South Africa, on Africa's southern tip, is bordered by the Atlantic
Ocean on the west and by the Indian Ocean on the south and east. Its
neighbours are Namibia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the
north, and Mozambique and Swaziland in the northeast. The kingdom of
Lesotho forms an enclave within the southeast part of South Africa,
which occupies an area nearly three times that of California.
South Africa in 1996 was the first country to adopt a constitution that
protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Under its
terms, the Constitutional Court ordered the government to legalise same sex
marriage by year end.
Partly as a result, the country has the most open gay community on a continent where homosexuality is usually driven underground and portrayed as un-African - an unwanted legacy of colonialism and white culture.
The climate in South Africa is typically warm and dry, with winter
temperatures rarely falling below 0°C, and summer maxima frequently
above 35°C. The average annual rainfall is approximately 500mm
(considerably less than the world average of 860mm). Most of the central
and eastern parts of the country enjoy summer rainfall, whilst the
western side of the country is the winter rainfall region.