Country Profiles:
South Africa

South Africa is the southernmost country on the continent, bordered by Namibia to the northwest, by Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, and by Mozambique and Swaziland to the northeast and east. Lesotho, an independent country, is an enclave in the eastern part of the republic, entirely surrounded by South African territory. South Africa’s coastlines border the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. The country possesses two small Sub-Antarctic islands, Prince Edward and Marion, situated in the Indian Ocean. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with close to 56 million people, is the world’s 24th-most populous nation.

The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. The Zulu nation spectacularly defeated the British at the Battle of Isandlwana. Eventually the Zulu nation’s independence. The Boer Republics successfully resisted British encroachments during the First Boer War (1880–1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics, which were well suited to local conditions. The British returned with greater numbers, more experience, and new strategy in the Second Boer War (1899–1902) but suffered heavy casualties through attrition; nonetheless, they were ultimately successful in colonizing South Africa. Within the country, anti-British policies among white South Africans focused on independence. Eight years after the end of the Second Boer War and after four years of negotiation, an act of the British Parliament (South Africa Act 1909) granted nominal independence, while creating the Union of South Africa on May 31 1910.

UNESCO Heritage sites includes:

1. Vredefort Dome

The crater, with a diameter of 190 km (120 mi), is the largest, oldest, and most deeply eroded astrobleme found on Earth, dating back more than two billion years.

2. Robben Island.

Between the 17th and 20th century, the island was used as a prison, including for political prisoners, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups, and a military base. Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. To date, three of the former inmates of Robben Island have gone on to become President of South Africa: Nelson MandelaKgalema Motlanthe, and current President Jacob Zuma.

3. Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape.

The mountainous desert sustains the semi-nomadic livelihood of the Nama, which includes seasonal migrations that have gone unchanged for two millennia.

4. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape.

The open savanna landscape lies at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. It was the heart of the Mapungubwe Kingdom until the 14th century, when the area was abandoned, leaving untouched remains of palaces and settlements.

5. Maloti-Drakensberg Park.

The park features incisive dramatic cutbacks, golden sandstone ramparts, and the largest concentration of cave art in Sub-Saharan Africa.

6. ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape.

The ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape is located at the border with Botswana and Namibia in the northern part of the country, coinciding with the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP). The large expanse of sand contains evidence of human occupation from the Stone Age to the present and is associated with the culture of the formally nomade ǂKhomani San people and the strategies that allowed them to adapt to harsh desert conditions.

7. iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

The park features a variety of landforms, including coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, and papyrus wetland, caused by fluvial, marine and aeolian processes.

8. Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa.

The various fossil sites contain traces of human occupation and evolution dating 3.3 million years.

9. Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.

The site consists of eight protected areas that are among the richest in plant life worldwide, containing nearly 20% of Africa’s total flora. Its scientific value is demonstrated by the presence of fire and radiation adaptivity in plants and seed dispersal by insects.

The Natives' Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of land by blacks; in which natives can only control 7% of the land.

In 1931 the union was fully sovereign from the United Kingdom with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, which abolished the last powers of the British Government on the country. In 1934, the South African Party and National Party merged to form the United Party, seeking reconciliation between Afrikaners and English-speaking “Whites”. In 1939 the party split over the entry of the Union into World War II as an ally of the United Kingdom, a move which the National Party followers strongly opposed. The Nationalist Government classified all peoples into three races and developed rights and limitations for each. The white minority (less than 20% of the population controlled the vastly larger native majority. The legally institutionalized segregation became known as apartheid. While whites enjoyed the highest standard of living in the country, the black majority remained disadvantaged by almost every standard, including income, education, housing, and life expectancy. The security forces cracked down on internal dissent, and violence became widespread. the African National Congress lead by Nelson Mandela, the Azanian People’s Organization, and the Pan-Africanist Congress furious fought to abolish apartheid and lead to the imprisonment of the leaders of ANC and banned the organization.

In 1990 the National Party government took the first step towards dismantling discrimination when it lifted the ban on the ANC and other political organizations. It released Nelson Mandela from prison after twenty-seven years serving a sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed. With approval from predominantly white referendum, the government repealed apartheid legislation. Eventually forced to confront the untenable nature of ethnic separatism in a multicultural land, the South African government of F.W. de Klerk (1989–94) began to repeal apartheid laws. That process in turn set in motion a transition toward universal suffrage and a true electoral democracy, which culminated in the 1994 election of a government led by the black majority under the leadership of the dissident Nelson Mandela. As this transition attests, the country has made remarkable progress in establishing social equity in a short period of time since Mandela came to power.

South Africa has a mixed economy, the second largest in Africa after Nigeria.  Gold is the most important mineral and it is the world’s largest producer with and large reserves. Ever since the Kimberley diamond strike of 1868, South Africa has been a world leader in diamond production with seven large diamond mines around the country. South Africa is rich in a variety of minerals including reserves of iron ore, platinum, manganese, chromium, copper, uranium, silver, beryllium, and titanium. It is the world’s largest producer of chromemanganeseplatinumvanadium and vermiculite. It is the second largest producer of ilmenitepalladiumrutile and zirconium. It is also the world’s third largest coal exporter. There are moderate quantities of natural gas and synthetic fuel is made from coal at two large plants in the provinces of Free State and Mpumalanga.

South Africa is renowned for its varied topography, great natural beauty, and cultural diversity, all of which have made the country a favored destination for travelers since the legal ending of apartheid in 1994. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution‘s recognition of 11 official languages, AfrikaansEnglishNdebeleNorthern SothoSothoSwaziTswanaTsongaVendaXhosa, and Zulu. In this regard it is third only to Bolivia and India. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and colored South Africans; English reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though it is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages.

In South Africa, you’ll find dishes influenced by the indigenous population, along with the Dutch, French, Indians and Malaysians and as such it offers a vibrant cuisine that will excite your palate. Cape Malay curry, Chakalaka & pap, Biltong & droewors, Braai/Shisa nyama, Boerewors, Bobotie, Malva pudding, Amarula Don Pedro, Melktert. The South African music scene includes both popular (jive) and folk forms. Pop styles are based on four major sources, Zulu isicathamiya singing and harmonic mbaqanga. The latter field of musicians included prominent activists and thinkers, including Hugh MasekelaAbdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as ‘Dollar Brand’), Kippie MoeketsiSathima Bea BenjaminChris McGregorJohnny Dyani and Jonas GwangwaLadysmith Black Mambazo, headed by the sweet soprano of Joseph ShabalalaLucky Dube was the first major South African artists.

Your journey to
Africa begins here!

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive exclusive travel tips, postcards, inspiring stories and stay up to date with our latest specials on flights & travel deals. Never miss a beat!

P.S. Before you go check out our most read and popular

Your journey to
Africa begins here!

Thank you, click the button to download your pdf.

African Homecoming

This page is only available for participants. Please login to continue.

Call Now Button