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.
Temperatures in South Africa tend to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes – such as Australia – due mainly to greater elevation above sea level.
On the interior plateau, the altitude – Johannesburg lies at 1 694 metres – keeps the average summer temperatures below 30°C. In winter, for the same reason, night- time temperatures can drop to freezing point, and lower in some places.
South Africa’s coastal regions are therefore warmest in winter. There is, however, a striking contrast between temperatures on the country’s east and west coasts, due respectively to the warm Agulhas and cold Benguela Currents that sweep the coastlines.
Being in the southern hemisphere, our seasons stand in opposition to those of Europe and North America, so, yes – we spend Christmas on the beach!