South Africa is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and has a temperate climate. Varied topography and oceanic influence produce a great variety of climatic zones from almost desert in the north and northwest to a Mediterranean (winter rainfall) climate in the southwest to lush subtropical climate along the east coast. Winter is between June and August. Temperatures above 30 degree Celsius occur in summer while dropping to sub zero in winter.
South Africa has eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
South Africa is on the southern tip of Africa, with a coastline stretching more than 2,500 km (1,553 miles) from Namibia in the west to Mozambique in the east. Beyond the narrow low-lying coastal zone there is a mountainous escarpment that separates the coast from the high inland plateau. Most of the country is semi-arid. It has two major rivers, the Limpopo and the Orange (with its tributary, the Vaal). Its area is 1.22 million km² (471,000 sq miles)
The indigenous people of South Africa enjoy staple foods such as maize meal porridge, samp, vegetables and meat. Other types of cuisine emerged from several waves of colonialisation and immigration from the Netherlands, German, French, Italian, Greek and British and Indo-Asian slaves or servants (Cape Malay and Indian cuisine). Traditional barbeques (“braais”) are vey popular.
Of the almost 54 million people 79.2% are Black African, 8.9% Coloured (mixed descent), 8.9% White, 2.5% Indian or Asian and 0.5% other.
South Africa’s total road network is about 747 000 km, the longest network of roads of any African country. Main national roads are 16 200km. About 19% of these are toll roads.
Commuters use rail, buses , taxis (mini vans) and private cars. There is 21 000km of rail network, of which about 1 500km are heavy haul lines. Just over 8 200km of the lines are electrified. All major coastal cities and towns have sea ports. All major cities and towns are linked by domestic air services while the metros have international airports.
The South African economy is the second largest in Africa (after Nigeria). Sectors include mining (world’s largest producer of platinum), gold, chromium, automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertiliser, foodstuffs, agriculture, telecommunications, oil and gas, and commercial ship repair. Gross domestic product is at around 400 billion US dollars, but with unemployment at more than 25% combined with inequality.
Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein, George, Kimberley, Upington.
South Africa’s most popular sports are soccer, rugby and cricket. Other sports with significant support are swimming, athletics, golf, boxing, tennis and netball. Although soccer commands the greatest following among the youth, other sports like basketball, surfing and skateboarding are increasingly popular.
Soccer players who have played for major foreign clubs include Steven Pienaar, Lucas Radebe and Philemon Masinga, Benni McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena, and Delron Buckley. South Africa successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.