South Africa has a really interesting history. Read this (Martin Meredith) and this (Nelson Mandela) to get a really strong background in South African history. If you don’t have time, here is a flash background the way I see it.
Dutch traders used South Africa as a step in the staircase which is the Dutch East India Company. They developed colonies, the colonies moved inland and developed into the Afrikaans speaking Boers.
The English also came along and settled during the time of the British Empire. You know the saying “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” That means that there was British property everywhere under the sun for a time.
While the Dutch and English decedents moved in, they came to lands that were occupied by the Xhosa, the Zulu ect. This caused lots of strife and hardship, but ultimately shaped the people of South Africa today.
In 1948, the National Party in South Africa had power and instituted an Apartheid government. This divided the people by race. Blacks, Whites and Coloreds.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela was released from prison and won the first multi-racial election
Slightly less than twice the size of Texas.
Njesuthi – 3,408 meters
About 50 million (twice the population of Australia or about the size of the the Northeast Megapolis)
Special notes to know before you travel:
- South Africa has the highest mortality rate due to AIDs and HIV in the world.
- Desmond Tutu coined the term “Rainbow Nation” as a way of celebrating the ethnic diversity in South Africa.
- Though there is lots of talk of it being a very dangerous country, I found it to be very peaceful to travel. Please exercise care when traveling South Africa.
- There is lots of racial tension in South Africa
- The national anthem is sung with more than 6 languages
- There is lots of great surf all the way from the boarder of Mozambique to Cape Town. Endless uncrowded coast lines. You need a 4/3 wetsuit in Cape Town but in Durban you can surf with boardies.
- South Africa is a rock climbers mecca. There are endless opportunities for climbing.
- Cultural dances and music is absolutely stunning! The singers, artists and the performers you encounter are truly remarkabel.