Frequently asked questions about South Africa.
When is the best time to visit for my holiday to South Africa?
South Africa is a year round holiday destination, but it all depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. Different activities are better suited to different seasons.
For the best game watching, visit during a South African spring (August – October), Whale watching from mid June to the end of October and for diving and surfing, April to September. The beaches of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban are great and best visited in the peak of summer (November – February).
What are the different areas of South Africa?
South Africa is divided into 9 provinces: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga. Major cities include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein.
How big is the Population?
South Africa is a diverse country filled with a myriad of traditional origins, languages and beliefs, and is home to over 47 million people from all walks of life. The population of South Africa is divided into four ethnic groups, black Africans, whites, coloureds and Asians.
The Black Africans make up the majority of the population, which accounts for 76% of the entire countries population. Whites account for 13%, coloureds (mixed White and Black descent) make up for 9% and Asian account for 3%.
What time zone is South Africa?
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GTM), one hour ahead of Central European WinterTime, 8 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time and 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard WinterTime. There is no daylight saving and no time-zone changes between South Africa and its neighbouring countries, or between the 9 provinces of South Africa.
What currency do I need for my South Africa holiday?
The unit of currency is the South African Rand, denoted by the symbol R. One hundred cents makes up one Rand (R1). Coins are available in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5, and notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200.
The Rand is weaker than the Pound and Dollar, making a visit to South Africa highly affordable by international standards. Accommodation, eating out and shopping in South Africa offers great value for money to the international traveller.
Your foreign currency can be exchanged at most local banks and Bureaux de Change. There are many banks and ATM’s all around South Africa, including airports, petrol stations and malls.
How much should I Tip?
In South Africa it is customary to tip for good service. Porters usually receive R5 per item; taxis receive 10% of the bill, and waiters and waitresses in restaurants 10-15%.
In South African restaurants the service charge is not included in the total bill. At petrol stations, petrol attendants will fill your car and offer to clean your windscreen and check your oil and water, therefore a tip of about R2 will be appreciated.
In parking areas, official and unofficial parking attendants may offer to help you park your car and watch it while you are away. Again, whatever small change you may have will be appreciated.
What are the public holidays in South Africa?
- New Year’s Day: 01 January
- Human Rights Day: 21 March
- Good Friday: The Friday before Easter (between late March and late April)
- Family Day: The Monday after Easter Sunday
- Freedom Day: 27 April
- Workers Day: 01 May
- Youth Day: 16 June
- National Women’s Day: 09 August
- Heritage Day: 24 September
- Day of Reconciliation: 16 December
- Christmas Day: 25 December
- Day of Goodwill: 26 December
What do the colours of the South African Flag represent?
The current national flag of South Africa was first appointed in April 1994, after the first free election in South Africa, to represent the end of Apartheid and the new democratic South Africa. Designed by Frederick G. Brownell, the flag has horizontal bands of red on the top and blue on the bottom, separated by a central green band, splitting into a horizontal ‘Y’ shape.
The Y forms an isosceles triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands. The red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes. The South African flag is the only national flag in the world that has six colours and without a seal and brocade.
The flag means different things to different people. According to the flag’s designer, the red symbolizes the blood that was shed during the various wars and conflicts in the country. It is also suggested that the blue represents the sky and the two oceans that flank the country.
The green symbolizes the farms and the rich, natural environment of the country, while the yellow represents the natural resources, particularly gold. Finally, it is said that the black represents black South Africans, while the white represents the white population of the country.
Ironically, three of the colours – black, green and yellow – are also colours found in the flag of the African National Congress, despite the official denial of symbolism. The other three colours – red, white and blue – are the colours used in the flag of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as the old South African flag. This could be seen as a representation of the unity between the two South African traditions.