Fast facts on South Africa
South Africa is an exciting country to visit, and boasts diverse landscapes and cultures. When travelling to a new country such as South Africa, it's a good idea to know a bit about the area in order to decide what aspects of the country to experience. First Car Rental has compiled some useful information to help you plan your South African holiday itinerary.
Continue reading to learn more about South Africa, its people and some of its greatest attractions.
Official name: Republic of South Africa
Capital: Cape Town (Legislative Capital), Pretoria (Administrative Capital) and Bloemfontein (Judicial Capital)
Total land area: 1 219 912km² (471 011 square miles)
Total coastline: 2 798 kilometres (1 739 miles)
Population (2007): 47.9 million
Currency: The Rand. R1 = 100 cents
Official languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga
Provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape
When to travel to South Africa
South Africa has one of the most temperate climates in Africa and offers many sunny days throughout the year. While most of the country remains relatively dry, you may experience some rainy winter days, particularly in Cape Town and along the east coast.
South Africa is an ideal holiday location all year round because even in the winter months there is plenty to do. The most popular time to travel is during the warm summer months - between November and March. However, exploring the country during the winter months can also be a rewarding experience. The weather is still pleasant and you won't need to compete with thousands of tourists.
The people of South Africa
South Africa is home to one of the most diverse groups of people in the world. Part of the joy of travelling through the country is experiencing South African cultures in different parts of the country.
Choose from a wide variety of cultural experiences:
• Enjoy a Cape Malay meal in Bo Kaap
• Visit the Zulu Battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal
• Watch theatre performances at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown
• Take a township tour in Port Elizabeth
• See Rock Art in Mapungubwe
• Visit Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island
South African languages
In order to acknowledge the diversity of the South African multi-racial society, 11 official languages are recognised. English is the most spoken language in official and commercial public life. However, it is, in fact, only the fifth most spoken language in South African homes.
While the majority of South Africans are classified as African, they do not all belong to one homogenous group. Within this “group”, there are many cultural and linguistic differences. Nine of the eleven official languages are traditionally African, illustrating the diversity of the country's ethnic groups.
Popular nature activities
South Africa is known for having a variety of exciting activities that explore the country's natural habitats. Given the diversity of natural beauty, visitors are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to visiting different areas of interest. Consider taking part in these distinctly African wildlife experiences:
• See whales frolicking in the ocean at Hermanus during whale season
• Bungee jump from Bloukrans Bridge, the highest commercial bungee bridge in the world
• Go on a safari in the Kruger National Park
• Soak up the sun on the beaches of Cape Town and Durban
• Get a bird's-eye view of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain
• Explore the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn
Experience South Africa on a self-drive holiday
Equipped with some general knowledge of South Africa and its attractions, it's time to discover the country for yourself. First Car Rental can provide you with the right hire car in which to travel across the country.