Country - South Africa
South Africa Country Information
Standing true to its name, South Africa totally occupies the southernmost tip of the African continent. Its official name is Republic of South Africa and has a pretty long coastline of 2798 kilometers extending from its western border to eastern, bounded by South Atlantic and Indian Oceans respectively. The northern border is shared by Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The northeastern border is in contiguity with Mozambique and Swaziland (Eswatini). South Africa encircles from all sides the total frontier of the Lesotho enclave.
The parliament of South Africa is bicameral. The Lower House is called National Assembly consisting of 400 members elected for a maximum term of five years and the Upper House is National Council of Provinces with 90 members. South Africa does not have a single city that can be called the sole capital of the country. Capital of South Africa is split over different places depending on the location of diverse organs of political power. Cape Town is the seat of parliament, called the legislative capital. Pretoria is the administrative capital from where the President and the cabinet of ministers rule the country. Bloemfontein is the judicial capital which is the seat of Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court of South Africa is in Johannesburg.
South Africa had been under the British colonial rule until 1902 but subsequently the United Kingdom having won two wars against rebellious Boers had amalgamated the dispersed British colonies Cape Colony, Natal Colony, Transvaal Colony and Orange River Colony and constitutionally made the country self-governed state under the purview of British Empire in 1934. The dominion became Republic of South Africa following the people’s verdict given in the referendum of 1960 since when the republican constitution came into being. In spite of constitutional changes, the racial discrimination persisted, called apartheid, which was vehemently fought against for decades within the country and began to receive bitter international criticism. Adamant struggle for independence which lasted several decades finally culminated into achievement of freedom by African National Congress and the country emerged as an independent republic on 27th April, 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.
South Africa was formerly an agrarian economy. With the discovery diamond and gold reserves towards the end of 19th century, economic outlook took a reorientation toward rapid industrialization. The country was classified by the United Nations as upper middle income economy. The per capita GDP (nominal) was US $6459 with a total population of 57,725,600 as estimated in 2018. However, the issue of unemployment persists as a chronic concern with more than 25% of the population as jobless.
The total value of exports was US $69.1 billion while that of imports was US $73.7 billion in 2016. The main items of exports were gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment. The chief commodities imported were machinery and equipment, chemicals and petroleum products, scientific instruments and foodstuffs. The trade deficit was US $ 4.6 billion.
South Africa has multifarious tourist locations to amuse visitors of divergent tastes, ranging from heritage monuments, wild life habitats, luxurious hotels, self-catering chalets, eateries of yummy snacks to mind-blowing scenic locations.
The most famous game reserve is the Kruger National Park, a more common destination every traveller thinks of while entering South Africa. The Park attracts great multitudes of visitors because it is the largest in area (19485 sq. kms) and the oldest park with easier accessibility. As the animal population also is extremely large, visitors cannot miss any type of wildlife in a single safari trip. If you want to visit less crowded places, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Mkhuje Game Reserve and Addo Elephant National Park are the suitable options.
Some of the best golf courses in the world can be seen in South Africa. Visitors clamber for trying their hand in the world-class golf courses which have won fame for legendary golfers like Gary Player and Ernie Els. Comfortable climate, extremely vast space, eye-pleasing scenery and well-maintained lush-green turf lands make the golf courses all the more superior and irresistibly tempting even for non-golfers.
The Sun City Luxury Resort is a true paradise for entertainment seekers. The main attractions include Gary Player Country Club, the Valley of Waves, Sun City Casino, the Maze of the Lost City, Kwena Gardens, Water World, Zip 2000, Sun Star and Segaetsho Cultural Village. Sun City was the venue for the Miss World Pageant 1994 when Aishwarya Rai from India won the crown and was the final winner out of 87 contestants from all over the world.
The biggest diamond mine in the world, Kimberley is a brilliant star of attraction in South Africa. The crater that was dug while mining is big enough to be visible when watched from space. Visitors can walk on a high platform to take view of the manually dug basin known as the Big Hole and get a ride down a faux mining shaft to arrive at the highly secured vault to catch a glimpse of genuine diamonds of various colours. A small museum in the same precinct is more informative about the precious diamonds of different sizes and hues. The enclosure has a mini theatre which runs a 17-minute documentary explaining about the process of mining diamonds right from the scratch to the finishing stage of sparkling stones.
The city of Durban located on South Africa’s northeast coast elevates the spirits of fun seekers in ways more than one. Durban is more famous for the highly elegant world-class beaches of the Golden Mile where swimming, scuba diving, surfing, snorkelling and basking are the activities that keep the tourists actively engaged and leave them over-satisfied in paramount pleasure.
The uShaka Marine World is the topmost attraction in the city of Durban. The colossal aquarium houses sharks of serrated teeth, huge different batches of fish and green turtles gliding calmly at their own pace in the huge glass reservoirs.
The Cape West Coast has a sudden surprise to the visitors in the blooming period of flowers. The Postberg Flower Reserve is the most ideal place for watching the abrupt burgeoning of millions of flowers of different colours in a single landscape. Between August and September, one can see the deluge of daisy species in yellow, purple, gold and white colours that make the visitors speechless and awe-struck.
South Africa is replete with historical monuments, icons of cultural heritage and ancient legacy, modern hi-fi cosmopolitan life, luxurious hotels/resorts, sprawling wild life reserves and exotic locations to appeal to the senses of tourists with multifarious tastes and preferences. The country is an eclectic mix that has something for everyone.