ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is the southern gateway to the Southern African region and the powerhouse of the African continent due to its advanced, broad-based economy with a substantial first world infrastructure. South Africa is also known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ because of its great diversity in culture, language and religious belief. With a population of 46 million people and 9 official languages, South Africa has one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, an independent Judiciary, a free press and a robust, multi-party system. Our new constitution came into being in 1994 with the country's first democratic elections and the inauguration of the first black president and its most famous citizen, Nelson Mandela.
South Africa lies between 22 and 35 degrees south, flanked on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the Indian Ocean, whose waters meet at the country's most southern tip. South Africa has the third –highest level of biodiversity in the world, and is the only country to contain an entire floral kingdom, in the Western Cape. The landscape of the country is varied, exhilarating and spectacular - great rugged mountains, long white beaches, dramatic desert terrain with subtropical climates in some parts and Mediterranean climates in others.
South Africa has a spectacular range of game parks and wild-life safaris, both state controlled and privately owned. The most famous, densely populated with animals and bird life, is the state-owned Kruger National Park, approximately six hours drive from Johannesburg.The big five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo roam the African bush together with herds of zebra, antelope, baboons and a huge range of magnificent birdlife.
For tourists there is something for everyone - great hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, theatres, museums, tours and many outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, surfing, sun bathing, wine farm experiences and, of course, game viewing that will give you a varied ‘South African Experience’.
JOHANNESBURG is the most powerful commercial centre on the African continent. This city began in 1886 with the discovery of gold and from it’s early mining town status it has grown into the most powerful commercial centre on the African continent.
Johannesburg is one of the world's few large metropolitan areas to be based on neither an ocean port nor a major river. But is a city full of trees, giving it the status of being the largest non-indigenous forest in the world. Johannesburg's municipal area is BIG. It is often compared with Los Angeles, with which it shares a similar sprawling topography, linked by huge highway interchanges. It is a one hour flight to Durban, and two hour flight to Cape Town and a couple of hours drive to the nearest dams, rivers and game parks. The nearest game park, the Pilansberg National Park, is two and a half hours drive from the city centre.
Johannesburg is the cultural centre of South Africa. It has a vibrant night life and a fascinating collection of museums dedicated to documenting the history of the country and the recent apartheid past. These include the Hector Pieterson Museum,in Soweto, built on the spot where the first child was shot by the apartheid police in the 1976 uprisings. Then there is the impressive Apartheid Museum, and more recently, Constitutional Hill, which included the Women’s Museum and a collection of Mandela’s papers from Robben Island. And if archeology is an interest, the Origins of Mankind Museum at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has an excellent rock art display. The world’s most ancient human remains were discovered minutes from the city limits, in the Cradle of Humankind, making Johannesburg one of the top archeological research centres of the world.
Johannesburg has a wide range of hotels and B&Bs; in the leafy northern suburbs to suit every taste and need.The weather's balmy 10 months of the year, generally warm, but not as stiflingly hot as many other African cities. Nights however, can be chilly, particularly in winter.