South Africa is well known as the most economically developed African country. Despite its great natural resources of minerals and excellent business opportunities, however, the country is a place of great social injustices. The gap between rich and poor does not decrease. While some people live in beautiful and quiet suburbs in large houses, there are other people living in unprecedented misery in the poorer areas of large cities. However, South Africa is among the most dynamic economies in the early third millennium.
Geographic location, boundaries and size of South Africa. South Africa is located in the southernmost parts of the continent of Africa. All its neighbors are located in the north. South Africa is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. On the territory of South Africa is located also the small enclave Lesotho. The country covers an area of 1,219,921 square kilometers. South Africa is the only country on the continent, which has an outlet on two oceans – the Atlantic to the west and Indian to the east. They occur in Cape Agulhas, which is located in the southern-most part of the continent. However, many people believe that the place where the two oceans meet is the Cape of Good Hope, located near the city of Cape Town. The reason probably lies in its much greater popularity.
Relief in South Africa. The relief of South Africa is presented mostly by high plateaus. Lands with little altitude are really rare. The highest peak is called Njesuthi. It rises 3408 meters above sea level. South Africa’s coastline is slightly indented. There are no big peninsulas and bays. Most clearly distinguished is Cape Peninsula, where Cape of Good Hope lies. The place is located in southwestern South Africa.
Climate of South Africa. South Africa falls within the borders of two climatic zones – tropical and subtropical. Climatic conditions vary greatly both from north to south and from east to west. Tropics cover most of the country. There are two very different types of climates. Rainy tropical climate covers the territories around the east coast, because there goes the warm Mozambican current. It brings moist air masses and heavy rainfall on the east coast. In this part of the South Africa is located the city of Durban. It enjoys temperatures between 22 and 27°C throughout the year. Rainfall is moderate to heavy. In different months rainfall ranges from 40 to 140 mm. In the western parts of the country around the Atlantic coast climate is tropical dry. The reason for the dry weather is the cold Bengela current. It forms typical desert features of the local climate. Temperatures are high throughout the day and low at night. The days are almost always sunny unless in cases when appears dense fog, but this happens mainly around the coast, where daytime temperatures are not so high. In the tropics of South Africa, but far from the ocean coast is located the country’s capital Pretoria. People often say about the local climate that it looks like an eternal spring. Temperatures are between 19 and 27°C throughout the year. Rainfall is insignificant – between 0 and 70 mm. The reason for the pleasant weather of Pretoria is the high altitude – over 1350 meters.
Southern parts of South Africa enjoy typically Mediterranean climate. Summers are warm and dry with temperatures up to about 26°C and rainfall between 10-20 mm. Winters are mild and humid with temperatures around 17 – 18°C and rainfall mostly between 100 and 110 mm. Although the climate is mild, however it is not excluded through the southern parts of the country to pass hot air masses in summer and cold in winter. In this part of South Africa is located the famous city of Cape Town.
Economy of South Africa. South Africa is the richest and most developed country on the continent of Africa. Economics owes its progress mainly to the huge deposits of some minerals, including diamonds and gold. South Africa has a very important role in tourism development on the continent. The country is very attractive with its national parks and beautiful coastal towns. Standard of living in South Africa is more than the worldwide average, and the state is often said to be among the most dynamically developing countries in the world. However, in the country itself there are huge contrasts and the income gap between rich and poor is striking. The contrasts are most obvious in big cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria, where the misery in which lives the poorest section of society creates very big problems with crime. The official currency in South Africa is South African Rand. It is used as an official currency not only in South Africa but also in Lesotho and Swaziland. Furthermore, the currency enjoys great popularity in other countries neighboring South Africa.
Population of South Africa. The population of South Africa is about 44,000,000 people and continues to grow rapidly due to high birth rates. It is unevenly distributed on the territory of the country. Much of the South African population live in or around major urban centers. The majority of residents are black (about 80%). The Europeans in South Africa are mainly desandents of British settlers and are only a small part of the population. Due to the strong social injustices, crime among the poor members of society escalate to unprecedented levels worldwide. Robberies, murders, rapes and other crimes are part of everyday life of local people. In highest poverty and deprivation lives the black population. Communicable diseases and health problems caused by malnutrition are widespread. AIDS acquires alarming proportions among natives.
Transition from discrimination to freedom and democracy. After long years of apartheid in which the population of the country have been humiliated and treated in incredibly outrageous way, today South Africa leads one of the world’s strongest combats against discrimination and inequality. Symbol of progress and equal rights in South Africa is Nelson Mandela. Born in 1918, he lived in very difficult times and spent in prison 27 years of his life because it was considered as one of the biggest opponents of apartheid. Today in 21st century South Africa is a modern country member of the G20 and a great number of prestigious international organizations. It is one of the founders of the African Union, which is evidence that processes of globalization are now taking place in Africa.
Tourism in South Africa
South Africa is one of the most attractive countries for tourism on the continent. It has unique natural beauty and combines Mediterranean charm on the south with a classic African landscape on the north. Nature of the country is considered as one of the most diverse and beautiful in Africa. Here you will find high mountains, vast plateaus, dry and barren deserts, full of wildlife savannahs, tropical rainforests and beautiful coastline.
Fauna of South Africa is so diverse that virtually combines many of the species that occur on the continent in one place. This makes the country a unique place for safari tourism. Here you can see lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffes, antelopes, meerkats, crocodiles, rhinos, hippos and a huge variety of birds, amphibians, reptiles atc! All this natural wealth of South Africa is stored within the borders of 21 national parks, two of which are transboundary.
The most famous National Park in South Africa. The Kruger National Park enjoys the greatest popularity in the country. It is located in the northeast and possess the greatest diversity of species in South Africa. This is the biggest tourist attraction in South Africa. The park was founded in 1926 and for the concepts of average European citizen the area of the park is huge. In the widest part of the park it stretches approximately 360 km, which is more than many European countries.
Surf and sharks. In addition to its parks, South Africa attracts huge numbers of tourists because of its beautiful coastline and excellent opportunities for surfing. In most places in the country there are great beaches and ocean waves are often huge. This attracts surfing enthusiasts from Europe, America, Australia and many other places from all around the world. The beauty of South Africa, however, lies a great danger. While it offers some of the best surfing conditions in the world, South Africa is famous for something quite unpleasant – sharks. The waters along the coasts of the country are one of the places in the world with the largest population of great white sharks. The reason is that there are large seals colonies, which are favorite prey of this supreme predator. Although South Africa keeps an eye on these predators and makes what is needed to keeps the sharks away from crowded beaches, sometimes happens surfers or swimmers to become a prey and to fall into the jaws of predatory fish.
Cape Town. No doubt that Cape Town is one of the most famous and interesting cities on the African continent and if you really want to explore this beautiful country you must surely visit it. It is located in southwestern South Africa and impresses with its cosmopolitan spirit and atmosphere as well as a picturesque location between Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope, where meet dangerous ocean currents. Cape Town is the symbol of the progress of that modern nation and a place that has much to offer its visitors.
Durban. You have to visit also the pearl of South Africa – the tropical coastal city of Durban. It is famous for its endless beaches, skyscrapers along the ocean coast and exotic tropical vegetation. Because of the specific conditions which offers Durban, it could be called the African capital of surfing.
It is interesting to visit Johannesburg, especially if you are from the people who like modern architecture. In the largest city in South Africa you will find a lot of skyscrapers including the highest in Africa – Carlton Center. The building is 223 meters high. If you get here do not forget to climb to the top floor and enjoy the magnificent view, which reveals the city.
Cape Agulhas. Be sure to visit Cape Agulhas, as this is the southern-most point of Africa. Here meets the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and colliding currents create a veritable water hell! The sea is almost always raging. The few meters high waves crashing each other make the ocean water look like a huge washing machine. Cases in which ocean waters subside are a rarity, and when this still happenes it does not last long.
South Africa and wine tourism. In South Africa there are extremely varied opportunities for tourism, but what impresses most is wine tourism, which otherwise is not very typical of this continent. People associate wine regions rather with Mediterranean, Australia, California and Chile, but here it should be noted that South Africa is a great alternative and takes pride of place among world leaders. The mild climate, gentle sunshine and rich soil create the ideal combination of conditions for the development of the grapes and consequently the production of that divine drink. Vineyard areas of South Africa are located in the extreme southwest of the country where conditions most resemble the Mediterranean. In the center of the local wine tourism is Cape Town and more specifically its picturesque surroundings. Of course there are vineyard areas in more remote parts of the country to the north, but these are rather exceptions. Otherwise, near Cape Town is located the African equivalent of Tuscany in Italy, the Barossa in Australia or Napa in California. This is the historic district of Constantia, which is famous as the place from which was launched wine tradition in this part of the continent. In the vicinity of Cape Town there are excellent accommodation options in small, often family boutique hotels, where to taste fragrant varieties of wines while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Danger: High crime is a serious problem in South Africa and you must be very careful. Do not wear expensive clothes and jewelry when walking around the South African cities. You have to inform exactly where you could go and which places do not have to visit in the chosen destination. Do not miss also to inform about the necessary immunizations to make traveling in South Africa. In this African country there is a real risk for a person of becoming infected by diseases such as malaria, which is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites. Danger is also and the tsetse fly, which is a carrier of a dangerous sleeping sickness. Although this insect is much more prevalent in countries of the north, do not exclude the probability man to encounter the fly while on safari into the wild of South Africa.
When is the best time for tourism in South Africa? Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to its favorable geographic location, South Africa is suitable for tourism throughout the year. However, if you decide to travel to southern parts of the country and particularly in the area of Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope or Cape Agulhas is better to choose summer months when the weather is warm, sunny and dry. From October to April daytime temperatures are above 20°C and this makes weather excellent for walking and hiking. If you plan to spend more time in the northern parts of South Africa would be better to choose the winter months because the summers in the northern parts of the country are too hot. Note that in the region of the Kruger National Park from April to October (winter semester) temperatures are between 25 and 30°C in the shade and in summer is even hotter.
What clothes should I wear for tourism in South Africa? If you are planing to travel in the southern parts of the country from May to October you must wear a coat (warm anorak, vest or thin jacket). Wear clothes with both long and short sleeve and long pants. For this part of the year are suitable enclosed shoes. For the summer months from November to April will be better to wear light summer clothes and open shoes, sandals or slippers, because the weather is quite warm (like in Southern Europe).
For the northern parts of the country should be ready for very high temperatures throughout the year. However, do not forget to put in your luggage and warm coat, because the nights can be very cold (sometimes even below 10°C!).
What is a visit to South Africa if you do not go on a safari? For this adventure you must be prepared with strong and durable shoes and comfortable clothing consistent with climate conditions. And do not forget – wear enough sunscreen with high SPF, hat and sunglasses!