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For the next 200 years, Europeans and Indian settlers came into the region. South Africa was fought over by the Dutch, the French, and the British for centuries, but it was the British who finally claimed control of the region in 1806.
The region was divided into several kingdoms in the 1800's. The Zulu kingdom had a strong fighting force led by their leader Shaka Zulu, while the Boers founded Transvaal and the Orange Free State. By 1852, the British granted self-governance in Transvaal and by the late 1850's, the Boers declared the land a republic.
In 1879, the British conquered the Zulus, followed by the Boers' rebellion against the British in 1880, leading to the 2 Anglo-Boer Wars.
In 1910, the 4 British colonies in the region were united, which included the Cape, the Natal, Transvaal, and the Orange Free State. Britain then established laws that separated the whites from the blacks - a segregation known as the apartheid - which caused several decades of conflict in the region.
In 1963, Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader of the African National Congress was sentenced to life in prison due to "terrorist" activities. It wasn't until 1990 that he was freed, and he eventually became South Africa's first black President in 1994.
South Africa is located in Southern Africa. It is the 25th largest country in the world, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean off its southern coast.
Its borders are the nations of Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana to the north, and the nations of Swaziland and Mozambique to the east.
South Africa's terrain is highly varied with high plateaus in the interior of the country, and various mountain ranges and grasslands found throughout the region.
South Africa is a unitary constitutional parliamentary republic. The President is both head of state and head of government, and appoints the Deputy President and the Ministers of the Cabinet.
The executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government are subject to the Constitution.
The National Assembly is the lower house, with 400 members elected to five-year terms, while the National Council of Provinces is the upper house, with 90 members with each of the 9 provincial branches electing 10 members each.
South Africa is one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. Offering the best safaris, urban cities, and historic monuments, South Africa's tourism industry is a major contributor to its economy.
For the ultimate safari experience, the Kruger National Park is a must-visit. One of the largest game reserves in Africa and the world, it consists of 2 million hectares of land with 9 different trails, and plenty of accommodation for every budget - from simple lodges to the most luxurious safari resorts.
The Winelands in the northeast of Cape Town offer a different kind of experience for travelers. This is where South Africa's award-winning wines are made, with its wine routes, historic towns, and green valleys.
The Cradle of Mankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a large number of human fossils that can't be found anywhere else in the world. Found 50km northwest of Johannesburg, this tourist site is a sprawling 47,000 hectares with limestone caves and hominin fossils that date back from 3.5 million years ago.
The Palace of the Lost City is the world's largest themed resort hotel. The spectacular luxury hotel is set amidst 25 hectares of man-made jungle, with 2 million plants, shrubs, and trees.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of public investment in education in the world - about 21% of the government's annual spending is allocated to the education system.
Governed by 2 departments, the primary and secondary schools are handled by the Department of Basic Education while tertiary education and vocational training are handled by the Department of Higher Education and Training.
- South Africa is the 2nd largest fruit producer in the world - due its varied landscape, the country has the capacity to grow a large range of fruit species.
- The world's very first heart transplant occurred in Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967.
- South Africa's drinking water is the 3rd best in the world in terms of safety.
Last Update On : December 30, 2014
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