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Africa; Information and Pictures

South Africa






Arriving in Africa for the first time can be an unforgettable experience. When the plane door is unlocked it’s as if someone has opened an oven, and what’s cooking is a never before tasted dish of strange and powerful smells that tell you a delicious feast awaits. Even the light seems different, and before you ever set foot on this strange new continent, you become aware that you want to come back and enjoy its difference again and again.

As the pictures in each photo gallery show, Africa is a continent of varied and fascinating landscapes, diverse cultures and exotic animals. It is the second largest and second most populous continent on Earth, with abundant natural resources and yet the lowest GDP per head of any continent apart from Antarctica (Source: IMF 2010).

Africa has 15% of the world’s population and the youngest age profile of all the continents, with 50% of its people under 20 years old. It also has the worst poverty: 50% of sub-Saharan Africans are estimated to live on less than the official poverty income of US$ 1.25 a day (World Bank, 2008). A number of factors are believed to be holding back development, including HIV/AIDS and malaria, corruption and tribal and other military conflicts, including genocide. Some countries human rights record is poor, and the rest of the world seems uninterested or powerless to help, having previously exploited the continent through the slave trade and later colonialism.

For many African countries, one possible source of the money required to aid their development is tourism. Of the 54 African states recognised by the UN, 17 earned over US$ 10m from tourism in 2005, according to the World Tourism Organisation. The most visited countries were Egypt, South Africa and Kenya, with history and wildlife to offer, along with those countries close to Europe, like Morocco and Tunisia. The Cape Town area of South Africa, as the pictures in our South Africa photo gallery show, is full of attractions, from glorious natural scenery and beautiful coast line, to wine tasting and whale watching. Mauritius, out in the Indian Ocean beyond Madagascar, offers volcanic mountain ranges, lush sub-tropical forests and waterfalls as a change from your luxurious beach holiday and exciting scuba diving. In West Africa, the former British colony of Ghana is developing its tourist industry and visitors are going in increasing numbers to the Atlantic beaches and traditional markets of the capital, Accra, with its lively nightlife. In Kumasi you can visit a cocoa plantation and see traditional Kente cloth weaving, as well as exploring Asante culture at the Asante Buildings museum. Kakum National Park is popular for a day’s walking in the forest parkland and birdwatching from the canopy walkways 30 metres up.

has a much more developed tourist industry than Ghana, based on its fascinating historical archaeology. The pyramids and the Sphinx are the iconic not-to-be-missed sights, but there is further exploration of ancient culture to be enjoyed at the Valley of the Kings and the temple of Karnak down the Nile in Luxor. The step pyramids at Saqqara, older even than the better known ones at Memphis, are well worth a visit. Egypt also offers a different kind of holiday at its Red Sea resorts, with some of the best scuba diving in the world.
On the Mediterranean north coast of the continent, Tunisia has its own historical sites to visit as a change from its glorious sandy beaches and water sports: Carthage was an ancient state conquered first by the Romans and then by the Ottoman Empire. You can also take a trip into the Sahara and, to experience the desert more fully, you can stay there in a comfortable, modern hotel.