Cruising to South Africa


After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants.

The Boers resisted British encroachments, but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902). The resulting Union of South Africa operated under a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically and ushered in black majority rule.


Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1,219,912 sq km; note: includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)


2,798 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to edge of the continental margin


Mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights


Vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Njesuthi 3,408 m


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.

However, growth has not been strong enough to lower South Africa's high unemployment rate, and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting inflation and liberalizing trade as means to increase job growth and household income.


Airports: 728 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 146
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 582
Pipelines: condensate 100 km; gas 1,052 km; oil 847 km; refined products 1,354 km (2004)
Railways: total: 20,872 km
Roadways: total: 362,099 km

Merchant marine

Total: 3 ships (1000 GRT or over) 32,815 GRT/39,295 DWT
By type: container 1, petroleum tanker 2
Foreign-owned: 1 (Denmark 1)
Registered in other countries: 8 (Panama 3, Seychelles 1, UK 4) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Angola - Antarctica - Cameroon - Congo - Falkland Islands - Gambia - Ivory Coast - Mauritania - Namibia - Nigeria - St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha - Senegal - South Africa

Further Reading

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