Standard Time: Two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central European Time and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, USA.Location: The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern tip of the African continent between latitudes 22 and 35 south, flanked by the Indian Ocean on the east coast and the Atlantic on the west, and bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.Size: The nine provinces: Gauteng (Capital – Johannesburg, Kwazulu-Natal (Capital -Pietermaritzburg), Northern Province ( Capital – Pietersburg), North West (Capital Mmbatho, Mpumalanga (Capital Nelspruit) , Free State (Capital Bloemfontein), Northern Cape (Capital – Kimberley), Western Cape (Capital – Cape Town), Eastern Cape (Capital – King Williams Town), cover a total of 1,227,200 Km2.
Languages: There are 11 official languages : Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele, Sepedi, Sesotho, SiSwati, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda, IsiXhosa, and IsiZulu.Climate: The climate is generally sunny and temperate and the average number of sunshine hours each day are among the highest in the world. Winters are mild and clear, although occasional snowfalls occur on the higher mountain ranges of the Eastern and Western Cape and KwaZulu/Natal, causing brief cold spells in the surrounding areas. Over 40% of South Africa lies more than 1,210 m above sea level, and this factor exerts a significant influence on temperatures and rainfall in the interior of the country. The Western Cape Province enjoys a Mediterranean-type climate (dry summers and winter rainfall), while on the whole, the remainder of the country experiences summer rainfall, mostly in the form of short afternoon thunderstorms. As the country lies in the southern hemisphere, seasons are the reverse of those prevailing in the northern hemisphere. Plant and Animal Life: South Africa has an extraordinary wealth of flora and fauna. Some 22,000 species of flowering plants (of which 730 are classified as trees) are endemic to the country, and about 900 species of birds, representing 22 of the world’s living orders, are found here.Indigenous animals include many carnivore, as well as a large number and variety of antelope and other herbivore – the largest being the elephant. Between them, the country `s game parks preserve an amazing diversity of habitats to which different species have adapted over hundreds of thousands of years: desert and semi-desert, mountain, savanna, bushveld, temperate and subtropical coast, lake, estuary and river. Apart from the 800 game reserves and 16 National Parks Board Reserves, there are several privately owned sanctuaries, where conservation is strictly enforced. Transport South Af rica’s complete road network links settlements ranging from the largest metropolitan area to the smallest village and comprises a total length of more than 206,000 km. Of this network more than 57,000 km are surfaced. Spoornet, the government owned railway operates 21,303 route km of railroads (34,110 km of track) 42,6% which is electrified. The luxurious Blue Train runs between Pretoria and Cape Town a distance of 1,600km – and is particularly popular among tourists. There are six major ports along South Africa’s coastline of nearly 3,000 km namely Durban, Richards Bay, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Saldanha. Durban is South Africa’s busiest port and is believed to be the third largest port in Africa. South African Airways, the country’s national carrier operates a comprehensive network of services internally and internationally.
Culture South Africa offers vital and diverse cultural fare. The country’s artists are active both locally and abroad in the fields of theater, classical and modern music, opera, ballet, the visual arts and literature (drama, poetry and prose). Many South African productions are showcased on stage and at exhibitions abroad.
Sport South African sportsmen and women continue to excel on the playing fields of the world and at home, establishing new world and South African records and scoring remarkable feats. One of the reasons is probably South Africa’s ideal climate which permits all forms of outdoor sport and recreation to be enjoyed virtually throughout the year in most parts of the country. Rugby, tennis, field hockey, soccer, cricket, squash, badminton, golf, surfing, sailing, running, athletics, sky diving, cycling, triathlons are some of the participation sports.
Did You Know? Eskom, South Africa’s national electricity utility, is the world’s fourth largest electricity utility in terms of both sales volume and nominal capacity. Eskom generates more electricity than the rest of the African continent.
The Lost City Resort is the largest theme resort hotel in the world as well as the largest building project undertaken in the southern hemisphere.