South Africa – A brief guide – Population, Culture & Animals

South Africa is a beautiful and culturally rich country that has all the features that tourists long for in a vacation destination. From fine weather, gorgeous scenery, beautiful beaches, to modern accommodation, and superb cuisine, South Africa has it all. The complex history and mosaic of different cultures are what truly sets it apart from other African countries. Wildlife lovers came here from all around the world to see “Big Five” Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo, and Elephant. If you’re looking for an adventure-filled holiday where you can enjoy breathtaking landscapes, rich history, wildlife, and great food, South Africa is the place to go. 

South Africa is a beautiful and culturally rich country that has all the features that tourists long for in a vacation destination. From fine weather, gorgeous scenery, beautiful beaches, to modern accommodation, and superb cuisine, South Africa has it all. The complex history and mosaic of different cultures are what truly sets it apart from other African countries. Wildlife lovers came here from all around the world to see “Big Five” Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo, and Elephant.

If you’re looking for an adventure-filled holiday where you can enjoy breathtaking landscapes, rich history, wildlife, and great food, South Africa is the place to go. 

South Africa

In this article, we’ll explore this gem and share all the important details you need to know before visiting.

Geography

South Africa is located at the Southern tip of Africa with a coastline stretching from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast to the southeast to the Indian Ocean. Most of the landscape is made of plateaus while lands are covered with grasslands. The country is home to more than 300 mammal species, 860 bird species, and around 8,000 plant species. The country is classified as semi-arid and has a relatively temperate climate with plenty of sunny and dry days and cool nights.  

Population

As of today, the current population of South Africa is 59 million based on the latest data from United Nations. It has 25th rank in the list of countries by population. South Africa has diverse origins, cultures, languages, and religions. Christians account for 79% of the population, Muslim’s account for 1.5%, other vague religions 2.3%, and 1.4% are atheists. 

Culture

South Africa is widely regarded as a rainbow nation because of ethnic and cultural diversity. People who call South Africa their home include Zulu, Pedi, Ndebele, Hindu, Muslim, Xhosa, Khoisan, and many others. All these religions and ethnicities have largely contributed to forming the country’s heritage, culture, and identity. South Africa is a perfect example of how cultures and blend beautifully with each other. Though there is a huge difference of values between people living in rural and urban areas, family is the basic unit of South African society. The most common greeting is a handshake and it’s important to greet everyone immediately upon seeing them. South Afrikaans likes to indulge in social discussion after greetings. 

Languages

There are almost 35 languages spoken in the country out of which ten are official languages including Pedi, Ndebele, Swati, Tswana, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, Venda, and Tsonga. In urban areas, people usually speak English or Afrikaans in addition to their native language. English is the primary language used by the government in parliamentary and state discourse. 

Currency

The South Africa Rand (R) is the official currency of the country. It subdivides into 100 cents. The coins come in six denominations: 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, and R5. Banknotes have five denominations in circulation including R10, R20, R100, R 200. 

Convert Rands here

Wildlife

South Africa has ecologically rich and diverse wildlife with almost 300 mammal species where you can experience a close encounter with wild animals in their natural habitat. There is an Elephant sanctuary that allows close interaction with elephants and you can even enjoy a quiet hand-n-trunk stroll. Some animal species exist only in South Africa such as Mountain Zebra, and bontebok. There are over 850 species of birds found in South Africa. The typical African bird species are Kingfishers, ostrich, crane, and sunbirds. South Africa is also home to the world’s largest, and even tiniest animals like cheetah, giraffe, and tiny pygmy shrew. 

Food Scene 

South African cuisine is highly influenced by diverse range of cultures and culinary traditions including French, Malaysian, Dutch and other indigenous cultures due to its location on the coast as well as history of colonization. Meat is the central ingredient in all meals and has a ritual significance in both traditional and modern culture. Rice, beans and vegetables are also very popular. The top traditional South African dishes that reflect the cultural diversity are Biltong, Chakalaka, Potjiekos, Durban chicken curry, Boerewors, Malva pudding, Vetkeok, Milk tart, Pap, Apricot Blatjang. Among the indigenous foods, Khaosin and Bantu people have a strong culinary influence over South African cuisine and have foraged culinary ingredients that are used in the traditional cuisine. 

Politics 

South Africa is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The president is elected by the National Assembly and possess the executive power as both the chief of the state and head of the government. The African National Congress (ANC) is the ruling party and Matamela Cyril Ramphosa is a current president of South Africa serving since 2018.  

Tourism

South Africa is by far the most cosmopolitan country in Africa and has an extremely developed tourism industry. The southern tip of Africa offers an exotic variety of once in a life-time adventure from off-roading on a safari to diving with great white sharks. It is hard to name another holiday destination that offers this much variety. The country is often referred to as “A world within one country”. One of the main attractions is “Table Mountain”, a beautiful nature that everyone must see once in a lifetime. There’s “Robben Island” perfect to get some fresh air and enjoy a day outing. You can also visit “Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve” to enjoy wildlife viewing opportunities second to none. Other famous places worth visiting are Augrabies falls, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Winelands, Addo Elephant National Park, Hermanus, Blyde River Canyon, and Garden Route, and Drakensburg. 

More about South Africa on Local-Africa.com

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