• South Africa has a population of 51 million and eleven official languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Ndebele, Sotho, Setswana, siSwati, Venda and Tsonga.
• The country is a multiparty democracy, the head of state being President Jacob Zuma. Parliament sits in Cape Town, the legislative capital, while Pretoria is the executive capital, from where the president and his cabinet run the country. Each of the nine provinces has its own government.
• The highest point in South Africa is Njesuthi, in the Drakensberg, at 3408m. The highest point in Lesotho and Southern Africa is also in the Drakensberg: Thabana Ntlenyana, at 3482m.
• South African President Jacob Zuma’s three-spouse household is modest compared to the fourteen-wife ménage of Swazi King Msawati; King Letsie of Lesotho has been married just once.
• Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, who was previously married to the late president of Mozambique, Samora Machel, is the only woman to have been first lady of two different countries.
Everything you need to know before you set off.
Travel offers; book through Rough Guides
Planning your trip to South Africa
Everything you need to plan where to go and what to do.
South Africa features
The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you
There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …
6 reasons your next trip should be to Durban, South Africa
Subtropical heat, golden beaches, craft distilleries and spicy curries: Durban is an intriguing mix of urban South Africa and the Indian subcontinent, with a ge…
7 amazing African journeys
Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …