Africa Tours and Safaris
South Africa - Visitors Guide Info

Geography
There are two main rivers in South Africa, the Limpopo which runs along the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, then flows through Mozambique to the Indian Ocean, and the Orange River which runs from the centre of the country along the Namibian border, and into the Atlantic Ocean. These rivers are both used for irrigation and drinking water, and so there are dams along their courses, the largest of which is the Gariep on the Orange River. Several other smaller rivers run into the seas around South Africa is a country which has more than 20,000 different types of plants, or about 10 percent of all the known species of plants on earth, making it particularly lush. But of these, none are navigable and none are large enough to be used as natural harbors, though busy harbors exist around the coast at Cape Town, Richards Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban. The coastal areas are narrow, and pave way to mountainous escarpment, separating the coast area from the high lying inland plateau.

Climate
South Africa stretches between the 22nd and 34th degrees of southern latitude and hence is part of the subtropical zone. Compared to other regions at that latitude, temperatures in many areas of South Africa are rather lower. The cold Benguela current causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast, and on the central plateau the altitude (Jo'burg lies at 1753m) keeps the average temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius. In winter, also due to altitude, temperatures drop to the freezing point and in places even lower. Then it is warmest in the coastal regions. Precipitation is to be expected mainly in the summer months, with the exception of the Western Cape which is a winter-rain area. For your tour planning keep in mind that the seasons in the southern hemisphere stand in direct opposition to those of the northern hemisphere.

Economy
South Africa has developed from an agrarian into a modern industrial state since World War II. Today, the economy is well-diversified and the country is capable of producing a wide range of consumer and investment goods. South Africa produces one fifth of the entire production of the African continent.

The mining industry still plays a prominent part. However, over the last few years, the country's economic dependency on the export of raw materials, especially on gold, has lessened.The economy is based on foreign trade. More than half of the gross national product (GNP) is achieved through exports and imports. By investing in modern production technologies after the apartheid era, South African products became more and more competitive on the world market. In 1996, an export surplus of about 8,7 billion Rand was achieved. Exports consist mainly of mineral raw materials, agricultural produce, chemical products, machinery, electric appliances and vehicles. Import goods are machines, plastic products, chemicals and also vehicles.

Bio-diversity
South Africa's climate is moderate and the land ranges from desert to grassland to subtropical swamp thus providing condusive environment for the most diverse fauna and flora. South Africa has over 20,000 different plant life, including sclerophyllous, Fynbos Biome. You can enjoy the flowering season in the spring months of August and September, when specialist flower viewing trips are run and almost every small town has a flower show. It has an enormous selection of widespread and migrant birds such as Kori Bustard, ostrich. It has marine species along its 2954 km of coast, with the Indian Ocean on the East coast and the Atlantic on the West coast, like; whale, dolphin, shark, marlin and tuna. This country has more species of wild animals, including; the African elephant, lion, buffalo, eland, cheetah, leopard, leatherback turtle, giraffe, rhino and shrew. South Africa also has about 100 different snakes, 6000 different spiders and 175 varieties of scorpion.

Culture
Some of the earliest human existence evidence is found in Southern Africa, dating back to 3 million years ago. For the past 100,000 years, Bushmen have populated the area now known as South Africa. Some 200 years ago Dutch people began to migrate to South Africa, and in the 1860's Indian people started to come into the country to work on the sugar plantations on the east coast. The white population grew substantially in the 1800's with British settlers and those coming to make their fortune in South Africa's gold mines.

The population of South Africa is approximately 44 million. Of the population of South Africa 77% of the population are black, 10% are white, 8% are mixed race, 2.5% are of Indian or Asian descent. South Africa has eleven official languages. English is the most commonly spoken, followed by Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa. The others are Pedi, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swati, Venda and Ndebele. But the majority of South Africans speak English as well as a traditional language. The English speaking communities have been in the forefront of industry and commerce in South Africa. South Africa is still far from the ideal of a multi-cultural society. There is still a deep trench going through the population. Black, colored and white people lead largely separate lives with few points of contact. Nevertheless, the society's democratization is steadily progressing. The future of the state largely depends upon its ability to create equal opportunities for all people. Thus, allowing the formally disadvantaged groups to have their share of the national wealth. Christianity is the most widely recognized religion in South Africa, with 75% of the population following the faith, 21% has no religious affiliation and among the rest of the South Africa's religions are Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish.

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