South Africa is situated in the Southern Hemisphere. The republic covers an area of roughly 1 227 200 square km. This is almost five times the size of the United Kingdom or about one eighth of the area comprising the United States of America.
South Africa has an average of 8.5 hours of sunshine a day. The sun can be fierce and the use of sunscreen is recommended. The Cape has a distinctive Mediterranean climate, whilst KwaZulu Natal experiences a subtropical climate and can get very hot in summer.
South Africa's currency unit is the Rand. R 1 = 100 cents.
Bank notes are issued in denominations of R 200, R 100, R 50, R 20 and R 10.
Coins come in denominations of R 5, R 2, R 1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. The international symbol for the currency is ZAR.
Foreign banknotes of all major currencies will be exchanged at a bureau de change, commercial banks, airports and major hotels. Johannesburg International Airport provides a 24-hour banking service.
Credit Cards or Traveler's Cheques are recommended travelling currencies. American Express, Visa Card, Master Card, Thomas Cook and Diners Club Traveler's Cheques and Credit Cards are generally honoured. Petrol can not be paid for with standard Credit Cards, so it is advised to carry a small amount of cash for this purpose.
It is advisable to take the same precautions as you would in any major city. Do not walk around alone at night. Do not draw attention to yourself by wearing any expensive jewellery or carrying lots of cash on you. Always lock doors and windows when you are not occupying your room.
Excellent medical services are readily available throughout South Africa. It is essential however to take out Travel and Medical Insurance.
Geographical location places South Africa in a standard time zone two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, seven hours behind Eastern Standard Winter Time and one hour ahead of Central European Standard Winter Time.
It is compulsory for people who travel to South Africa from a yellow fever zone to have a valid international vaccination certificate. Recommended immunizations include diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid and yellow fever.
Malaria regions include Northern Province, Mpumalanga, and the north of KwaZulu Natal where there is a malaria risk all year. Preventative medication is available at pharmacies throughout South Africa. A good mosquito repellent spray can be obtained locally.
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