Cape Town and South Africa: A brief guide for visitors
The Republic of South Africa, located at the tip of the African continent and surrounded by two great oceans, attracts millions of visitors each year with its temperate sunny climate, abundant wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Visitors are also drawn by South Africa's remarkable history and fascinating mix of cultures, which offer rich and diverse experiences combining the unique qualities of Africa with facilities and entertainment that meet the highest international standards.
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Cape Town, the "Mother City", is the oldest city in South Africa and has a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. Situated on the south-western tip of Africa, Cape Town is recognised as one of the most beautiful places on earth, famous for its harbour and natural setting, as well as well-known landmarks, such as Table Mountain, Cape Point and Robben Island. Cape Town is home to 3.5 million people and has long been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. In addition to the city's attractions, destinations such as Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, the Winelands and Cape Point are within an hour’s travel.
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Languages of South Africa
Although there are 11 official languages in South Africa, English is the country’s primary language. It is the country’s business language and all signage is displayed in English.
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The temperatures continue to warm up in December, when the summer season is just around the corner. During this month, Cape Town temperatures rise to 25°C (77°F) at the warmest part of the day, then drop to a pleasant 15.5°C (60°F) in the evening.
South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2), one hour ahead of Central European Time and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the USA.
The South African currency is known as the Rand (ZAR), which utilises the decimal system, with one Rand being equal to 100 cents. As of 15 June 2015, 100 ZAR were equivalent to US $8.07 or 7.17 euros.
All major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted in and around Cape Town. ATMs are commonly available in South Africa.
South Africa’s electricity supply is 220/230 volts; AC 50Hz. Foreign appliances may require an adaptor in order to operate in South Africa.
Tap water is purified and safe to drink. South Africa is reputed to have the cleanest tap water in the world.
Medical services are of a high standard and most prescription drugs are readily available through retail pharmacies. It is suggested that you take out personal medical insurance for the duration of your trip.
Safety and Security
Despite perceptions to the contrary, Cape Town is as safe as most international cities, and this is in no small measure due to the efforts of the central city Improvement District (CCID). One of the main drivers behind the establishment of the CCID in 2000 was to make Cape Town’s central city the safest in South Africa. The vision was to setup effective preventive and reactive security measures through highly visible police officers, mobile vehicles and a bicycle squad 24 hours a day.
This public/private partnership collects more than R27 million a year from property owners in the city, half of which pays for extra security on the streets of Cape Town’s CBD. Altogether,200 security officers keep the streets of the CBD safe, day and night, for all those who work in, live in or visit the city.
The dedicated team of security managers and foot officers, who are highly visible, Patrol the streets on a 24-hour basis. All officers are fluent in English. The other languages spoken are Afrikaans and Xhosa.
A CCTV surveillance network, paid for by the city of Cape Town, assists in keeping crime at bay. In addition, Cape Town now also boasts a municipal police force. CCID security officers work in a close partnership with the private sector and all law enforcement agencies by communicating on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. In addition a Mobile Safety Kiosk Programme, rolled out by the CCID Security Department, has made a huge contribution to security in the city. The kiosks provide visible policing in key locations, events and hot spot areas.
Visitors to South Africa may claim a refund of the Value Added Tax (currently 14%), paid for items purchased in South Africa. Such claims should be made upon the visitor’s departure from South Africa at OR Tambo International Airport. Contact the Department of Customs and Excise for more information at (+27) (0)11 225 9000.