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Cape Winelands 
Photo by Sherrie Wenzel

South Africa Facts

Political Climate
The New democracy, aptly called the "Rainbow Nation": is a colorful combination of ethnic cultures living in a land of scenic contracts.

Geography
Located at the southernmost tip of the African Continent South Africa occupies 1,223,410 sq kim (about 472,659 square miles) and stretches from the LImpopo River in the north to Cape Agulhus in the south. It is five times the size of Britain, twice the size of France and one eight the size of the United States. South Africa borders Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, Mozambique and Swaziland to the Northeast, the Atlantic Ocean to the West and Indian Ocean to the South and South East. South Africa enjoys a wealth of fauna and flora. The miracle of spring flowers in the arid Namaqualand regions, herds of elephant, endangered black and more common white rhino and most revered of all, the lion, are an inspiration to all those who seek the wonder of the African bush.

Capital ~ Pretoria
Pretoria is the administration capital of South Africa and is located in the northern part of the province, Gauteng.

Languages
South Africa has 11 official languages, Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. English however, has been declared the language of record and is therefore the main language of business. Languages such as French, German and Italian are spoken by staff members at many up-market hotels and shops. South African English is heavily influenced by Afrikaans and to a lesser extent, by some of the African languages. First-time visitors may have trouble understanding the South African Accent, which lengthens certain vowels, clips others short and swallows others.

Currency
The official currency of South African is the Rand. Rand notes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and coin need to double check
·Banks. Banks are open Monday to Friday 9:00AM (09h00) to 3:30PM (15h30) and Saturday from 8:30A (08h30) to 11:00AM (11h00). The following banks offer foreign exchange services: Allied, First National, Nedbank, Standard Bank, Trustbank, United, ABSA and Volkskas. Various teller machines (ATM's) can be found in the larger cities. The banks and bureau de change at the airport offer the best exchange rates. Credit cards are readily accepted throughout the country, American Express and Diners less readily accepted. NB: in South Africa petrol (gasoline) can only be paid for by cash.

People & Population
Numerous population groups with different languages, cultural backgrounds and origins all coexist in South Africa. The bigger groups are Zulus (21 %), Xhosas (17 %) and the Sotho (15%). Next are smaller minorities, such as the Tswana, Venda, Ndebele, Swasi, Pedi and others. The province of Natal is home to about one million Indians, whose forefathers came to South Africa to work on the sugarcane plantations. And there are three million people of mixed race, the so-called "coloureds," mainly living in the Cape region. They are descendants of the first Dutch settlers and the native population of the Cape (Khoikhoi) or the Malays, who were taken to South Africa as slaves from East India in the 18th century. The "coloureds" have a cultural heritage of their own. The portion of the white part of the South African population amounts to 8 % (4 million) of the national population. Most of them derive from Dutch, German or French immigrants. They are called Afrikaners and speak Afrikaans, which is closely related to the Dutch language. The English speaking part of the white population is concentrated in the Western and Eastern Cape province and in Natal. As of this writing the population is approximately 43, 421, 021.

Entry Requirements
For US citizens a passport must be valid 6 months beyond intended stay, and contain two blank facing visa pages. Note: The last three pages in the passport are reserved for Passport Amendments and cannot be used as visa pages. In addition: Tickets and Documents for return or onward travel, No visa required for stay up to 3 months, Vaccinations - International Certificate of Vaccination required for Yellow Fever if Arriving from Infected Area within 5 days.

Health
No vaccinations or injections are required for visitors to South Africa arriving directly from Europe or North America. There are a few basic health matters that require care and attention. Malaria occurs in the northwestern parts of South Africa (Mpumalanga, Kruger Park, Swaziland, KwaZulu Natal) and the time of year when it is most active is from Mid January to April after the rains. Therefore, Malaria prophylaxis are recommended if you are traveling to these areas.

Communications
General assessment: the system is the best developed and most modern in Africathe system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic: consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria: international: 2 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat

Electricity
All electrical appliances run on 220 volts. Outlets are round 3 pin , 15 amp type. Special adapters for video cameras, charges and hairdryers are needed and can sometimes be supplied by somje hotel receiptions. Various safari camps and ldoges may not have 220 volts and may operatre on solar poerwed 12 volt electricity. Phones are available at hotels but not necessarily at safari ldoges. Public phones either operate with coins or cards. The cellular network is widespread and phones can easily be rented for use while you are in the country.

Climate and Best Time to Travel
Summer in South Africa lasts from October to March. Despite regional differences, South Africa's climate is generally mild through the year and enjoys many clear, sunny days. Snowfall is limited to the highest mountain peaks, and annual rainfall averages 502 mm. Kwa-Zulu Natal has a subtropical climate with high humidity in summer. The Gauteng region enjoys hot summers and occasional thunderstorms and frosty winters as do the cape interior and Free state with similar weather conditions. The Western Cape enjoy as a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cold wet winters.

Time – South Africa standard time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT+2). There is no daylight savings time.