Established: Union of South Africa 1910, Republic 1961
Population: 58,775,022 (estimate 2019)
Religion: African Independent Church (25.4%), Pentecostal and Evangelical (15.2%), Roman Catholic (6.8%), Methodist (5.0%), Reformed (4.2%), Anglican (3.2%)
Language: English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, Southern Ndebele
Order of Visit: Eigthth
First Visit: 29 March 2006
Last Visit: 21 January 2018
Duration: 31 Days
Must Do: Visit the Soweto township, attend a cricket Test Match, attend the Apartheid Museum (Johannesburg), the amazing wildlife of South Africa, visit Kruger National Park, attend a culture experience, exploring bushman caves (Drakensberg), Explore Karoo, do the highest Bungee Jump (216 metres – Knysna), hike the Sand Dunes of De Hoop Nature Reserve, witness the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans (Cape Point), hike Table Top Mountain (Cape Town), Visit Robben Island, do a Wine Tasting in the Cederberg Mountain region.
Cities: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Cederberg Mountain, Gariep River, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Knysna, Karoo, Ladyband, Drakensberg, Durban, Dolphin Coast, Zululand, Kruger National Park, Hazyview, Ballule Nature Reserve
South Africa Entries
South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and to the north by Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe and the east by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland).
South Africa is a very diverse country with 11 languages with two of these languages of European origin: Afrikaans (developed from Dutch) and English (from time as a British colony). English is commonly used in public and commercial life. South Africa is often referred to as the “rainbow nation” due to the country’s multicultural diversity, especially after apartheid ended.
In 1487, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias led the first European voyage to land in southern Africa. By the early 17th century, Portugal’s power was starting to decline, and English and Dutch merchants ousted Lisbon. Britain occupied Cape Town between 1795 and 1803 to prevent it from falling under the control of the French First Republic, which had invaded the Low Countries. The Dutch breifly returned as rulers from 1803 to 1806. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars South Africa was formally ceded to Britain and became an integral part of the British Empire. Eight years after the end of the Second Boer War and after four years of negotiation, an act of the British Parliament (South Africa Act 1909) granted nominal independence creating the Union of South Africa on 31 May 1910.
In 1948 the racial segregation begun under Dutch and British colonial rule the nationalist government classified all peoples into three races and developed rights and limitations for each. The white minority (less than 20%) controlled the vastly larger black majority. On 31 May 1961, the country became a republic following a referendum (only open to white voters) which narrowly passed. Queen Elizabeth II lost the title Queen of South Africa.
In 1990, the National Party government took the first step towards dismantling discrimination when it lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC) and other political organisations. It released Nelson Mandela from prison after 27 years’ serving a sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed.
With approval from the white electorate in a 1992 referendum, the government continued negotiations to end apartheid. South Africa held its first universal elections in 1994, which the ANC won by an overwhelming majority. It has been in power ever since.
I’ve visited South Africa twice and been there a total of 31 days. Ending apartheid without a total civil war and a violent overthrow is almost without precedent and actually gave me hope for their future. Still with the ANC seemly having a monopoly on power democracy is at risk and corruption on the rise. Still some local government have other parties starting to take power. Ideally the ANC would split so national power isn’t guaranteed.
My visit to Robben Island in Cape Town with a guide who was imprisoned made me very emotional especially the forgiveness of the guide and his hope for peace and the need to recognise the many white people who risked their lives and livelihoods supporting the anti-apartheid. Amazing person.
During my visit in 2006 and in 2018 I saw a few interracial mixtures of couples which shows progress. The country is still struggling to create a stable middle class and lift more people at of poverty. I really hope everything works out.
The landscape is magnificent. The wildlife is amazing and full of life. The local food is delightful and worth a try. Camping in natural parks sitting under the stars is a great experience just ahead of hiking these areas.