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South Africa

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The Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Lesotho is an independent enclave entirely surrounded by South African territory.

South Africa has experienced a significantly different evolution from other nations in Africa as a result of two facts. Firstly, immigration from Europe reached levels not experienced in other African communities. Secondly, the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route, as emphasised by the closure of the Suez Canal during the Six Day War, and mineral wealth made the country extremely important to Western interests, particularly during the Cold War. As a result of the former, South Africa is a very racially diverse nation. It has the largest population of people of Coloured (i.e. mixed racial background), whites, and Indian communities in Africa. Black South Africans account for slightly less than 80% of the population.

Racial strife between the white minority and the black majority has played a large part in the country's history and politics, culminating in apartheid, which was instituted in 1948 by the National Party (although segregation existed prior to that date). The laws that defined apartheid began to be repealed or abolished by the National Party in 1990 after a long and sometimes violent struggle (including economic sanctions from the international community) by the Black majority as well as many White, Coloured, and Indian South Africans.

Two of the world's most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa: ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity); and Gandhi's notion of "passive resistance" (Satyagraha), developed while he lived in South Africa.[1]

The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'tat, and regular elections have been held for almost a century; however, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. The economy of South Africa is the largest and best developed on the continent, with modern infrastructure common throughout the country.

South Africa is often referred to as "The Rainbow Nation", a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and later adopted by then-President Nelson Mandela as a metaphor to describe the country's newly-developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology.

South Africa will be the host nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It will be the first time the tournament is held in Africa.

Geography of South Africa

South Africa is located at the southern most region of Africa, with a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 kilometres (1,550 mi) and across two oceans (the Atlantic and the Indian). At 470,979 mi (1,219,912 km), South Africa is the world's 25th-largest country (after Mali). It is comparable in size to Colombia, and is nearly twice the size of the US state of Texas. Njesuthi in the Drakensberg at 3,408 m is the highest peak in South Africa.

South Africa has a great variety of climate zones, from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the border with Mozambique and the Indian ocean. From the east, the land quickly rises over a mountainous escarpment towards the interior plateau known as the Highveld. Even though South Africa is classified as semi-arid, there is considerable variation in climate as well as topography.

The interior of South Africa is a giant, rather flat, and sparsely populated scrubland Karoo , which is drier towards the northwest along the Namib desert. In contrast, the eastern coastline is lush and well-watered, which produces a climate similar to the tropics. The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous Fynbos Biome. This area also produces much of South Africa's wine. This region is also particularly known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the country's south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. This area is popularly known as the Garden Route.

The Free State is particularly flat due to the fact that it lies centrally on the high plateau. North of the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat. Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1,740 metres (5,709 ft) and receives an annual rainfall of 760 millimetres (30 in). Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare.

To the north of Johannesburg, the altitude drops beyond the Highveld's escarpment, and turns into the lower lying Bushveld, an area of mixed dry forest and an abundance of wildlife. East of the Highveld, beyond the eastern escarpment, the Lowveld stretches towards the Indian ocean. It has particularly high temperatures, and is also the location of extended subtropical agriculture. The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. Many people think that the coldest place in South Africa is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as -15 degrees Celsius (5F). In fact, the coldest place is actually Buffelsfontein, which is in the Molteno district of the Eastern Cape. Buffelsfontein recorded a low of -18.6 degrees Celsius. The deep interior has the hottest temperatures: A temperature of 51.7 C (125 F) was recorded in 1948 in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington.

South Africa also has one possession, the small sub-antarctic archipelago of the Prince Edward Islands, consisting of Marion Island (290 km/112 mi) and Prince Edward Island (45 km/17.3 mi) (not to be confused with the Canadian province of the same name).

Information provided by Wikipedia

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LastMinute.com - Travel to South Africa for last minute prices.
Hayes and Jarvis - Hayes & Jarvis has been creating award-winning specialist long haul holidays for travellers for more than 50 years. It now operates to more than 50 worldwide destinations ATOL (No 1275), ABTA (No V1464)
eBookers - For cheap package, luxury and last minute holiday offers.
Airline Network - For flight offers to Africa
Expedia - Book cheap package holidays, luxury holidays and last minute holidays today.
British Airways Holidays - For individual, couples or family holidays.
Kuoni Travel - Kuoni Travel are Britain's best known longhaul luxury holiday tour operator offering a wide range of tailormade holiday types in over 65 countries. From 3* to luxury, cruises to safaris, scuba diving to skiing and luxury spas to escorted tours.
Opodo - Book your holiday, accommodation or flight to South Africa.

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