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Beautiful South Africa

South Africa is one of those very few amazing countries that represent the western world in an African footprint. Starting from the language, people, culture, and the city designs among others. Indeed a visit to South Africa is yet another tour to the paradise of Africa. It combines city life, local life with a variety of people from different parts of Africa and it carries gestures of a westernized world in an Africa known for her past strong culture, native people and neighbors.

With history in the making, South Africa is a pillar for Africa’s independence from colonialists of which one of its Africa’s well known icon, Nelson Mandela is celebrated.

 

The history of South Africa

South Africa’s journey to fame is initially characterized by a series of massive obstacles from being a single state, colonized and the journey to bringing unity within and around its boarder states.

South Africa’s history is a long journey of more than 100,000 years ago when the first modern humans lived in the region down part of now African continent.

From the early inhabitants, the colonial era, the mineral revolution, the south African war, segregation, apartheid, its end, the first decade of freedom, the second and the now 21st century South Africa all give a past description and history of South Africa as a complete nation.

South Africa is famous for a very rich past, with various discoveries, including the skull of a Taung child in 1924 with more discoveries of human fossils and a background of the Bantu, the Khoikhoi and the Stone Age period as stipulated in history genres with even Bush men listed.

Natives by then adopted different styles like nomadism where people migrated from place to place and hunters too did especially to near-by Namibia, the Eastern Cape and other places. Bantu speaking people came around as a series of mixture with different people.

They later organized themselves to make chief / king doms, engaged in iron making before the early colonial period. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese arrived and later the Europeans and even companies like the Dutch East India Company came to be in place as they strategised to control this juicy virgin land.

In early 1795, the British took over the cape as a base to fight French and the coming of the British ushered in new civilization, British imperialism, and evangelism; economic, social and political systems came into place as a result. Slaves too came into place and wool making became a big dependable practice due to availability of sheep farms kept by natives.

Segregation by the British cropped up and was later seen at the frontline. This later ushered in policies that were bad like the Apartheid policy which was strongly fought against by then Africans in South Africa and many wars were witnessed.

Africans stood the ground to fight for their rights by becoming anti-apartheid until its end with emerging heroes like Nelson Mandela being elected the first black president of the republic of South Africa ushering in a new era.

South Africa started having brilliant young educated natives who had learnt much about British rule and later got involved to liberate their own country from colonialists. From then, South Africa has changed governments in the struggle to irk South Africa’s social, economic and political gestures.

Under his rule, social, economic and political strategies have been laid thus rising South Africa to fame especially in the Tourism, Sports, Trade and international relations.

Where is South Africa?

Given its name, South Africa is located in the southern region of Africa. The country covers 1,221,037 km² square kilometers of land and 4,620  sq. kilometers of water.

Neighbors of South Africa:

  • Zimbabwe
  • Lesotho
  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • Mozambique

Facts about South Africa

Country South Africa
Continent Africa
Capital City Pretoria
Area 1.22 million km²
Population 52.98 million (2013 statistics)
Lat. / Long. 30.5595° S, /  22.9375° E
Official Language English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, South African English
Area Calling Code +27
Time Zone UTC (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .za
Currency South African Rand

THE GEOGRAPHY OF SOUTH AFRICA

Geographically, the gallant South Africa is a country blessed by nature, given her verdant vegetation, elegant hill slopes and cool ocean beaches. Fronted by reefs, the low-lying coastal areas of South Africa’s land rises (with a few exceptions) into a mostly level plateau, one crisscrossed by hills, mountains and shallow valleys in the east and northeast.

The Drakensberg (or Dragon Mountains) are the highest mountain ranges in South Africa, and home to South Africa’s highest point, Njesuthi standing at an elevation of 11,181 ft. (3,408 m) ASL.

Forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment is the Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons on Earth at 16 miles (26km) in length and 2,500 ft. (750m) deep.

Arguably, South Africa’s most famous landform is the Table Mountain, a flat-topped peak forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town.

South Africa’s Kalahari Desert is part of a huge sand basin that reaches from the Orange River up to Angola, in the west to Namibia and east to Zimbabwe.

The Orange River, South Africa’s major river, rises in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho, where it is known as the Senqu. It twists and turns westward for some 2,200km (1,367 mi) to the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s lowest point.

SOUTH AFRICA’S UNIQUE FEATURES

Being strategically located, South Africa has so much fascinating features that you deserve to make a safari for you to witness.

South Africa is a land of shimmering lakes and turbulent rivers, mountains, falls, Hot springs among others.

UNIQUE FEATURES IN SOUTH AFRICA

LAKES / DAMS RIVERS MOUNTAINS
Lake  St Lucia Orange River Table Mountain
Lake Sibhayi Vaal River Mafadi mountain
Lake Fundudzi Tugela River Giant’s Castle
Lake Chrissie Limpopo River Cathedral Peak
Lake Zeekoevlei Olifants River Champagne Castle
Midmar Dam Great Fish River Compassberg
Lake Wemmer Pan Storms River Seweweekspoortpiek
Kamfers Dam Breede River Pilanesberg Mountain
Umgeni River Injesuthi Dome
Gamtoos River Ghaamsberg Mountain
Great Kei River Helderberg Mountain
Molopo River KwaDuma Mountain peak
Krom River
Komati River

SOUTH AFRICA’S FLORA AND FAUNA

South Africa’s beauty comes from many things and partly is its Flora and Fauna. Beautiful South Africa’s landscape is one of the most diverse in the world. Its Cape Floral Kingdom (or the Cape Floristic Region), is one of only six floral kingdoms in the world. The ecosystem supports 9,600 recorded plant species. 70 per cent of them are found nowhere else on the planet.

Usually many of the critical habitats of the Cape Flora (including lowland Fynbos, succulent Karoo and Renosterveld) are severely threatened by human development pressures on land. Ploughing of land for agriculture (arable, dairy) and conversion for viniculture and other industries endanger the unique plants and animals that rely on Cape Flora habitats.

The fauna & flora in South Africa is focused on the Cape Floral Kingdom, Mammals, Sighting the “Big Five” has become something of a quest for many people when on an African safari in southern Africa, and the Kruger National Park has more than its fair share of these, with an estimated 1,500 lions, 17,000 elephants, 48,000 buffaloes and 1,000 leopards. It should certainly not be a pre-requisite of a safari to see these or even a priority, as there are plenty of other fascinating animals and birds in the African bush.

Kruger national park is one of the premier game-watching destinations in the world, not to be missed out during any African safari tours. Approximately 147 mammal species occur in this park. It is possible to see all the classical African big game, including elephant, black and white rhino, hippopotamus, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, warthog and many antelope species. Large carnivores include lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and spotted hyena. There are also many smaller mammals’ equally enticing species.

Vegetation of South Africa:

Nature is beauty and so it is with South Africa. With the Kruger National Park being so vast it naturally has a tremendous botanical diversity. Simplistically the Kruger National Park can be divided into 16 macro ecozones. The northern half of the park, north of the Olifants River is predominantly mopane veld, while south of the Olifants the ecozones are thornveld. There are 336 tree species in the park. Other places elsewhere like forests, swamps, grasslands also make up the vegetation in South Africa giving the country very attractive African scenery.

At least a visitor will not miss to see all these for any safari made in Africa in addition to many.

THE PEOPLE/ CULTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is dubbed a multicultural nation as coined by Desmond Tutu and further describes it as a ‘Rainbow Nation’. From the indigenous world of South Africa, the colonial era, the 21st century has seen South Africa striking in its people and culture with changes and a multiplicity of many things.

In South Africa, Black African culture is most obviously known for its art, dance and music – these have been profoundly influenced by more than two centuries of colonialism and the work of Christian missionaries.

Of today, songs reflect a number of different styles such as gospel, jazz and rock, but often have a strong local flavour. Styles such as kwaito (house music), mbube (Zulu vocal) and kwela (jazzy street music often with a penny whistle) incorporate indigenous sounds.

Art forms such as dancing and textiles perhaps retain the strongest links to traditional black culture, because they express identity and shared history.

Gumboot dancing was born in the mines of South Africa, where Africans were given Wellingtons to protect their feet and communicated in the dark by slapping and thudding their boots.

Love for beads

Curiously, the tradition of beaded jewellery in African culture relied on European beads. These were brought by traders to barter for African goods such as ivory. Initially, large beads were exchanged, but a century later European traders introduced tiny glass beads which could more easily be strung on threads or sewn onto leather. Traditional Xhosa bead work, for example, is made by stitching the beads onto backings of cowhide or goatskin.

Adornment at irk

Adornment is important in African culture for both men and women. Traditional bead work reflects not only an individual’s history and experiences – patterns and colors have meanings; for example, blue is for loneliness or saying ‘I will wait for you’ – it also distinguishes a person’s ethnic group, such as Xhosa, Zulu or Ndebele.

In 1962, Nelson Mandela wore Xhosa beads at his sentencing (rather than his usual suit), sending a message of African identity and defiance.

Culture & tradition in South Africa

Among native black South Africans, there are many different ethnic groups and nine officially-recognized local languages.

The Zulu and Xhosa speakers are the two largest groups – accounting for nearly 40% of the population – with Pedi, Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Swati/Swazi, Venda and Ndebele speakers making up the rest.

The various tribal cultures have rich oral traditions.  Stories, poems and epics were learnt by heart and recited out loud. Slowly, these stories are working their way into written literature.

Indeed when you make an African tour into South Africa, expect to have the best out of this country’s culture and her people.

FOOD AND DIET OF SOUTH AFRICA

South Africans love their lives and so feed well. South African food is so colorful, interesting and alien to most visitors. A well-prepared local meal can be a highlight of your safari to South Africa for a culinary trip. Many restaurants specialize in the cuisine of the continent and serve a good variety of traditional African dishes.

Trying some delicious traditional African food should be part of every visitor’s itinerary. A number of specialized restaurants in South Africa do an excellent job of serving both modern and traditional African food. Each dish reflects one or more of the different cultural influences found across the continent.

Traditional African food is generally cooked over an open fire or in a three-legged pot (or potjie), so meat tends to be served in either stewed or grilled form. A starch usually accompanies the meat: mieliepap (maize porridge), potatoes or rice. Beetroot, carrots, cabbage and pumpkin are the vegetables most commonly served. Typical South African dishes include tripe, morogo, chakalaka, amadumbe, and the ubiquitous boerewors roll.

Tripe is a traditional treat favoured by most Africans. In the Cape, it is considered a regional delicacy and is often served lightly curried with small new potatoes and fried onions.

Morogo is a type of wild spinach. Combined with butter-braised onions and tomato or mixed into maize porridge, it is a rural ingredient with mainstream appeal. Amadumbe is a sweet potato and peanut mash. A tasty restaurant variation of the dish is to cook sweet potatoes, mash them with butter and sprinkle them with roasted peanuts, topped off with a drizzle of honey.

Chakalaka is a spicy relish served alongside a main course and consists of grated carrots, green peppers, sliced onion, vinegar, chilli and that secret ingredient that will distinguish it from anyone else’s.

Other local favourites include a wide variety of delectable Cape Malay dishes, biltong and sweet delicacies such as the koeksister and melktert.

A Mixture of western and traditional can be awesome, visit South Africa and enjoy its exclusive meal.

TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

In South Africa, a variety of transport avenues are used. South Africa offers a good road network with clean cities, trains are used for transport and South Africa recommends caution on its road network and use of a reliable taxi service to and from anywhere in the country.

Other public means of transport are the (Taxis) and that ease transportations elsewhere in different parts of South Africa

Criminal Penalties:

South Africa has a country is run on law and no one is above the law. Therefore any visitor to South Africa is subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

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