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Geography in South Africa


South Africa occupies the southern tip of Africa, its long coastline stretching more than 2,500km from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast, southwards around the tip of Africa, then north to the border with subtropical Mozambique on the Indian Ocean. Most all of South Africa's 472,000 square miles lies below the Tropic of Capricorn, bordering countries Namibia and Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. 

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Several small rivers run into the sea along the coastline the major rivers are the Limpopo, a stretch of which is shared with Zimbabwe, and the Orange (with its tributary, the Vaal) which runs with a variable flow across the central landscape from east to west, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at the Namibian border.

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The total land area of South Africa is slightly more than 1.2 million square kilometres and it measures some 1,600 kilometres from north to south and from east to west. 

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Mountain Ranges in South Africa

The Central Plateau has a large range of landscape. It is ringed in the east, south and west by the Great Escarpment. In general, the Great Escarpment slowly loses altitude into the northwestern areas of the Central Plateau, a nearly continuous escarpment of mountain ranges on the west, south, and east, and a narrow strip of low-lying land along the coast. In the main, the central plateau consists of high (1,200-1,800 m), rolling grassland known as highveld. The highest points of the mountainous escarpment are found in the Drakensberg Mountains, where the peaks can exceed heights of 3,050m. We include altitude travel insurance cover on all policies, no altitude limit applies however we do not cover rock climbing using support ropes.   

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In the west it is very dry, merging with the Kalahari in the northwest. In the central areas, the arid scrubland gives way to dry grasslands which become better watered further to the east. These grasslands extend northeastward until they reach the Witwatersrand and Magaliesberg, which are the main watershed between the Orange and Limpopo Rivers.  

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The Witwatersrand and Magaliesberg also form part of an area of low mountain ranges surrounding a basin called the Bushveld. To the north of that, the semi-arid savanna loses altitude towards the Limpopo River valley. 

In the northeast, the highveld plateau descends to the Bushveld and Limpopo River basins. The Bushveld comprises South Africa's savanna, where are found the game reserves. 

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