Climatic Conditions in South Africa

cloudy sky in the Free State

South Africa stretches between the 22nd and 34th degrees of southern latitude and hence is part of the subtropical zone. Compared to other regions at that latitude, temperatures in many areas of South Africa are rather lower. The cold Benguela current causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast, and on the central plateau the altitude (Jo'burg lies at 1753m) keeps the average temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius. In winter, also due to altitude, temperatures drop to the freezing point, and in places even lower. Then it is warmest in the coastal regions.


A subtropical location, moderated by ocean on three sides of the country and the altitude of the interior plateau, account for the warm temperate conditions so typical of South Africa - and so popular with its foreign visitors. South Africa is famous for its sunshine. It's a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464mm (compared to a world average of about 860mm). While the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, the rest of the country is generally a summer-rainfall region.


Over much of South Africa, summer (mid-October to mid-February) is characterised by hot, sunny weather - often with afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell in the air. The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is the exception, getting its rain in winter.

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Camps bay, Cape Town

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