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Travellers Guide To South Africa
With post-apartheid optimism melding South Africa into a new society of great energy and significance, travellers are returning to a place which has been off the trail for most of the last century. Political violence seems to be a thing of the past and among the vast majority of people there is a desire to get on with building a new nation. It's an exciting time to visit.

S.A. Public Holidays
New Years Day 1 January
Human Rights Day 21 March
Good Friday 6 April
Family Day 9 April
Freedom Day 27 April
Workers Day 1 May
Youth Day 16 June
National Women's Day 9 August
Heritage Day 24 September
Day Of Reconciliation 16 December
Public Holiday 17 December
Christmas Day 25 Demember
Day Of Goodwill 26 December

For the first time traveller to Africa, South Africa is not a bad place to start: the infrastructure is very good, the climate is kind and there are few better places to see Africa's wildlife. But if you want to understand the country, you'll have to deal with the full spectrum South Africa dishes up, and it's not always from one side of the rainbow to the other. The segregation of society is still extreme and the crime rates in some areas call for some caution, but South Africa's natural beauty and nation-building enthusiasm make it a great place to visit.



South Africa : Key Info

Full country name:

The Republic of South Africa
Area: 1,233,404 sq km
Population: 37.8 million
Capital city: Pretoria (population 1,010,000)
People: 75% black, 14% white (60% of whites are of Afrikaner descent, most of the rest are of British descent), 8% mixed race, 3% of Indian descent.
Religion: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and traditional religions.
Government: Independent member of the British Commonwealth
President: Thabu Mbeki

Common Terms


Fynbos Cape Macchia. A collective term for all the plants of the Cape Floral Kingdom - the smallest of the world's six floral kindoms and the only one that's contained within the borders of a single country.
Kloof A ravine or gorge
Rooibos A South African herbal tea. It's caffeine-free and is said to be very healthy. And it's likker, too. Try it with home made beskuit (rusks or dried biscuits)
Shebeen A tavern
Sangoma A traditional healer or shaman
San The bushmen who in ancient times populated much of the Western Cape
Township In the apartheid era, a dormitory suburb reserved for non-whites. Today the word decribes any shanty town or urban area that's populated by the poor.
Veld Literally the grasslands of the high country, but now used to describe alost any wilderness area other than a forest
Eish! An exclamation that can be used to express a thousand emotions. Eish! (that's nice); Eish! (that's sore); Eish! (s/he's lovely);Eish!(that's lekker),etc
Yebo Yes!..And, like eish!, yebo! can be used to express a thousand emotions..
Gooi Throw
Rugby You don't know what rugby is? Ask a Seffrican to gooi a braai and then, when the coals are lekker hot and the beer's lekker cool, ask him about his favourite rugby team. You won't have to say another word all afternoon.
Vuvuzela The plastic horn we like to blow when we're watching soccer - the country's biggest sport
Springboks Our national rugby side (named for a fleet-footed indigenous antelope)
Proteas Our national cricket side (named for the most famous flower of the fynbos)
N'ca! (Pronounced nn-tsaaa!) NIce. Much like 'lekker.' Seffricans and Seffricanisms are n'ca!
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