The population of South Africa has more than 44 million inhabitants, of which 62% live in the big cities: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. South Africa offers a wide variety of population groups at home with differences in origin, religion and cultural background. In addition to the native tribes (the two largest being Xhosa and Zulu), many South Africans have ancestors from other African countries, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, France, Malaysia and India. This is where the nickname Rainbow Nation finds its origin.
South Africa has 11 official languages: African, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
English is seen as business language and is spoken by the majority of South Africans as a second language. As a Dutchman you will also be regularly addressed in Afrikaans – a daughter language of Dutch – during your vacation.
Some commonly used words and expressions:
Bakkie – a jeep or open van
Farmer – official farmer or farmer just like in Dutch but it is also used as a diminutive word for white Afrikaners.

Dankie, baie dankie – “thank you” and “thank you” to you in Afrikaans.
Just now – not right now, but in a while, although that can take quite a while. ‘Now now’ is also used for now or directly. ‘Now now’ can also take quite a while.
Lapa –  a canopy, usually with a thatched roof.
Lekker – can mean anything from ‘fantastic’ to ‘fun.
Robot – traffic light (s). ‘Turn right at the next robot
Shame – a sentimental expression of joy such as “how sweet!”
Sies – an expression of aversion, such as ‘gatver’.
Stoep – veranda

After decades of oppression of all non-whites, multiculturalism is the ideal of South African society. The division that is still encountered is mainly due to differences in income. Since the end of apartheid, more and more people are moving to the cities and the number of illegal immigrants is increasing. This has led to the creation and expansion of slums (Townships).

You will experience the multifaceted culture of South Africans best by meeting the population ans talking to them. It is precisely through the stories about their origins and traditions that you get to know the country in a special way!

Arts and Culture

Art and culture have a long tradition in South Africa. The oldest works of art are the numerous rock paintings of the Bushmen (San. Their depictions of animals, people and hunting scenes are up to 20,000 years old. In the Drakensberg you will find the most. The artistic expression of the various population groups is reflected in traditional clothing from the trunks, in hairstyles and jewelry, but also in earthenware, wickerwork and processed fabrics. The Ndebele have impressively painted their houses in a geometric colorful style. The Venda in the north of the country make artful carvings and pottery. The Zulus are known for their braiding art and jewelry. The art of the white South Africans is mainly reflected in the architecture, furniture, and interior items of silver and glass. The Cape Holland buildings of the Boers are mainly found in the Cape region. You can also recognize the origins of building traditions from the beautiful British houses in Victorian and Edwardian style. Fine arts such as music, theater, painting and literature have also gained international interest.


The rainbow nation can also be recognized in the national anthem which is a fusion of two songs: “Nkosi sikelel” iAfrika “- a church song in the Xhosa – and” Die Stem van Suid-Afrika – a battle song against the Apartheid regime. The first verse is written in Xhosa, the second in Sesotho, the third in Afrikaans and the last verse is newly written in English.

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika.

Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

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