South Africa is a country of contrasts. It’s the best economy on the African continent: its gold mines and oil reserves are the most productive, its fruit exports are significant enough and among many others, it supplies 66% of Africa’s electricity. Still, it’s estimated 4 in 10 citizens don’t have a job. Probably the most discussed and mind-blowing event from South Africa was the Apartheid, when people that account for less than 10% of South Africa used their political power to discriminate against an overwhelming majority. The country is the only one (amid those that took a vow after World War II) to actually deactivate their nuclear weapons.
A striking particularity of South Africa is its number of languages and capitals. For each of the 3 system components, South Africa has a capital: Bloemfontein (judicial), Pretoria (administrative) and Cape Town (legislative). Tourists usually tour them all since they have many places of historical importance. Cape Town owns the oldest mountains in this world. Pretoria has a zoological garden, national parks and countless museums, while Bloemfontein gained some popularity due to J. K. Rowling, who was born here. Extend your visit to Johannesburg, one of the richest cities, and add Karoo on your itinerary for some dinosaur remnants.
Don’t waste any opportunity to talk to South Africans. While the country has the most official languages (11), people usually speak at least one European dialect. The diversity makes it hard to determine some basic cultural grounds. South Africans are incredibly non-judgmental and tend to respect the others’ privacy. The tribe though plays a significant role and people have a very strong sense of belonging. Not being generous enough, greeting someone hastily or offending a person can bring shame to the initiator of these actions.
If you are that interested in its traditions, attend South African festivals. It’s a chance to understand the culture better. Some events revolve around sports, especially soccer. Some other favor traditional dances and music. Afrikaner manifestations bear many similarities to European events.