All things you wanted to know about South Africa – the only country in the world to have hosted the Soccer, Cricket and Rugby World Cup! too curious to know but didn’t know where to find! This detailed & fun (at least we hope we are!) will make you feel like a local! Giddddyyyyyy up…
I do not speak Afrikaans…HELP!
South Africa has 11 official languages and most people other than rural black Africans speak English as a second language. Only about 8% of the population speaks English as a first language and about 60% of the population can understand English. South African English is heavily influenced by Afrikaans. Afrikaans has roots in 17th century Dutch dialects, so it can be understood by Dutch speakers and sometimes deciphered by German speakers.
A few local words you may encounter are:
Phew! That’s good to know! Next question, what should I expect about making purchases? The currency of South Africa is the Rand for which the symbol, R. All notes have a metallic security strip and a watermark.
ATMs: linked to all major international networks, are available throughout the country and will generally dispense money in a mixture of denominations between R200 and and R10. It is best to use only ATMs that are inside a mall or other building. Always be careful to make sure no one is watching you enter your PIN, and be vigilant about scams (e.g. machines that seem to eat your card and won't give it back after you enter the PIN).
Credit Cards: VISA and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted, but not as widely. Most retail stores accept credit cards and pin based debit cards as payment. While South Africa largely uses a chip-and-PIN credit card system like Europe, most stores can still operate on the traditional credit card system in which the user merely signs the receipt after the transaction is approved. Thus credit card users from countries also still on that system (like the United States) will have no problem using their credit cards in South Africa, provided that they have notified their bank in advance of their travel plans.
That’s great to know! So I hear South Africa is very similar to the West?
At first glance, South African supermarkets and department stores look like their counterparts elsewhere, but a close examination soon reveals major differences. Both supermarkets and department stores tend to feature primarily South African, African, or European brands, as well as a small number of American and Asian brands. Thus, tourists from the Americas will have the greatest cultural shock. Apart from a few familiar brands of soft drinks, candy, electronics, batteries, cosmetics, accessories, magazines, and personal healthcare products, everything else is completely different. Americans in particular will notice that many items taken for granted in the United States simply have no equivalent on South African shelves, such as lactose-free milk for the lactose intolerant. While South African supermarkets are able to operate at the same level as their contemporary First World counterparts in terms of store décor and organization, South African department stores are lagging behind. This is especially evident in details like mannequins, some of which may look obsolete or old-fashioned to First World tourists.
Since Amazon.com has not yet entered the South African market, South Africa's domestic book retailers are still thriving. They haven't yet experienced the collapse of the book retail industry that occurred in the United States and elsewhere. Thus, South African malls still feature bookstores like Exclusive Books, where one can find postcards, South African calendars, and South African literature.
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