South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world.
Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer the traveller
a unique and inspiring experience. Here are the quick facts to get you started.
South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent, bordered
by northern neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It encompasses the independent mountain kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland and is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the east – giving the country its spectacular range of biodiversity.
South Africa occupies 4% of the continent’s total landmass, covering an area
of 1 221 040 square kilometres. The country is five times larger than Great
Britain and three times the size of Texas.
South Africa enjoys a temperate and pleasant climate, with lovely warm sunny
days most of the year. The seasons of the southern hemisphere are opposite
to those in the northern hemisphere so our summers runs from November to February, when most of the country is characterised by hot weather with afternoon thunderstorms.
Winters are generally mild and dry. South Africa enjoys one of the world’s
highest average daily hours of sunshine – 8.5 compared with 3.8 in London,
6.4 in Rome and 6.9 in New York.
Average temperatures in ºC
For daily and long-term forecasts for South Africa, visit www.weathersa.co.za.
South Africa is home to some 43 million people – a colourful population as
diverse in makeup as the country’s geography is varied. Almost 77% are black(or
African), 11% white and 9% “coloured”, 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, the service staff will speak English.
Provinces & major cities
South Africa is divided into nine provinces, namely Eastern Cape, Free State,
Gauteng, KwaZulu- Natal, Limpopo, Mpumulanga, Northern Cape, North West and the Western Cape. Major cities include the modern economic hub of Johannesburg, coastal Cape Town picturesquely perched between mountain and sea, historic Pretoria and the ‘sun and surf central’ city of Durban.
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the
year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, seven hours
ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time and seven hours behind Australian Central Time.
The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making
up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux
de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express,
Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates are accepted for most purchases.
Passports and visas
South Africa is in the process of revising its visa conditions. We recommend that you visit the South African Home Affairs Department website at: www.dha.gov.za for more information. Alternatively, contact the language school you are considering studying at and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
For South African missions abroad, visit http://www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm.
Value-added-tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists to South
Africa can have their 14% VAT refunded provided that the value of the items
purchased exceeds R250.00. VAT is refunded at the point of departure provided
eceipts are produced.
All information by courtesy of South African Tourism