An Introduction to South Africa

south-africaTruly the ‘Rainbow Nation’, South Africa has risen above its tumultuous apartheid past to become one of the leading tourist destinations on the African continent. The country’s magnificent biodiversity and abundant plant, bird and animal life has been expertly preserved and protected, and draws a stark contrast to the bustling urban centers with their profuse cultural and recreational offerings.

South Africa has become a magnet for international visitors from all corners of the globe who flock to the country annually to enjoy its beautiful coastal areas, explore its national parks and bask in its sunshine. It is a melting pot of cultures, languages and traditions, and it is simultaneously characterized by integration and distinct differences of cultures, a factor which makes the country all the more fascinating.

The seaside city of Cape Town, extending out from the base of the breathtaking, flat-topped Table Mountain, is undoubtedly South Africa’s most stunning urban destination. Located on a skinny peninsula that is surrounded by a merging of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, the Cape is blessed with incomparable lovely beaches and azure waters. On its most southern tip is the Cape Point Nature Reserve, a striking, wind-whipped wilderness; and inland, to the north, are the gentle, rolling wine lands of Stellenbosch and Franschoek.

On South Africa’s eastern coast, the gorgeous Garden Route draws an endless stream of visitors to its long sandy beaches, serene lagoons and indigenous forests. Farther up the coast, Durban is a laid-back, sub-tropical city that boasts good weather all year round and is a water sports paradise popular with surfers, body boarders, sailors and scuba divers.

The racy city of Johannesburg is known as ‘The City of Gold’ due to abundant gold deposits and its status as the country’s economic center. Jo’burg is a heady mix of fast-paced business transactions, a pulsating social scene, and elements of danger, with uncomfortably frequent occurrences of violence and hijackings. On the outskirts of the city is the famous township of Soweto, which played a central role in the apartheid struggle.

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