Essential Info for South Africa

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Flag of the Republic of South AfricaOfficial name: Republic of South Africa

Population: 55 million

Capital cities: Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial)

Neighbouring countries: Along South Africa's northern border from west to east are Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique. Lesotho is situated in the eastern side of South Africa, and is entirely surrounded by the Republic.

Geography: South Africa has a long coastline of 1,600 miles (2,500kms) that hugs the country from east to west. The inland area of the country is characterised by a vast plateau, while a large portion of the south is occupied by a semi-desert shrubland called the Karoo.

Political system: Constitutional parliamentary republic

Major religions: Freedom of religion is enshrined in the South African constitution. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are the most prominent religions.

Main languages: South Africa has 11 official languages, though English is the standard form of communication. Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho are also spoken and vary in prevalence depending on geographic location.

Money: The South African Rand (ZAR) is divided into 100 cents. Opening a bank account is usually easy and possible with identification and proof of address. ATMs are widespread but might be scarcer in some rural areas. Internet banking is widely available.

Tipping: 10 percent (or more for good service) is common. 

Time: GMT+2

Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Typically, three-pin round plugs are standard.

Internet domain: .za

International dialling code: +27, plus the relevant city code, e.g. (0)21 for Cape Town and (0)11 for Johannesburg.

Emergency contacts: 10111

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left. Despite the introduction of rapid transport systems, public transport is generally of a low standard and most expats purchase a vehicle. Roads are generally of good quality, but certain rural roads may be in disrepair.

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