South Africa

Apartheid, which means “separateness” in Afrikaans (a language derived from the Dutch), was a system of racial segregation in South Africa that was legally enforced by the National Party government from 1948 to 1994. However, the injustice and mistreatment of non-whites in South Africa had been occurring since the colonial times under Dutch rule.

For decades South African law divided people into four categories: Africans (black), whites, coloreds (mixed ethnicities), and Asians. The National Party determined who each group could marry, where they could live, work and level of education they were allowed to receive.

The severe inequality not only sparked increased uprisings and protests, but led political activist Nelson Mandela to respond violently at times to take action in ending apartheid.

The former South African president was instrumental in abolishing racial oppression and inspired a dived nation to reconcile, however, the country is still a long ways from overcoming the extreme brutality that was forced upon so many of its people. Tensions between the once disjoined groups still exist and millions are currently unemployed leaving an alarming amount of citizens in terrible poverty.

Volunteers are greatly needed in health care—South Africa has a high amount of people living with HIV/AIDS, empowering women—many are victims of domestic violence and preserving the environment and wildlife.

If you’ve volunteered in South Africa we’d love to hear about your experience. Please let us know which organization you signed up with, what your trip was like and if you’d recommend the program to others.


Capital: South Africa has three capital cities. Cape Town (legislative); Pretoria (executive); Bloemfontein (judicial)

Population: 48,601,098
[Source: The World Factbook]

Religion: Protestant 36.6% (Zionist Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%), Catholic 7.1%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1%
[Source: The World Factbook]

Language: IsiZulu (official) 22.7%, IsiXhosa (official) 16%, Afrikaans (official) 13.5%, English (official) 9.6%, Sepedi (offcial) 9.1%, Setswana (official) 8%, Sesotho (official) 7.6%, Xitsonga (official) 4.5%, siSwati (official) 2.5%, Tshivenda (official) 2.4%, isiNdebele (official) 2.1%, sign language 0.5%, other 1.6%
[Source: The World Factbook]

Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa
[Source: The World Factbook]

Poverty Level: 23.0%
[Source: The World Bank]


  • Spring – September & October

  • Summer – November to February

  • Autumn – March & April

  • Winter – June – August

South Africa can be divided into summer rainfall areas and winter rainfall areas. The northern, central and east parts of South Africa, which include areas of interest such as: Kruger National Park, Johannesburg, Kwa Zulu Natal, Madikwe Game Reserve, Drakensberg Mountains and the Free State, has a summer rainfall, and cool and dry winters.

The Western Cape and Garden Route areas, which include Cape Town and surrounds and all along the southern coast to about Port Elizabeth, has winter rainfall and dry summers. The northern interior part of the country has a very low annual rainfall, and is considered to be semi-arid to desert in places.

In the summer rainfall areas, the rain comes predominantly in the forms of thunder showers or down pours, which may last anything from 20 minutes to heavy rain on and off over a few days. However the maximum average daily temperature varies between 28 – 35 deg cel, depending where in this region you are. As a result of the summer rains and associated warm & sunny weather, the vegetation is very green and often thick.
[Source: African Travel Gateway]

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that travelers receive Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots. They also recommend that depending on the area you’re traveling to, some should also get Hepatitis B, Marilia, Rabies and Yellow Fever vaccines.
[Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention]

Currency: Rand