South Africa Country Info

South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent, renowned for its varied topography, great natural beauty, and cultural diversity. Nicknamed Mzansi, a Xhosa word that literally means “south”, it’s a popular destination for travellers from all over the world.

South Africa

Geography/topography/ecology/key landmarks:
• Size: 1,220,813 km2 (471,359 sq mi), 24th largest country in the world, twice the size of France and five times the size of the United Kingdom.
• Bordered to the south by the south Atlantic and Indian oceans, to the north by Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (former Swaziland), and it surrounds the country of Lesotho.
• Boasts a long coastline that stretches more than 2,500 km (1,553 mi).
• Geographical regions: a low-lying coastal zone, a vast, almost flat plateau in the interior of the country (that contains the two major rivers: Limpopo and Orange), a mountainous escarpment that surrounds the plateau (and contains the Drakensberg mountain range), the Great Karoo (the south and southwestern parts of the plateau), the Kalahari desert in the northwest and the Highveld, bushveld and Lowveld in the northeastern parts of the country.
• Habitats are varied; includes fynbos, succulent Karoo, desert, Nama Karoo, grassland, savannah, Albany thickets, the Indian Ocean coastal belt and forests.
• The Cape Peninsula in the southwestern corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate, the only portion of sub-Saharan Africa which receives most of its rainfall in winter and boasts the utterly unique Cape Floral Kingdom and of course, iconic Table Mountain.
• Highest point: Mafadi in the Drakensberg at 3,450 m (11,320 ft) above sea level.
• Climate is generally temperate, but dramatic regional differences exist. Most of the country is semi-arid, but considerable variation exists.
• UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 10. Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa (1999), Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (2003), Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (2007), Robben Island (1999), ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape (2017), Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains (2018), Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (2004), iSimangaliso Wetland Park (1999), Vredefort Dome (2005) and Maloti-Drakensberg Park (2000).

Famous parks and reserves:
Kruger National Park: one of Africa’s top wildlife sanctuaries and South Africa’s best
• Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: a pioneering, trans-country masterpiece of a park; arid and huge with excellent fauna and flora, as well as top tourist facilities.
Addo Elephant National Park: home to Africa’s “Big 7” and malaria-free
• Pilanesberg Game Reserve: Big Five game viewing in an ancient volcanic crater, and only two hours from Johannesburg.
• Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park: lots of hills, rhinos and rare species, and SA’s oldest reserve.

• 374 mammal species, including Africa’s Big Five
• National Mammal: Springbok
• Other star mammals: African Wild Dog, Blesbok, Honey Badger, Temminck’s Ground Pangolin, Riverine Rabbit, Cape Porcupine, Orca and Southern Right Whale
• 858 bird species, including 18 endemic and 54 globally threatened species
• National Bird: Blue Crane
• Other star birds: Cape Parrot, Bearded Vulture, Rudd’s Lark, Cape Rockjumper, Knysna and Barratt’s Warbler, Southern Black Korhaan, Knysna Woodpecker and African Penguin
• IBAs (Important Bird Areas): 99, including Blyde River Canyon, Boulders Beach, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Karoo National Park, Ngoye Forest, Robben Island and Soutpansberg.
• 447 species of reptiles
• 139 species of amphibians
• 730 species of fish, including Great White Shark
• 4,500 species of insects, including the Mopane Worm

• 22,00 species of plants, including the famous “fynbos” of the Cape floristic region
• National Plant: Protea
• National Tree: Real Yellowwood

Visit our South Africa safari and tours page for more info on trips to this magical destination. Customized tours to Namibia is available to suit your requirements and travel dates.