South Africa, formally named the Republic of South Africa, is located in the southern angle of the African continent and has a landmass of 1,219,090 square kilometres, twice the size of France and three times the size of Germany. It is bordered by ocean on three sides and in the North, it borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In the East, it is bordered by the Indian Ocean and to the West is the Atlantic Ocean which both meet at Africa’s southernmost tip at Cape Agulhas with a 3000-kilometre coastline. South Africa also encompasses two independent states which are Lesotho and Swaziland. South Africa has three capital cities which are Cape Town which is the legislative capital, Pretoria which is the administrative capital and Bloemfontein which is the judicial capital city. South Africa is a federal state with a central government and nine governments for each of the nine states. It has a population of about 56 million people who are racially mixed from Black Bantu speaking people to the Coloreds who speak Afrikaans to the Whites and Indian South African.
South Africa has a very diverse people spread out in its nine provinces. Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State and North West, which are dominated by the blacks, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape, dominated by the Coloreds, and Whites who are mainly in the big cities and in Gauteng. However, due to difficulties in collecting data for the black population, most data on them is believed inaccurate though they are spread out in all the provinces. The blacks in South Africa are even more diverse in ethnicity and culture with numerous tribes within the country. They include the Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho, Bapedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, Ndebele, and the Khoi-san. The Indian South Africans are majorly in the city of Durban, which is sometimes called the “largest Indian city outside India.”
South Africa has 11 certified languages which include English, SiSwati, Afrikaans, Xitsonga, isiXhosa, Sepedi, isiZulu, Sesotho, Tshivenda, Setswana, and isiNdebele. The official flag of the Republic of South Africa, at the time of its implementation was the only flag in the world to have six colors. Black green and yellow, which were the colors of the African National Congress, Pan Africanist Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party are believed to represent the black population of the country while red, white and blue, colors of the British Union Jack and the Dutch Tricolor, are said to represent the white population. Green in the ‘’Y’’ shape is said to represent the merging of all the peoples of South Africa and also represents a converging of paths, and the reconciliation of past and present. The flag was adopted on 27th April 1994 at the beginning of the South African general election and was designed by Frederick Brownwell who was the then state herald of the country and had also designed the Namibian flag. The nation also has other national symbols like the Blue Crane, which is the national bird, the Springbok, which is the national animal, and the Yellowwood which is the national tree. South Africa also has a vibrant political atmosphere with up to thirteen parties represented in the parliament including the majority seat holder the African National Congress, the Inkatha Freedom Party, Pan Africanist Congress, United Democratic Movement, Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Christian Democratic Party among others.
South Africa is also well-known worldwide for its tough history, tenacity, resilience and its choice of reconciliation above racial hatred. Its era of apartheid was widely debated around the world and produced some of the most shocking events. Apartheid was a period of white minority rule where the blacks were marginalized and denied rights which culminated into turmoil and the imprisonment of one of the greatest freedom fighters of that time, Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela’s release was the most iconic moment for South Africa and he was quickly voted as the first democratically elected president of the new independent state. He then won his way into the hearts of many worldwide when he called for peaceful reconciliation and forgiveness between the blacks and the whites. Mandela’s peaceful endeavors were considered a social miracle and inspired similar efforts in Ireland and Rwanda. The famous Vilakazi Street was famous for being the only street in the world to house two Nobel Prize winners. The street was home to Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond tutu and was sometimes christened “the Nobel Street”.
South Africa has also been named one of the mega diverse countries of the world and there are about 18 of these in the whole world including the United States of America, Brazil, Madagascar, China, DRC, Australia, Columbia, Ecuador, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Philippines and Venezuela. Mega diverse countries are countries that harbor the majority of earth’s species and a high number of endemic species. For a country to qualify in this category, it must have at least 5000 species of endemic plants and two marine ecosystems. Some of the endemic species in South Africa include the Golden Mole, which is blind and moves by touch and hunt by listening. They mostly eat insects. Endemic to South Africa is also the Cape Elephant Shrew which are more related to elephants than they are to shrews and are found in rocky areas. They move around by hopping almost like a rabbit and use their long snouts for searching for food. There is also the Cape Grysbok, the Sungazer lizard and bird species like the cape rock jumper, cape sugarbird, Garneys sugarbird, the orange breasted sunbird, southern double collared sunbird and many more to mention a few.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN SOUTH AFRICA.
Visit the Table Mountain:
Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most amazing places to visit. It overlooks Cape Town and is one of South Africa’s most visited sights. Incredibly, the mountain is several million years old and is rich in diversity of the cape floral landscape. It has even been named as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It is a flat-topped mountain which is often covered in a cloud cover known as “the table cloth”. Its highest point is 3563ft. the overlying mountain to the south west are called the “twelve apostles”. The mountain also has the highest abseiling which is 112m high and is an adrenaline rush for the brave. You can also enjoy hikes to the top which can take about three hours. Table Mountain is also estimated to harbor 2,200 species of plants which are endemic to the mountain let alone to South Africa. It is also the home of the Dassie, a relative of the elephant which however looks like a big rat, the Table Mountain Ghost Frog among others. The mountain is still believed to be growing as it resists folding forces.
Cape of Good Hope:
The Cape of Good Hope is also known as the cape point and is a 77.5km section of the Table Mountain National Park. It is at the tip of the Cape Peninsula and was the place where ships from Europe used to turn east. The Cape of Good Hope was named so by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias who was searching for the southern limits of the African continent. The Cape was also the entry point for European into South Africa who soon started doing barter trade with the Khoi Khoi for water and supplies. Cape of Good Hope has also been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its richness of plant life which accounts for 20% of all the plant life on the whole African continent. The Cape also has an abundance of wildlife like the various species of birds which include Cape Gannet, African Black Oyster Catcher, and various species of Connorant. Also at the Cape, you can find some penguins are in their breeding period.
The Apartheid Museum is located in Johannesburg and is a place dedicated by the South African government as a place to tell the country’s tumultuous battle with Apartheid. The story is told through film, text, audio and live accounts. The Apartheid Museum was built in 2001 by the Gold Reef City Company which won a bid offered by the government to come up with ideas that would increase tourism flow into the country. The Gold Reef suggested that they would build a museum and after they won the bid, they funded the museum which is listed as a not-for-profit company. Within the museum, some of the most intriguing things on show are the 131 nooses that represent the 131 people who were opponents of the government and were thus executed under antiterrorism laws.
The Big Hole in Kimberley is argued to be the biggest manmade hand dug hole in the world. The whole was dug by nearly 50,000 miners using pick axes and shovels as the DeBeers Brothers Company set off on an endeavor to mine diamonds which had been discovered in the place. The mine went on to yield 13,600,000 carats of diamonds in the time it was mined. The hole is 1,519ft in width and 705ft deep. Most of it has now been filled with turquoise which also gives for a good view. The tour around the mine will give you a feel of the conditions of the miners as you are taken through a simulated tour which includes going down some mining shafts with videos, audios and simulated explosions and tumbling rocks to give you a firsthand feel of the conditions of the workers who were mainly black South Africans like the Basotho. You will also see a cordoned off vault which harbors 3500 diamonds including replicas of the Eureka and the 616 which was an eight sided uncut diamond which weighed 616 carats and are some of the biggest uncut diamonds ever mined.
Robben Island is an island in southern South Africa where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years from 1990 after being accused for crimes against the government. He was thrown into an 8ft cell with only a mat o sleep on and a bucket. He was made a level D prisoner, the lowest if all and he is denied many rights like sunglasses while working in the lime mine and this damaged his eyesight. He is also allowed one visitor every six months and is constantly thrown into solitary confinement for smuggling newspapers into the prison. He however continues to study for his Law degree. UNESCO named the island prison a World Heritage Site as a memorium for Nelson Mandela and all the slaves and other prisoners that were unfortunate to be imprisoned in the prison. A tour would include a walk through the prison with an obligatory peek into Nelson Mandela’s cell. Other political prisoners on this island include the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. The island was also known for being a hub for lepers which is where they were thrown to keep them away from normal people.
Boulder Penguin Colony:
The Boulder Penguin Colony is located 3 kilometres south west of Simon’s town and is a beautiful area with huge boulders which divide small sandy areas which are home to about 2100 penguins called the Jackass Penguins. They are called the Jackass Penguins because of the way they bray like donkeys especially in the mating season. You can experience their beautiful mating ritual and their magnificence.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH AFRICA.
San Lameer resort. San Lameer:
San Lameer is situated on the banks of the Umhlangamkulu Lagoon with direct access to the breathtaking Blue Flag Indian Ocean beaches. San Lameer hotel offers 40 rooms and suites creatively designed in urban Indonesian style ensuring that guests are surrounded by beauty, luxury together with peacefulness. Hard to miss at the hotel is the 18 hole golf course which is absolutely mouthwatering for the golf fanatics for those who don’t fancy swinging there are a myriad of facilities and activities on the estate to keep you occupied. The hotel offers many rooms for accommodation which come as Deluxe, Classic, Executive and Family Suite. Each suite is self-contained with bathroom, toilet, cable television, Wi-Fi, and the more executive rooms have some wonderful views of the lagoon. They also provide all the spa services for relaxation.
Dolphin Beach Resort:
Dolphin Beach Resort is located in KwaZulu-Natal in Ballito. It is a family owned establishment that values itself in offering a quality service to the customer. Dolphin Resort is next to the beach which faces the Indian Ocean and offers some breathtaking views. It is 50 kilometers from Durban and 20 kilometers from the King Zulu International airport. Dolphins are also quite a common site on the beaches hence the name. Some of the activities for relaxation include playing nice games like beach volley ball, taking a walk on the Sandy beaches, bird watching among other things. Dolphin resort offers self-maintained rooms with comfortable beds, bathrooms, tv with cable a bar and restaurant. The resort’s setting in a tropical rainforest offers peace and tranquility.
Other accommodations include Pumula Beach resort in Pumula, Zandali beach resort, Rock bay restaurant, Sani Pass, and Cathedral beach among others.