South Africa – Travel Guide
Facts to assist you when travelling to South Africa
The South African population currently stands at 60 million (2021).
Capital and Largest City of South Africa
- Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria.
Official Language(s) of South Africa
- South Africa has 11 official languages, including Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Pedi, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, and Southern Ndebele.
Currency of South Africa
- The South African Rand (Sign: R; Code: ZAR).
Office Hours in South Africa
- 9am – 5pm. 45 hours per week. People in South Africa works for nine hours in a day (excluding lunch break) in a working week of five days or less, or eight hours in a day (excluding lunch break) in a working week or more than five days a week.
Weekends in South Africa
- Weekends are held over Saturdays and Sundays.
- Tipping in South Africa is generally 10% or 20% of the total bill.
Embassies in South Africa
- Most countries are represented by an Embassy or by a High Commission. Click here for more information.
- The official ruling party in South Africa is the African National Congress (ANC).
- South Africa lies between 22°S and 35°S in the Southern Hemisphere’s subtropical zone. The country lies between two oceans, Atlantic and the Indian, which affects its climate. South Africa experiences a high degree of sunshine, while their rainfall equated to about half of the global average. Its internal regions are semi-desert and dry, while the Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate. Most of the country experiences summer rain, except some regions located along the coast.
- The main international airports are Johannesburg and Cape Town. The different modes of transportation in South Africa include roads, railways, airports, water, and pipelines for petroleum oil. The majority of people in South Africa use informal minibus taxis or personal vehicles as their main mode of transport. In the main cities there are also app-based ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Bolt.
- South Africa’s economy is the second largest on the entire continent, and one of the most industrialised. The country is an upper-middle income economy. Its main industries are agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, electricity, gas, water, and construction.
- There are so many different cultures in South Africa, each of which has their own way of doing things and are respectful of the other coexisting cultures around them. Often times people celebrate each other’s cultures as a result of cultures intertwining and interracial marriages. South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and all of its cultures are reported to be equally friendly.
- Owing to there being 11 official languages, there are also a multitude of ways in which people greet and approach one another. However, most people in the country speak or have an understanding of English, so a simple ‘’Hello’’ would suffice. The most frequently used greetings are ‘’Molo,’’ which is Xhosa, ‘’Sawubona,’’which is Zulu, or ‘’Howzit!’’ which is used and understood by the entire population, all around the country.
- The South African Rand is divided into 100 cents and is also the legal tender in the Common Monetary Area Member states, which includes its neighbours Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini. International banks in South Africa are ABSA, Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank, and Commonwealth Bank of South Africa.
- South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road. Most roads in the major cities are well maintained, but roads in smaller cities may lack infrastructure or have potholes. Public transport is preeminent in South Africa, with taxis, busses and app-based hailing systems being fairly reliable. However, commuting can sometimes be unsafe due to the frequent strikes in the industry.
- The overall crime rate in South Africa is quite high, and citizens face threats of hijacking, robberies, burglaries, rape, and murder. However, South African police prioritise protecting tourists. Therefore, crime levels in areas that are popular amongst tourists will often be much lower than the rest of the country.
- Due to the country’s culture being so diverse, lots of emphasis is placed on respecting on another’s beliefs and cultures, and this is even included in the country’s constitutions as well. South Africans celebrate Heritage Day on the 21st of September, and pay tribute to their unique and diverse cultures.
- In major cities shopping will not be a hassle as the capitals of South Africa has plenty of shopping malls with many local, international, and even designer brand stores. There are endless entertainment options. South Africans love art and food, so there are innumerable theatres, galleries, and restaurants around the country, but especially in the major cities.
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Written by Saudika Hendricks
Edited by Eloise Williams