Capital | Pretoria
Population | 49,109,107 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 1,219, 912 SQ KM
Official Language | Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swati, Venda and Ndebele
Holidays | Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Currency | rand (ZAR)
Time Zone | UTC +2
Best Time to Visit | February and March, for warm sunny weather
Connecting with the Culture | The stunning view from the top of Table Mountain, overlooking the ‘fairest cape’ of them all. Surfing (or learning to surf) in the warm waters of KwaZulu-Natal. Visiting the ‘Big Hole’ diamond mine in Kimberly. Exploring the spectacular Drakensburg Mountains.
Read | Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
Listen | to the South African national anthem, a uniting chant containing words from all 11 official languages.
Watch | Cry Freedom, Richard Attenborough’s powerful film detailing the moving story of black activist Steve Biko.
Eat | a braai (BBQ), with local meats including boerewors (hearty farmers sausage). Biltong (dried and cured meat) is also a favorite throughout the country.
Drink | some of the best wines in the world.
In a Word | Howzit…
Characteristics | Cape Town; rugby Springboks; Biltong; Table Mountain; braai; beaches; diamond and gold mines; the township of Soweto; Kruger National Park; Nelson Mandela
Surprises | It is bound to be summer somewhere in South Africa at any given time of the year given the size and geogrpahy of the country. The Kruger National Park has the greatest diversity of animals in the whole of Africa, and is the size of Wales. There is no denying that poverty, violence, and AIDS are all part of and parcel of the past and future of South Africa, but the sense of pride throughout the country is almost tangible.