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South Africa - Overview

Situated at the southernmost tip of Africa, South Africa is the single most developed country on the continent. It features one of the most progressive constitutions in the world; possesses a vibrant and diverse population; and it produces a quarter of the Gross Domestic Product for the entire continent. The country is made up of nine provinces: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal.

Situated in the Western Cape, Cape Town is well-known for Table Mountain, Robben Island and one of the most diverse floral kingdoms (known locally as 'fynbos') in the world. Despite its size, Gauteng, the smallest of all the provinces, is the economic heart of the country.

South Africa offers a comfortable climate; remarkable wildlife that can be viewed in conservation areas and private and public game parks (some no more than an hour's drive from major urban centers); a thriving, competitive global economy; and a modern, first-world infrastructure. For immigrants, the relative strength of many foreign currencies makes an upper-middle class life in the country easily attainable. And despite problems such as rampant crime, rising unemployment and continued racial tension, the quality of life in South Africa, for those who can afford it, is comparable to that found anywhere in the first-world.

Those with a musical ear may like to know that the South African national anthem is Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (God Bless Africa). Although Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika is the national anthem of many African countries, the South African anthem is unique in that it is actually composed of two anthems; the first two stanzas from Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika are sung in Zulu, while the third (sung in Afrikaans) and fourth (sung in English) stanzas come from South Africa's pre-1994 anthem, Die Stem van Suid Afrika (The Call of South Africa).

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