South Africa is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa after Angola. It is one-eighth the size of the United States (twice the size of Texas), with approximately one-seventh the population. South Africa boasts a coastline of more than 2,000 miles of beaches as well as a range of biodiversity that is virtually unparalleled. South Africa even has one of the largest national park areas in the world known as Kruger National Park. The gigantic game reserve area covers over 7,500 square miles and is a virtual paradise for all nature lovers. Its biodiversity is matched only by its diverse people, with scores of various ethnic groups living and working there for hundreds of years. The perfect union of diverse populations, modern international cities, and breathtaking natural beauty, South Africa is quickly becoming one of the most popular and exciting study abroad destinations there is!
South Africa is on the southern most tip of the African continent, sharing borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho. The Altantic and Indian Oceans converge along the coutnry's coastline at the Cape Point, also known at the Cape of Good Hope.
South Africa enjoys long, pleasant, warm to hot summers (68-104F) and generally cool, mild winters (32-59F). Mid-winter occurs in June and July, mid-summer ranges from December to February. The climate ranges from Mediterranean in the Western Cape (Cape Town, Stellenbosch) to subtropical on the Natal coast (Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Zululand). Temperate conditions prevail on the central Highveld (Pretoria, Johannesburg).
The average number of sunshine hours per day is 8.5,compared with 6.9 in New York. Annual rainfall averages 464 mm and 21% of the country has less than 200 mm per year. The whole country except for the Cape region has summer rainfalls and relatively dry winters which occasionally become bitingly cold in the Eastern Cape. In the Eastern Cape (Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth - known as the windy city), you may expect sudden changes in the weather when the wind makes temperatures drop and chilly moments when the sun hides behind the clouds. At the Western Cape, two currents meet and occasionally grey thick fog makes Mediterranean dry summer temperatures drop. KwaZulu-Natal has high humidity and subtropical showers on summer afternoons, with a darkening but barely cooling effect. The southern Gauteng region, the Cape interior and the Free State have hot summers with occasional thunder showers and frosty winters. Snowfall is limited to the highest peaks.
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