About South Africa
For your interest, you will find various facts about South Africa in the list below, on different aspects of our beautiful and diverse country.
Situated at the southern tip of Africa, South Africa has a landmass of 1 233 404 km² edged on 3 sides by a nearly 3000km coastline washed by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. It is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also wraps itself around two independent countries, the Lesotho and Swaziland.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GTM), one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, 8 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time and 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time. There is no daylight saving and no time-zone changes between South Africa and its neighbouring countries, or between the 9 provinces of South Africa.
South Africa has 3 capitals: Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Administrative and Bloemfontein (Judicial).
South Africa has been a fully recognised democracy since our first democratic elections in 1994.We enjoy a world class constitution, which protects a wide scope of human rights, upheld by a judiciary with full independence. The country is headed by a State President, Jacob Zuma (ANC).
South Africa has achieved steady economic growth in gross domestic product (GDP) since the late 90s. The country, regarded as an emerging market, has a well-developed financial sector and active stock exchange, rated as the 15th largest in the world in terms of market capitalisation.
Tourism constitutes a large part of South Africa’s GDP and is considered to be one of the fastest growing sectors with a steady annual growth. The tourism industry is well-established within the country offering a wide range of various types of tourism including adventure, sport, nature and wildlife travel, business and medical tourism among others and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism. Nature and wildlife travel is the biggest attraction within the leisure travel sector of the market
The South African has a population of more than 49m people. Africans are in the majority, making up about 80% of the population, followed by the white population (4,4m); the coloured population (4,2m) and the Indian/Asian population (1,2m), with other minority groups making up the balance.
South Africa’s currency is the rand, which offers visitors great value for money, with the rand being weaker than most foreign currencies including the Dollar, Pound, Euro and Australian Dollar. The rand comes in a range of coins; 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5 (R1 = 100 cents) and note denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.
South Africa has a temperate climate and is known for its long sunny days, with the highest amount of sunshine hours per day (8.5hrs) compared with the rest of world. Most of the provinces experience summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape (winter rainfall). With an annual rainfall of about 464mm, this is just under half the global average. Winter is from May to August and is generally mild and dry; Spring is from September to October; Summer from November to February and Autumn is from March to April.
South Africa has an exceptionally well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cell-phone providers provide national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas.
There are 9 provinces making up South Africa: Eastern Cape, Orange Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
The South African flag is South Africa’s main symbol. There are various other national emblems: National bird: blue crane; National animal: the springbok; National fish: Galjoen; National flower: Protea and National tree: the Yellowwood.
South Africa has 11 official languages including: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. English is however widely spoken in most parts of the country.
Christianity constitutes almost 80% of the population. Other major religions include Hindu, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. There are a minority who are not aligned to any major religions. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.
Animals and Plants
South Africa is home to a diverse variety of animal, bird and plant species and has been declared one of the 18 mega-diverse destinations in the world. As a pioneer and leader in responsible tourism, South Africa has many protected wildlife areas around the country both private and national, which span across borders into neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique, along with numerous conservation projects to protect our natural heritage, The country is home to the famous Big Five (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo), which can be seen at many of the National and Provincial Parks and Private Game Reserves and Lodges.
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC, 50 HZ. 3 pronged plugs are the universal fitting. Electricity is available almost everywhere, with a few exceptions in deep rural areas.
There are 3 major international airports in South Africa: OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport (Durban).These airports cater to International and Domestic commercial flights as well as private charters. The airport infrastructure includes 90 regional airports around the country.
South Africa has an extensive road infrastructure spanning the country. These include national highways and secondary roads. Most national roads are operated and maintained by tolling concessions. Speed limits are set at 120 kilometres on highways; 100 kilometres on secondary roads and 60 kilometres in urban areas.
Health care in South Africa is for the most part of an extremely high standard especially in private facilities with many world-class private hospitals and medical centres, as well as Government hospitals and clinics around the country, especially in the urban centres. Since South African surgeon Professor Chris Barnard performed the 1st successful heart transplant in 1967, South Africa has been well renowned for its medical skill, with many world class physicians and specialists working around the country in various medical facilities.