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South Africa News


South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It is divided into nine provinces and has 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline.To the north lie the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; while Lesotho is an enclave surrounded by South African territory.South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world by area and the 24th most populous country with over 51 million people.

South Africa is a multi-ethnic nation and has diverse cultures and languages. Eleven official languages are recognised in the constitution.Two of these languages are of European origin: English and Afrikaans, a language which originated mainly from Dutch that is spoken by the majority of white and Coloured South Africans. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fifth most-spoken home language.All ethnic and language groups have political representation in the country's constitutional democracy comprising a parliamentary republic; unlike most parliamentary republics, the positions of head of state and head of government are merged in a parliament-dependent President.

About 80% of the South African population is of black African ancestry,divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status.South Africa also contains the largest communities of European, Asian, and racially mixed ancestry in Africa.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. It has the largest economy in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world.By purchasing power parity, South Africa has the 5th highest per capita income in Africa. It is considered a newly industrialised country. However, about a quarter of the population is unemployed and lives on less than US $1.25 a day.



South Africa is located at the southernmost tip of the African continent (22° - 34° south, 16° - 32° east), and borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. South Africa was governed by Holland from 1672 to 1810, and then as two British colonies plus several independent republics until 1901. It then became a self-governing member of the British Commonwealth 1910 to 1961, and finally in 1961 South Africa became an independent republic.

During the first 300 years governance was dominated by the white minority. Since 1994 South Africa has been a democracy with a non-racial franchise. Furthermore, South Africans have the right to an environment which is not harmful to their health or well-being, and have the right to have the environment protected for present and future generations (The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996). This is confirmation of the government's commitment to the environment, and sustainable use of natural resources, and sets the scene for this report;The country is divided into nine provinces and 367 magisterial districts. The government is represented by National Departments, Provincial Departments, and Local Government at the district level. Environmental issues are the responsibility of the government at each of these levels.

South Africa's population was estimated to be 40.6 million in the 1996 census, with roughly 50% living in urban areas, and 50% in rural areas. The population growth rate is 1.9%, and although this has been declining steadily over the last few years, the total population will continue to increase. The government's Reconstruction and Development Programme aims for 2.1% fertility by 2010, 1.9% population growth, and stabilisation of the population at 80 million by 2100.

Due to the diversity of cultures amongst the people of South Africa, there are 11 official languages. Xhosa is the most widely spoken as a home language, although the most commonly accepted business language is English.The currency of South Africa is the Rand (R6.10 = US $1, as at September 1999). The economy has grown steadily since 1992, although the rate has slowed. The government's target was 3% p.a. for the period 1994-1996. Inflation is approximately 6%, and just under half the population are living below the poverty line.

The economy was originally built on natural resources, with mining and agriculture the mainstays of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Recently, however, there has been a shift from production towards manufacturing, with the secondary sector currently contributing approximately 33% to GDP (compared to approximately 14% from the primary sector, and 53% from the tertiary sector).The climate in South Africa is typically warm and dry, with winter temperatures rarely falling below 0°C, and summer maxima frequently above 35°C. The average annual rainfall is approximately 500mm (considerably less than the world average of 860mm). Most of the central and eastern parts of the country enjoy summer rainfall, whilst the western side of the country is the winter rainfall region.

South Africa's diversity and richness of mineral deposits (including coal, iron, copper, gold, platinum) were the catylist for European colonisation, and economic development. Although these are distributed across the country, the most economically important deposits (gold, coal and platinum) are found in gauteng Province, which is now the most populous, and affluent area.


South Africa is home to an estimated 5,8% of the global total of mammal species, 8 % of bird species, 4.6% of reptile species, 16% of marine fish species and 5.5% of the world's known insect species (DEA&T 1997). In terms of the number of endemic species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, South Africa ranks as the 5th richest country in Africa and the 24th richest in the world (DEA&T 1997). However, many of these species are threatened.

The recently completed South African National Land Cover Data Set estimates the largest land use to be agriculture (86%,mostly natural veld with about 12% cultivated). Urban and industrial land uses comprise 1.4%, forestry comprises 1.5%, and conserved areas 6%. As at 1996, there were 422 protected reas, made up of national parks and provincial reserves with a total area of 6.7 million ha (Kumleben et al. 1998). If the large Kruger National Park and Kalahari Gemsbok Parks are excluded, only 4 % of the surface area of South Africa is formally protected.Virtually all ecosystems in South Africa have been modified or transformed by human activities (MacDonald 1989). These transformations and modifications include areas placed under cultivation for commercial crops or subsistence agriculture; overstocking, overgrazing and poor land-use management; afforestation for commercial timber production; the invasive spread of alien plants; urbanization and settlements; the impoundment of rivers; mining; transportation; industrialisation and subsistence and commercial harvesting of indigenous plant products (Macdonald 1989).

South Africa's most limiting natural resource is water. Most of the major rivers have been dammed or have water abstraction schemes in place, in order to supply industry, agriculture, and domestic users.The government is committed to supplying all South Africans with 20-30 litres of clean water per day, increasing to 50-60 litres within 5 years. However, currently 16 million people do not have access to clean drinking water.


Nature has worked a special magic on the South African landscape. Although culture and history are an integral part of the South African experience, it is nature which is the true jewel in the crown. Wind, sun and rain have sculpted vistas of unsurpassed beauty in which some of the earth's most diverse plant population thrive. With some of the biggest and most diverse game sanctuaries in the world and kilometres of countryside and coastline where visitors can enjoy the sun, South Africa stands apart as an African masterpiece ..

Western Cape and Cape Town  / If the Western Cape were a woman, she would turn heads. As a province of South Africa, the Western Cape draws millions of visitors each year to a seemingly small area if compared with other provinces in South Africa, but one that is so beautiful that it can’t help the distinct attention it draws.

Affixed to the tip of Africa as it is, the Western Cape lies bordered by two oceans - the Indian Ocean to the south and the Atlantic to the west - which goes a long way to clarify its allure. The wild Cape Agulhas coast, the extraordinary magnificence of the Garden Route, the sparse, sweeping stretches of sand, punctuated only by rocky outcrops and fishing villages, of the West Coast notwithstanding, it is not the coastline alone that draws the crowds. The constant reassuring presence of immense peaks form the backdrop to a land so lovely in parts that the emerald lakes and indigenous forests of the Wilderness, the sun-drenched vineyards of the Cape Winelands, the magnificent passes to reach the interior and the wide, windswept arid spaces of the Klein Karoo seem part of a fantasy landscape that often defies description.


Eastern Cape  / Whether you're in the mood for an informal seaside escape, an encounter with the "Big Five" on safari, or a choice of scintillating city diversions, you're sure to find what you're looking for in the Eastern Cape. Scenic diversity is one of the most striking characteristics of the region, ranging from the lush, evergreen Tsitsikamma Forest to the rugged Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, the southern slopes of the Drakensberg and the arid Great Karoo. Alternating between sweeping sand, river mouths, rocks and covers, the coastline is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Among them, surfers ride the perfect waves, anglers reel in king-size catches, and board sailors revel in the challenge of the wind. Sunshine all year round, fine leisure resorts and splendid facilities ensure that the great outdoors is always in style.

When pleasures of a more sophisticated kind appeal, you'll find plenty to entertain you in Port Elizabeth and East London. Both are ideal for family holidays, large enough to offer all the amenities of a city, yet small enough to be genuinely welcoming and friendly. They also provide convenient access to unspoiled areas of exceptional natural beauty.

KwaZulu Natal  / KwaZulu Natal's leisure options provide a multitude of choices to keep you endlessly entertained. From the city of Durban you can catch a shuttle to Margate, at the hub of the South Coast Golf Circuit. When you're not playing golf, fishing or lying on the beach, you can visit a crocodile farm, a nature reserve or follow an arts and crafts trail.

A short flight takes you to the historic city of Pietermaritzburg, gateway to the Natal Midlands and the charming Drakensberg resorts. No holiday in KwaZulu Natal would be complete without a visit to at least one of the KwaZulu Natal game reserves, renowned throughout the world. Appropriately enough, the Zulu name for Durban is Thekwini, meaning "The Place Where the Earth and the Ocean Meet". But apart from an effervescent ocean lined with golden beaches, KwaZulu Natal's capital city, Durban, offers a subtropical carnival atmosphere and summer sunshine all year round. From around the globe, day in, day out, pleasure-seekers converge on the city to play on the golden, palm-fringed sands. In addition to the attractions of sea, surf and sport, leisure options encompass an eclectic range.

At excellent one-stop shopping centres, you can buy anything from photographic equipment to couturier clothes and rare antiques. Flea markets and craft trails attract leisurely browsers, and discount stores offer quality merchandise at bargain basement prices. Within a stone's throw of the city centre, oriental bazaars, fragrant with spice and incense, offer silks, saris, unusual jewellery and ornaments. Pubs, discos and action bars are firm favourites. KwaZulu Natal also caters for a wide spectrum of travellers and businessmen and the top hotels in KwaZulu Natal compare very favourably with the best hotels and resorts in the world. You will find an extensive selection of places to stay at KwaZulu Natal accommodation and KwaZulu Natal hotels.


Gauteng / Stretching all the way from Pretoria in the north to Vereeniging in the south, Gauteng (Sotho for place of gold, although the ‘gaut’ is also thought to originate from the Dutch ‘goud’ for gold) was created by the ANC in 1994 after the country’s first all-race elections, uniting six regions, including part of the old Transvaal province, into what might be the smallest South African province, but serves as the gateway into Africa.

Whilst Gautengs history lies embedded in the discovery of gold, today Gauteng not only has one of the best infrastructures, but its population of over 9 million people form part of a vibrant mix of energy and diversity that make it one of the wealthiest provinces in Africa, and the entertainment epicentre of South Africa. The energy of the Highveld, with its intense summers broken only by intermittent electric storms, is echoed in the sheer buzz of the place. In Johannesburg people walk and talk fast, they drive at high speed too, and the ever increasing skyline - as glass and chrome structures rise like mushrooms seemingly overnight - reflects the rapid development that has taken place in the city in the last 10 years.

Mpumalanga  / Formerly known as the Eastern Transvaal, Mpumalanga is one of South Africa's top tourist destinations. People are drawn to Mpumalanga by the magnificent scenery, by the fauna and flora and by the saga of the 1870s gold rush era and a wealth of fascinating tribal legends.

Aptly know as "Paradise Country", few regions in the world can match the extraordinary beauty of the Mpumalanga Lowveld and escarpment. Mountains, panoramic passes, valleys, rivers, waterfalls and forests characterise the landscape. This is also Big Game Country, the setting for dozens of sanctuaries teeming with wildlife and birds. Among them, the Kruger National Park is world renowned, as are several of the luxurious private reserves on its western boundary. The entire Mpumalanga area offers exceptional opportunities for bird-watching, hiking, horse-riding and fishing. Streams once panned for gold have become the haunts of eager anglers and lazy trout. Steeped in the history of pioneers, hunters and fortune seekers, fascinating gold rush towns abound. Barberton and Pilgrim's Rest are among the most famous. A special, additional dimension occurs in the Middleveld region which is inhabited by Ndebele people, notable for their traditional costumes and attractively decorated houses.
Limpopo  / South Africa’s northernmost province, Limpopo, borders onto Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana, making it the ideal entrance to Africa. Named after the great Limpopo River that flows along its northern border, this province is rich in wildlife, spectacular scenery and a wealth of historical and cultural treasures.

The Great North Road from Pretoria was first carved by the creaking wheels of ox wagons. Today, when you follow the footsteps of the Voortrekkers, you'll travel on fast, safe roads and enjoy every modern amenity as you go. Known as the Great North, Limpopo is land of legend. Ruins and relics abounds in ancient forests, sparkling trout waters, hot mineral springs and waterfalls. Much of it has remained unchanged for centuries, offering unlimited opportunities in Limpopo for the enjoyment of untamed Africa. Limpopo is home to ancient lands and pre-historic secrets. This is home to Modjadji, the fabled Rain Queen, the Stone Age and Iron age relics of Makapansgat Valley and the treasures of Mapungubwe that date back to time immemorial.

North West Province
  / Apart from its enviable setting in the western Magaliesberg, there's always plenty to see and do in the popular holiday resort of Rustenburg. From there, less than half an hour's drive takes you to the glamorous Sun City Resort and its enormous range of leisure options.

Nearby, you have an excellent chance of spotting the "Big Five" at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. History buffs will be fascinated by Mafikeng, and in particular its museum, which has exhibits relating to the Siege of Mafeking, the Barolong people and the Bushmen. The towns of Lichtenburg, Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom are of interest from a historical point of view. Sun City is internationally renowned as one of South Africa's premier holiday resorts, offering a multitude of attractions and activities to keep everyone occupied. With its combination of golf, game and gambling, as well as world class hotels, Sun City is the perfect choice for any holiday in South Africa. Sun City is conveniently located about two hours' drive outside Johannesburg. Sun City in South Africa has much to offer.

Sun City’s attractions are varied enough to appeal to the most divergent of tastes. The chance to win a fortune is a major drawcard for most visitors, who head straight for the Sun City Casino or the entertainment centre, a huge cavern that hums with feverish excitement as jingling slot-machines disgorge coins then gobble them up again at a ruthless rate.

Free State / With its wealth of historical and cultural attractions and excellent facilities, Bloemfontein is the ideal place to start a tour of the Free State. North of Winburg, the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve is the Free State's major provincial reserve, offering a wealth of wildlife, excellent fishing conditions, and a wide range of sports facilities.

Kroonstad has all you need for a relaxing break, including an excellent holiday resort. Loch Athlone, one of the major attractions of Bethlehem, is a magnet for anglers and those who enjoy pottering around in boats. No visit to the Free State is complete without following the renowned Highlands Route. Starting at Harrismith and ending at Zastron, the route is particularly notable for the Golden Gate National Park, beautiful mountain scenery and charming country towns. In the south-west, the Gariep Dam nature reserve offers an extensive range of leisure activities including water sports, tennis, bowling, horse-riding and golf.
Northern Cape  / Vast expanses of space and silence, drought and blazing summer sunshine. Across the arid landscape, the Orange River flows, at places in a sluggish tide, at others in a powerful explosion of sound and fury. Were it not for the river, much of the region may well have remained bleak and populated only by nomadic bands of Bushmen. Instead, prosperous towns and villages have risen from its banks, and large stretches of once-barren land have been transformed into fields of cotton, Lucerne, dates and grapes.

In addition to the fabulous diamonds discovered which catapulted the city of Kimberley to fame and fortune, and changed the course of history, a rich bounty of alluvial diamonds is mined off the west coast. The wild and lonely western coastline is also one of the world's most prolific fishing grounds, providing yet another source of revenue. Wealth there is too, in copper, but to some, the greatest gift of all lies in the extravagant beauty of Namaqualand's wild flowers. The area is also notable for fine examples of Bushman art, abundant deposits of semi-precious stones, and friendly hospitality. Four major wildlife santuaries and a number of smaller reserves provide endless opportunities for getting back to nature.





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