslands, trees and bushes. Along the coast there are many sandy beaches and coves. There are over 20 000 different species of plants. Besides the so-called Big Five, or the elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion, many other animals live in South Africa, including hyenas, zebras, lizards, turtles, penguins and various birds. In addition, whales and great white sharks live off the coast. To preserve the flora and fauna there is a large number of national parks, nature reserves and protected areas.

South Africa is called the Rainbow Nation due to the great diversity of the population. The various ethnic groups have their own culture, traditions, customs and language. Generally religion, art, music and dance play a big role in the lives of the South African.

Cuisine: National eating tradition of South Africa is the braai, a barbecue outdoors. There are many braai places in South Africa, where large quantities of meat are cooked. One of the most famous culinary specialties of South Africa is bobotie, a meat dish, often cooked with herbs, eggs, chutney and nuts. Another famous dish is potjiekos, a stew of meat, potatoes or rice and various vegetables cooked in a cast iron pot on three legs.

Local dishes: Other typical South African products is rusks, a sort of biscuit, boerewors, a spicy sausage and biltong, salted and dried meat that is eaten as a snack. In addition, South Africa is also known for rooibos tea and wines which are produced. Another famous drink containing alcohol in the country is Amarula, a liqueur made from sugar, cream and the South African marula fruit.

Traffic and transport
Air Navigation Company: South African Airways and a number of low-cost carriers.

Public Transport: Between the big cities there are daily rail and bus routes. Given the large distances, the journey often takes very long. In the cities and surrounding areas minivans drive, which are often very crowded and sometimes old and poorly maintained. An alternative is the taxi. Official taxis, equipped with a meter, are a safe way to travel and must be ordered in advance.

Road network: The road network is extensive. A large part of the road is paved, and generally in fairly good condition. There are also several dirt roads. The maximum speed ​​is 60km / h within the urban area and provincial roads 100 and 120km / h, unless otherwise indicated by traffic indicators. Concerning safety is not recommended to travel after sunset.

In principle, an international driver's license is required. In practice, the English driver's license is often found sufficient because the language is in English.

Emergency number: 10111

Vaccinations: For up to date info ask advice from your local doctor.

Currency: South African Rand (ZAR).

Electricity: 220 volts, you will need an adapter. It is available at the airport, grocery and hardware stores. The world plug does not fit on the South African sockets!

Time Difference
Compared to the United Kingdom, there is in the English summer months, 1 hour difference. In the English winter months, the difference is 2 hours.

There are a few recommendations that you should keep in mind: Urban centres can be best avoided after dark, especially in Johannesburg. Behave as you would behave in any big city: be careful that you not mingle in the townships.

The road network of South Africa is ideal for the self-driving car, motorcycle or motor home. Traffic drives on the left. In large cities there are buses, but you can make better use of taxis. There is also an excellent train network in South Africa. There are some very exclusive trains like the Rovos Rail, The Blue Train and the Shongololo Express. You must make reservations far in advance. For long distances, you can take an airplane, there are many smaller airports. Some private game reserves have a private airstrip.

The voltage is 220/230 volts. An adapter is necessary. You can buy these at the airport, but also in various hardware stores and even supermarkets. The known world plug often does not fit the sockets in South Africa.

The main school holidays for the South Africans are from mid-December until January. If you are traveling during this period, we advise you to book your accommodation in advance. Flights and rental cars, campers and motorcycles get booked quickly during this period.

Provincial capitals:
Eastern Cape: Bisho / Free State: Bloemfontein. Gauteng: Johannesburg. KwaZulu-Natal: Ulundi. Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal): Nelspruit. Limpopo (formerly Northern Province): Polokwane/ Pietersburg). Northern Cape: Kimberley. Northwest: Mafikeng. Western Cape: Cape Town.

Tip: Do not try to see the whole country in a few weeks' time. (South Africa is 5 times bigger than the United Kingdom) Rather come back again!

50 Facts

50 facts of why you would be well advised to opt for South Africa as a holiday destination:

1. The Rand was the best performing currency against the US dollar between 2002 and 2005 (Bloomberg Currency Scoreboard).
2. South Africa HAS 55,000 high net-wealth people holding at least US $ 1million in financial assets (World Wealth Report 2008).
3. South Africa Has The 27th biggest economy in the world, with a Gross Domestic Product of US $ 254 billion (World Bank).
4. South Africa accounts for almost 25% of the GDP of the entire African continent, with an economy more than twice the size of the second biggest - Algeria. (World Bank)
5. Gauteng is South Africa's smallest province but Produces 34% of South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (Stats SA)
6. The JSE Securities Exchange is the 14th largest equities exchange in the world, with a total market capitalization of R2.3 trillion (JSE)
7. More than 12,000 'Black Diamond' families (South Africa's new black middle class) - or 50,000 people - are moving from the townships into the suburbs of South Africa's metro areas every month (UCT Unilever Institute)
8. The black middle class Grew by 30% in 2005, adding another 421 000 black adults to SA's middle-income layer and ramping up the black population's share of SA's total middle class to almost a third. Between 2001 and in 2004, there were 300,000 new black entrants to the middle class (Financial Mail)

1. South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa's electricity (Eskom)
2. South African power supplier provides the fourth cheapest electricity in the world
3. Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto is the biggest hospital in the world
4. Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
5. There are 39 million cell phone users in South Africa (International Telecommunication Union)

1. The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown by 200% since 1994, from 3 million to over 9 million in 2007 (Dept of Environment and Tourism)
2. The Singita game reserve was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveller)
3. The world's best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus in the Western Cape.
4. In 2002, South Africa was the world's fastest growing tourist destination. In 2006, South Africa's tourism grew at three times the global average.

1. South Africa hosts the largest timed cycle race in the world (the Cape Argus Cycle Tour), the world's oldest and largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon) and the world's largest open water swimming event (the Midmar Mile).
2. South Africa will become the first African country to host the Soccer World Cup in 2010 ... and only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby and Soccer World Cups.
3. Since the 1940s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.
4. In 1994, we won 11 medals in the Commonwealth Games. In 2002, we won 46.

SA Teaching the World
1. South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo
2. South Africa is the first, and to date the only, country to build nuclear weapons and the voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme
3. South Africa Constitution is widely regarded as being one of the most progressive in the world, drawing from the experiences of the world's most advanced democracies
4. The South African oil company Sasol has established the only commercially viable oil-from-coal operations in the world.
5. Two of the world's most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa - Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi's notion of "passive resistance" (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.

1. Almost a quarter of South Africa's non-interest budget is spent on education
2. The University of South Africa UNISA is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with 250,000 students.
3. Our learner to teacher ratio has improved from 1:50 in 1994 to 1:34 in 2004
4. South Africa's matric pass rate has improved from 49% in 1994 to 70% in 2004, but student's receiving university exemptions has remained at 18%
5. The first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.

1. Over thirteen million South Africans (a quarter of the population) have access to social grants (Department of Social Development)
2. Since 1994, 500 houses have been built each day for the poor and 1,000 houses per day have received electricity
3. Seventy percent of South Africa's population is urbanised

© South Africa: The Good News
To the best of our knowledge, these facts are correct.
If you have evidence that any of the above are incorrect or inaccurate, please contact us
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1. The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent
2. The Cango Caves near Oudsthoorn is the world's longest underground cave sequence
3. South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet
4. In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark.
5. South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, at the Vredefort Dome near Parys. The scar is 2 billion years old.
6. South Africa has the 3rd highest level of biodiversity (SA Tourism)
7. The Cape Hyrax's (dassie) closest relative is the African elephant
8. South Africa has embraced the concept of trans-frontier 'peace parks', linking ecological reserves across national borders

1. South Africa is the cradle of mankind
2. Afrikaans is the youngest official language in the world
3. The Western Deep Levels is the world's deepest mine at 3777 metres
4. South Africa has the world's largest deposits of gold, chromium, platinum and manganese
5. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West.
6. South Africa has the world's second oldest air force, established 1920.
7. South African Breweries (SAB Miller) ranks as the second largest brewing company in the world. It supplies up to 50% of China's beer.
8. South Africa has the second oldest film industry in the world
9. In 2007 South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was included in the Time 100, an annual list, assembled by Time magazine, of the 100 most influential people in the world
10. Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world, according to the UK's National Physical Laboratory

Fifty facts about a remarkable nation | Compiled by South Africa The Good News | Please feel free to publish thesis facts. Please credit South Africa: The Good News For more on thesis and other remarkable stories about South Africa, visit  

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