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South Africa

South Africa is a land of such immense variety that its tourism slogan “a world in one country” is truly apt.  It’s dynamic economy based on mining (especially the gold industry), manufacturing, agriculture, fisheries, finance and tourism.  The Cape produces some of the finest wines in the world and a visit to the winelands cantered on Stellenbosch is well worth a trip by discerning connoisseurs.

The largest cities, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban as well as many smaller ones are very modern with all the amenities that are found in such metropolises.  Of these, Cape Town has the most to offer the visitor and is therefore a greatly acclaimed destination.

The geophysical features of South Africa vary from of ocean beaches and coastal forests to high mountains like Drakensberg where snow sometimes falls on the highest peaks; from the Kalahari Desert to high veldt grasslands to desolate plains of the Karov and from low lying bushveld to tropical forests in Zululand.  This wide range of habitats provides for a high diversity of animal and bird life.  For conservation purposes there are many National Parks and native reserves throughout the country.  The most popular destinations for wildlife enthusiasts are the Kruger and Kalahari Gemsbok National Parks and the game reserves of Zululand.

The flora of South Africa is spectacular with more than 22,000 species or 10% of the world’s total occurring there.  Of the six floral kingdoms that exist on the planet, one, the fynbos (fine bush) is confined entirely to the Western Cape.  Another floral wonder is found in the semi-desert of Namaqualand in the Northern Cape where, after scarce rain has fallen, the barren land bursts into life with a multi-colored carpet of spring flowers, mostly daisies, but other varieties as well.  There are also the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch at the base of Table Mountain outside

Cape Town which are also spectacular and well worth visiting.  In spring, the streets of Pretoria are a riot of mauve/purple color when the jacaranda trees (a South African exotic) are in full bloom.

The peoples of South Africa consist of many ethnic groups of which the Zulu, Xhosa, Pando, Ndebele and Venda are the largest indigenous tribes.  The total population is about 52 million including about 4.5 million whites (mostly of Afrikaner and British descent) and lesser numbers of mixed race and East Indians.  This ethnic diversity produces fascinating multi-cultures and traditions.

English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu are the most widely spoken languages in South Africa, but there are in fact 11 official languages!

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