South Africa

In some regards it is hard to consider South Africa an "African" country, as it differs so considerably from its neighbors. Its economy alone is twenty times larger than all the rest of this mammoth continent excepting Egypt and Morocco. It is truly notable to remember that "South Africa is more like California than the Congo."

Settled actually a dozen years before the pilgrims landed in North America, the country is roughly twice the size of Texas (465,000 sq. miles) with a population of 43 million. It is a modern country by every conceivable measure, including the 8-lane highways connecting the great cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg; medical research that included the first heart transplant; and nuclear technology that provides much of the country's electric power. In technological terms, alone, consider that 25% of the gas pumped into South African cars comes from coal!

The economy is multi faceted and includes the world's greatest source of diamonds and gold, high tech and business service industries, and a vibrant agriculture. Tourism is important, but way down the list of foreign reserve earners. Nevertheless, some of the finest and better styled big game viewing is found here, together with vacations geared to its long coast and beautiful cities.

South Africa's development was stymied for many years by a constricting politics of apartheid which was overthrown in 1993. Today it has one of the continent's most dynamic democracies.