South Africa

Driving Directions South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA is a republic that lies at the southern tip of the African continent. It has a massive coastline to the west on the Atlantic Ocean and the east on the Indian Ocean. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland lie to the north of the country.

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It is a diverse country with a wide variety of landscapes, abundant animal and plant life, and a vibrant economy developed after some difficult years because of apartheid and the sequential application of trade sanctions by most of the outside world.

Most of the country lies below the Tropic of Capricorn and divided into three main topographical regions – a vast central plateau, mountains, and a coastal belt. The high central plateau consists of grassland (the highveld) at heights of 1,200-1,800 meters or 3,937-5,905 feet, and it ringed to the east, south, and west by mountains, which rise above the plains. The highveld ends to the north in a ridge called the Witwatersrand and beyond this is bushveld.

The highest peaks can found in the Drakensberg Mountains in the east, which rise to just over 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet. The highest point is Champagne Castle, at 3,375 meters or 11,072 feet. The coastal fringes merge into the plateau via steps or steep slopes and some smaller mesas, such as the Great and Little Karoo.

Towering above Cape Town on the southern coast is the famous Table Mountain, an isolated flat-topped peak reaching just under 1,100 meters or 3,609 feet. The principal rivers are the Limpopo, the Vaal, and the Orange, which is the longest.

A vibrant mix of animal life and habitat means that South Africa can boast several national parks, the largest of which is the Kruger Park in the northeast of the country.

South Africa’s climate is generally mild and temperate, with plenty of sunshine and relatively low rainfall. This varies with latitude, distance from the sea, and altitude.

Some 58 percent of the total land area is natural pasture, although soil erosion is a problem. The main crops grown are maize, sorghum, wheat, groundnuts, and sugar cane. A drought-resistant variety of cotton is also now grown. South Africa’s extraordinary mineral wealth, including gold, coal, copper, iron ore, manganese, diamonds, and chrome ore, overshadows all its other natural resources. Since the dismantling of apartheid m 1994, the country has become an active and recognized international community member.

Google maps™ South Africa

South Africa’s general topography consists of a broad central plateau edged by a prominent escarpment overlooking slopes that descend to the eastern, southern, and western coasts. The plateau’s mountainous edges extend in a sweeping arc from its northeastern tip to its southwestern extremity. Collectively, these edges are known as the Great Escarpment. Inland from the Great Escarpment crest, the country consists of rolling plains that gradually descend to an altitude of about 900 meters (2,952 feet) in the center.

The Indian Ocean borders South Africa on the east, the Atlantic Ocean borders it on the west, and both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans border it on the south. Off South Africa’s eastern coast, the Indian Ocean ranges from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F); off the western coast, the Atlantic Ocean ranges from 9°C to 14°C (48°F to 57°F). Off the southern shore, the combined seas range from 16°C to 21°C (61°F to 70°F).

There are coral reefs off the eastern coast surrounding Sodwana Bay that attract divers worldwide. Off the southern coast, the continental shelf extends to form the large triangular Agulhas Bank, while on the western coast, it forms the Benguella Upwelling.

Did you know about South Africa?

In South Africa’s maximum-security prison, Robben Island, where former president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for twenty-seven years.

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