South Africa Geography

South Africa Geography

South Africa consists for the most part of flat or undulating plateaus. In the central highlands (Hochveld), these reach a height of 1,200–1,800 m above sea level, in the north-west 900–1,200 m above sea level. d. In the north they gradually descend to the Kalahari Basin, a dry area. In the west, south and east, the plateaus are bounded by the Great Edge Step, a steep drop that is most impressive in the Drakensberg. There is also the highest mountain in the country, the Mafadi at 3,450 m above sea level. d. M.

The climate ranges from Mediterranean to subtropical on the coasts. Most of the country is warm temperate. In the inland areas with little rain, the temperature reaches 30–40 ° C in summer, and there is frost in winter. Since there is sometimes no precipitation at all, drought disasters occur repeatedly.

South Africa meets most of its water needs with surface water that is collected in large reservoirs. Massive problems with the water supply for the population are expected in the future. Because due to global climate change, long dry periods are to be expected. There are major problems with wastewater that enters the environment untreated. Air and water pollution from mining and the lack of garbage disposal in cities are other environmental problems.

South Africa’s flora and fauna are extraordinarily rich in species. Many large African animals such as giraffes, elephants, rhinos and hippos, as well as lions and leopards, live in the savannah landscapes in particular. Right whales come to mate off the coast.

Country facts

  • Official name: Republic of South Africa
  • License plate: ZA
  • ISO-3166: ZA, ZAF (710)
  • Internet
  • Currency: 1 rand (R) = 100 cents
  • Area: 1,219,090 km²
  • Population (2018): 57.8 million
  • Capital: Pretoria (Tshwane)
  • Official language (s): English, Afrikaans, IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, Zulu, Pedi, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swasi, Venda
  • Form of government: Presidential republic in the Commonwealth
  • Administrative division: 9 provinces
  • Head of State: President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (since February 15, 2018)
  • Religion (s) (2015): 86% Christian; 5.4% followers of traditional local religions, Hindus, Muslims
  • Time zone: Central European Time +1 hour
  • National holiday: April 27th

Location and infrastructure

  • Location (geographical): South Africa
  • Position (coordinates): between 22 ° and 34 ° 52 ‘south latitude and 16 ° and 33 ° east longitude
  • Climate: In the north a warm winter-dry climate, in the east a humid climate, in the interior steppe climate, to the west transition to the desert climate, in the south-west a warm, summer-dry climate
  • Highest mountain: Mafadi (3450 m)
  • Road network (2016): 158 124 km (paved), 591 876 km (unpaved)
  • Railway network (2014): 20,986 km


  • Annual population growth (2018): 1%
  • Birth rate (2018): 19.9 per 1,000 residents.
  • Death rate (2018): 9.3 per 1000 residents.
  • Average age (2018): 27.4 years
  • Average life expectancy (2018): 64.1 years (women 65.6; men 62.7)
  • Age structure (2018): 28.2% younger than 15 years, 5.8% older than 65 years
  • Literacy rate (15 year olds and older) (2015): 94.4%
  • Mobile phone contracts (pre-paid and post-paid) (2017): 162 per 100 residents
  • Internet users (2016): 54 per 100 residents


  • GDP per capita (2017): US $ 6,180
  • Total GDP (2017): US $ 349 billion
  • GNI per capita (2018): US $ 5,720
  • Education expenditure (2016): 5.9% of GDP
  • Military expenditure (2016): 1% of GDP
  • Unemployment rate (2017): 27.7%


Like the flora, the fauna of South Africa is extraordinarily rich in species. Many of the well-known mammalian large animals of Africa (e.g. antelopes, plains zebras, giraffes, African elephants, rhinos and hippos, but also lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, etc.) live in the various savannah landscapes in particular. Today they are mostly successfully protected in numerous national parks, e.g. in the Kruger National Park in the east, in nature and wildlife reserves. Visit for south Africa as a destination country.

While z. For example, the quagga, a partially striped zebra that was exterminated in 1883, succeeded in reproducing species that were about to become extinct, such as the great ibex and mountain zebra, in such a way that they can be seen in many reserves today. The bird world with over 900 species in southern Africa is also extremely diverse. Notable endemic species are e.g. B. Paradise crane and black oystercatcher, but also numerous birds of prey, bustards, waders and water birds, even African penguins form several colonies in the Cape region. South Africa is also of great importance for the wintering of European bird species (e.g. white stork, bee-eater, red-backed shrike ), which are often seen in southern summer. Reptiles are diverse represented: In the wetlands of the North East, the Nile crocodile is often seen again, Cape Cobra, Black Mamba and puff adders are the most common venomous snakes, among the lizards fall lizards, chameleons, Girdle and colorful flat belt lizards, which South Africa as the ubiquitous skinks and Colonize geckos in many species. The diversity of invertebrates, such as scorpions, butterflies and beetles, is almost unmanageable. The termites that build up colonies are particularly important for the savannah ecosystems.

The marine animal life is also unusually abundant. If you can still find coral reefs in the northeast in the warm Indian Ocean, it is in the cold Benguela Current, above all the huge kelp forests (Tange), which determine the biological diversity. After the cessation of whaling, the coast of South Africa (between Cape Agulhas and Cape Town) has once again become one of the most important mating sites for the southern right whale. This area is also the habitat of the white shark, which feeds here primarily on the numerous southern fur seals.

South Africa Geography