Monday, May 12, 2008

Highlights of South Africa I

My recent trip to South Africa, a Grand Circle Travel tour called "Highlights of South Africa," began in Johannesburg, to Kruger Park, then south and eastward to Swaziland, then south through Zululand, then mainly along the east and south coasts to Port Elizabeth and along the Garden Route to Cape Town. The following posts present a few of the highlights:

The history of African exploration is long, but the Union of South Africa was created in 1910, eight years after the end of the Second Boer War. In 1948, the National Party was elected and began implementing its harsh segregation laws that would become known as apartheid. While the white minority enjoyed the highest standard of living in all of Africa, the Black majority remained seriously disadvantaged.

Amid sanctions and disinvestment and growing unrest and opression, the country struggled until the rise of the African National Congress and the eventual release of Nelson Mandela from prison eventually brought the first multi-racial elections in 1994. Today, apartheid is gone, and most South Africans seem to have hope for the future. Of course, as in all countries, there are rich and poor, shanty towns (called informal housing developments) and luxury highrise buildings. The mountains and the sea coasts provide beautiful scenery. It's a country worth visiting.

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