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The Republic of South Africa occupies the southern-most part of the African continent, stretching latitudinally 22° to 35°S and longitudinally from 17° to 33°E.

Its surface area is 1 219 090 square kilometres.


South Africa is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, to the west, south and east by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and has a coastline of about 3 000 kilometres.


South Africa has an average of 464 millimetres per year, compared with a world average of 860 millimetres.


South Africa's seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere, with midwinter in June and July and midsummer in December and January. On the highveld in the interior, there is year round sunshine. Summers are hot and thundery, winters are dry, cold at night and in the morning. Cape Town and the southern-most part of the Western Cape have a Mediterranean-type climate, with mild, changeable winters, when most of the rainfall occurs- and a warm to hot summer. Durban and KwaZulu- Natal coastal areas enjoy a sub-tropical climate, again with sunshine year round. Summers are hot, thundery and humid at sea level. June and July, when the humidity is low, are ideal months to visit Durban and the coastal region.


Standard time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime, one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time; 10 hours behind New Zealand Time, 8 hours behind Eastern Australia Winter Time.


Beautiful and diverse, South Africa is home to over 40 million people comprising some 20 ethnic groups. According to Statistics SA estimates (February 2001), the total population was 43 685 699 with 23 125 194 urban and 20 560 505 non-urban inhabitants.

The breakdown of population by race is as follows:
African 33.9million (77.6%)
White 4.5million (10.3%)
Coloured 3.8million (8.7%)
Asian 1.1million (2.5%)
Unspecified 4.5million (0.9%)


The National Anthem

The national anthem of South Africa is a combined version of Nkosi Sikelel'Afrika and The Call of South Africa (Die Stem van Suid-Afrika). The Call of South Africa was written by CJ Langenhoven in May 1918. The music was composed by the Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921. Nkosi Sikelel'Afrika was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. The Xhosa stanza was later added by poet, Samuel Mqhayi.

National flag
First used on 27 April 1994. The design and colours signify the principal elements of the country's flag history. The central design of the flag, beginning at the flagpole in a "V" form and flowing into a single horizontal band to the outer edge of the flys, can be interpreted as the convergence of diverse elements within South Africa's society, taking the road ahead in unity. The flag was designed by Mr Fred Brownell, a former State Herald.

Coat of Arms
Designed by Mr Iaan Bekker, a new Coat of Arms replaced one that served South Africa since 17 September 1910. It was launched by President Thabo Mbeki in Bloemfontein on 27 April 2000.

Spear and knobkierie, symbols of State Authority and peace.
Rising sun, symbol of energy.
Protea, symbol of diversity and potential.
Secretary bird, fighter and protector.
Shield with Khoisan figures, symbols of a shared heritage.
Ears of wheat represent fertility and growth.
Elephant tusks symbolises wisdom, strength, moderation and eternity.
National motto in !Xam - unity in diversity.

National flower
Giant or King Protea

National tree
Real Yellowwood

National fish

National Bird
Blue Crane

National animal

South Africa's nine provinces and their capital cities are as follows:

Eastern Cape Bisho
Free State Bloemfontein
Gauteng Johannesburg
KZN Pietermaritzburg
Mpumalanga Nelspruit
Northern Cape Kimberely
Limpopo Polokwane
(formerly Northern Province) (formerly Pietersburg)
North-West Mafikeng
Western Cape Cape Town

The Northern Cape is the country's largest province covering 361 830 square kilometres but has less than three people per square kilometre, approximately 0.9million people.

Gauteng is the smallest province covering 17,010 square kilometres and is the country's financial and industrial heartland, accommodating about 7.9million people, approximately 4 million of which live in Soweto. The South Western Township (SoWeTo) is located about 15 kilometres to the South- West of Johannesburg.


The Union Buildings in Pretoria were built in 1910 after the Union of South Africa was formed. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, they were built with prominent peace symbols to promote unity and peace between the British and the Voortrekkers who were at war during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War.

Soweto has a population of about four million people living on approximately 120 square kilometres of land which is about five times smaller than the size of Johannesburg.

President Thabo Mbeki and former President Nelson Mandela were inaugurated in 16 June 2000 and 10 May 1994 respectively.

The largest camp in the Kruger National Park is called Skukuza - the name given to the park's first warden, James Stevenson-Hamilton. In the local Shangaan language it means "he who sweeps clean" and refers to his successful campaign against poachers in the early days of the park's existence.

Soweto's Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital was entered into the World Guinness Book of Records in 1997 as the biggest general hospital in the world in capacity. Bara, which opened in 1947 with 480 beds, now has 3200.



Trees of the Year 2001:
Wild Pepper and Sneezewood
Total number of visitor arrivals 2001:
5.78 Million
Origin of foreign tourists to South Africa from January to December 2001:
Mainly from Germany: 203 911, USA: 170 611 & UK: 356 759, growth occurred largely out of the UK & Germany, high priority markets.
The average spend across arrivals from all markets is R2 189, spend for UK tourists is on average R5 302. for US: R5 884, Germans: R2 755.
Total number of photos available on South African Tourism's photo library:
3 000
Total of images downloaded from South African Tourism's photo library from January to December 2001:
23 886


The South African government is making a concerted effort to preserve our natural and cultural heritage treasures for present as well as future generations. The best way to go about this is to obtain recognition from the World Heritage Committee for as many of our sites as possible.

A world heritage site is defined as an area that holds outstanding universal value. The World Heritage Convention of UNESCO was established to encourage countries to preserve their natural and cultural heritage, to promote international co-operation to protect heritage sites and to lend assistance to countries to preserve their heritage.

In keeping with these policies, the South African government nominated the following four priority areas to be recognised as World Heritage Sites:

Sterkfontein Caves

The area where some of the most significant palaeo anthropological finds in the world have been made, lies west of Johannesburg and near Krugersdorp in Gauteng. Since it has presented us with valuable answers to the questions surrounding the origins of mankind, it is often called the "Cradle of Humankind". The skull of "Mrs Ples" and "Little Foot" are some of the most important finds.

Robben Island

Immortalised by the plight of political prisoners, most notably Nelson Mandela, this symbol of democracy lies just off Table Bay near the famous city of Cape Town in the Western Cape. Frequent boat trips are undertaken from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront that allow visitors to either travel around the island or to embark and tour the island prison.

Greater St Lucia Wetland Park

The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park lies along the north eastern coast of KwaZulu-Natal. This particular area is renowned for the fact that it encloses five separate but interlinked ecosystems.

The marine system features warm waters, coral reefs, submarine canyons and sandy beaches.

The coastal dune system features high dunes, sub-tropical forests as well as grassy plains and wetlands.

The lake system features two estuary-linked lakes as well as four other lakes. The swamp system includes swamp forests, as well as extensive reed and papyrus swamps. The inland system includes ancient terraces and savannah woodlands.

The Drakensberg

The spectacular Drakensberg mountains have taken their rightful place on the international tourism stage with the proclaiming of the 243 000 hectare uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park on 29 November 2000 as a World Heritage Site - the most recent addition to the four-strong South African WHS (World Heritage Sites) portfolio and only the 23rd site in the world to join the elite list of Mixed Heritage Sites.

The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park satisfied two of the four natural criteria and two of the cultural criteria. International recognition was granted to its unique richness of biological diversity, its endemic and endangered species, its superlative natural beauty as well as its masterpieces of human creative genius in the form of ten of thousands of San rock paintings.


South Africa is renowned for its rich heritage of wildlife and natural beauty. As South Africans, we are all aware of our good fortunes and have established several protected areas to converse our national resources. Our most famous park is the Kruger National Park but every park has something unique to offer. No visit to South Africa will be complete without a visit to at least one of the parks. Most of the parks have the "Big Five" (most dangerous) to offer; namely Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros.

The national parks are justly renowned for the incredible natural heritage they converse. Few people are aware, however, that certain parks also guard and preserve a rich cultural heritage that includes several important archaeological sites.

There are 20 national parks in South Africa, some of which are still in the development phase. Combined with a large number of provincial, regional and privately owned reserves, these conservation areas present the visitor to South Africa with a virtual treasure trove of wildlife. Of the 20 national parks, 14 have overnight tourist facilities, with an unrivalled variety of accommodation in arid, coastal, mountain and bushveld habitats.

The 20 national parks are listed per province as follows:

Eastern Cape

Addo-Elephant National Park (Grey Matter)
Mountain Zebra National Park (Rare Beauty)
Tsitsikamma National Park (The Place of Much Water)

Free State

Golden Gate -Highlands National Park (Golden Promise)
Mpumalanga and the Northern Province
Kruger National Park (A Palette of Eden)

Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park (Place of Great Noise)
The Karoo National Park (Land of Great Thirst)
Kgalagadi Transfontier Park (Gripping Beauty)
Namaqua National Park (Flowering Desert)
Richtersveld National Park (Mountain Desert)
Tankwa Karoo National Park (Reclaiming Nature)
Vaalbos National Park (Diamond Country)

Northern Province

Marakele National Park (Place of Sanctuary)
Vhembe-Dongola National Park (Rich Heritage)

Western Cape

Agulhas National Park (Neptune's Playground)
Bontebok National Park (Fragile Beauty)
Cape Peninsula National Park (Floral Jewel Crown)
Knysna National Lake Area (Tranquil Waters)
West Coast National Park (Birds Ahoy!)
Wilderness National Park (Luscious Jewel)


According to South African Tourism Summer 2000 Survey, the Top Ten tourist attractions in South Africa are (in order of popularity):

1. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Western Cape.
2. Cape Point
3. Table Mountain
4. The Wine Route
5. The Garden Route
6. Kruger National Park Mpumalanga province.
7. Durban Beachfront KwaZulu-Natal province.
8. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Western Cape.
9. Whale Watching Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
10. Robben Island Western Cape.

Exciting as they are, these icons and top tourist destinations are not the whole story. South Africa is more than the sum total of its parts. Perhaps one day you will sit by a crackling fire in the African veld, and listen to the sounds of the night. Nearby, the roar of a lion getting ready for the hunt, further off the call of a jackal, and still further off the hysteric laugh of the hyena, as if in mocking anticipation of all the catches it will steal away from the hunter. In between, the crickets woo one another in the dark, and you will realise that a part of you feels strangely at home. Come and join our growing fan club.

For further information, visit www.southafrica.net