• 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.

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South Africa features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

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 …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
6 reasons your next trip should be to Durban, South Africa

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…

25 Apr 2017 • Andy Turner insert_drive_file Article
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