South Africa Guide

South Africa Guide

South Africa – South Africa – country information

Country name South Africa – JAR
Official name South African Republic
Capital Pretoria
Continent Africa
Area 1,221,040 km2
Population 52,981,991 (2013)
Foundation of a state 31/5/1910
The highest mountains Giant’s Castle 3312 m
Longest rivers Orange/Oranje 1860 km
State system a pluralistic federal republic with a government of “national unity” and a bicameral parliament
The biggest cities Pretoria (seat of government) 1,130,000, Bloemfontein (supreme court) 310,000, Cape Town (seat of parliament) 2,050,000 (conurbation)
Official language English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Northern and Southern Sotho, Venda, Ndebele
Ethnicity/National Composition black 76%, white 13%, mixed race 8.5%, Asian 2.5%
Religious affiliation independent black churches 21%, African Reformed 12%, Roman Catholic 7.5%, Methodist 6%, Anglicans 4%, Hindu 1.4%, Muslim 1.1%, other 29.5%
Currency 1 rand ® = 100 cents
gross domestic product (GDP) US$11,281 (2012)
Average life expectancy of the population 42.73 years (2006)
Structure of GDP agriculture, forestry and fishing 4.5%, mining 10.5%, industry 29.5%, construction 3%, services 52.5%

South Africa – South Africa – neighboring countries

State Capital Area Population
Botswana Gaborone 581,730 km2 2,024,904
Lesotho Masseur 30,355 km2 2,074,000
Mozambique Maputo 801,590 km2 23,700,715
Namibia Windhoek 824,292 km2 2,113,077
Swaziland Mbabane 17,364 km2 1,250,000
Zimbabwe Harare 390,757 km2 12,973,808

Country overview

According to Abbreviationfinder, as the largest country in southern Africa, the Republic of South Africa occupies the southernmost tip of the African continent. It is washed by the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest (a total of 2900 km of coastline). It borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland to the north. It completely surrounds the independent state of Lesotho. The largest port on the Namibian coast, Walvis Bay, was also South African territory until 1994.

Since 1948, a political system called apartheid was implemented in South Africa, according to which the white population was supposed to live separately from the rest of the population. Despite strong international opposition to this policy, the country continued to prosper economically, mainly due to its vast mineral resources and strategic location.

Natural conditions

The Republic of South Africa can be divided into three main geographical areas: the central vast plateau, the mountain system that surrounds it, and the rugged coastal zone with the so-called Great Escarpment.


Most of the area is covered by a plateau that descends to the northwest to the Kalahari Basin in Botswana. Almost along its entire length from Namibia to the Transvaal, it is bordered by mountains, which under the name of the Dragon Mountains (Drankensberg) reach the highest heights (3200 to 3500 m) in the province of Natal on the border with Lesotho.


Most of the South African territory lies in the subtropical zone. It has a Mediterranean dry climate on the coast and a continental dry climate inland. The higher altitude of the inland plateau causes pleasant temperature conditions in most areas.


The policy of apartheid, which had affected the lives of people in South Africa for many decades, ended with free multiracial elections in April 1994 and the formation of a government of national unity. The last economic and military sanctions imposed by the United Nations against previous racist governments have been lifted, and South Africa is returning to all international organizations from which it withdrew or was expelled after 1961.


In terms of the value of the gross national product, the Republic of South Africa occupies the first place in Africa, but in terms of per capita it is behind Libya, Seychelles and Gabon, at the level of neighboring Botswana. It has rich mineral deposits but no oil. This, among other things, influenced its economic development at the time of the economic sanctions imposed on it by the world for implementing the policy of apartheid.

Country data

Location: South Africa

Time zone: CET + 1 (during summer time: CET)

Total area: 1,219,090 km²

Land area: 1,214,470 km²

Water area: 4,620 km²

Length of the state border: 4,862 km

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

Coastline: 2,798 km

Capital: Pretoria

Provinces: 9
Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape, Northern Province, Western Cape

Telephone code: 00 27 (Source: Allcitycodes)

Highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m


Population: approx. 48.4 million residents (Countryaah, 2021)

Population growth: -0.5% per year

Population density (residents per km²): 40

Life expectancy: 51 (male), 49 (female)

Official language: African (many dialects), English


  • 70% Christian
  • 30% other


Since South Africa is located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to those in Germany.

The climate is subtropical, with temperatures in summer around 20-23 ° C and in winter around 10-13 ° C.

It is mostly dry and warm. There is no defined rainy season.

South Africa

Currency / finance

Currency unit: Rand (ZAR)

Graduation: 1 rand = 100 cents

ATMs: Available in the major cities.

International credit cards: These are accepted by many hotels and shops.

Regulations: There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that can be imported. The export is limited to the amount declared on import (minus the exchanged amounts).

The national currency can be imported and exported up to an amount of 5,000 rand.

All exchange receipts should be kept until departure!

Customs regulations

The following may be carried duty-free:

  • 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 g tobacco
  • 1 liter of alcoholic beverages
  • small amounts of perfume

(Information applies to people aged 18 and over)

These allowances apply once within 30 days for border crossings in countries of the South African customs union.

These countries include Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Tourists and people in transit can bring items of personal use with them duty-free.

Travel advice

The crime rate in South Africa has been very high for several years.

Assaults, thefts and bodily harm are commonplace, especially in the townships.

Behavioral advice

Smoking is prohibited in some public buildings. You should definitely adhere to this prohibition!

You shouldn’t be traveling alone after dark.

Sightseeing tours and excursions should only be undertaken in larger groups. Slums and slums should definitely be avoided.

You should not use trains in South Africa, only taxis from larger and well-known companies.

You should never show valuable objects and money in public!

During a drive you should lock doors and windows, as vehicles that are stopping are constantly being robbed.


South Africa has the most highly developed industry of the African countries.

The mining of ores and precious metals (e.g. diamonds, gold, platinum) is strongly promoted.

South Africa has a large amount of mineral resources that are exported to many countries as raw materials or processed products.

Industries: car accessories, mining, chemistry, ore processing, metal processing, mechanical engineering, textiles, tourism

Natural resources: chromium, diamonds, iron ore, natural gas, gold, coal, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, copper, salt, uranium, vanadium, tin

Land use:

  • Usable land: 10%
  • Grain cultivation: 1%
  • Pasture area: 67%
  • Forests: 7%
  • other: 15%


In the many nature reserves that have been set up, the country’s flora is in very good condition.

Many different types of plants, trees and grass are particularly easy to get to know on the guided tours.

The best known (and only in South Africa) growing plant is the protea, which comes in different types (size, color, shape).


The Kruger National Park is known worldwide. In addition to this, however, there are a variety of other protected reserves across the country.

Here you can find all the animal species that exist in Africa.

Monkeys, antelopes, buffalo, elephants, hippos, cheetahs, wildebeests, crocodiles, leopards, lions, rhinos are just some of the animals that can be seen on tours (which are really worthwhile). In addition to these, there are a variety of bird species.

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