Your guide to being an expatriate in South Africa

Caffeinate Your South Africa Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho. With over 59 million people, South Africa is the most populous country in Southern Africa and the 24th-most populous country in the world. It is a multi-ethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. The country is a founding member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations, and the African Union.

South Africa

Expat destinations in South Africa

Demographics of South Africa:

Ethnic groups

Black 79.2%, Coloured 8.9%, Asian/Indian 2.5%, White 2.3%.


IsiZulu 22.7%, IsiXhosa 16.0%, Afrikaans 13.5%, Sepedi 9.1%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho sa Leboa 3.0%, Xhosa 2.5%, English 1.8%, Venda 1.7%, TaiNitu/Tsonga 1.6%, other 3.3%. (2011)

Religion Overview

In South Africa, there is freedom of religion, and different religions coexist. Christianity is frequently practiced, with Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, and independent churches all being widely represented. Other major religions include Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.

Major Religions


South Africa has a climate that varies greatly due to its diverse geography. It includes coastal cities with Mediterranean climates, arid desert areas, and tropical distributions. The winter season in South Africa, from May to September, is cool and dry, while the summer season, from November to March, is hot and humid.

Economy Overview

South Africa's economy is the second-largest in Africa and among the modern world's leading emerging economies. Its major industries are mining, agriculture, manufacturing, financial services, health, and education services.

Key Industries

  • Mining (including coal, gold, diamonds, and platinum)
  • Agriculture (including fruit, vegetables, cereals, and livestock)
  • Manufacturing (including automotive, chemicals, and steel)
  • Financial Services (including banking, insurance, and investment)
  • Health
  • Education Services
  • Real Estate Services

Major Companies

  • Anglo American plc
  • Mosaic Co.
  • RB (Reckitt Benckiser)
  • Bidcorp Group Limited
  • Netcare Limited
  • Medupi Power Station
  • Imperial Holdings Limited
  • Grindrod Limited
  • Bidvest Group Limited
  • MTN Group Limited

Culture and Language Overview

South Africa has a diverse cultural heritage, incorporating aspects of African, European, and Asian traditions. Notable cultural practices include storytelling, music and dance, traditional crafts, and sports like soccer and rugby.

Cultural Highlights

  • Traditional ceremonies and events like the Soweto Uprising Festival and the Cape Town Carnival
  • Visiting historical sites like Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island and the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg
  • Exploring the diverse traditional villages and farmlands inviting to both locals and international visitors alike
  • Attending poetry, theatre and music festivals
  • Reveling on festival fanfare like Cape Town's New Year's Eve Street Party

Geography and Landmarks Overview

South Africa's varied scenic and geographical features include the eastern KwaZulu-Natal coastline, the north-western Kalahari Desert, and the western Cape Floristic Region. Some of the country's picturesque, world-renowned landmarks include Table Mountain, Robben Island, and the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, which is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Notable Landmarks

  • Table Mountain, Cape Town
  • Kruger National Park, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
  • Robben Island, Western Cape
  • Cape Point, Western Cape
  • Garden Route, Western Cape
  • Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape
  • Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga
  • Durban's Golden Mile, KwaZulu-Natal

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Human Rights Day (March 21)
  • Good Friday
  • Family Day (March or April, depending on the date of Easter)
  • Freedom Day (April 27)
  • Worker's Day (May 1)
  • Youth Day (June 16)
  • Women's Day (August 9)
  • National Heritage Day (September 24)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Day of Goodwill (December 26)

Political Stability

South Africa is a democratic country that enjoys political stability, with an independent judiciary, media, and functioning law enforcement and security services. Its political system is governed by a parliamentary representative democratic republic, the Constitution of South Africa being its supreme law.

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