The Republic of South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent. The country is bordered to the east by the Indian Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho is trapped by South Africa.
Three geographic regions dominate South Africa’s landscape: the inland highlands, the mountains and the coastal region. The inland highland is characterized by a largely constant altitude and is separated from the other landforms by mountain ridges (the Great Ridge), which rise above the plains (Veld) of the high plateau and are different high and steep.
Although there are two large river systems, the limpopo and the orange, the surface of the plateau is poor in water. On the coast there are both sandy beaches and rocky coves, the hinterland is overgrown with shrubs. The mountainous region that stretches from the Cape of Good Hope along the coast to the Limpopo Valley in the northeast of the country consists of the Drakensberg, Nuweveldberg and Stromberg chains.
After the 1994 elections, South Africa was divided into nine provinces: the Western Cape (provincial capital: Cape Town), the Eastern Cape, the North Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State (Bloemfontein), North West Province (Mmabatho), Northern Province, Mpumalanga and Johannesburg.
Pretoria (seat of government). Inhabitants: 525,583 (1991)
Cape Town (seat of parliament). Inhabitants: 854.616 (1991)
Area – 1.219.080 sq km.
Population – 42,106,000 (1999)
South Africa has the most efficient economy in the southern part of the African continent. Livestock is widespread, and sugar and grains are produced in large quantities. The mainstay of the economy, however, is mining. Coal is abundant and ores such as chromium, manganese, vanadium and platinum are also mined.
The most valuable minerals in the country are gold and diamonds, with which South Africa has dominated the world market for years.
Mining and agriculture are among the largest employers and dominate South Africa’s exports. The largest industry is the manufacturing industry. Steel and heavy industry produce machinery and means of transport. In recent years, high-tech companies and the service sector have experienced a boom.
The tourism industry continues to gain in importance and ranks fourth in foreign exchange earnings after mining, agriculture and the automotive industry. Since 1994, a constant increase in visitor numbers has been recorded. In 1999, 6 million foreign visitors came to South Africa. The primary sector’s share of gross domestic product (GDP) is 12%, with a downward trend, with the secondary sector currently contributing around 30% and the tertiary sector contributing 58%.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3% in 2000. South African exports benefited from increased competitiveness due to the lower valuation of the rand. However, labor market development stagnated and the unemployment rate was 36%.
The inflation rate in 2000 was 7.7%. At the end of 1999/2000 there was a budget deficit of 2.8%. Public debt stood at 45% in the financial year 2000/2001. USA, UK, Germany, Italy and Japan are the main trading partners.
Parliamentary Republic (in the Commonwealth) since 1961. New constitution since 1997. Two-Chamber Parliament: National Assembly with 360-400 members and National Council with 90 members. Head of State and Government: Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, since 1999.
1 edge = 100 cents. Currency code: R, ZAR (ISO code). Banknotes are worth 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10 R in circulation; Coins in denominations 5, 2 and 1 R and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent.
The big cities are sometimes shaped by sharp contrasts.
While better residential areas are often spacious and well maintained, the “townships”, where most of the non-white population still lives, consist of simple houses, barracks or slum-like huts. Especially the townships, but also the inner cities of the big cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban suffer from the high crime in the country. Especially tourists are a popular victim of robbers who usually do not shy away from violence. In the event of a robbery you should definitely refrain from countering.
Driving a car
There is left-hand traffic in South Africa. No problem, because – traffic is quite manageable outside the big cities. Alone in the roundabout, there is some reason to get in and out the right way.
Somewhat unusual are the 4-way stop signs at many intersections. That means, whoever comes first, drives first, then the second, the third, etc. Who can not count here to four, soon comes to enjoy the benefits of his comprehensive insurance (Caution: the has a fairly high own contribution).
The rental car should be rented from home. The prices are for a small / medium car for 25 days from 440 to 820 euros.
When overtaking: The safe driver, if he is overtaken, goes all the way to the left or to the “lane” and lets the overtaking pass by. Then the overtaking thanked by pressing the hazard warning lights, the overtaken, however, operated briefly the flare. Tourists can be recognized by the stunned expression on their face.