South Africa is situated at the southern tip of Africa and has a landmass of 1 233 404 km2 edged on 3 sides by a nearly 3 000 km coastline lapped on the western coast by the cold Atlantic Ocean and the eastern side by the warm Indian Ocean.
South Africa has 3 capitals, namely Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Administrative) and Bloemfontein (Judicial).
Since 1994 South Africa has had a democratic government and the constitution is regarded as an example to the world which protects a wide range of human rights protected by an independent judiciary.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in South Africa. The industry is well-established and offers a wide variety of accommodation, leisure and business travel, adventure sport, nature and wildlife travel, etc.
Fondly referred to as “Sunny South Africa” we are renowned for our long sunny days with summer temperatures reaching an average high of 28 degrees Celcius in the day and dropping to around 8 degrees Celcius at night. Winter temperatures range from 1 degree Celcius at night to around 18 degrees Celcius in the day.
Most provinces have a summer rainfall except the Western Cape which has winter rainfall.
Our 4 seasons are:
Summer Mid-October to Mid-February
Autumn February to April
Winter May to July
Spring August to October
South Africa, regarded as an emerging market, has a well-developed financial sector and active stock exchange. The country’s central bank is the South African Reserve Bank.
South Africa’s currency is the rand with denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 as well as coins ranging from 10 cents to 100 cents.
South Africa does not adjust watches/clocks during the year and there are no regional variations within the country. South African Standard Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time and seven hours ahead Eastern Standard Winter Time.
South Africa has a diverse nation of more than 58 million.
There are 11 official languages which makes South Africa a multi-lingual country – namely English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitonga.
South Africa is divided into 9 provinces – Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.
The South African flag is a much-loved symbol of the ‘new’ South Africa. It embraces a geometric pattern of green, white, black, yellow, red and blue.
Other national South African symbols include:
Bird Blue Crane
Flower Giant or King Protea
Please contact your nearest South African diplomatic mission to establish visa requirements.
South Africa is well-known for world-class private hospitals and medical centres around the country, especially in the urban areas, while many state hospitals also offer excellent care, among them Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
Most of South Africa is malaria-free, but if you are visiting the Kruger National Park or low-lying parts of northern KwaZulu-Natal, be aware that you are entering malarial areas and should take precautionary medication in the form of prophylactics.
Use common sense and take basic safety precautions. Keep valuables locked away and don’t wear expensive watches or jewellery, flash expensive cameras, or walk in deserted areas. Keep car doors and windows locked at all times. If in doubt, ask a staff member at your accommodation for safety guidelines.
In all the major cities most stores, cinemas and restaurants are open on most public holidays. The exceptions are 25 December and 01 January.
Public holidays in South Africa are as follows:
01 January Human Rights Day
27 April Freedom Day
01 May Workers Day
16 June Youth Day
09 August National Women’s Day
24 September Heritage Day
16 December Day of Reconciliation
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Day of Goodwill
Please note that if a public holiday falls on a Sunday then the Monday becomes the public holiday.
Good Friday and Easter Monday are also public holidays but the dates on which they fall are determined by the ecclesiastical moon and vary each year - usually Easter generally falls between late March and late April.
Tipping is common practice in South Africa and the accepted standard amount is around 10% of the bill. If there is a large party the gratuity will automatically be included so remember to check your bill carefully. This is acceptable for restaurants and barmen.
Petrol attendants can be tipped between R5 and R10 for filling your car up with petrol, checking air pressure, water, oil and cleaning windscreens.
Hotel porters can be tipped around R20 and it is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers and tour guides.
If you park your car in a populated area such as shopping centres there are often informal car guards who keep an eye on your car and when you return should be paid a small fee – anything from R5 and upwards. These guards can be identified by the green reflective safety vests they wear.
Hairdryer, electric razor etc?
Electricity in South Africa is generally 220/230 volts and is supplied through a 15 amp three-pronged or 15 amp two-pronged plug (round pins). Visitors can either bring a travelling adaptor or buy one here.
South African law prohibits smoking in public places which includes airports and train stations. Designated smoking areas are marked.
Nobody under the age of 18 may buy cigarettes or enter a designated smoking area.
Both the venue owner and the smoker can face penalties if these laws are disobeyed.