DIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA
A short overview of South Africa by the SA Tourism department
DIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is to be found at the Southern tip of Africa, there where the Atlantic and Indian oceans come together. It features an incredibly diverse and awe-inspiring landscape, along with a high degree of bio-diversity. Almost all of the interior consists of one enormous plateau, separated from the country's extensive seaboard by long mountain ranges.
As far as the administrative structure of our country is concerned, it consists of 5 regions, 9 provinces and three capitals. The latter being cities of Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, acting respectively as the administrative, legislative and judicial capital.
The economic and commercial center is Johannesburg, the country's largest city. An excellent road and rail network connects all the major centers together.
One has to feel and live the rhythm of the country's new rainbow culture, a melting pot of European, African, Indian and many other cultures put together. From ancient rock art sites to modern galleries, from cultural villages to museums, from open air festivals to jazz clubs and many more.
Venues ranging from deep bushveld to outdoor theaters, from botanical gardens to luxurious theater complexes and night clubs. These are some of the ways you can live, feel and experience our South African culture. There are all together seven World Heritage sites, proclaimed by Unesco's world heritage committee as "places of outstanding value to humanity".
Bushmen family, descendants of South Africa's original inhabitants. The San people, also known as "Bushmen", are the earliest inhabitants of not only South Africa, but of the whole of Southern Africa. It is said that they have been living in these parts of Africa from as early as 30,000 years ago. Today their descendants are still to be found in some of the semi-desert areas of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. According to Geneticists the San people have one of the oldest gene patterns ever identified.
Bushman family, descendants of South Africa's original inhabitants
South Africa is home to around 49 million people, a population of highly diverse origins, backgrounds and cultures. It is here at the aptly named "Cradle of Humankind" near Johannesburg where signs of the very first population can be seen in the form of 3.5 million year old human fossils.
Its population can be identified as follows; 79% Black, 9,6% White, 8,9% Colored and 2,5% Indian/Asian. Since its discovery, the earliest known populations were the tribesman of the San and Khoi people, commonly referred to as the KhoiSan. Even while they do have decedents in our modern day population, the KhoiSan people are sadly on the verge of extinction.
South Africa has 11 official languages and scores of unofficial ones besides. Some of these are mutually understood, with many South Africans speaking more than one besides their own language.
Although each language is equal in status towards the other, the English language has emerged as the most widely used of them all. Next to its use as the main medium of instruction in Universities and Schools, it is also being used in official documents, on road signs and in commerce and industry. In addition to their own language, almost all South Africans speak and understand English.
Weather & Climate,...
In general South Africa is blessed with a lovely and mild climate, comprising gorgeously sunny and warm weather, without being sweltering, and with mild winters. Do take note of the fact that the South African seasons are the reverse to those in the northern hemisphere. So yes, you can spend Christmas on the beach in our country.
The regions with the most distinctive patterns with regard to climate and weather conditions are:
The interior and northern parts of the country with very warm summertime days cooled down by regular afternoon thunder showers, and crispy cool but sunny winters.
The south eastern and eastern coastal region with its subtropical beach weather and moderate winters.
The Western cape with its changeable mediterranean type of climats, consisting of windy springs, warm summers and wet chilly winters.
Flora & Fauna,...
Endless savanna's interspersed with hills and occasionally mountains, covered with a dispersion of shrubs and thorn trees of varying densities, is typical of the picture that one usually thinks of when the words "South African flora" are mentioned. The type of picture that most South Africans keep close to their hearts. But there is more to it....
One of the remarkable facts about South Africa is its level of bio-diversity, which is among the highest worldwide with an astonishing variety of plants, encompassing 22,000 species, many of them indigenous. The fact that our country is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom to be found in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces, makes it the only country in the world that has a complete floral kingdom within its borders. Home to 8,600 species, of which over 6,000 are indigenous, the Cape Peninsula alone contains a greater diversity of floral species than the entire Great Britain.
South Africa is home to a staggering number of animal species, including over 300 species of animals, over 500 species of birds, more than 100 species of reptiles and countless species of insects. There can be little doubt that the "Big Five" (Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Rhino), are the most prominent four-legged members of its fauna. The time that massive herds of Zebra, Wildebeest (Gnu's), Giraffes, impalas and numerous other species filled the savannas of Africa is, sad to say, long past.
To protect their heritage, it has a long standing record of conserving, protecting and rehabilitating its highly diverse animal population. Reserves and National Parks perform a key-role in this, providing safe havens for the wildlife and great tourist attractions for their visitors.
Not to be outdone by the land crawlers, the marine life is equally exotic, boasting about 2000 fish species, comprising 16% of the total number of fish species worldwide. Probably the most spectacular and terrifying of these is the great White Shark. There is an abundance of bird species and snakes are a common occurrence in most parts of the country.
The industrialization of south Africa commenced with the discovery of gold in 1886 on the Witwatersrand. Together with the earlier discovery of diamonds it formed the foundation on which it into the economic power station of Africa as it is today.
With a GDP that is equal to 25% of the total GDP of the whole of Africa. South Africa's highly developed financial and physical infrastructure presents the perfect investment platform for access and entrance into markets of other African countries.
Mining is one of the biggest economic cornerstones of our economy, especially platinum, gold and diamonds, accompanied by manufacturing which adds value to the wealth of minerals and base materials.
Tourism is another economic factor which adds to the country's booming growth, and it is quickly becoming one of the most favorite travel destinations as it draws more positive attention to itself. The 2010 World Cup proved that South Africa has unlimited potential for future investors.
Comprising 28 000 schools, 386 000 teachers and 12 million learners, the country has a well-developed first world standard education system. Of all the schools, which include 1200 registered private schools and 390 special needs schools, six thousand are secondary schools, while the others are primary schools.
With an enrollment of over a million students, the countries higher education domain which includes 21 Universities, 15 Technicons, is very much alive and dynamic. They are independent, reporting to their own governing bodies rather than being controlled by government. Many of our universities are world-class academic institutions, at the forefront of scientific research in a number of spheres.
South Africa is very fortunate to have a climate that is perfectly suited for outdoor sporting activities. It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of South Africans have always had a great passion for sport, taking their country to become one of the top performers in the world It is common knowledge that sport has been a major contributing factor in uniting the country and its people going through the transformation from Apartheid to a new totally free democracy.
Rugby, Cricket and Football (Soccer) are but a few of the major sports that the country has excelled in. For close on a century, it has regularly fielded teams of world-beating class. Soccer has endeared itself mostly to the black population, and young and old can be seen getting very animated over it. Even while it is famous for its feats in these popular sports, the country has also delivered over-achievers in the world of boxing, golf, swimming and marathons.
The country has proved itself on an international level many times over, not just with its athletic prowess, but also by hosting international sporting events. The 1995 Rugby World Cup, and the famous 2010 Football Championship were a huge success.
SOUTH AFRICA TOURISM