South Africa

Travels in South Africa:

Nairobi Overland Safari (30 days)
From Johannesburg to Nairobi

South Africa - Overland Explorer (18 days)
From Johannesburg to Capetown

Southwest Explorer (24 days)
Capetown - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg

Southern African Circle Tour (24 days)
Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls, Kruger Park

South Africa - Wild Coast (6 days)
Hiking and biking trails

Botswana Safari (16 days)
Overland tour from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls

Mozambique Safari (17 days)
4X4 Explorer from Johannesburg to Johannesburg

Quick Facts:

South Africa

Official Name:

Republic of South Africa




1,221,037 sq km


English, Afrikaans, indigenous African languages


South African Rand (ZAR)


2001 Census: Black 75%; White 14%; Coloured 9%; Indian/Asian 3%

National holiday:

April 27 (Freedom Day)

Government type:

Parliamentary democracy

Climate and Geography

South Africa is located at the extreme south of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 kilometres (1,550 mi) and across two oceans (the Atlantic and the Indian). South Africa has a great variety of climate zones, from the extreme desert of the Kalahari near Namibia to lush subtropical climate along the border with Mozambique. It quickly rises over a mountainous escarpment towards the interior plateau known as the Highveld. Even though South Africa is classified as semi-arid, there is considerable variation in climate as well as topography. The interior of South Africa is a giant, mountainous, and sparsely populated scrubland plateau, which is drier towards the north-west along the Kalahari desert. In contrast, the eastern coastline is lush and well-watered which produces a climate similar to the tropics. The extreme south west has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers. This area also produces much of South Africa's wine and is popularly known as the Garden Route.


The written history of South Africa began on April 6, 1652, when a victualing station was established at the Cape of Good Hope by Jan van Riebeeck on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. For most of the 17th and 18th centuries, the slowly expanding settlement was a Dutch possession. Great Britain seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1797 during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch declared bankruptcy, and the British annexed the Cape Colony in 1805. The Boers successfully resisted British encroachments during the First Boer War (1880?1881) basing their tactics much better on local conditions. The British returned in greater numbers in the Second Boer War (1899?1902). The Boers resisted fiercely, but the British eventually overwhelmed the Boer forces. The Treaty of Vereeniging specified full British sovereignty over the South African republics. The newly-created Union of South Africa was a dominion. The right-wing National Party sympathised with Nazi Germany during the World War II, and sought greater racial segregation after it. By the National Party's election in 1948, the white minority were able to maintain their powergrip by implementing the policies that would become known collectively as apartheid. Apartheid became increasingly controversial, leading to widespread sanctions and divestment abroad and growing unrest and oppression within South Africa. A long period of harsh supression by the government, and resistance by various anti-apartheid movements, most notably the African National Congress(ANC), followed. Apartheid legislation was gradually removed from the statute books, and the first multi-racial elections were held in 1994. The ANC won by an overwhelming majority, and has been in power ever since.


South Africa has more than 20,000 different plants, or about 10% of all the known species of plants on Earth, making it particularly rich in plant biodiversity. South Africa's most prevalent biome is grassland, particularly on the Highveld, where the plant cover is dominated by different grasses, low shrubs, and acacia trees, mainly camel-thorn and whitethorn. Vegetation becomes even more sparse towards the northwest due to low rainfall. There are several species of water-storing succulents like aloes and euphorbias in the very hot and dry Namaqualand area. The grass and thorn savannah turns slowly into a bush savannah towards the northeast of the country, with more dense growth. There are significant numbers of baobab trees in this area, near the northern end of Kruger National Park. While South Africa has a great wealth of flowering plants, it has few forests. Only 1% of South Africa is forest, almost exclusively in the humid coastal plain along the Indian Ocean in KwaZulu-Natal. Plantations of imported tree species are predominant, particularly the non-native eucalyptus and pine. The original temperate forest that met the first European settlers to South Africa was exploited ruthlessly until only small patches remained.

This article is partly based on a free article of the encyclopaedia Wikipedia and is subject to GNU-licence for free documentation. A list of authors is available on Wikipedia