South Africa occupies the southernmost tip of the African continent stretching latitudinally from 22°S to 35°S and longitudinally from 17°E to 33°E. It covers an area of almost 1 223 201km and has a coastline of about 3 000km – five times the size of Britain, twice as big as France and nearly equal in size to the combined area of Germany, France and Italy. The country is bordered by Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, Mozambique to the north-east and Namibia to the north-west, and completely surrounds Lesotho and Swaziland. The estimated population in 1995 was 42 million.

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South Africa is divided up into nine regions or provinces, namely Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northern Province, North West Province, and Western Cape. There are 11 official languages, but English is widely spoken. The languages are English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Ndebele, Venda, Tsonga, Swazi, and Northern Sotho.

South Africa has three capitals; Pretoria (Gauteng) – the administrative capital,Cape Town (Western Cape) – the legislative capital and Bloemfontein (Free State) – the judicial capital.

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South Africa is famous for its abundant sunshine. On the whole, a dry country, it has a mean annual rainfall of 502mm. Despite regional differences, the climate is generally mild throughout the year with snowfall limited to the highest mountain peaks. KwaZulu-Natal has a subtropical climate with high humidity in summer. Southern Gauteng has hot summers with thunder showers, and frosty winters, Eastern Gauteng, the Cape interior and the Free State has a temperate climate with mild winters. The Western Cape region has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters.
Approximate seasonal temperatures:

Summer (October – March) : 15°C – 35°C (60°F – 96°F)
Winter (April – September) : 0°C – 20°C (32°F – 68°F)

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