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About South Africa

44 187 637
Language: IsiZulu
Religion: Zion Christian
Government: Republic
Coastline: 2 798 km
Sunshine: < 340 days
GDP Growth: 4.5% (2006)

Found on the Southern most tip of the African continent, South Africa is a country with everything to offer. Some of the most breathtaking scenery on Earth is complimented with an all year round sub-tropical climate creating a real paradise. South Africa is perhaps most famous for its sunshine. A subtropical location, moderated by oceans on three sides of the country and the altitude of the mountains, account for the warm temperate conditions so typical of South Africa - and so popular with its foreign visitors.

South Africa lies between the Atlantic Ocean on the west and on the east by the Indian Ocean, whose waters meet at the country's most southern tip, Cape Agulhas. This creates the perfect environment for a range of activities from wild river-rafting and horseback riding to vibrant music and night-life. South Africa enjoys high levels of international investment largely due to its world-class infrastructure: a modern transport network, low-cost and widely available energy and sophisticated telecommunications. These are all in line for upgrade and expansion by 2010, when South Africa hosts the Fifa World Cup. Cape Town, South Africa's oldest and most loved city, lies in Table Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful buildings, the nearby vineyards, far reaching white beaches and a rich cultural life make the city South Africa's most favoured tourist destination.

Menu of Topics:
  • Getting There
  • History and Politics
  • Investment Potential - 10 Reasons to Invest in South Africa 
  • Passports / Visas 
  • Health advice / risks
  • Travelling in South Africa
  • Hotels & Restaurants
  • Electricity supply 
  • Hours of Business 
  • Social Etiquette 
  • Legal System

Getting There
Travelling to South Africa has never been easier from the U.K. There are four International airports in South Africa, Tambo International Airport (Formerly Johannesburg), Durban International Airport, Lanseria and Cape Town International Airport. The largest of these being Tambo and Cape Town.

Flights from the U.K. can be arranged daily from major airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Air Nambia, KLM, and Singapore Airlines. Flight times from the U.K. on average are 12 hours.

History and Politics

European settlement in South Africa started in Cape Town, which is why it is still called the Mother City to this day. After the British had decided against establishment of a colony at the Cape of Good Hope, it was the Dutch who realized the strategic and economic importance of the Cape. On a commission for the Dutch-East India Trading company the merchant Jan van Riebeeck anchored in the picturesque bay at the foot of the Table Mountain on April 6, 1652.

With the rapid development of the port the need for labour increased dramatically. Firstly slaves and politically banned people were imported from Indonesia (Java and Sumatra), but soon Dutch settlers arrived and immigrants from all over Europe followed. In 1688, a large group of French Huguenots who were fleeing religious persecution at home, settled at the Cape.

From the beginning of the 18th century the Cape settlers expanded their territory towards the north and the east. These settling movements were led by the Trek Boers, white farmers who penetrated the hinterland looking for grazing land for their cattle. From the turn of the century it was the people of the Xhosa, living to the east, who stood up against the Trek Boers. The power struggle between citizens and administration ended with the landing of British ships at the Cape and the annexing of the colony to the United Kingdom in 1795.

It was not until the C20th when the black people were subjected to a policy of concealed expatriation. Through the Native-Land Law of 1913, first 7.5 per cent, and later 13 per cent of the land in South Africa was declared reservations for blacks.

Frederik Willem de Klerk rang in the end of Apartheid in an historic speech in Parliament in February 1990, and declared himself in favour of a democratic South Africa. The ANC was un-banned. Some days later, Nelson Mandela, the President of the ANC, was released from prison on Robben Island, after 27 years behind bars.

In April 1994, the first democratic elections were held in South Africa. As expected, the ANC gained the overwhelming majority. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on the 10th of May 1994 as the first black African President of the New South Africa.

Investment Potential
South Africa offers a great opportunity for investment for those looking to invest in overseas property. Here are just a few reasons why:
  • Stable Economy 
  • Strong Development
  • Unrivalled Infrastructure
  • Business and Investments are protected by a first class legal framework
  • Political Stability
  • Rich Mineral Resorces
  • Vibrant emerging Market
  • Strong rental potential
  • Hoasts to the highly anticipated Fifa World Cup 2010
  • High levels of growth expected due to the Governments' priority policy for Housing

Passports / Visas

For the majority of travellers, entry into South Africa is relatively easy and straightforward. All visitors from commonwealth countries will only require a valid passport. Under the immigration act 2001 passports must have at least one unused page when presented for endorsement. This is essential as failure to have a clear page will result in refusal of entry.

Upon arrival in South Africa, you will be automatically granted a 'free entry permit sticker' outlining how long you are entitled to stay in the country. This is usually for a maximum of 90 days. For more information or to check if you will require a visa to enter South Africa, please visit www.southafrica.net

Health Advice
South Africa is famed for having a world class Medical system. In fact, for the majority of medical disciplines, South Africa is considered to be a world leader. Because of this, South African doctors are highly sought after the world over. This gives a good indication of the level of care available.

South Africa has a wide range of private and state hospitals spread throughout the country - each offering the highest standards of care. However, it is essential that travellers ensure they have the correct health insurance to cover the fees charged by private hospitals.

Travelling in South Africa
There are many ways to see this stunning country. There is a very reliable train network, busses and taxis are all readily available and do not cost the earth. As with most foreign countries, it is advisable that you agree a price with the driver before your journey.

But of course the favoured way to get around is by hiring a car. There are many international car hire firms located close to if not within all major airports in South Africa. You can also take the stress out of booking you vehicle by arranging it online prior to your arrival. for more information please visit www.southafrica.com/car-hire

Hotels & Restaurants
As a general rule, water is safe to drink from the tap. The mains water is treated and free of micro organisms. Hotels and restaurants operate to the highest standards in food preparation and hygiene. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and vegetables as well as to put as much ice in your drink as you like - perfect when you have a long day of exploring paradise.

Electricity Supply
The South African Electrical supply is renowned as one of the most reliable in the world. Mains electricity runs at 220/230 volts, over 50hz cycles. The plugs are generally three round pins, although some appliances are supplied with two smaller pins. Adaptors are available but it is recommended that you bring these with you as they can be in short supply.

Hours of Business

Shops Mon-Sat 09:00-17:00
Sun 09:00-14:50
Post Offices Mon-Fri 08:00-16:30
Sat 08:00-12:00
Banks Mon-Fri 09:00-15:30
Sat 09:00-11:00

Social Etiquette

Tipping is widely accepted and appreciated throughout the region. However, unlike most tourist destinations, the restaurants and hotels tend not to include service charges in the bill. Thus it is customary to tip waiters and bar staff 10-15%. Other services on offer such as car parking and petrol attendants will generally be grateful for any change you have spare, no matter how small the amount seams.

The seasons in the southern hemisphere are the opposite to the north. Bearing this in mind it is important to plan ahead and dress accordingly. During the summer months, lightweight clothing and short sleeves are the best to keep you cool during the stunning temperatures of this subtropical climate. Umbrellas and raincoats are also a must for the summer months! During the winter, warmer clothes will be required.

Legal System
The primary sources of South Africa law were Roman-Dutch mercantile law and personal law with English common Law, as imports of Dutch settlements and British colonialism. Today, there is a strong legal framework highly regarded as 'first-class'.
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