Visit South Africa
South Africa, Africa's Tourism and Travel Jewel, is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems; Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game, The Western Cape offers beaches, lush wine-lands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho.
South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 24th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 58 million people, is also the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere, and the most populous country located entirely south of the equator (although Tanzania is not far behind). About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status
South Africa is located at the southernmost region 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). At 1,219,912 km2 (471,011 sq mi), according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, South Africa is the 24th-largest country in the world. It is about the same size as Colombia, twice the size of France, three times as big as Japan, four times the size of Italy and five times the size of the United Kingdom.
Mafadi in the Drakensberg at 3,450 m (11,320 ft) is the highest peak in South Africa. Excluding the Prince Edward Islands, the country lies between latitudes 22° and 35°S, and longitudes 16° and 33°E.
The name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation, the country was named the Union of South Africa in English and Unie van Zuid-Afrika in Dutch, reflecting its origin from the unification of four formerly separate British colonies. Since 1961, the long formal name in English has been the "Republic of South Africa" and Republiek van Suid-Afrika in Afrikaans. Since 1994, the country has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages.
Mzansi, derived from the Xhosa noun umzantsi meaning "south", is a colloquial name for South Africa, while some Pan-Africanist political parties prefer the term "Azania"
South Africa has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder Southern Hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. The climatic zones range from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the border with Mozambique and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.
The tip of Africa has been home to the Khoikhoi (collective name for Hottentot (derogatory)), Bushmen (San) and Bantu people for thousands of years. Khoisan or according to the contemporary Khoekhoegowab orthography Khoesān (pronounced: [kxʰoesaːn]), is an artificial catch-all name for the so-called "non-Bantu" indigenous peoples of Southern Africa, combining the Khoekhoen(formerly "Khoikhoi") and the Sān or Sākhoen (also, in Kitchen Dutch: Boesmans, or in English: Bushmen). Rock art believed to be of Khoisan tribes can still be found in many places throughout the South Africa. It is thought that Bantu tribes may have started to slowly expand into the northernmost areas of what is today South Africa more than 2,500 years ago the different cultural groups as we know them today had been established in the areas to the north, east, east central and south east of South Africa. The desert and semi-desert areas of the Western and Northern Cape provinces, as well as the western parts of the Eastern Cape province remained unsettled by the Bantu as the arid climate, limited seasonal rainfall, sparse vegetation, scarcity of natural resources and water could not sustain large migrations of people and herds of cattle.
The regions of the Karoo, Cape Peninsula, the Kalahari, Namaqua, Graqua and Bushman land gradually become "Khoisan" territory in South Africa. In these mostly dry areas, the "Khoisan" being already semi-nomadic, are believed to have not permanently settled as conditions of searching desert game and dwindling water sources during winter months, consequently determined their own migration. Not until the Boer "Voortrekkers" keen to avoid conflict with the Bantu (see next paragraph) came into these areas and established boreholes and containment ponds, could any permanent settlements be established in these regions.
In the southeast, the Zulu Kingdom would grow into a powerful kingdom under King Shaka, who ruled from 1816-1828, and was also known for being a brilliant warrior and military commander.
Today, with more reliable sources of water and modern methods of water conservancy, the agricultural activity remains limited mainly to sheep and ostrich ranching as these animals are better suited to the sparse feed and limited water.
If you are required to have a visa, don't arrive without one, as they are not issued at points of entry. If needed, you can extend your visa in South Africa. With an extension the total amount of time you are allowed to stay is 6 months.
South Africa has 11 official languages, namely Afrikaans, Southern Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda and English. Afrikaans is the mother tongue of the majority of the white and coloured population. Often Afrikaans is incorrectly called 'Afrikan' or 'African' by foreigners. This is very incorrect as 'African' for a South African corresponds with the native-African languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, etc. (and, of course, there are thousands of languages in Africa so no single language can be called 'African') Afrikaans has roots in 17th century Dutch dialects, so it can be understood by Dutch speakers and sometimes deciphered by German speakers. Other widely spoken languages are Zulu (mainly in KwaZulu-Natal - South Africa's largest single linguistic group) and Xhosa (mainly in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape), Sotho and Venda. This changes, according to the region you are in.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to South Africa every year to see the country's many natural and cultural attractions. From wild elephants to stunning landscapes, cave paintings, colonial heritage and bustling townships, South Africa is an enchanting land of contradictions and great beauty. Some of the best ways visitors can explore South Africa's natural scenic and cultural experiences, apart from private run enterprises, are provided by state-developed entities such as the various Provincial Park Boards and National Nature Reserves.
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