About South Africa
South Africa is an amazingly diverse country with 49 million inhabitants. Although one finds the wildness of unbeatable game safaris and the vastness of the desert areas, we have first world infrastructure – well maintained roads, luxury train travel and frequent reliable domestic flights. Our ancient rock age history is sharply juxtaposed with 5 star luxury hotels, world standard guest lodges and well run affordable guest houses.
Whether your interests are wine, adventure, history, culture, architecture, game safaris, birding, whale watching, botany, cuisine or simply enjoying the beaches around our coasts or our plentiful nature reserves in a leisurely fashion, you can find it all and plan your journey to suit your budget.
Our exciting New South Africa, Nelson Mandela (One of 4 Nobel Peace prize winners from South Africa), and our rainbow nation have generated a great deal of interest in our culture and customs. With 19 different nations making up our population, this is a very rich area to explore. South Africa is 1219090 sq. kilometres, larger than Germany, France and Italy together – or approximately twice the size of Texas. Africa used to be part of the super-continent of Gondwanaland millions of years ago, joined with India, South America, Antarctica, and Australia.
A few interesting titbits of information on the Rainbow nation …
- We are made up roughly of 78% African, 10% Caucasian, 9% people of mixed race and 2.5% Asian.
- South Africa has a biodiversity which boasts one of the richest of the 6 floral kingdoms of the world, although by far the smallest. 23 200 species. 8500 indigenous species, 6000 found nowhere else on earth!
- Vast varieties of birds, both endemic and migratory. 900 bird species (10% of the worlds total on 1% of the worlds land area!)
- A sixth of the world’s marine species.
- The largest mammal – elephant
- The smallest mammal – shrew the size of a fingertip
- The tallest mammal – giraffe
- The fastest mammal – cheetah
- The heaviest reptile – leather backed turtle
- The largest antelope – eland
- The largest bird – ostrich
- The heaviest flighted bird– the Kori Bustard
- 6000 spider species
- 175 scorpion species
- 100 snake varieties
- The highest mountain in South Africa is Thaba Ntlenyana at 3 482 metres high.
- Religion – 75% Christian (mostly Zion Christian church), 21% none and 4% Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and African traditional.
- Sunshine – 7.5 to 9.5 hours a day (London 3.5 and New York 6.9)
- Government – We have a federal system with a central government and 9 provinces. Our legal system is based on Roman Dutch law. Our 1994 constitution is one that makes us proud as one of the most democratic and progressive in the world, protecting the rights of women, children, freedom of speech and religion and all minorities. We have a Bicameral Parliament re-elected every five years. Parliament and Legislation is in Cape Town, Administration in Pretoria and the Judiciary is based in Bloemfontein. We have a National Assembly of 400 seats, a council of provinces with 90 seats and the government recognises traditional leaders as well.
- Economy – Half the cars, phones, A T M s and industry of Africa is on 4% of the continent. With a GNP larger than Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya put together.
- Major Exports – gold, minerals, diamonds, metals, metal products and food.
- Imports – machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals and oil.
- Major trading partners – Germany, USA, UK, China and Japan
- Challenges – Unemployment, poverty, crime and AIDS
South Africa is better than TV.