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Why South Africa

Nelson Mandela Bridge, Johannesburg
The Nelson Mandela bridge in Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city

South Africa, located at the southern tip of Africa, offers visitors more than just breathtaking landscapes and safaris, but a rich cultural diversity and history. According to World Travel Guide, nearly 10 million people visit South Africa annually.

South Africa is 1 233 404 km² in size and is edged on three sides by nearly 3 000 km of coastline, with the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The country is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also encloses two independent countries: the kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.

 

Ostriches, Karoo, South Africa
Ostriches are a common sight in the Karoo region of South Africa

 

Rich geographical diversity

A range of national parks and nature reserves preserve an incredible variety of landscapes, including the semi-tropical beaches of KwaZulu-Natal; the towering mountains of the Drakensburg; the Cape winelands; safaris in Kruger National Park; stark beauty of the Karoo; and of course the iconic Table Mountain and famous beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton in Cape Town.

 

Springbok
A springbok: South Africa's national animal

 

Rich cultural diversity

Beyond its spectacular landscapes and natural beauty, South Africa offers rich cultural diversity. The country boasts 11 official languages and is a cultural melting pot with ancestral links to communities elsewhere in Africa, Europe and the Indian sub-continent. This diversity is tangible in just about every part of the South African experience, from the quirky sense of humour, to cuisine, architecture, art and fashion.

 

Zulu dancers
Traditional dancers

 

Find out more about living and travelling in South Africa

 

South Africa fast facts

  • South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that is home to deserts, wetlands, grasslands, bush, subtropical forests and escarpments.
  •  South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungy jump in the world: the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy (216 metres).
  • The Karoo area is rich in both dinosaur and mammalian fossils. It is described by scientists as a palaeontological wonderland.
  • Vilakazi street, in Soweto, is the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Peace prize winners: President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. South Africa has been home to a total of 10 Nobel laureates.
  • Rich in mining and minerals, South Africa is home to nearly 90% of the world’s platinum metals and 41% of all the world’s gold.
  • The oldest remains of modern humans were found in South Africa and are well over 160 000 years old.
  • South Africa is home to the world’s largest individually timed cycle race (the Cape Town Cycle Tour), a world-famous mountain bike race (the Cape Epic) and the world’s largest open water swim (the Midmar Mile) and the world’s largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon).
  • South Africa has 11 official languages: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, SePedi, Sesotho, Tshivenda, isiXhosa, siSwati, Xitsonga, Setswana and isiZulu.
  • South Africa is the first, and to date only, country to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle them.
  • Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa: Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all of humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of passive resistance (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.

 

Travel South Africa

South Africa attracts millions of tourists annually who flood to our shores to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife, the great weather, the wide range of outdoor adventure activities and, of course, the diversity of cultures.

For more information about travel in South Africa visit:

South African Tourism

Fodors Travel

Lonely Planet Guide to South Africa

Brand South Africa  - travel section

 

Image attributions
All images courtesy BrandSouthAfrica