South Africa Facts You Need to Know Before Visiting

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This page covers some of the most interesting South African facts to give you a brief introduction to this fascinating country. Whether you are doing research to plan a trip to South Africa or learning more about this country, you can find some helpful information here. 

We will add additional posts to this section over time, so check back often for new materials. If you have specific items you’d like us to cover, please let us know! 

We will start with some figures and South Africa facts before delving into more about the geography and culture of the country. 

South Africa Facts

Here are some things to know for when you visit South Africa.

The Republic of South Africa

South Africa on Globe
TUBS, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Name: The official name of South Africa is the Republic of South Africa. Popular nicknames for South Africa are Mzansi or Rainbow Nation. Mzansi is the Xhosa word for down South, while Rainbow Nation refers to the diverse nature of South Africans. You can find whites, blacks, Indians, coloureds, Asians in South Africa. The country also has 11 official languages to cater to its diverse population. 

Capital: South Africa has three capital cities. The capital cities are Pretoria as the executive capital city, Bloemfontein as the judicial capital city and Cape Town as the legislative capital city. 

Area: South Africa’s total surface area is 470,900 mi² or 1,219,090 sq km. 

Location: South Africa is at the southernmost point of Africa. 

Government: South Africa is a parliamentary republic with a three-tier government system comprising an independent judiciary, which operates the parliamentary system. The Parliament of South Africa holds the legislative authority, and the President of South Africa is the head of state and government and has the executive power.

South Africa flag: South Africa’s current national flag was adopted on Freedom Day, 27 April 1994. The flag’s central design begins on the left with a V-shape. From there, it glows into a single horizontal band to the outer edge of the flag. This shape shows the convergence of diverse South African elements, representing unity for the road ahead. You can read more about the South African flag and the other national symbols of South Africa.

South Africa Flag
Freepik, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

South Africa Facts: Geography

South Africa Topographic Map –

Landscapes: The South African terrain is varied, featuring bushveld, forests, grasslands, deserts and mountain peaks. You can also find coastal wetlands and unspoilt beaches.

Borders and neighbouring countries: The country shares a border with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho is located in South Africa, and South Africa has two islands, Prince Edward and Marion Islands.

Other South African geography facts

People and Life in South Africa

South Africa’s population reached 58,78 million in 2019. The demographics of the South African people include 47.4 million (81%) black Africans, 4.7 million whites, 5.2 million coloured and 1.5 million Indian/Asians. 

The Gauteng Province has the largest share of South Africans (25,8%). The KwaZulu-Natal Province followed it with 19,2% of South Africans. 

Read more about the 9 South African provinces.

Language: Although many South Africans speak English, the country has 11 languages.

Religion: South Africa is a secular country with a population with diverse religious population. The South African constitution guarantees freedom of religion for citizens, and the most common religions include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.

South Africa Facts: The South Africa Economy

South Africa is an upper-middle-income economy. The major contributors to the economy are natural resource extraction and services, especially financial services. The banking sector is one of the best globally and one of the most robust industries in South Africa.

State-owned enterprises (SEOs) influence the economy significantly, and the government owns a share of over 700 SEOs. 

Some challenges of doing business in South Africa include government bureaucracy, shortage of skilled workers in high-tech industries, political instability, restrictive labour regulations and corruption.  

South Africa Facts

South Africa money: The South African currency is the South African Rand (ZAR). 

Other South Africa economy facts:

Most Popular Tours in South Africa


South African Government

Economy of South Africa

Sabs | South Africa Travel Blog

By Sunelle

Editor of the South Africa Travel Blog that focuses on travel to South Africa, including destinations, attractions, accommodation, food & drink.

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