Top tip: Vegetarians beware of the braais and billtong
The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern end of the African continent. To the east is the Indian Ocean and on the western side is the Atlantic Ocean. The north is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. South Africa 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. The vegetation in open grassland, changing to bush in the Northern Transvaal, and Thornveld is the arid Southwest. Despite two major river systems, the Limpopl and the Orange, most of the plateau lacks surface water. Along the coastline are beaches and coves, and the vegetation is shrub-like. The mountainous regions which run along the coastline from the Cape of Good Hope to the Limpopo Valley in the Northeast are split into the Drakensberg, Nuweveldberg and Stormberg ranges.
South Africa is generally sunny and pleasant. Winters are usually mild, although snow falls on the mountain ranges of the Cape and Natal and occasionally in lower-lying areas. As South Africa lies south of the Equator, the seasons are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere.
Facts and Figures
|Area||1,219,090 sq km (470,693 sq miles).|
|Population||49,991,300 (2010 estimate)|
|Capital||Pretoria (administrative). Population: 2,345,908 (2007). Cape Town (legislative). Population: 3,497,097 (2007). Bloemfontein (judicial). Population: pop – 369,568 (2007)|
|Language||The official languages are Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, 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.|
|Time||GMT + 2.|
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