Southern Africa: Wikis

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     Southern Africa (UN subregion)      geographic, including above      Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa (a successor country to the Union of South Africa); nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.[1]

Contents

Definitions and usage

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UN scheme of geographic regions and SACU

In the UN scheme of geographic regions, five countries constitute Southern Africa:[2]

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU), created in 1969, also comprises the five countries in the UN subregion of Southern Africa. [3]

SADC membership

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) was established in 1980 to facilitate co-operation in the region. It includes:[4]

General usage

The region is sometimes reckoned to include other territories:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania, though more commonly reckoned in Central and Eastern Africa respectively, are occasionally included in Southern Africa.


Another geographic delineation for the region is the portion of Africa south of the Cunene and Zambezi rivers – that is, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and the southern half of Mozambique. This definition is most commonly used in South Africa for natural sciences and particularly in guide books such as Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa and Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. It is not used in political, economic or human geography contexts as its boundary cuts Mozambique in two.

Geography

A composite satellite image of southern Africa.

The terrain of Southern Africa is varied, ranging from forest and grasslands to deserts. The region has both low-lying coastal areas, and mountains.

In terms of natural resources, the region has the world's largest resources of platinum and the platinum group elements, chromium, vanadium, and cobalt, as well as uranium, gold, titanium, iron and diamonds.

Economy

The region is distinct from the rest of Africa, with some of its main exports including platinum, diamonds, gold, and uranium, but it is similar in that it shares some of the problems of the rest of the continent. While colonialism has left its mark on the development over the course of history,[citation needed] today poverty, corruption, and HIV/AIDS are some of the biggest factors impeding economic growth. The pursuit of economic and political stability is an important part of the region's goals, as demonstrated by the SADC. South Africa is the dominant economic "superpower" of the region. South Africa's GDP is a multiple of the sum of the GDPs of all the other counries of the region.

Environmental factors

The region has a wide diversity of ecoregions including grassland, bushveld, karoo, savanna and riparian zones. Even though considerable disturbance has occurred in some regions from habitat loss due to human overpopulation, there remain significant numbers of various wildlife species, including White Rhino, lion, leopard, impala, kudu, blue Wildebeest, Vervet monkey and elephant.

Culture and people

Southern Africa is home to many cultures and people. It was once populated by San, Namaqua and Pygmies in widely-dispersed concentrations. Due to the Bantu expansion which edged the previous peoples to the more remote areas of the region, the majority of ethnic groups in this region, including the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele, Tswana, Sotho, and Shona people, BaLunda, Mbundu, Kikuyu and Luo, speak languages which share common Bantu language traits. The process of colonization and settling resulted in a significant population of European (Afrikaners, Anglo-Africans, Portuguese Africans, etc.) and Asian descent (Cape Malays, Indians, etc.) in many southern African countries.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Africa." The Oxford Companion to the English Language (ISBN 0-19-214183-X). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 19 -- quotation reads: "South Africa: This term once referred to the south of the continent generally, but is currently restricted to the Republic of South Africa. The term Southern/southern Africa, however, generally includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe."
  2. ^ ""Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings"". http://millenniumindicators.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm. 
  3. ^ Southern African Customs Union (SACU) official website
  4. ^ SADC - Southern African Development Community official website

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : Southern Africa
Wildlife is abundant in Southern Africa
Wildlife is abundant in Southern Africa

Southern Africa is a region that includes several non-tropical countries in Africa.

Botswana (Gaborone)
Famous for the rich wildlife of the Okavango Delta.
Lesotho (Maseru)
The Kingdom in the Sky
Namibia (Caprivi, Northern Namibia, Central Namibia, Southern Namibia)
Namibia produces some of the world's highest quality diamonds.
South Africa (Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape, Western Cape)
One of the richest countries in Africa has its share of wildlife and tourist-friendly sites.
Swaziland
Zimbabwe
Access to Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

A number of other countries are sometimes considered part of Southern Africa due to their accessibility from the countries listed above, such as Mozambique, Angola, Zambia and some Islands of the Indian Ocean such as the Seychelles and Mauritius. In some instances all of the countries south of the equator are viewed as Southern Africa. For the purpose of this guide, these countries are described in other regions.

Understand

Landscape

The Drakensberg (mountains of the dragon) range stretches some 1000km through Southern Africa, from the Eastern Cape through Lesotho (most of this country is on a plateau of the mountain range) , central KwaZulu-Natal (where one can find the Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfall in the world), divides Mpumalanga in half creating the Escarpment and the Blyde River Canyon (the third largest canyon in the world) from where it reaches up into the southern parts of Limpopo.

Talk

English is an official language in all countries in the region, and most urban dwellers speak it fairly well. Afrikaans is widely spoken in South Africa and Namibia, and German is also spoken by some in Namibia. You may encounter Portuguese in the region as well.

Get in

By plane

South Africa's OR Tambo Internatonal Airport in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airport are two of the easiest entry points into the region, with many direct international flight landing there from Amsterdam, Bangkok,Lisbon, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Athens, Dubai, Doha, New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Sydney, Perth and others.

Connections to the rest of the Southern African region is easily made from here with flights to Blantyre, Cairo, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Kinshasa, Maputo, Manzini, Maun, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Windhoek and more.

You may also want to have a look at Discount airlines in Africa and Air travel in South Africa.

See

Itineraries

Trip starts in Zambia, near world-famous Victoria Falls and provides a glimpse into the best of Botswana with plenty of options for game drives before heading down through the wild Limpopo province of South Africa.

Livingstone, Botswana, Waterberg National Park, Johannesburg.

Do

Safari

One of the most popular holiday activities in Southern Africa is wildlife safaris in search of spotting the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino). There are game reserves within South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. They all have lodges ranging from basic camping to five-star luxury.

Beaches

South Africa has beautiful beaches stretching all the way from Cape Town around the coast up to Durban, which is a surfing mecca. Further north Mozambique - known for its excellent diving and warm, clear waters - takes over.

Adventure activities

Southern Africa is an adventure haven. The region has some of the highest bungee jumping spots in the world; fantastic hiking and biking trails, great rivers for white-water river rafting and canoeing and excellent surf for surfing and kite-boarding.

Wine

The area at the tip of Southern Africa around Cape Town is known as the Wine Route and produces award-winning wines. Most wine farms are open for public tastings. Some of the towns to visit on the Wine Route include Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Paarl and Robertson.

Stay healthy

Water

Depending on the country you are visiting, tap water might not always be safe to drink. Consult the page for the relevant country and check with locals when in doubt.

Sunburn

Many activities in Southern Africa will be outdoors outdoors, see the sunburn and sun protection travel topic for tips on how to protect yourself.

HIV and AIDS

Southern Africa has a very high HIV infection rate.

For your own safety, DO NOT HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX.

Malaria

There might be a risk of contracting Malaria in many areas in the region. See the Malaria and Mosquitoes travel topics for more information.

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