South Africa Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

South Africa is a country on the continent of Africa. Come learn about this country, where to look for it on a map, what oceans you'll find on its coasts, what languages they speak, and some other neat facts about this nation.

Where is South Africa?

Imagine sailing into a city where you've never been. There are mountains and plenty of coastline to walk on. You see a lot of buildings covering the land. Boats of different sizes are anchored in the harbor while others are sailing around, just like yours is. You have arrived in South Africa!

South Africa is a country at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. The Atlantic Ocean is on its west coast and the Indian Ocean is on its east coast.

South African map
South African map

South Africa is almost twice the size of Texas and has grasslands, forests, deserts, and savannahs. Animals like lions, elephants, hippos, and aardvarks still roam wild in some places around the country, but some also live in game reserves that you can visit.

There are a lot of smaller animals that live in South Africa, too, and about 40,000 different kinds of insects!

South African game reserve
South African game reserve

South Africa shares its northern border with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland.

There is also a separate country inside South Africa called Lesotho that has its own king and government. It is completely surrounded by South Africa and does not touch the ocean.

The United States only has one capital city, but South Africa has three. The administrative part of the government where the president lives is in Pretoria (pronounced pruh-TOR-ee-uh). You will find the judicial branch of the government in the city of Bloemfontein (pronounced BLOOM-fun-tain) and the legislative branch in Cape Town.

Cape Town
Cape Town

Life in South Africa

For many years, South Africa was ruled under a system called apartheid (pronounced uh-PAR-tide) that segregated people based on their color, giving few rights to blacks and other non-white races. Eventually, this system was destroyed. Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for trying to get rid of apartheid, was elected president in 1994.

South Africa doesn't use dollars; it has its own money called the rand. If you want to go sightseeing or out to eat, you'll need to exchange your dollars so you can pay for your food and adventures.

There are also 11 official languages in South Africa, and English is one of them. If you visit one of South Africa's cities, you'll probably be able to find people who speak English and can give you directions to a restaurant or movie theater.

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