Introducing South Africa
The world's largest producer of gold, and one of the most influential countries in African politics, South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent, and is one of the most diverse African countries to be found. With 11 different official languages and a completely diversified culture made up of ethnic and cultural differences handed down over the generations, this democratic nation has a distinctly British feel to it as a result of its many years under British rule, although it has been independent since 1961. In the 21st century South Africa is known for being the gateway into Africa, and is famous not only for its cuisine and its culture, but for its wine, which is rated as some of the finest in the world.
Looking at South Africa on a map doesn't do the country justice. From the cosmopolitan seaside around Cape Town to the ravines and rivers snaking their way through Tsitsikamma National Park, or the mountains of the Drakensberg with its epic waterfalls and Xhosa villages along the Wild Coast, there is simply too much to experience in just one trip.
While the country is a vast landscape of natural beauty and amazing cultural and ethnic traditions, South Africa is not without its own issues. Crime rates are exceptionally high, and the country has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates on the planet. It's easy to miss the festering underbelly that sprawls beneath the sheen of tourist infrastructure and the glamour of natural beauty, but if you strike out beyond the main cities you'll find a country that is stricken with poverty and hunger.
South Africa is safe for all types of travelers, but precautions should be taken in smaller cities, especially after dark. Accommodations will depend upon whether or not you're staying in the main cities or the outlying hubs. Cape Town is the best place to start, and has plenty of vineyards, coasts, and countryside nearby to explore. From here, you can stretch your legs out into the rest of the country.
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