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Destination Guides
Study in South Africa

If you want to experience life in one of the most diverse and complex countries in the world, you may choose to study in South Africa. Since the 1990s, following legislation to overturn decades of enforced racial segregation, South Africa has made significant progress in developing a more democratic society, in which diversity is celebrated as a central part of national identity. There are, for example, 11 official languages (only Bolivia and India have more), and the country is nicknamed the “rainbow nation” in recognition of its unique multicultural character.

There are still many problems to be addressed in South Africa, including high rates of violent crime, poverty and HIV/AIDS. But the country excels in many areas, offering some of the world’s most striking natural scenery and wildlife, diverse and dynamic cities and towns – and a strong selection of leading universities with an international outlook.

Fast Facts

  • Full name: Republic of South Africa
  • Parliamentary republic – the President is both head of state and head of government
  • International students can work up to 20 hours per week during term time (full time during semester breaks).
  • Amount needed for living costs per year: R102,000 (~US$7,300) 
  • Three capital cities: Pretoria (executive capital), Cape Town (legislative capital), Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
  • Largest city is Johannesburg (nicknames include ‘Joburg’, ‘Jozi’, ‘Joni’, ‘eGoli’ and ‘Joeys’)
  • Eleven official languages, including English, Afrikaans (based on Dutch), Xhosa, Zulu, Setswana and Sesotho. English is the language of business and administration.
  • Motto: ‘Unity in diversity’
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Main exports: platinum, gold, diamonds, metals and minerals, cars, fruit, machinery
  • Wildlife includes zebra, cheetah, antelope, hyena, whale, shark, penguin (yes, really), flamingo, crocodile, giraffe and many more, including the ‘big five’: rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo.
  • More than 700 public nature reserves, including 19 national parks, and about 200 private reserves
  • Borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho, which is an enclave, fully surrounded by South African territory
  • Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Indian Ocean on the east
  • Currency is the rand (1 rand = 100 cents)
  • Time zone: GMT+2 (UTC+2)
  • International dialing code is +27 and internet domain is .za
  • Generally temperate climate