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South Africa weather

South Africa is situated on the southern tip of the African continent, with the Atlantic to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east. South Africa has the biggest economy of any African.

The Rainbow Nation has eleven official languages. Afrikaans, isiZulu and English, are the most common with different regions and provinces favouring different languages. Much of the west of the country including Cape Town is mainly the Afrikaans language, derived from Dutch settlers.

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa but not the capital.  Unusually three cities lay claim to that title, each with a different mandate: Pretoria is the executive capital, Bloemfontein is the judicial capital and Cape Town is the legislative capital.

In the south west of the country Cape Town is the commercial and residential hub. It includes renowned sites such as Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope.

Aerial view of Cape Town coast, with mountains in the background Aerial view of Cape Town coast, with mountains in the background

To the north east is Johannesburg, which is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world and really began to register on the world's radar during the Gold Rush. In Johannesburg you will find the famous South Western Townships - Soweto - which featured heavily in the news media during South Africa's tumultuous political past; a time when Nelson Mandela and his ANC party took up the challenge of the country's internal struggles. Johannesburg shares the Gauteng province with Pretoria and here you will find many of the country's popular nature reserves.

Gauteng is the biggest of all South Africa's 9 provinces. Kwazulu-Natal and its capital Durban is the second most populous province, situated close by on the country's east coast. Durban has the busiest port in Africa and is home to the Golden Mile Beach - a popular tourist destination.

The north east of South Africa is home to famous names like Kruger National Park where you can see some of the country's fascinating animal life on safari. This part of the country is often known as the bushveld and is home to lions, rhinos, elephants and the complete 'Big 5'.

South Africa has a famous affinity with rugby and cricket and hosted the 2010 football World Cup, showcasing the redeveloped Soccer City football ground.  South Africa has a fairly diverse climate which is often much milder than you may imagine; partly due to the Atlantic breeze and the lower southern hemisphere positioning. Some of the west side of the country is even particularly favourable to wine production, with South African wine amongst the best in the world.

Last updated: 15 April 2014

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