Introduction to South Africa

Multifaceted South Africa is a contradictory country: rich, poor, trendsetting and historic all at the same time. Lying at the southern tip of Africa, it is staunchly proud to be African while also being culturally, politically and environmentally different to the rest of the continent. As the continent’s most developed nation, South Africa is an excellent introduction to the complexities of Africa, and while most countries can claim a certain amount of diversity, South Africa takes that description to the extreme.

Think nondescript plains that spring into glorious wildflower bloom in spring, diamond and gold mines, deserts and snow-capped mountains of the interior, beautiful beaches and coastal waves, ancient fynbos forests and verdant capes to give you just some of the scope of South Africa’s stunning natural attributes. The flat-topped Table Mountain that shelters Cape Town is one of the most iconic sights in Africa, while Kruger National Park is one of the world’s biggest destinations for game spotting. Sandwiched between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, bi-coastal South Africa also offers a diverse range of marine life.

South Africa’s ethnic mix is just as varied as its geography with no less than 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Swati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Add a variety of peoples, cultures, religions and history and it makes for a truly multicultural country where the cuisine is a melange of influences and the arts scene is on the cutting edge of music and dance trends.

Of course, there’s no escaping the 40-odd years of oppression and state-sanctioned segregation that divided South Africa racially and economically during the apartheid regime. But, with almost 20 years since the historic democratic elections in 1994, a new generation of South Africans is united in making the ‘Rainbow Nation’ a reality for the future.


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