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< BACKGeography - Environment - South Africa

South Africa is a huge country, spreading for just less than 2,000 km north to south and around 1500 km west to east. The climate is mostly dry and sunny as the majority of the country lies just south of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Three distinct ecosystems can be identified within the country; the vast inland plateau ('highveld'), the great escarpment and the narrow coastal plain ('lowveld'). South Africa is home to an amazing variety of flora and fauna taking advantage of every niche including the Atlantic & Indian Ocean coastlines, grassy plains and lush meadows and the mountains of the Drakensberg. This country boasts one of the World's floral kingdoms within its borders, the only country in the World to do so. The Cape Floral Kingdom is found in the Western Cape and is home to the unique 'fynbos' (fine bush) vegetation of which the Protea, South Africa's National Flower, is one species. There are approximately another 8,500 fynbos species including many Erica and heath varieties.

Succulent species such as euphorbias, aloes and annuals, can be found in the drier areas of the country and meadows of wild flowers are a famous visitor attraction each spring in the Namaqualand region. South Africa is home to many animal and bird species, including the 'Big 5' rhino, elephant, lion, leopard & buffalo. Visitors have an excellent chance of seeing these animals in the many private game reserves as well as the National Parks. Kruger National Park is one of the most established wildlife areas in Africa.

South Africa is also home to an amazing variety of birds, including spectacular flocks of flamingos, many striking Ostrich, coastal waders, plains and forest species.

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