Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.
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South Africa

Background

South Africa

Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the Far East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson MANDELA, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo MBEKI resigned, and Kgalema MOTLANTHE, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob ZUMA became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009. In January 2011, South Africa assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.

About

South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho (which is completely surrounded by South Africa). It is a vast country with widely varying landscapes and has 11 official languages, as well as an equally diverse population. South Africa is renowned for its wines and is one of the world's largest producers of gold. South Africa has a strong economy and is an influential player in African politics. In 2010, South Africa hosted the first Football World Cup to be held on the African continent.

Read more about South Africa in our South Africa travel guide »

Featured journals from

South Africa

Marco?

by EmelieRoy

Polo

Aug 2012 - Oct 2012  »  Canada | South Africa

Travels

by DaniellaAdler

Aug 2011 - Jan 2015  »  Croatia | United States | France | South Africa

The Wonders of Africa

by madjeanne

Exploring the west coast of Africa

Apr 2019  »  United States | Qatar | Namibia | South Africa

Featured hotels in

South Africa

South AfricaCoral International Cape Town 

Cnr Buitengragt And Wale St
Cape Town 8001
South Africa

Price (US$): $260 - $821 / night

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Location. Coral International Cape Town is a business friendly hotel located in Cape Town's Bo'Kaap neighborhood, close to Bo Kaap Museum, South Africa Library, and Houses of Parliament. Additional points of interest include Cape Town City Hall and Greenmarket Square. Hotel Features. Dining options at Coral International Cape Town include 3 restaurants. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a health club, a spa tub, a sauna, and a steam… more »

South AfricaFordoun Hotel & Spa 

Nottingham Road
Midlands
Nottingham Road 3280
South Africa

Price (US$): $227 - $229 / night

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Location. Fordoun Hotel & Spa is located in Nottingham Road's Drakensberg Mountains neighborhood. Hotel Features. Fordoun Hotel & Spa's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available during limited hours. The hotel serves a complimentary hot and cold buffet breakfast. Recreational amenities include an indoor pool, a spa tub, a sauna, a fitness facility, and a steam room. The property's full service health spa has body treatments,… more »

South AfricaJamala Madikwe 

Madikwe Game Reserve, Molatedi Gate
Madikwe 2838
South Africa

Price (US$): $1277 - $1278 / night

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Location. Located in Madikwe, Jamala Madikwe is near the airport and in the historical district. Hotel Features. Dining options at Jamala Madikwe include a restaurant, a coffee shop/cafĂ©, and a snack bar/deli. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available during limited hours. The hotel serves a complimentary full breakfast each morning in the dining room. Guests can enjoy a complimentary dinner reception daily. This Madikwe property has 50 square meters of event space… more »

South AfricaLe Franschhoek Hotel & Spa 

Minor Road 16
Franschhoek 7690
South Africa

Price (US$): $216 - $463 / night

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Location. Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa is located in Franschhoek's Cape Winelands Franschhoek neighborhood, close to Huguenot Monument. Additional area points of interest include La Motte Estate and Boschendal Estate. Hotel Features. Dining options at Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa include 3 restaurants. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, an outdoor tennis court, and a sauna. The property's full service… more »

South AfricaKichaka Luxury Game Lodge 

Seven Fountains
Grahamstown 6140
South Africa

Price (US$): $1006 - $1007 / night

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Location. Kichaka Luxury Game Lodge is located in Grahamstown and local attractions include Lalibela Game Reserve. Property Features. Kichaka Luxury Game Lodge features a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Room service is available. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas. The property offers a roundtrip airport shuttle (surcharge). Guest parking is complimentary. Additional property amenities include a library and laundry… more »

Browse more hotels in South Africa »

South Africa

Capital
Pretoria
Location

Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Geographic coordinates

29 00 S, 24 00 E

Area comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Border countries

Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km

Coastline

2,798 km

Climate

mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Terrain

vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Lowest point

Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Highest point

Njesuthi 3,408 m

Natural resources

gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

Population

49,109,107

Ethnic groups

black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

Religions

Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)

Languages

IsiZulu (official) 23.8%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.6%, Afrikaans (official) 13.3%, Sepedi (offcial) 9.4%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.9%, Xitsonga (official) 4.4%, other 7.2%, isiNdebele (official), Tshivenda (official), siSwati (official) (2001 census)

Government type

republic

Independence

31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared); 27 April 1994 (majority rule)

National holiday

Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)

Chief of state

President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government

President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Executive Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009)

Internet country code

.za

Internet users

4.42 million (2009)

Airports

578 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay

Other countries in the region