South Africa Overview


Official name of the state

Republic of South Africa.


Pretoria (Tshwane) (capital and seat of government).
Cape Town (seat of parliament and seat of government January to June). Bloemfontein (seat of the Supreme Court).


According to cheeroutdoor, the Republic of South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent. The country is bordered to the east by the Indian Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho is enclosed by South Africa. South Africa’s landscapes are dominated by three geographic regions: the inland highlands, the mountain ranges and the coastal region. The inland highlands are characterized by a largely constant altitude and are separated from the other landscape forms by mountain ranges (the great edge step), which rise above the plains (Veld) of the high plateau and are of different heights and steepness.

Although there are two major river systems, the Limpopo and the Oranje, the surface of the plateau is arid. On the coast there are both sandy beaches and rocky bays, the hinterland is overgrown with bushes. The mountainous region, which stretches from the Cape of Good Hope along the coast to the Limpopo Valley in the northeast of the country, consists of the Drakensberg, Nuweveldberg and Stromberg ranges.

After the 1994 elections, South Africa was divided into nine provinces: They include the Western Cape (provincial capital: Cape Town), the Eastern Cape (Bisho), the North Cape (Kimberley), KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg), Free State (Bloemfontein), North West Province (Mmabatho), Limpopo Province (formerly Northern Province) (Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg)), Mpumalanga (Nelspruit) and Gauteng (Johannesburg).


Parliamentary republic (in the Commonwealth) since 1961. New constitution since 1996. Bicameral parliament: National Assembly with 400 members and National Council of the Provinces with 90 members. Independence since 1910 (former British colony).

Head of state

Jacob Zuma, since May 2009.

Head of government

Jacob Zuma, since May 2009.


220/240 V, 50 Hz. Adapters are required.

Time zone

South Africa Standard Time: CET +3



The country code is 0027. The cheapest option for phone calls are Skype or international calling cards such as the World Card from the fixed network operator Telkom (Internet: The second fixed network operator is Neotel (Internet: Public telephone booths can be used either with coins (blue houses) or with telephone cards (green houses). Telephone cards are available in post offices (they also handle long distance calls) and in shopping centers.

Emergency numbers are: police 10111 and ambulance 10177.


GSM 900/1800. Network operators including Cell C (Internet: (GSM 1800), MTN (Internet: (GSM 900) and Vodacom (Internet: (GSM 900). The cellular network extends almost to the whole country and usually does not cover only remote areas. International roaming agreements exist. German cell phones can usually be used in South Africa. South African cell phones can be rented at the international airports.


Internet providers: Ua M-Web (Internet: and I-Africa (Internet: Internet cafes are mostly found in shopping centers and business centers across the country. Most of the coffee houses in Cape Town’s townships offer free internet access via Wi-Fi hotspots. Numerous hotels, restaurants, airports and business centers across the country also offer Internet access.

Post Office

Airmail shipments to Europe take up to seven days to travel. Post office opening times: Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-4.30 p.m., Sat 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Some counters close Mon-Fri at 3.30 p.m. and Sat at 11 a.m. The smaller post offices take a lunch break between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Post offices across the country accept poste restante items.


Since the use of shortwave frequencies changes several times over the course of a year, it is advisable to contact Deutsche Welle customer service directly (Tel: (+49) (0228) 429 32 08. Internet: to request.

South Africa Overview



Christianity (80%), including African Church, Reformed Dutch Church, Anglican Church, Methodists and Catholics. Minorities of Jews, Muslims, Hindus and followers of natural religions.

Social rules of conduct

Manners: Shake hands to greet you. The usual forms of courtesy are expected for private visits.

Clothing: Casual dress is appropriate; elegant dress is appropriate for special occasions.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in closed public spaces and in partially closed public indoor areas. Accordingly, smoking is prohibited in the workplace, in shopping centers, in theaters, on public transport, at airports, in clubs, in cinemas, etc. Some restaurants offer their guests designated smoking areas. Smoking is also forbidden in cars if children under the age of 12 are sitting in it.

Tip: A tip of 10% is customary if it is not already included in the bill. Among other things, porters, waiters and room service staff, porters, tour guides, employees in the beauty salon and taxi drivers expect tips. A housekeeper can be given around 10 rand per day, tank attendants 2 rand and porters 5 rand. Street newspaper sellers also get a few cents.


Best travel time

Mediterranean climate in the southwest, temperate inland and subtropical climate in the northeast.

Generally sunny with mild winters, although snow often falls in the mountains at Cape and around Natal. Sometimes it can get temporarily quite cool on the plains. Since South Africa is south of the equator, the seasons are opposite to those of the northern hemisphere. If you want to celebrate Christmas in summer, travel to South Africa. The best time to travel depends on the activities planned. The flowers on the Cape can be admired in August or September. If you like bird watching, it is best to travel to South Africa from mid-October to November. For active vacationers who go hiking, surfing or diving, the time after the South African midsummer is recommended.


Area code +27 Area (sqkm) 1219090 Population 53675563 Population density (per sqkm) 44 Population in 2015 Member of the EU No main emergency number 10111