South Africa is located on the southern tip of Africa, with a vast coastline that stretches for over 2,500 km. The country is bordered by Namibia is the northwest, Botswana in the north, Botswana in the north and Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the northeast. South Africa is surrounded by the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans, and is flanked by a landlocked country, Swaziland, to the east.
The climate in South Africa is officially classified as semi-arid, though the climate varies greatly from region to region. The vast Karoo plateau, peppered with jagged hills and verdant mountains, can be chilly in winter yet sizzling in the summer, while the eastern coastal area is warmer. The south coast is less tropical, while the south-western part of the country is famed for its Mediterranean weather. South Africa is known for its strong winds and gusts, which blow from the south-east or north-west.
South Africa is famous for many things, though across the globe, it is probably best known for Madiba – Nelson Mandela, the great leader who helped put an end to apartheid. One of its most visited attractions is Kruger National Park, where adventure loving visitors enjoy seeing the animals up close in exciting safaris. South Africa is also home to a plethora of beautiful gems and minerals. Around half the total of the world’s gold reserves are located in this country, which is one of the world’s most significant diamond producers.
The history of South Africa dates back over one hundred thousand years ago, when hunter gatherers used stone tools to survive until they learned to raise livestock and grow crops, and began relying on iron tools. In the mid-17th century, the Dutch founded a colony in South Africa, in order to supply ships hailing from the Far East. Soon, they began importing slaves and trading with the locals. In 1688, the French Huguenots arrived, and eventually, many natives fled from their homeland. In the 18th century the British arrived, taking South Africa from the Dutch in 1795, then again in 1806. The Boers (Dutch) were driven away by the British, and founded two separate republics, which were recognised by the British in the mid-19th century. Over the next couple of decades, diamonds and gold were found and the British grew keen to control all of South Africa. Tensions between the British and the Boers came to a head in 1899 and in 1900, a new wave of British troops ensured the Boers were subdued. In 1910 a constitution was established, and the country became known as the Union of South Africa. South Africa took part in the first and second world wars, siding with the allies. The most important events in the 20thcentury include the segregation of blacks and whites, and the release of Nelson Mandela, who fought for equal rights for all and who spent 27 years in jail before being released in 1990 and elected president in 1994.
South Africa has a diverse and fascinating landscape, with around 9,600 plant species, some 70 per cent of which can only be found in this country. Its Cape Floral Kingdom is one of only six of its kind in the world, though many of its important habitats are threatened by human development and farming demands. Famous plants include the bright yellow and orange Namaqualand daisies, the odd looking succulents called halfmens, and the pristine white gardenia thunbergia. South Africa’s wide array of fauna includes the chacma baboon, the vervet and Samango monkeys, fish eagles, African leopards, South African cheetahs and of course, the stately African lion.
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