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South Africa Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is on the southern tip of Africa and is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. South Africa completely encircles Lesotho and surrounds much of Swaziland.

South Africa is divided into nine provinces: North-West, Western Cape, Northern Cape, Northern Province, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The Prince Edward Islands, Edward Island and Marion Island in the Indian Ocean, are politically part of South Africa.

Pretoria (Tshwane) is South Africa's administrative capital with its legislative and judicial centres in Cape Town and Bloemfontein respectively.

Two-thirds of the terrain is high plateau, called Highveld. Mountains, known as the Great Escarpment, run along the east, south and west of the Highveld. There is a narrow coastal strip, the Lowveld. The Orange river runs from the east to the west of the country.

South Africa's weather is generally sunny and temperate although there are regional variations. Much of the country is prone to drought and is semiarid.

Environment
World Heritage sites in South Africa include the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, the Cape Floral Region and Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Lanscape.

The St. Lucia System and Natal Drakensberg Park are on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Other Ramsar sites include Orange River Mouth, Lake Sibaya, Wilderness Lakes, Langebaan National Park and Ndumo Game Reserve.

The Kruger National Park is South Africa's largest game reserve and was opened to protect the wildlife of the Lowveld.

Animals in the parks and reserves are monkeys, hyenas, impalas, zebras, giraffes, buffalo, wildebeest, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, lions, leopards, elephants, crocodiles and snakes. The springbok is the national animal. There are also around eight hundred and fifty species of birds.

Architecture
Traditional South African building materials were those readily available: mud, wattle and daub, thatch and stone. Rural buildings were circular such as the Zulu Kraal.

The Dutch introduced rectangular buildings. Cape-Dutch style buildings were constructed with thick walls and an emphasis on gables. The oldest stone Dutch building in the Cape is the castle, built to protect the early settlers.

Corrugated iron came into use as a building material and in some cases replaced thatched roofs on farm houses. In fact, Cape Town has two modern corrugated iron buildings designed by Johannesburg architects.

European architectural styles introduced to South Africa include Art Deco of the 1920s and 1930s. An example is the City Hall, in Benoni, constructed in 1937.

Nowadays, high-rise buildings dominate many city skyscapes. Shanty towns tend to spring up around cities.

Population
The population of South Africa was estimated at 48,782,756 in 2008.

Languages
Languages include Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

Religion
A large percentage of the people are Christians with small minorities of Hindus and Muslims. A number of people practise African religions and some have animist beliefs.

Food
South African food is greatly influenced by the varied ethnic origins of its inhabitants.

The Dutch introduced baked foods, the English meat pies, and the Indians and Malays brought Asian food to South Africa.

Food developed by the Boers and used as provisions for the Treks north included boerewors (a sausage), biltong and droewors (dried salted meat).

Other food eaten includes maize porridge, crushed corn with beans and African salad.

Popular drinks are local beer and wine.

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