The Republic of South Africa is a beautiful country at the tip of southern Africa. It is bordered by six other African countries. The population of South Africa is approaching 50 million people and is also known as the 'Rainbow Nation' due to the ethnic diversity of this population.
It has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, firstly by indigenous Africans known as the Khoisan, and later by many of the indigenous groups that remain today. From the late 1700s, Dutch people began to settle in South Africa. This group, which became known as the 'Boers', coexisted with the British, who had settled parts of modern-day South Africa after taking control of the Cape in 1795. These two groups violently clashed in the Boer War of 1899-1902, but then united to rule South Africa until the end of the Apartheid period in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected in South Africa's first fully democratic election.
South Africa is often thought of as the gateway to Southern Africa, although it is an amazing tourism destination in its own right. Its extraordinary natural beauty, comprising game parks, mountains, canyons, beaches and coastlines make South Africa a top destination, especially for lovers of nature and adventure. There are also many cultural attractions to be enjoyed with representation of both traditional African culture as well as museums and exhibits focusing on the more recent European history, tributes to Nelson Mandela and even museums focused on the history of apartheid.
Perhaps some of the best known attractions in South Africa are the National Parks where visitors can partake in wildlife safaris and see incredible African wildlife up close in their natural environment.
The tiny mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, has been dubbed the 'Switzerland of Africa'. African culture and traditions flourish here alongside some modern luxury hotels and excellent wildlife reserves.
Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, but it has a big heart despite its depressed economy. The capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the lush Ezulwini Valley: a small, unpretentious town that caters well for tourists. Among the country's main attractions are Mlilwane, a well-established game sanctuary; the magnificent Mantenga Falls; and the annual ceremony of the reed dances at the Royal Kraal in Lebombo on the country's eastern border.
Swaziland is also known for its exquisite arts and crafts and its breathtaking scenery, especially in the western highlands, which rise to more than 6,000 feet (1,829m), riven with abundant rivers, waterfalls and forested gorges.