The Republic of South Africa, is located on the southern tip of the African continent and inhabits 1,219,912 square kilometres (471,011 square miles) of land. It is neighboured by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique to the north and Swaziland in the east. South Africa wholly encompasses the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
The country has a population of more than 47 million that spans across nine provinces. The provinces are the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape, North West and the Western Cape. The Northern Cape is by far the largest province, but also has the smallest population while the smallest province is Gauteng, which has the densest population.
South Africa is a democracy with the president as the head of state. The country has clear separation of powers, with the legislative seated in the parliament and headed by the speaker of the house, administrative with the president and his cabinet (also members of parliament) and the judiciary headed by the chief justice. The constitution of South Africa however, is the supreme law and supersedes all branches of government. South Africans are proud of their constitution and it is considered to be one of the most progressive and liberal of its kind in the world.
The country has three capitals: Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (administrative) and Bloemfontein (judicial). The government is further divided into three tiers: national, provincial and local.
The country is a juxtaposition of natural beauty that includes vast open plains, rolling hills, mountains, lakes, coastline and bustling, sophisticated cities. There are two trans-frontier parks, the internationally renowned Kruger National Park and four natural UNESCO World Heritage sites. The uKhahlamba/Drakensburg Mountains are a combination of cultural and natural heritage because of the high volumes of Rock Art left by the San who lived in the area for 4000 years.
The most precious possession South Africa has is its people and this led the Archbishop Desmond Tutu to refer to it as the 'Rainbow Nation'. This was in reference to the diverse cultures, histories and languages which permeate the country.
There are 11 recognised official languages but English is used in road signs, hotels, commerce, banking, government and official documents. The country is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UTC +2) and has an average of 8.5 hours of sunshine per day.
Despite the diversity of culture and numerous languages, the nation is fanatical about sport, most notably rugby, cricket, golf, swimming, athletics, and, of course, football. Football is sometimes called soccer and colloquially referred to as 'diski'.
Generally, the infrastructure in South Africa is very good and moving between cities is relatively easy. The 2010 FIFA World Cup has been a catalyst for infrastructural upgrades and the South African government is investing more nine billion South African Rand for further works.