Flag of South Africa

South Africa

The Republic of South Africa is located at the southern tip of the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia to its north-west, Botswana to the north, Zimbabwe to its north-north-east, Mozambique to the north-east and Swaziland to the east. Also bordering South Africa is Lesotho, an independent enclave entirely surrounded by South African territory.

Covering a huge swathe of land, washed by the Atlantic and Indian oceans, South Africa has enormous wealth above and below ground, making it one of the richest natural storehouses on the planet. With staggeringly beautiful rural areas such as the Cape Winelands, the towering dunes of the Wild Coast, the magnificent game parks of Kruger and Zululand, and the Kalahari and Karoo deserts, barren for much of the year but a carpet of flowers in spring, the possibilities for tourists are endless. Alternatively, visit sophisticated cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, or charming historic towns like Stellenbosch or Pietermaritzburg. Even once infamous townships such as Soweto are now growing into vibrant cities in their own right.

As a result of high levels of immigration, South Africa is a very ethnically diverse nation, encompassing Zulu, Tswana, Khosa, Sotho, Indian, Afrikaans and those of British origin. Racial strife between the white minority and the black majority has played a large part in the country's history and politics, culminating in apartheid, which was instituted in 1948 by the National Party. The laws that defined apartheid began to be repealed or abolished by the National Party in 1990 after a long and sometimes violent struggle.

The scars left by the apartheid years are slowly healing, but have left huge inequalities between rich and poor. Despite this, the people are charming hosts, most speak English and all have a fascinating story to tell. The crime rate is still far too high, but with a little common sense, travellers can have a perfect, safe holiday.

Map of South Africa