Current Conditions in Johannesburg
About South Africa
This is a lengthy document, but it should give you a comprehensive
view of South Africa. Information has been gathered from what is considered
to be reliable sources as of October 20, 2007.
South Africa is a vast, diverse country in people, places
and cultures, not to mention wildlife. To sum up so many things on one
web page is difficult, to say the least. I once read a tourist slogan
world in one country" and I don't think they were far
off the mark!
South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offer a larger-than-life experience for the traveller in search of a truly unique and inspiring experience.
South Africa's vast landscape includes savannahs, snow-covered mountains, forests, tropical swamps, endless beaches, tranquil rivers and bustling urban epicentres.
South Africa has a pretty nice climate; the most
optimal times vary depending on what you want to do. The winter is usually
best for viewing wildlife in game parks, due to the bush dying back a
bit and there being less water, so the animals become more dependent
on permanent waterholes. The climate in much of the highveldt is really
nice year round; it is a summer rainfall area (thunderstorms) with rain
rarely falling in the winter. During the day in the winter, it is warm
and sunny, but at night it can get cold.
The power in this country is 220/230V (and 250V in Pretoria)
A/C and 50hz; there are several styles of power outlets just to make
things difficult. The most common is a 3 pin arrangement with round pins,
but they also have the english style square pin 3 pin plugs in some places.
A lot of appliances run off of 2 pin european/shaver type plugs, and
3 pin to this style of plug are available pretty much everywhere, e.g.
in supermarkets. This is the sort of power your notebook will be able
to deal with fairly easily!
South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost
completely surrounds Swaziland. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of
the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics.
The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration
and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers
resisted British encroachments, but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902).
The resulting Union of South Africa operated under a policy of apartheid
- the separate development of the races. The 1990s brought an end to
apartheid politically and ushered in black majority rule.
lack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation
and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution
of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution
resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification.
South Africa is experiencing some pretty major changes in its culture
since the rise of the democratically elected government in 1994. The
stark contrast between the wealthy (white) and poor (black) (although
this is simplistic!) lifestyle is perhaps one reason for the extremely
high crime rates in the country, particularly in the major cities.
Petty theft is rife all over the country, but in major cities and towns,
violent crime is unfortunately very prevalent (armed car jackings and
burglaries, not only of businesses but also families). Some might see
it being an exaggeration, but at least in Johannesburg, almost every
permanent resident has experienced it, or has family or close friends
that have. Fortunately, very little of it seems to affect tourists,
as long as they take sensible precautions (i.e. don't look like you
are a tourist or carrying anything of particular value). Difficult
for camera enthusiasts. In most places you will
be fine, particularly in a group. Some areas of major towns and cities
are virtual no go areas, even during the day; relying on local folk
for where these areas are, and heed their warnings.
Don't let any of the above put you off visiting South Africa. If you
know what to expect you can safely visit. AWA, with our South African
partners, does it's best to educate our teams on safe practices while
in South Africa.
(note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects
of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy,
higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth
rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than
would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)
population (2005 est.)
Death Rate: 21.32 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 61.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 65.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 57.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Ethnic Groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian
2.5% (2001 census)
Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist
6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, other Christian 36%, Islam
1.5%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)
Languages: IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%,
English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2%
Government in South Africa
South Africa is a constitutional democracy with a three-tier system of government and an independent judiciary. The national, provincial and local levels of government all have legislative and executive authority in their own spheres, and are defined in the Constitution as "distinctive, interdependent and interrelated".
Operating at both national and provincial levels are advisory bodies drawn from South Africa's traditional leaders.
It is a stated intention in the Constitution that the country be run on a system of co-operative governance.
Economy - overview:
South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply
of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications,
energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that ranks among the
10 largest in the world; and a modern infrastructure supporting an
efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the
region. However, growth has not been strong enough to lower South Africa's
high unemployment rate; and daunting economic problems remain from
the apartheid era, especially poverty and lack of economic empowerment
among the disadvantaged groups. South African economic policy is fiscally
conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting inflation and liberalizing
trade as means to increase job growth and household income.
is the economic powerhouse of Africa, a busy city filled with millions
of people. However, it is quite a strange
one in many ways. There is an omnipresent fear of crime.
26.2% (2004 est.).
Population below poverty line:
50% (2000 est.).
Agriculture - products:
corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool,
mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile
assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals,
fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair
Currency (code): Rand (ZAR)
rand per US dollar - 6.4597 (2004), 7.5648 (2003), 10.5407 (2002), 8.6092
(2001), 6.9398 (2000).
South African National Defense Force (SANDF): Army, Navy, Air Force,
Joint Operations, Joint Support, Military Intelligence, Military Health
With the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority
rule, former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces
into the South African National Defense Force (SANDF); as of 2003 the
integration process was considered complete.
South Africa has placed military along the border to stem the thousands
of Zimbabweans fleeing to find work and escape political persecution;
managed dispute with Namibia over the location of the boundary in the
This page has tried to give information about the most
commonly asked questions from those considering a project with A World
Aware, Inc. If you have any other questions please let us know by clicking