South Africa is the southernmost sovereign state in Africa and stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. The National Party of South Africa imposed apartheid in 1948. After many struggles, apartheid was abolished from 1990, with the first democratic elections being held in 1994. South Africa is called the "Rainbow Nation" for its biodiversity, its different cultures, its different geology and its multi-ethnic population (black people came from the north, white people from Europe, Indians from India and colored people through miscegenation). South Africa is considered to be a newly industrialized country and it is one of the BRICS states, although it has been a world leader in various technologies and medical advancements.
South Africa is positioned in the southern hemisphere so its seasons are reversed in relation to Europe. Their winter is from June to September and their summer is from December to March. In South Africa there are 11 official languages. The principal ones include: English, Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans, but English is very common in most towns. South Africa has three capitals: the administrative capital is Pretoria; judicial capital is Bloemfontein; and the legislative capital is Cape Town. In South Africa there are various practiced religions, 80% of the population is Christian, but there are also Islam, Hinduism and Judaism. Only a small minority is still linked to the rites and tribal beliefs, although many tribal rituals and rites are still practiced commonly. All these religions have freedom of worship.
The food in South Africa is very good and well appreciated by foreigners, with a variety of dishes, principally from the Dutch tradition with the Indian-Asian influence of spices. South African wines are recognized as some of the best in the world. The SouthAfricans are particularly proud of their wines and have kept old traditions with regard to wine production. We can find their beautiful farms around the country with Dutch and colonial style buildings that have become tourist destinations and are well worth a visit.
Some useful info for travelers:
the prefix for calling from Europe is +27. In South Africa generally accepts all major credit cards (VISA, Diners, Mastercard, American Express) and while ATMs are easily found in cities and towns, some more rural areas may require you to carry cash (e.g.: desert areas).
The climate is subtropical. The winter season runs from May to August with varying temperatures. This is also depending on where one is, some mountainous areas are especially cold in winter, while some desert areas have hot winter days. The summer season runs from November to March with very high temperatures. The best time to visit South Africa is from September to February. From September till November, if you are lucky, you can see the whales that come to the South African coasts to calve, and watch their powerful breeching and play.
As for vaccinations, none are required, but you may want to take a malaria prophylaxis for long stays in Natural Parks.
Enjoy your trip!