Since the official end of apartheid (Afrikaans: "apartness," or racial separation) in 1994, South Africa has been a popular tourist destination due to its varied topography, immense natural beauty, and cultural diversity.
South Africa is an extraordinarily unique sub-Saharan African nation jutting formidably for sailors who have planned to round its cape into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the southernmost top of Africa. The archeological evolution of humanity has been documented in South Africa, with a history as old as any on the planet. The wildlife and biodiversity of South Africa's semi-arid plateaus, bush, and coastline are possibly the most thrilling and rewarding in all of Africa. Explore the vibrancy of a multiethnic, forward-thinking democracy interlaced with the splendor and community of traditional Africa!
For much of the 20th century, South Africa's remoteness—it is thousands of miles from major African cities like Lagos and Cairo and more than 6,000 miles (10,000 km) from most of Europe, North America, and eastern Asia, where its major trading partners are located—helped to reinforce the official apartheid system.
With that system, the government, controlled by the minority white population, enforced segregation between government-defined races in housing, education, and virtually all spheres of life, effectively creating three nations: one of the whites (consisting primarily of peoples of British and Dutch [Boer] ancestry, who struggled for generations to gain political supremacy, a struggle that reached its violent apex with the South African War of 1899–1902) and one of the blacks (consisting primarily of peoples of African descent, who struggled for generations) and one of "Coloureds" (mixed-race people) and ethnic Asians (Indians, Malays, Filipinos, and Chinese). Much of the world despised and even fought the apartheid system. By the mid-1980s, South Africa had become one of the world's pariah regimes, the target of economic and cultural boycotts that impacted practically every facet of life. Mongane Wally Serote, a South African poet, noted at the time. The South African administration of F.W. de Klerk (1989–94) began to dismantle apartheid legislation after being forced to address the unsustainable nature of ethnic separatism in a multicultural land. This set in motion led to complete voting and true electoral democracy, culminating in the 1994 election of a government dominated by the Black majority and led by Nelson Mandela, the long-incarcerated rebel. The country has achieved tremendous progress in achieving social fairness in a short period of time, as this shift demonstrates.
Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial) are the three capitals of South Africa (judicial). Johannesburg, the country's largest city and a commercial hub, is located in the heart of Gauteng, South Africa's most populous province. Durban, an Indian Ocean port, is a central industrial hub. Both East London and Port Elizabeth, on the country's southern coast, are key commercial, industrial, and cultural hubs.
South Africa now has a stable mixed economy that benefits from its lush agricultural lands, abundant mineral resources, tourism attractions, and highly developed intellectual capital. Greater political equality and economic stability, on the other hand, do not always imply social harmony. At the turn of the century, South African society faced numerous challenges, including rising crime rates, ethnic tensions, significant inequities in housing and educational possibilities, and the AIDS pandemic.
The South African Identity 11 Languages Strong: "Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga."
After independence, the European minority remained in political control, and apartheid ensued until 1994, when black Africans finally gained full political rights and enfranchisement. Interestingly, South Africa is the only African nation to be ruled by a continuous democracy and the first and only nation to build nuclear weapons, only to dismantle the weapons program voluntarily.
Since the end of apartheid, it has been much easier to enjoy the spectacular sights of South Africa. From the bustling city of Cape Town, hike the iconic Table Mountain National Park when the flat top is covered in an eerie layer of clouds, or travel west to the Shipwreck Coast of the Cape of Good Hope, where a graveyard of unfortunate naval expeditions are well preserved and add character to the stunning coastline. Also signature of South Africa's coastline is the abundance of whales. Spend an afternoon in the seaside town of Hermanus, famous for whale watching, or take a guided boat trip to catch a closer glimpse of the majestic creatures. From here, a journey along the famous Garden Route winds through hidden nature reserves, tucked-away coastal towns, national monuments, indigenous forests, sea caves, and borders the peaceful desert highlands of the Karoo. To the north, the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park is worth visiting to see the massive hippos rummaging quietly through the marsh. Unwind from your expeditions in South Africas prosperous and productive wine region northeast of Cape Town. Arrange for a stay on an estate in Stellenbosch and treat yourself to a tour of some of the world's best wines introduced by Europeans in the 17th century.
The most popular areas are in the Western Cape and along the coast, although more pristine wilderness and less urbanized indigenous culture will be found inland. Also, Johannesburg, Durban, and Pretoria (the administrative capital) are exciting for their urban juxtaposition to the African wilderness at large. South Africa is a wondrous and historic land of global culture that has never been more accessible or enjoyable. Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to explore the gem of the oldest and most diverse continent on earth!