South  Africa


Area: 1,300.000 sq km

Population: more than 44 million

Capital: Pretoria : administrative, Cape Town : legislative

Geography: The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern end of the African continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and is bordered to the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland and totally encloses Lesotho. South Africa has three major geographical regions, namely plateau, mountains and the coastal belt. The high plateau has sharp escarpments which rise above the plains, or veld. Despite two major river systems, the Limpopo and the Orange, most of the plateau lacks surface water. Along the coastline are sandy beaches and rocky coves, and the vegetation is shrublike. The mountainous regions which run along the coastline from the Cape of Good Hope to the Limpopo Valley in the northeast of the country are split into the Drakensberg, Nuweveldberg and Stormberg ranges.

Government: Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1910. Head of State and Government: President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki since 1999.

Language: The official languages are Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

Religion: Most inhabitants profess Christianity of some form and belong to either Catholic, Anglican and other protestant denominations, Afrikaner Calvinist churches or African independent churches. There are also significant Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities, and traditional beliefs are still practised widely, sometimes in conjunction with Christianity.


In general, South Africa has a perennially sunny climate, but the sun can be extremely fierce. The use of a hat and sun screen is recommended. Midwinter occurs in July, midsummer in December and January. Climate ranges from Mediterranean in the Cape Peninsula to sub-tropical on the Kwazulu-Natal coast and in the North-Eastern interior, temperate conditions prevail on the Highveld. Days of sunshine range from 265 days a year in Johannesburg to 197 days in Durban.
South Africa has a mostly temperate and pleasant climate, with lovely warm sunny days most of the year. Being in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to those experienced in Europe and North America so, they spend Christmas on the beach. Generally, summer is from November to February and, over most of the country, is characterised by hot weather with afternoon thunderstorms which clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African, smell in the air. The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is the opposite and gets its rain in winter


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