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Country Profile

South Africa

 South Africa is in many respects a developed country, but much of its population lives in poverty.  All major urban areas have modern, world-class hotels and tourist facilities.  Game parks and areas most often visited by tourists have a wide range of facilities.  Food and water are generally safe, and a wide variety of consumer goods and pharmaceuticals are readily available.  The capital is Pretoria, while the seat of parliament is located in Cape Town.  Johannesburg is the financial capital and largest city in South Africa.  Durban is home to Africa’s busiest port and is the number one tourist destination for South Africans.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on South Africa for additional information

South Africa


Image of South Africa
Country Name: South Africa
Continent: Africa
Capital City: Pretoria
Boundary Countries: Botswana 1,840 km, Lesotho 909 km, Mozambique 491 km, Namibia 967 km, Swaziland 430 km, Zimbabwe 225 km.
Recommended Hospitals in Capital: East London Private Hospital (Pretoria), George Medi-Clinic (Margate), Hibiscus Private Hospital (Johannesburg), Linksfield Park Clinic (Pretoria), Margate Private Hospital (Port Shepstone), Olivedale Clinic (George), Panorama Medi-Clinic (Panorama), Pretoria East Private Hospital (East London), St. Dominic’s Hospital (East London), St. James Private Hospital (East London), Unitas Hospital (Johannesburg).
Main Cities: Pretoria, Capetown, Johannesburg, East London, Durban, Richards Bay, Messina, Bloemfontein, Ladysmith.
Country Size: 1,219,912 sq km - note: includes Prince Edwards Islands
Population: 44,187,637



IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2%.

Currency: Rand (ZAR)
Predominant Religions:

Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, other Christian 36%, Islam 1.5%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1%.

National Holidays: Freedom Day, 27 April (1994)
Economic Status:

South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world; and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region.


South African National Defense Force (SANDF): South African Army, South African Navy (SAN), South African Air Force (SAAF), Joint Operations Command, Joint Support Command, Military Intelligence, Military Health Service.

US Presence:

Embassy in Pretoria, Consulate General in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg.

Document Requirements:

PLEASE NOTE:   We recommend that the passports of all travelers to South Africa contain at least two completely blank (unstamped) visa pages each time entry is sought. These pages are in addition to the endorsement/amendment pages (as many as four) at the back of the passport.  While South African statutes require only one completely blank visa page, this rule has been applied inconsistently by South African immigration officials.  In addition, any trip to a neighboring country would necessitate another blank page upon return.  Travelers lacking adequate blank pages in the passport may be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at the traveler’s expense.  South African authorities have denied diplomatic missions access to assist in these cases.  As a general precaution, all travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from the passport.

Visitors to South Africa for tourism, short business meetings, or those in transit do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days.  In the event a traveler overstays that period without a permit issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs, he or she may be subject to a fine of up to 3,000 rand (approximately 300 US dollars).  All others, including academics, students on educational trips, and volunteers, may need visas.  Americans who intend to work in South Africa must apply for work permits before arrival; otherwise they risk being refused admission and returned to their point of origin.  It is strongly suggested that all travelers check the latest requirements with the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate before traveling.

Travelers entering South Africa from countries where yellow fever is endemic are often required to present their yellow World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination record or other proof of inoculation.  If they are unable to do so, they must be inoculated at the airport in order to be permitted entry.

Visit the Embassy of South Africa website for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

Major Airports:

Airports: 731,  Airports w/paved runways: 146

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

Travelers are encouraged to be vigilant and avoid any large gathering, particularly protests and demonstrations.  The possibility of violence, including threats against American interests, should not be discounted, particularly in times of heightened world tension. Although the vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without incident, visitors should be aware that criminal activity, sometimes violent, occurs routinely.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total:  60.66 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:  TOTAL 42.73 years  (male 43.25/female 42.19).

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None

Recommended: Hep A & B, Malaria, Rabies, Typhoid, Boosters: tetanus-diptheria, measles & polio as needed

Infectious Disease Concerns:

HIV/AIDS– people living with HIV/AIDS: 5.3 million

High HIV/AIDS prevalence rates. High risk of Malaria, even in cities. Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are other diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region, mostly in rural areas. African tick bite fever, a rickettsial infection, is common in South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe. Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in this region, particularly in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

Private medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks, but they may be limited elsewhere.  Pharmacies are well stocked and equivalents to most American medicines are available.

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 192
Referrals: 421
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Please refer to the “Infectious Disease Concerns” section.

Communications Info:

Country Code: +27
Internet Code:  .za


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Seven Corners is one of the industry's most experienced travel health insurance providers. The company serves leisure, student, business, government and missionary/volunteer travelers. It offers an extensive selection of international medical and travel insurance policies to U.S. citizens traveling overseas, or foreign nationals visiting the United States. Seven Corners has thousands of policy holders and a worldwide network of over 30,000 agents. The company created and maintains the industry's most comprehensive network of international health care providers that includes thousands of doctors, pharmacies and hospitals around the globe. Seven Corners is a member of the United States Travel Insurance Association; is GSA certified and is currently pursuing a SAS 70 Type II compliant designation. In addition to travel medical insurance, Seven Corners also offers health care administration to the government sector. The company is privately held and headquartered just north of Indianapolis in Carmel, IN.