NEED TO KNOW
Language: English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
Capital City: Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town
Area: 471,443 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 27
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Dec 30, 2008:
1 South Africa Rand = $0.11 US Calculate Other Amounts
South Africa does not require visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for a three-month stay.
GOOD TO KNOW
Books and Movies
For insight into the life and struggles of one of the world's most revered public figures, pick up a copy of Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. For literary mastery, delve into something by the country's two most celebrated writers: Nadine Gordimer (The Conservationist) and J. M. Coetzee (Disgrace).
A Dry White Season, featuring Marlon Brando in his final Oscar-nominated role, is a moving examination of the apartheid era. For a more upbeat movie experience, watch Amandla, which chronicles the important role of music in the victory over apartheid.
Drop by a butcher shop for some biltong to gnaw on. This South African version of beef jerky can also be found in another chewy variety—ostrich. When in Cape Town, try a sweet stew or curry dish, prepared in the Cape Malay tradition.
The 14 percent value-added tax (VAT) added to most purchases can be refunded at customs in the airport on your way home—as long as you have the proper paperwork (you must make sure to collect this from merchants whenever you make a purchase). A ten-to-20 percent tip is expected at all restaurants.
January: 1, New Year's Day
March: 21, Human Rights Day
April: 27, Freedom Day
May: 1, Workers Day
June: 16, Youth Day
August: 9, National Women's Day
September: 24, Heritage Day
December: 16, Day of Reconciliation; 25, Christmas Day; 26, Day of Goodwill
Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter; Monday after Easter, Family Day