South Africa

South Africa lies at the southernmost part of the African continent. It is bordered to the north by Botswana and Zimbabwe, to the northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland and to the northwest by Namibia. On the east coastline lies the Indian Ocean, the Southern coastline the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and Atlantic Ocean on the western side. South Africa completely surrounds Lesotho. Most of South Africa has elevations of over 914m (3,000 ft) and at least 40% of the surface is at an elevation of over 1,220m (4,000 ft). Parts of Johannesburg are 1,829m (6,000 ft) above sea level. Resembling an inverted saucer, the land rises steadily from west to east to the Drakensberg Mountains, the tallest of which is Mont-aux-Sources at 3,300m (10,823 ft).

Map of South Africa

The coastal belt in the west and south varies from 3 to 30 miles in width, is between 152m (500ft) to 182m (600ft) above sea level, and is very fertile, producing citrus fruits and grapes, particularly in the Western Cape. North of the coastal belt stretch, the Little and the Great Karoo, which are bounded by mountains, lie higher than the coastal belt, and are semi-arid to arid, merging into sandy wastes that ultimately join the Kalahari Desert. The high grass prairie, or veld, of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal is famous for its mineral deposits. From Drakensberg, the land falls towards the Indian Ocean in the rolling hills and valleys of Natal, which are covered with rich vegetation and, near the coast, subtropical plants, including sugarcane.

The protected areas of South Africa contain some of its most beautiful scenery and outstanding natural landscapes. South Africa’s national parks were established for the objective of “establishment, preservation and study therein of wild animal, marine and plant life and objects of geological, archaeological, historical, ethnological, oceanological, educational and scientific interest…in such a manner that the area which constitutes the park will, as far as may be and for the benefit and enjoyment of visitors, be retained in its nature state” Our national parks historic role has been not only to protect the assets it looks after, but also to deliver tourism and recreational services to South African and international visitors.

The Republic of South Africa forms the southernmost part of the African continent, stretching latitudinally from 22 degrees to 35 degrees South and longitudinally from 17 degrees to 33 degrees East. Its surface area is 1 223 201 kilometres squared. It has common boundaries with Namibia, the Republics of Botswana and Zimbabwe, while the Republic of Mozambique and the Kingdom of Swaziland lie to its north-east. The Kingdom of Lesotho is completely enclosed by South African territory. To the west, south and east, South Africa borders on the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans respectively. Prince Edward Island and Marion Island lie approximately 1 920 km to the south-east of Cape Town in the South Atlantic Ocean. They were taken into possession by South Africa in 1947.

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