The famous Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama first discovered South Africa in the 1400s, but local tribes have inhabited it since the dawn of man. Europeans first settled it in 1652 when Dutch explorer Jan Van Riebeck settled in what is now Cape Town. Many hundreds of thousands of migrants have settled since, with large populations of French, British, Dutch and Germans, and, more recently, Indians and Africans migrating south from the rest of the continent.
Today South Africa is the economic powerhouse of Africa with first-world infrastructure and cities, but it is also still part of rural Africa with its problems of AIDS and malaria. Until recently, South Africa was synonymous with the word apartheid, which meant separate development and, in the world’s eyes, was intolerable. Sanctions and internal dissidents helped facilitate a bloodless change to the most liberal constitution in the world.
There are three cities with over a million people, the largest being Johannesburg with over 6 million people. Here you will find the tallest buildings in Africa and some very interesting architecture, which includes preserved art deco buildings side by side with massive glass and concrete towers.