Traveling Luck for South Africa

South Africa is located in Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa.

South Africa has borders with Botswana for 1840km, Lesotho for 909km, Mozambique for 491km, Namibia for 967km, Swaziland for 430km and Zimbabwe for 225km.

Land in South Africa is vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain.

South African land covers an area of 1219912 square kilometers which is slightly less than twice the size of Texas

As for the South African climate; mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights.

South African(s) speak 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% (2001 census).

South African National Map

South African Map

Regions of South Africa

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.


South Africa Country Profile

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.

South African natural resources include gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland

South African religion is 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).

Natural hazards in South Africa include prolonged droughts.

Travel Advice on South Africa

South Africa

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Health section (Rabies).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is a high level of crime, but most occurs in townships and isolated areas away from tourist destinations.

  • The standard of driving is variable, and there are many fatal accidents.

  • You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • More than 460,000 Britons visit South Africa every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in South Africa is for replacing lost or stolen passports.  Passport theft is usually opportunist and non-violent (and increasingly often occurs at airports on arrival or departure), although some passports are taken during muggings.  You should keep photocopies of your passport with you in a separate place to your passport.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder.  However, most cases occur in the townships and in areas away from the main tourist destinations.  The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists.  Tourism police are deployed in several of the large towns.
The risk to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is low.  But if you are mugged or your car is hijacked you should remain calm, offer no resistance and hand over possessions without question.  Avoid eye contact.  Consult a reliable tour guide if you are visiting a township.
South Africa actively promotes an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.  But given the high level of HIV/AIDS in the country, you should seek immediate medical advice if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise injured.
As elsewhere, thieves like to operate at international airports, bus and railway stations.  Keep your baggage with you at all times. Due to pilfering of luggage at Johannesburg International Airport (JIA) it is recommended that where possible, and where local regulations permit, hold luggage is vacuum wrapped.  Passport theft is common.  You should carry photocopies of your passport with you.

Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight.  Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas.
Do not give personal or financial account information details to unknown parties.  There are international fraud rings operating in South Africa, as there are in other parts of the world, who may target visitors, foreign businessmen and charities.
Local Travel
Johannesburg, like other major international cities, has specific risk areas.  You should avoid Berea and Hillbrow.  There is a high level of muggings around the Rotunda bus terminus in the Central Business District.
In all areas of South Africa, you should be cautious when out after dark.  Streets, even in urban areas, are not brightly lit at night.  Be vigilant at all times in Durban's city centre and beachfront area.  Keep to main roads and avoid driving at night when visiting Northern KwaZulu Natal and Zululand, as there have been incidents of hi-jacking and robbery, particularly on isolated secondary roads.
You should park in well-lit areas.  Do not pick up strangers.  Do not stop to assist (apparently) distressed motorists, as this is a technique sometimes used by hijackers.  It is better to report the incident to the police.
Be vigilant on the approach roads to and from Kruger Park where there have been cases of car hijacking.  The local authorities have increased police patrols in this area.
Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots across South Africa and stay in company.  Walking alone anywhere, especially in remote areas, is not advised and hikers should stick to popular trails.  Call the police (on 10111 (112 from cell phones)) at the first sign of a threat.
There have been attacks on hikers and tourists on Table Mountain.  Some attacks have been violent.  You should be cautious when in the quieter areas of the Park, especially early in the morning or just before the park closes.  Park authorities, who are attempting to address the problem, recommend that visitors should walk in groups and take all appropriate precautions.
Road Safety
The standard of driving in South Africa can vary greatly and there are many fatal accidents every year.
Some general advice: on highways it is well worth remembering that overtaking can occur in any lane including, occasionally, the hard shoulder.  On single-lane roads the hard shoulder is also sometimes used by trucks and slower moving vehicles to allow faster moving vehicles to overtake – it is regarded as a courtesy to acknowledge this, usually with a brief flash of hazard warning lights.  Four-way-stops are commonly found at the quieter intersections – the first vehicle to arrive has priority.  On roundabouts, give way to the right, although this is often overlooked and it is wise to proceed with caution.
Road standards are mostly very good, but some roads in the more remote areas are less well maintained and potholes may be encountered.  It is strongly recommended that you drive cautiously at all times and adhere to speed limits.  You should avoid unfamiliar rural areas at night.  Thieves have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop, enabling them to rob the occupants.  One such method is the placing of large stones in the middle of the road.  In the circumstances it is prudent to carefully drive around the stones or obstacle, rather than stop the vehicle.
A valid UK driver’s licence is accepted in South Africa for up to 12 months after entry, provided it carries the photograph and signature of the holder.  Old style UK driving licences, without photographs of the holder, may be authenticated by the Consular Section of the British High Commission or the Consulate General in Cape Town.

Flash flooding has damaged some roads in the Cape Provinces.  Seek local advice on which routes are best avoided.
Air Safety
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Drug taking and smuggling is an offence.  The punishments can be severe.
Homosexuality is permitted.  South Africa has introduced legislation which bans any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS
British nationals visiting South Africa on holiday for less than 90 days do not require visas.  After entry, extensions of stay may be sought from the Department of Home Affairs.  If you have overstayed without authority you may be required to pay a fine, either on exit or at the nearest South African mission on your return to the UK (or elsewhere).  Re-entry to South Africa will not be permitted until the fine has been paid in full.  However, serious overstayers may be arrested on departure and detained before appearing in court.  In such cases you may face a very substantial fine and then be deported at your own expense.
Despite not needing a visa you should note that your passport must have one clear blank page for the South African entry stamp.  SA Immigration officials will not allow the passport’s Child/Infant page to be used for this purpose.  If you do not have a free blank page in your passport you will be denied entry.
Your passports must also be valid for no less than 30 days after the end of your intended visit.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information, please contact the South African High Commission in London..


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling, including cover for medical evacuation. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake, especially extreme adventure sports or wildlife activities. Remember that failure to declare a medical condition could render a policy invalid. Please see: Travel Insurance.
Hospital treatment in large cities is good but can be expensive. Medical facilities in rural areas can be basic. In remote areas, air evacuation is sometimes the only option for medical emergencies.

South Africa and the sub-Saharan region of Africa have a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.  South Africa actively promotes an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, but given the high level of HIV/AIDS, you should seek immediate medical advice if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise injured.

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is present in all parts of South Africa.

Malaria is prevalent in parts of Mpumalanga, Limpopo province and KwaZulu-Natal (particularly the Wetlands area around St Lucia). Before travelling to these areas, including Kruger Park, you should seek medical advice on suitable anti-malarial medication and take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in country or in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in South Africa.

There are periodic outbreaks of cholera in the poor communities of rural South Africa, especially in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo provinces. Cholera is a highly contagious disease. You are advised to maintain a high level of personal hygiene and drink only bottled water if travelling in these areas.

Measles outbreaks occur from time to time in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

Rabies is endemic in most African countries, although only a few human cases are reported annually in South Africa.  The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and transmitted to humans through bites, scratches or contact of saliva with broken skin and can be fatal once symptoms manifest themselves.  All travellers who have possibly been exposed to the rabies virus, whether by bites, scratches or other exposure, should seek medical advice without delay (even if pre-exposure vaccine was received).  This also applies to travellers in low risk areas in case other animal-transmitted infections are present, or the animal may have strayed across the border from an endemic country.  More information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre: (NaTHNaC website.).

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health website at: www.dh.gov.uk.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas please see: What We Can Do To Help.

Money

There is a high incidence of credit card fraud and fraud involving ATMs.  Users of ATMs should be vigilant to ensure their PIN number is not observed by others when withdrawing money.  Offers of assistance from bystanders should be refused.  Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas.

Closely protect any documents containing details of credit card, PIN numbers and bank accounts.