South Africa tourist information, including all the useful things to know before leaving for a trip or vacation in the Republic of South Africa.
South Africa in a nutshell
- Capital: Cape Town (legislative) Pretoria (administrative) Bloemfontein (judicial)
- Area in sq km: 1,220,813
- Population: 48,576,764 (2007)
- Religion: Protestant majority in addition to Catholics, animists and small minorities of Muslims and Hindus.
Where is it
The Republic of South Africa or South Africa is a state of southern Africa, bordered to the north by Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, to the north east by Mozambique and Swaziland.
Lesotho is located within the South African borders.
The west coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the east coast by the Indian Ocean.
The territory is mostly made up of a very ancient plateau, delimited by reliefs that slope down to the coastal plain, 80 to 400 km wide, forming a large escarpment, only in the area of the Cape Peninsula, the rock formations arrive directly on the ocean with a succession of promontories.
The major reliefs are the Monti dei Draghi, with the Injasuti peak 3,446 meters high.
The most famous park in this region is the Royal Natal National Park, where the Tugela springs and Tugela Falls are located, second in the world in height.
Among the islands of South Africa, the main ones are the Prince Edward Islands, which are located about 1770 km away. southeast of Port Elizabeth.
The rivers of South Africa are difficult to navigate, as they have an irregular flow of water and their path meets large differences in height.
The longest river is Orange, which originates in Lesotho and flows into the Atlantic Ocean, after also marking the border with Namibia for a stretch, its major tributaries are the Vaal and the Molopo.
The Limpopo River originates in South Africa and flows into the Indian Ocean after crossing Mozambique. South Africa's lakes include Grootvloer and Saint Lucia.Recommended readings
- South Africa: useful information
- Cape Town: what to see in the capital of South Africa
The Republic of South Africa, being in the southern hemisphere, has the seasons reversed compared to Italy.
The southern part of the country is characterized by a Mediterranean climate with mild temperatures and rainfall in the winter period.
The east coast of the Indian Ocean and the Great Escarpment enjoy a hot-humid tropical climate, with abundant summer rainfall, which decrease as they continue inland and towards the Atlantic coasts.
The majority of the population is made up of Bantu blacks (about 75%), which includes native natives and immigrants as slaves from other African countries.
The remainder is made up of whites (about 13%), represented by the descendants of English, Dutch, Flemish and German colonists, mestizos (about 9%), Asians (about 3%), mainly descendants of Indians, who arrived in South Africa in the mid-1800s to work on sugar cane plantations.
In the Republic of South Africa it is necessary to move the clock hands one hour ahead of Italy.
When daylight saving time is in effect in Italy, there is no time difference.
In the Republic of South Africa there are 11 official languages.
Two are Indo-European languages, Afrikaans and English, while nine are Bantu, Ndebele, Sesotho, Northern Sesotho, Siswati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu languages.
The languages most spoken are Zulu, xhosa, Afrikaans and English.
South Africa is the most economically developed nation on the African continent.
A process of reconciliation is underway in the country, aimed at overcoming the great social inequalities caused by the apartheid system, which ended in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela.
Meanwhile, the South African economy has undergone a remarkable transformation, from a structure based mainly on the primary, agricultural and mining sectors, it has moved to an economic system where the tertiary sector and the manufacturing sector prevail.
To highlight the considerable mineral resources of the country.
The most important deposits concern gold and diamonds, but coal, chromite, titanium, manganese, platinum, silver, iron, nickel, copper and tin are also extracted.
When to go
In South Africa the seasons are reversed compared to ours.
The winters are mild (apart from high altitude areas) and in summer it is not excessively hot, excluding the central and north western regions, where temperatures are higher.
In the eastern part, on the Natal coast, you can swim in the sea all year round.
The best time to observe wildlife (for example visiting the Kruger Park), runs from May to November.
In August and September the Namaqualand desert blooms, a desert area that in spring is covered with a large variety of flowers.
The ideal months to spot whales are between July and November.
To visit South Africa, Italian citizens need a valid passport, for a minimum residual period of at least 30 days, after the expected date of return to Italy, even if it is advisable that the residual validity should not be less than 6 months.
The passport must have two blank pages in the section reserved for entry visas, so that the space for the compulsory vignette relating to the temporary residence permit remains.
A visa is not required for up to 90 days of stay in the country.
- The international prefix for calling from Italy to South Africa is: 0027
- The international prefix for calling from South Africa to Italy is: 0939
GSM cell phones work almost all over the country.
The electric current is 220/230 V 50 Hz. The plugs are of the three-pole type, therefore an adapter is required.
Money and credit card
The official currency of the South African Republic is the Rand.
It is possible to exchange euros at banks, exchange offices, airports and major hotels.
Most credit cards and travelers checks are accepted for payments.
It is not possible to pay with a credit card at petrol stations in smaller towns.
How to get
There are no direct flights from Italy to South Africa.
The available flights, with intermediate stopover, are organized by the following airlines:
- South African Airways (SAA) the South African flag carrier (stopover in Frankfurt or Monaco).
- British Airways, Tap Air Portugal, Air France, Emirates, Klm. Lufthansa.
No vaccination is mandatory, but malaria prophylaxis is recommended, especially in the months from October to March, for some areas of the country, including Kruger park and neighboring private reserves, as well as in the Kwazulu-Natal reserves.
Antimalarial medicines are not needed if the visit is limited to the surroundings of Cape Town and the Garden Route.
However, for areas at risk, it is advisable to use repellent products against mosquitoes and insects.
In addition, it is good to take out a health insurance before departure that covers, if necessary, medical expenses and those related to any repatriation.