The Eastern Cape is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bhisho, but its two largest cities are Port Elizabeth and East London. It was formed in 1994 out of the "independent" Xhosa homelands of Transkei and Ciskei, together with the eastern portion of the Cape Province. Landing place and home of the 1820 settlers, the central and eastern part of the province is the traditional home of the Xhosa people. This region is the birthplace of many prominent South African politicians, such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Chris Hani, Thabo Mbeki, Steve Biko and Charles Coghlan.
The Eastern Cape gets progressively wetter from west to east. The west is mostly semi-arid Karoo, except in the far south, which is temperate rainforest in the Tsitsikamma region. The coast is generally rugged with interspersed beaches. Most of the province is hilly to very mountainous between Graaff-Reinet and Rhodes including the Sneeuberge (English: Snow Mountains), Stormberge, Winterberge and Drakensberg (English: Dragon Mountains). The highest point in the province is Ben Macdhui at 3001m. The east from East London towards the Kwa-Zulu Natal border – a region known as Transkei – is lush grassland on rolling hills, punctuated by deep gorges with intermittent forest.
Eastern Cape has a shoreline in the south on the South Indian Ocean.
Climate is highly varied. The west is dry with sparse rain during winter of summer, with frosty winters and hot summers. The Tsitsikamma to Grahamstown receives more precipitation, which is also relatively evenly distributed and temperatures are mild. Further east, rainfall becomes more plentiful and humidity increases, becoming more subtropical along the coast with summer rainfall. The interior can become very cold in winter, with heavy snowfalls occasionally occurring in the mountainous regions between Molteno and Rhodes.
Port Elizabeth: Jan Max: 25 °C, Min: 18 °C; Jul Max: 20 °C, Min: 9 °C
Molteno & Barkly East: Jan Max 28 °C, Min 11 °C; Jul Max: 14 °C, Min: -7 °C
The Free State (before 1995, the Orange Free State) is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Orange Free State Boer republic and later Orange Free State Province. The current borders of the province date from 1994 when the Bantustans were abolished and included into the provinces of South Africa. It is also the only one of the former provinces of South Africa not to undergo border changes, excluding the incorporation of Bantustans.
The Free State is situated on flat boundless plains in the heart of South Africa. The rich soil and pleasant climate allow a thriving agricultural industry. With more than 30,000 farms, which produce over 70% of the country's grain, it is known locally as South Africa's breadbasket. The province is high-lying, with almost all land being 1,000 metres above sea level. The Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains foothills raise the terrain to over 2,000 m in the east. The Free State lies in the heart of the Karoo Sequence of rocks, containing shales, mudstones, sandstones and the Drakensberg Basalt forming the youngest capping rocks. Mineral deposits are plentiful, with gold and diamonds being of particular importance, mostly found in the north and west of the province.
The Free State experiences a continental climate, characterised by warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Areas in the east experience frequent snowfalls, especially on the higher ranges, whilst the west can be extremely hot in summer. Almost all precipitation falls in the summer months as brief afternoon thunderstorms, with aridity increasing towards the west. Areas in the east around Harrismith, Bethlehem and Ficksburg are well watered. The capital, Bloemfontein, experiences hot, moist summers and cold, dry winters frequented by severe frost.
Bloemfontein averages: January maximum: 31 °C (min: 15 °C), July maximum: 17 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 559 mm
Bethlehem averages: 27 °C (min: 13 °C), July maximum: 16 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 680 mm
Gauteng is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. It was formed from part of the old Transvaal Province after South Africa's first all-race elections on 27 April 1994. It was initially named Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (or PWV) and was renamed 'Gauteng' in December 1994.
Situated in the heart of the Highveld, Gauteng is the smallest province in South Africa, with only 1.4% of the land area, but it is highly urbanised, containing the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. As of 2007, it had a population of nearly 10.5 million, making it the most populous province in South Africa.
Gauteng's southern border is the Vaal River, which separates it from the Free State. It also borders on North West to the west, Limpopo to the north, and Mpumalanga to the east. Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border. Most of Gauteng is on the Highveld, a high-altitude grassland (circa 1,500 m/4,921 ft above sea-level). Between Johannesburg and Pretoria there are low parallel ridges and undulating hills, some part of the Magaliesberg Mountains and the Witwatersrand. The north of the province is more subtropical, due to its lower altitude and is mostly dry savanna habitat.
The climate is mostly influenced by altitude. Even though the province is at a subtropical latitude, the climate is comparatively cooler, especially in Johannesburg, at 1,700 m (5,577 ft) above sea level (Pretoria is at 1,330 m/4,364 ft). Most precipitation occurs as brief afternoon thunderstorms; however, relative humidity never becomes uncomfortable. Winters are crisp and dry with frost occurring often in the southern areas. Snow is rare, but it has occurred on some occasions in the Johannesburg metropolitan area.
Johannesburg averages: January maximum: 26 °C (78.8 °F) (min: 15 °C/59 °F), June maximum: 16 °C (60.8 °F) (min: 4 °C/39.2 °F), annual precipitation: 713 mm (28.1 in) Pretoria averages: January maximum: 29 °C (84.2 °F) (min: 18 °C/64.4 °F), June maximum: 19 °C (66.2 °F) (min: 5 °C/41 °F), annual precipitation: 674 mm (26.5 in)
KwaZulu-Natal (also referred to as KZN or Natal) is a province of South Africa. Prior to 1994, the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and the homeland of KwaZulu.
In the 1830s, the northern part was the Zulu Kingdom and southern part was briefly a Boer republic called Natalia (1839–1843). In 1843, the latter became the British Colony of Natal; Zululand (KwaZulu in Zulu) remained independent until 1879.
It is called the garden province and is the home of the Zulu nation. Two natural areas: the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located in the southeast of the country, the province has a long shoreline on the Indian Ocean. It borders three other provinces and the countries of Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho. Its capital is Pietermaritzburg, and its largest city is Durban.
At around 92,100 km2 in area, Kwazulu Natal is roughly the size of Portugal. The province has three different geographic areas. The lowland region along the Indian Ocean coast is extremely narrow in the south, widening in the northern part of the province. The central region is the Natal Midlands, an undulating hilly plateau rising toward the west. Third are the two mountainous areas, the Drakensberg Mountains in the west and the Lebombo Mountains in the north. The Drakensberg range forms a solid wall of basalt rising over 3,000 m (9,800 ft) near the Lesotho border, whilst the Lebombo Mountains are ancient granite mountains, forming low parallel ranges running southward from Swaziland. The Tugela River flows west to east across the center of the province and is the region's largest river.
The coastal regions typically have subtropical thickets and deeper ravines; steep slopes host some Afromontane Forest. The midlands have moist grasslands and isolated pockets of Afromontane Forest. The north has a primarily moist savanna habitat, whilst the Drakensberg region hosts mostly alpine grassland.
The province contains rich areas of biodiversity of a range of flora and fauna. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, along with uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and Ndumo, are wetlands of international importance for migratory species, and are designated as RAMSAR sites. South Africa signed the 1971 RAMSAR Convention to try to conserve and protect important wetlands because of their importance to habitats and numerous species.
The former Eastern Cape enclave of the town of Umzimkulu and its hinterland have been incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal following the 12th amendment of the Constitution of South Africa. The amendment also made other changes to the southern border of the province.
The northwesterly line of equal latitude and longitude traverses the province from the coast at Hibberdene at 30°34'35"S 30°34'35"E / 30.57639°S 30.57639°E / -30.57639; 30.57639 to northeast Lesotho.
KwaZulu-Natal has a varied yet verdant climate thanks to diverse, complex topography. Generally, the coast is subtropical with inland regions becoming progressively colder. Durban on the south coast has an annual rainfall of 1009 mm, with daytime maxima peaking from January to March at 28 °C (82 °F) with a minimum of 21 °C (70 °F), dropping to daytime highs from June to August of 23 °C (73 °F) with a minimum of 11 °C (52 °F). Temperature drops towards the hinterland, with Pietermaritzburg being similar in the summer, but much cooler in the winter. Ladysmith in the Tugela River Valley reaches 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer, but may drop below freezing point on winter evenings. The Drakensberg can experience heavy winter snow, with light snow occasionally experienced on the highest peaks in summer. The Zululand north coast has the warmest climate and highest humidity, supporting many sugar cane farms around Pongola.
Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa. The capital is Polokwane, formerly named Pietersburg. The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and initially named Northern Transvaal. The following year, it was renamed Northern Province, which remained the name until 11 July 2003, when the name of the province was formally changed to the name of its most important river–on the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana–after deliberation by the provincial government and amendment of the Constitution. Another notable consideration for the name was Mapungubwe, the area where the most ancient gold-using civilisation of the province was discovered a few years earlier.
Limpopo Province shares international borders with districts and provinces of three countries: Botswana's Central and Kgatleng districts to the west and north-west respectively, Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces to the north and northeast respectively, and Mozambique's Gaza Province to the east. The province is the link between South Africa and countries further afield in sub-Saharan Africa. On its southern flank from east to west, the province shares borders with Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and North West. Its border with Gauteng includes that province's Johannesburg-Pretoria axis, the most industrialised metropole on the continent. The province is at the centre of regional, national, and international developing markets. The province contains much of the Waterberg Biosphere, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve. The Waterberg Biosphere, a massif of approximately 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi), is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The massif was shaped by hundreds of millions of years of riverine erosion to yield diverse bluff and butte landforms. The Waterberg ecosystem can be characterised as a dry deciduous forest or Bushveld. Within the Waterberg, archaeological finds date to the Stone Age. Nearby are early evolutionary finds related to the origin of humans.
Mpumalanga (name changed from Eastern Transvaal on 24 August 1995), is a province of South Africa. The name means east or literally "the place where the sun rises" in Swazi, Xhosa, Ndebele and Zulu. Mpumalanga lies in eastern South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. It constitutes 6.5% of South Africa's land area. In the north it borders on Limpopo, to the west Gauteng, to the southwest the Free State and to the south KwaZulu-Natal. The capital is Nelspruit (recently renamed to Mbombela). Prior to 1994, Mpumalanga was part of Transvaal Province.
The Drakensberg Escarpment divides Mpumalanga into a westerly half consisting mainly of high-altitude grassland called the Highveld and an eastern half situated in low altitude subtropical Lowveld/Bushveld, mostly savanna habitat. The southern half of the Kruger National Park is situated in the latter region. The Drakensberg exceeds heights of 2000m in most places with this central region of Mpumalanga being very mountainous. These regions have alpine grasslands and small pockets of Afromontane Forest. The Lowveld is relatively flat with interspersed rocky outcrops. The Lebombo Mountains form a low range in the far east forming the border with Mozambique.
Some of the oldest rocks on earth are to be found in the Barberton area and these ancient greenstones and metamorphosed granites form the Crocodile River Mountains in the south-east of the province. The Lowveld is underlaid by African Cratonic Basement rocks of ages in excess of 2 billion years. The Highveld is mostly Karoo Sequence sedimentary rocks of a younger, Carboniferous to Permian age.
The Lowveld is subtropical, due to its proximity to the warm Indian Ocean and latitude. The Highveld is comparatively much cooler, due to its altitude of 2300m to 1700m above sea level. The Drakensberg Escarpment receives the most precipitation, with all other areas being moderately well-watered by mostly summer thunderstorms. The Highveld often experiences severe frost, whilst the Lowveld is mostly frost-free. Winter rainfall is rare, except for some drizzle on the escarpment. The differences in climate are demonstrated below by the capital, Nelspruit, which is in the Lowveld, located just an hour from Belfast on the Highveld.
Nelspruit averages: January maximum: 29 °C (min: 19 °C), July maximum: 23 °C (min: 6 °C), annual precipitation: 767 mm
Belfast averages: January maximum: 23 °C (min: 12 °C), June maximum: 15 °C (min: 1 °C), annual precipitation: 878 mm
The Northern Cape (Afrikaans: Noord-Kaap) is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, part of an international park shared with Botswana. It also includes the Augrabies Falls and the diamond mining regions in Kimberley and Alexander Bay. The Namaqualand region in the west is famous for its Namaqualand daisies. The southern towns of De Aar and Colesberg, in the Great Karoo, are major transport nodes between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. In the northeast, Kuruman is famous as a mission station and also for its 'eye'. The Orange River flows through the province, forming the borders with the Free State in the southeast and with Namibia to the northwest. The river is also used to irrigate the many vineyards in the arid region near Upington.
Native speakers of Afrikaans comprise a higher percentage of the population in the Northern Cape than in any other province. The Northern Cape's four official languages are Afrikaans, Tswana, Xhosa, and English. Minorities speak the other official languages of South Africa, and a few people speak Khoisan languages such as Nama and Khwe.
The Northern Cape is South Africa's largest province, and distances between towns are enormous due to its sparse population. Its size is just shy of the size of the American state of Montana and slightly larger than that of Germany. The province is dominated by the Karoo Basin and consists mostly of sedimentary rocks and some Dolerite intrusions. The south and south-east of the province is high-lying (1200m-1900m) in the Roggeveld and Nuweveld districts. The west coast is dominated by the Namaqualand region, famous for its spring flowers. This area is hilly to mountainous and consists of Granites and other metamorphic rocks. The central areas are generally flat with interspersed salt pans. Kimberlite intrusions punctuate the Karoo rocks, giving the province its most precious natural resource, Diamonds. The north is primarily Kalahari Desert, characterised by parallel red sand dunes and acacia tree dry savanna.
Mostly arid to semi-arid, few areas in the province receive more than 400 mm (16 in) of rainfall per annum and the average annual rainfall over the province is 202 mm (8.0 in). Rainfall generally increases from west to east from a minimum average of 20 mm (0.79 in) to a maximum of 540 mm (21 in) per year. The west experiences most rainfall in winter, while the east receives most of its moisture from late summer thunderstorms. Many areas experience extreme heat, with the hottest temperatures in South Africa measured along the Namibian border. Summers maximums are generally 30 °C (86 °F) or higher, sometimes higher than 40 °C (104 °F). Winters are usually frosty and clear, with southern areas sometimes becoming bitterly cold, such as Sutherland, which often receives snow and temperatures occasionally drop below the -10 °C (14 °F) mark.
Kimberley averages: January maximum: 33 °C (min: 18 °C), June maximum: 18 °C (min: 3 °C), annual precipitation: 414 mm (16.3 in)
Springbok averages: January maximum: 30 °C (min: 15 °C), July maximum: 17 °C (min: 7 °C), annual precipitation: 195 mm (7.7 in)
Sutherland averages: January maximum: 27 °C (min: 9 °C), July maximum: 13 °C (min: -3 °C), annual precipitation: 237 mm (9.3 in)
North West is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Mafikeng. The province is located to the west of the major population centre of Gauteng.
Much of the province consists of flat areas of scattered trees and grassland. The Magaliesberg mountain range in the northeast extends about 130 km (about 80 miles) from Pretoria to Rustenburg. The Vaal River flows along the southern border of the province.
Temperatures range from 17° to 31 °C (62° to 88 °F) in the summer and from 3° to 21 °C (37° to 70 °F) in the winter. Annual rainfall totals about 360 mm (about 14 in), with almost all of it falling during the summer months, between October and April.
The mainstay of the economy of North West Province is mining, which generates more than half of the province's gross domestic product and provides jobs for a quarter of its workforce. The chief minerals are gold, mined at Orkney and Klerksdorp; uranium, mined at Klerksdorp; platinum, mined at Rustenburg and Brits; and diamonds, mined at Lichtenburg, Christiana, and Bloemhof. The northern and western parts of the province have many sheep farms and cattle and game ranches. The eastern and southern parts are crop-growing regions that produce maize (corn), sunflowers, tobacco, cotton, and citrus fruits. The entertainment and casino complex at Sun City and Lost City also contributes to the provincial economy.
The Western Cape is a province in the south west of South Africa. The capital is Cape Town. Prior to 1994, the region that now forms the Western Cape was part of the much larger (and now defunct) Cape Province. Prior to the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, it was called the Cape Colony.
The Western Cape is roughly L-shaped, extending north and east from the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern corner of South Africa. It stretches about 400 kilometres (250 mi) northwards along the Atlantic coast and about 500 kilometres (300 mi) eastwards along the Indian Ocean coast. It is bordered on the north by the Northern Cape and on the east by the Eastern Cape. The total land area of the province is 129,462 square kilometres (49,986 sq mi), about 10.6% of the country’s total. It is roughly the size of England or the US state of Louisiana.
The Breede, Berg and Olifants Rivers are major rivers of the province. The capital is Cape Town and other major cities include Stellenbosch, Worcester, Paarl, and George. The Garden Route and the Overberg are popular coastal tourism areas.
The Western Cape is exceptionally topographically diverse. Most of the province falls within the Cape Fold Belt, a range of sandstone folded mountains of Permian to Carboniferous age that range in height from 1000m to 2300m. The valleys between ranges are generally very fertile and contains alluvial loamy to clay soils. The far interior forms part of the Karoo Basin and is generally arid and hilly with a sharp escarpment in the north. Coastal areas range from sandy between capes, to rocky to steep and mountainous in places. The Western Cape is also the southernmost region of the African continent with Cape Agulhas as its southernmost point, only 3800 km from the Antarctic coastline.
Vegetation is also extremely diverse, with one of the world's seven floral kingdoms almost exclusively endemic to the province, namely the Cape Floral Kingdom, most of which is covered by Fynbos (Afrikaans: Fine Bush). It is extremely rich in species diversity, with more plant species occurring on Table Mountain than the entire United Kingdom. It is characterised by various types of shrubs, thousands of flowering plant species and some small trees.
The arid interior is dominated by Karoo drought-resistant shrubbery. The West Coast and Little Karoo are semi-arid regions and are typified by many species of succulents and drought-resistant shrubs and acacia trees. The Garden Route is extremely lush, with temperate rainforest (or Afromontane Forest) covering many areas adjacent to the coast and along the mountain ranges. Typical species are hardwoods of exceptional height, such as Yellowwood, Stinkwood and Ironwood trees.
 ClimateThe Western Cape is also diverse climatologically, with many distinct micro- and macroclimates created by the varied topography and the influence of both the Indian (warm water) and Atlantic (cold water) oceans, thus climatic statistics can vary greatly over short distances. Most of the province is considered to have a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The interior Karoo has a semi-arid climate with cold, frosty winters and hot summers with occasional thunderstorms. The Garden Route and the Overberg on the south coast have a maritime climate with cool, moist winters and mild, moist summers. Mossel Bay in the Garden Route is considered to have the second mildest climate worldwide after Hawaii.
Thunderstorms are generally rare in the province, except in the Karoo interior, with most precipitation being of a frontal or orographic nature. Extremes of heat and cold are common inland, but rare near the coast. Snow is a common winter occurrence on the higher lying ground, however frost is relatively rare in coastal areas and many of the heavily cultivated valleys.