|Currency||South African rand (ZAR)|
|Population||55.4 million (2017)|
|Electricity||230±0 volt / 50±0 hertz (Europlug, Type D, BS 546, IEC 60906-1)|
|Time zone||UTC+02:00, UTC+03:00, Africa/Johannesburg|
|Emergencies||112 (police, emergency medical services, fire department)|
|edit on Wikidata|
The administrative capital of the country
The legislative capital and seat of Parliament. A world-class city named for its proximity to the Cape of Good Hope. Also within a stone's throw of South Africa's winelands. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, nestled between the sea and Table Mountain, it is a popular summer destination by both domestic tourists and those from abroad.
Location of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest court in non-constitutional matters. The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg became the highest court in constitutional matters in 1994.
Largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, third largest in South Africa and popular coastal holiday destination for South Africans.
The economic heart of South Africa and the most common entry point into Southern Africa.
Capital of Limpopo (formally known as Pietersburg) and a good jump off point for visits to the northern parts of the Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe.
Coastal city in the Eastern Cape with Addo Elephant National Park located close by.
Capital of the Northern Cape Province. Famous for its diamonds and "Big Hole".
Located in the arid Northern Cape province, this city is a good base when exploring the Kalahari desert and the many national parks located in the Northern Cape.
is exceptionally well managed and a favorite tourist destination.
in the heart of the Kalahari desert with wide open spaces and hordes of games including the majestic 'Gemsbok'. This is the first park in Africa to cross international borders.
Addo Elephant National Park, Marakele National Park, Pilanesberg National Park or the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
near Johannesburg is a must see for anyone interested in where it all started. A large collection of caves rich in hominid and advanced ape fossils.
just off the coast from Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.
province of South Africa
province of South Africa
province of South Africa
for its landscape, biodiversity and rock art.
Dome, remnants of the largest and oldest meteorite impact crater.
national park in South Africa
national park in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
transfrontier park in Botswana and South Africa
town in the Western Cape, South Africa
national park in the Northern Cape, South Africa
17th-century star fort in Cape Town, South Africa
city in the Western Cape, South Africa
island in Table Bay, South Africa
city in South Africa
town in the Western Cape, South Africa
South Africa is a paradise for anyone interested in natural history. A wide range of species (some potentially dangerous and endangered) may be encountered in parks, farms, private reserves and even on the roads.
- The Kruger National Park is exceptionally well managed and a favorite tourist destination.
- There are also a large number of smaller parks, like the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Marakele National Park, Pilanesberg National Park or the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
See African Flora and Fauna and South African National Parks for additional information. There are hiking trails available in almost all the parks and around geographical places of interest, Hiking in South Africa contains information on those.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- The Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg is a must see for anyone interested in where it all started. A large collection of caves rich in hominid and advanced ape fossils.
- The Cape Floral Region in the Western Cape
- Mapungubwe Kingdom in the North-West
- Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape
If you want to travel in southern Africa then South Africa is a good place to start. While you can fly into any country in southern Africa, most flights will route through South Africa anyway. South Africa is also a good place to get used to travelling in the region (though some would argue that Namibia is better for that). Of course South Africa is not only a jumping off point, it is itself a superb destination rich in culture, fauna, flora and history.
Outsiders' views of South Africa are coloured by the same stereotypes as the rest of Africa. Contrary to popular belief, South Africa is not devastatingly poor with an unstable government. Although the rural part of South Africa remains among the poorest and the least developed parts of the world and poverty in the townships can be appalling, progress is being made. The process of recovering from apartheid, which lasted almost 46 years, is quite slow. In fact, South Africa's United Nations Human Development Index which was slowly improving in the final years of apartheid, has declined dramatically since 1996, largely due to the AIDS pandemic, and poverty levels appear to be on the increase. South Africa boasts a well-developed infrastructure and has all the modern amenities and technologies, much of it developed during the years of white minority rule. The government is stable, although corruption is common. The government and the primary political parties generally have a high level of respect for democratic institutions and human rights.
Despite the problems the country faces, South Africa remains the strongest economy in Africa, and is the only African country to be a member of the elite G-20 group of major economies.
South Africa is located at the southernmost tip of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and along two oceans (the South Atlantic and the Indian).
The first permanent European settlement was built at Cape Town after the Dutch East India Company reached the Cape of Good Hope in April 1652. In the late 1700s, the Boers (the settling farmers) slowly started expanding first westward along the coastline and later upwards into the interior. By 1795, Britain took control of the Cape, as a consequence of the Napoleonic wars on the Dutch, and in 1820, a large group of British settlers arrived in the region. In 1835, large numbers of Boers started out on the Groot Trek (the great migration) into the interior after becoming dissatisfied with the British rule. In the interior, they established their own internationally recognized republics. Meanwhile, the British would defeat the Zulu Kingdom in the Anglo-Zulu War 1879, thus establishing colonial rule over the Zulu people.
- See also: 20th-century South Africa
Two wars for control over the region were fought between the Boers and the British in 1880 and 1899. The second war occurred after British settlers flooded into the area surrounding Johannesburg known as the "Witwatersrand" (white water escarpment) in response to the discovery of gold in 1886. The Second Boer War (Afrikaans: Die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog or 'Second War of Independence') was particularly unpleasant, as the British administration contained the Boer civilian population in concentration camps resulting in one of the earliest recorded genocides. Boer farms, livestock, crops and homesteads were also largely destroyed.
After peace was restored by the 1902 Treaty of Vereeniging, the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, consolidating the various Boer republics and British colonies into a unified state as a member of the British Commonwealth. In 1961, the Republic of South Africa was formed and SA exited the Commonwealth. Non-Europeans were largely excluded from these political changes as they had received sovereign lands in which to live under self-rule, in accordance with their own tribal legal system and hierarchical form of government.
In 1948, the National Party came to power. The NP introduced numerous apartheid laws to give a national/tribal, independent and sovereign "homeland" to each of the various tribes within South Africa, who were frequently engaged in raids and border wars against each other. The laws also implemented a system of institutionalised, or systematic, racial segregation and discrimination, and ensured a continuation of white minority rule over the black majority, and over Indian and Coloured minority groups. This move was welcomed by the majority of the different tribal kings and chieftains, as most of the tribes sought self-governance. But soon, apartheid became practically synonymous with racism and oppression as millions of people were forced to leave there homes under housing policies that enforced racial segregation. The African National Congress (ANC) was banned and forced into exile for conducting and plotting terrorist activities. Other political parties that were considered 'dangerous' and 'subversive' were also banned by the South African parliament during this time. South Africa became more involved in a war against communist insurrection on the former German colony of 'South West Africa's' border with Angola.
The Republic, despite experiencing rapid infrastructure development and strong economic growth until the late 1980s, also experienced frequent domestic uprisings in response to the apartheid laws. During this time the international community also installed weapons and trade embargoes against South Africa, and banned South Africa from the Olympic Games and most other international sporting competitions.
In the late 1980s, many white moderates began to recognize that change was inevitable, as international sanctions and internal strife were beginning to take a severe toll on South Africa. Thus, moderates within the security service and the National Party itself began quietly reaching out to ANC leaders to negotiate how to dismantle apartheid, which started with the freeing of political prisoners in 1990.
Political violence worsened badly during the early 1990s as extremists of all kinds attempted to derail ANC-NP peace talks in favor of their own visions of the future of South Africa. In 1992, 73% of the voting white population voted in a referendum to have the apartheid system abolished. This was quickly followed by a new constitution in 1993 and then the nation's first truly democratic election in April 1994, in which all South African adult citizens were allowed to vote regardless of their ethnic and cultural background. Former political prisoner Nelson Mandela was elected the country's first democratically elected president. The ANC won a 63% majority and proceeded to form a Government of National Unity with the NP.
Many region, city, street and building names in South Africa have been changed after the end of apartheid and some of them are still being changed today. These changes can sometimes lead to confusion as many of the new names are not yet well known. This travel guide will use the official new names, but also mention the previous names where possible.
The public holidays in South Africa are:
- New Year's Day (1 January)
- Human Rights Day (21 March)
- Easter weekend A 4-day long weekend in March or April consisting of "Good Friday", "Holy Saturday", "Easter Sunday" and "Easter Monday", the dates are set according to the Western Christian tradition.
- Freedom Day (27 April)
- Workers Day (1 May)
- Youth Day (16 June)
- Woman's Day (9 August)
- Heritage Day (24 September)
- Day of Reconciliation (16 December) - see Bloodriver.
- Christmas Day (25 December)
- Day of Goodwill (26 December)
If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, then the Monday following will be a holiday
School holidays occur early December to the middle of January, early in April, middle June to the middle of July and in late September. Most South Africans go on leave during these times and accommodation will be harder to find.
South African Tourism operates a number of offices in other countries. You might wish to contact the office in your country for any additional information or assistance
- Angola Travessa Rodrigo de Miranda, R/C N33, Luanda ☎ fax:
- Australia Level 3, 117 York St, Sydney ☎ fax: e-mail: email@example.com
- China 6 Gong Ti North Road, Suite 2606, Beijing ☎ fax: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- France 61 Rue La Boetie, Paris ☎ fax: e-mail: email@example.com
- Germany Friedensstrasse 6-10, Frankfurt ☎ fax: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- India Unit No.3, Ground Floor, TGC Financial Centre, Mumbai ☎ fax: e-mail: email@example.com
- Italy Via XX Settembre 24, 3F, Milano ☎ fax: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Japan Akasaka Lions Bldg, 1-1-2 Moto Akasaka, Minato-Ku, Tokyo ☎ fax: e-mail: email@example.com
- Netherlands Jozef Israëlskade 48 A, Amsterdam ☎ fax: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- United Kingdom No 1 & 2 Castle Lane, 2nd floor, London ☎ fax: e-mail: email@example.com
- United States 500 Fifth Ave, Ste 2200, New York ☎ fax: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org