Class XVI international seminar trip Reports February 15-27, 2014

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Trip Reports

February 15-27, 2014
South Africa


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Geography and Climate (Brent Howard, Steven McIntyre, Scott Stinnett and Jane Fuhlendorf) page 1
Agriculture (Debbie Wedel, Jennifer Jensen and Chris Hitch) page 17
Government and Military (Chris Kidd, Meriruth Cohenour, Janet Stewart and Justin Lingo) page 32
Culture and Religion (Stacy Howeth, Sandra Stevenson, Tracey Payton Miller and Jamie Cummings) page 51
Health and Education (Cheri Long, Patti Dewitt, Ginger Reimer and Dianne Jeans) page 65
Economics (Joe Gribble, Rusty Roush, Justin Whitmore and Karen Eifert Jones) page 81
Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure (Jamie Doyal, Steve Alspach and Casey Sharber) page 96

Geography and Climate

Brent Howard

Scott Stinnett

Steven McIntyre

Jane Fuhlendorf

Geography, topography, climate, weather and seasons

Brent S. Howard

South Africa is the southernmost country in the continent of Africa. The country lies within 22º and 35º in southern latitude.1 In North America, this swath of latitude would be comparable in distance from the equator to the area from Norman, Oklahoma to about 100 miles north of Mexico City.2 You may also notice that this puts the northern tip of the country within the Tropic of Capricorn, with the remainder in a sub-tropic climate.

South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world, covering 471,445 square miles.3 (Comparatively, the U.S. is the fourth largest country and covers 3,794,083 square miles.4 Also, comparatively, the country of South Africa is roughly 3x the size of California, 6.75x the size of Oklahoma, or roughly the size of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii combined.5)
South Africa is about 1,000 miles from North to South and also about 1,000 miles from east to west.6 For our trip to South Africa, we will be traveling 9,050 miles, then, in country, we will travel another about 1,800 miles before our return trip of another 9,050 miles.7 (During our previous eighteen months in the program, each Class member has traveled an average of 6,800 miles throughout Oklahoma, Kansas and our trip through Pennsylvania and D.C.8 So, we will be travelling about three times the amount to and through South Africa as we have for the rest of OALP. Buckle up because we are in for a long ride.)
South Africa shares borders with six different countries: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and then Lesotho is wholly contained within South Africa’s borders. The border with Botswana is the longest.
South Africa has nine provinces, which in order from smallest to largest are: Gauteng (in the northeast region containing Pretoria and Johannesburg), Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, North West (not Kanye’s baby), Limpopo, Western Cape (contains Cape Town), Free State, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape (largest and least populated).9 Over forty percent of South Africa’s population of 51.7 million people lives in the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Cape Town is the country’s most populated city with a population of about 3,140,000 people in the metro area.10 Cape Town thus has roughly the same population as Iowa.
South Africa has three capital cities: Cape Town is home of the legislative capital; Bloemfontein is home of the judicial capital; and Pretoria is the home of the administrative capital and is considered the ultimate capital of the country.11
Water: There are only two major rivers in South Africa: the Limpopo which runs along the border of Zimbabwe and empties in the Indian Ocean; and the Orange River, which runs through the central plateau from east to west and empties in the Atlantic Ocean.12
A lack of freshwater (through both rivers and rainfall), has contributed to the lack of development of the country.13 More information on this will be provided in the section on climate.

Being that the country is the tip of Africa, there is a variety of terrain. South Africa has about 1,560 miles of coastline along the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. However, the low-lying coastal zone is very narrow for much of the distance and soon gives way to a mountainous escarpment that separates the coast from the high inland plateau.14

The lowest points in the country are at sea level and stretch along the coasts.
The highest point in the country is Mafadi, which is a peak on the border with Lesotho.15 The peak is 11,320 feet in height and is the second highest point in southern Africa.16 For comparison, this is about the height of Vail Ski Resort in central Colorado.17
The interior plateau consists of a series of rolling grasslands and the Kalahari Desert in the north. This central area is known as the Highveld. In the northeast it rises into a series of rock formations known as the Witwatersrand (literally, "Ridge of White Waters" in Afrikaans, commonly shortened to Rand). The Rand is a ridge of gold-bearing rock, roughly 60 miles by 23 miles. It is also the site of the world's largest proven gold deposits and the country's leading industrial city, Johannesburg.18
North of the Rand is a dry savanna sub-region, known as the Bushveld, characterized by open grasslands with scattered trees and bushes. Elevation varies between 2,000 feet and about 3,000 feet above sea level.19 The Bushveld, like the Rand, houses a virtual treasure chest of minerals, one of the largest and best known layered igneous (volcanic) mineral complexes in the world. Covering an area roughly 220 miles by 90 miles, the Bushveld has extensive deposits of platinum and chromium and significant reserves of copper, fluorspar, gold, nickel, and iron.20
The major diamond mining for the country takes place in the Northern Cape Province near Kimberely. South Africa produced over 15,800,000 carats of diamonds in 2005.21

South Africa is mainly in a sub-tropical location, but because it is surrounded by cold oceans on three sides and the elevation of the central plateau, the temperature is fairly moderate and is often lower than other areas along the same latitude.22

South Africa is a relatively dry country with an average rainfall of only about 18 inches.23 For comparison, in Oklahoma, you have to go Guymon to get a comparably dry area (average rainfall is 19.25 inches).24 However, like Oklahoma, different areas get different amounts of rain. Cape Town, for example averages about 20 inches per year. Johannesburg will get about 28 inches. But the northwest central plateau may only get about 8 inches during the year.
Precipitation and Temperature in South Africa varies each month. See the table below:25


Average Rainfall(inches)

Average Temp (ºF) (H/L)



86º /73º



86º /73º



86º /70º



81º /63º



77º /54º



75º /46º



73º /46º



79º /52º



84º /61º



84º /64º



90º /70º



86º /72º

For the most part, December, January and February are the wettest months, characterized by torrential downpours (monsoons) in the northeastern savannahs. Temperatures will get around 95º as a high, with very high humidity.

The Western Cape is the exception to the rainfall amounts above, as it gets its main precipitation in the winter months of May through August.
Along the Orange River in Northern Cape, there are sufficient water wells to feed irrigation systems and the area along the River can be seen as oases on satellite reviews.
Climatic conditions vary noticeably between east and west, largely in response to the warm Agulhas ocean current, which sweeps southward along the Indian Ocean coastline in the east for several months of the year, and the cold Benguela current, which sweeps northward along the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the west. Air temperatures in Durban, on the Indian Ocean, average nearly 10º F warmer than temperatures at the same latitude on the Atlantic Ocean coast. The effects of these two currents can be seen even at the narrow peninsula of the Cape of Good Hope, where water temperatures average 7.5º F higher on the east side than on the west.26

Geography and Climate of Area of Travels

Scott Stinnett
South Africa is the most southern country on the continent of Africa. It is bordered on the north by (from west to east) Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. A Unique feature is the country of Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa. The southern border is the Atlantic Ocean on the west and Indian Ocean on the east. It is located in the Southern Hemisphere and shares a similar climate to cities such as Sydney, Australia and Santiago, Chile.
The geography varies from coastal to mountainous with several types of velds. Veld is the Afrikaans word for field and describes a shrub and grassland area. Velds are further defined by other factors such as altitude (Highveld, Lowveld) and vegetation (Bushveld, Thornveld).
The climate also varies. The majority of the country 47.4% is considered desert or arid, receiving less than 400mm of annual rainfall. Semi-arid to sub-humid makes up 43.1% of the country receiving 400-800mm of annual rainfall. Only a small portion, 9.5%, is humid to super humid receiving 800mm or more of annual rainfall.
Temperatures are variable based on elevation and distance from the ocean. Desert areas can be extreme with highs 32°C or more in summer with winter lows of 0°-2°C. Inland higher elevation areas can average 26°-28°C during summer and then be average a low of 0°-2°C in winter. Coastal areas are dependent upon the flow of the ocean currents, especially in winter. The Eastern coast is influenced by the warm currents of the Indian Ocean having a mild winter lows of only 8°-10°C. Western coast areas receive cold moist air from the currents bringing air from the southern Atlantic Ocean. Though there is moisture in the air, it remains an arid area with most moisture coming ashore as fog.
Cape Town

Cape Town was first established in 1652. The Dutch East India Company used the site to resupply ships as they navigated around the southern tip of Africa. In 1781, the French built a garrison to help defend Cape Town from British invasion. Cape Town is the provincial capital of Western Cape and the legislative capital of the Republic of South Africa.

Cape Town is located at slightly above sea level, on the northern portion of a peninsula. The Cape of Good Hope is the best know geographic feature of Cape Town. It is defined by Cape Peninsula which extends south into the Atlantic Ocean. As ships and sailors come around the horn, they see a significant change in their direction of travel from mainly north and south, to east and west. The peninsula protects False Bay. The east and west shores of the bay are rocky and mountainous with several peaks over 1400 meters. The northern shore of the bay is sandy and called the Cape Flats. On the south end of Cape Peninsula is Simons Town and the Boulders Penguin Colony. The name sake boulders along the shore provide refuge for African Penguins.

Located on the north end of the Cape Peninsula is the well-known Table Mountain, which rises 1084 meters in elevation. It is highly photographed due to its location on the northern side of Cape Town and can be seen with a cloud cover that is considered its tablecloth due to its wide flat top. It is flanked by Devil’s Peak on the west and Lion’s Head on the east.

Along the northern shore of Cape Town is the smaller Table Bay. At the mouth of Table Bay is Robben Island, known as the prison Island where Nelson Mandela was held.
The climate of the area is very Mediterranean with pleasant summers and cool damp winters. Cape Town is exposed to winds from the southeast and northwest. Winter in Cape Town can be wet in June and July, with temperatures ranging from 7° to 20°. The average summer temperature ranges from 15° to 30°C with a limited amount of rainfall. February averages only 6 days of rain fall with less than 15mm (world weather online).

Pretoria was founded by Marthinus Pretorius in 1855 and named it after his father Andries Pretorius. The elder Pretorius had become a national hero of the Voortrekkers, Dutch pioneers who moved inland from coastal colonies. It became the capital of the South African Republic in May of 1860. Pretoria is located in Gauteng province and is the executive branch capital of the Republic of South Africa.

Pretoria is at an altitude of 1350 meters and approximately 55 km north-northeast of Johannesburg. Its location is south of the Bushveld and north of the Highveld. The Bushveld is a savanna area below 1400 meters and can have typical savanna climate with hot and wet summers and cool dry winters. The Highveld is a high plateau, above 1400 meters, of mainly grasslands with high summer rainfall, but can have severe frost in the winter. The Drakensberg Mountains to the south and east defines the southern border of the Highveld and greatly affects the climate of Pretoria by blocking coastal winds, creating a trap of air.
Climate in Pretoria has somewhat defined seasons. Winter temperatures can range from 5° to 20 °C with limited rainfall to 17° to 28°C and 100mm or more of rainfall in the summer.
Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is the largest in South Africa and located in Mpumalanga province. It was originally established as Sabi Game Reserve and combined with other parks to form Kruger National Park in 1926. Currently the park covers nearly 2 million hectares of land and is considered a Lowveld, a grassland below 500 meters in elevation. Climate in the park is relatively mild in winter, with temperatures ranging from 9°C to 26°C with limited rainfall less than 12mm. Summer can be hot, 20° C to 32°C with strong thunderstorms that can release 100mm or more of rain in less than 10 days of rain per month.

Land Use

Agricultural production in South Africa is significant. South Africa has a total area of 121,909,000 hectares, with 96,374,000 hectares considered agricultural land. According to the Development Bank of South Africa, the largest majority of commercial agricultural land, 86 million hectares are used as commercial farm land. The other major uses are 71.9 million hectares is used for grazing of livestock and 11.78 million of hectares are being used for nature conservation.

Water is the greatest limiting factor in the production ability of land in South Africa. 12% of land can be used for crop production, but only 22% of this is can be described as high-potential arable land. Currently, 1.3-million hectares are irrigated.
Agricultural production includes intensive crop production and mixed farming in areas with winter rain or high amounts of summer rain. The grain industry is one of the largest in South Africa, producing between 25% and 33% of the country's total gross agricultural production. The largest area of farmland is planted with maize, followed by wheat and, to a lesser extent, sugarcane and sunflowers. Maize is the largest locally produced field crop, and the most important source of carbohydrates in the southern African region. South Africa is the main maize producer in the Southern African Development Community. More than 9 000 commercial maize producers are responsible for the major part of the South African crop, while the rest is produced by thousands of small-scale producers. Maize is produced mainly in North West province, the Free State, the Mpumalanga Highveld and the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
Wheat is produced in the winter rainfall areas of the Western Cape and the eastern parts of the Free State. Barley is produced mainly on the southern coastal plains of the Western Cape. Sorghum is cultivated in the drier parts of summer rainfall areas such as Mpumalanga, the Free State, Limpopo, North West and Gauteng.
South Africa is the world's 10th largest producer of sunflower seed, which is produced in the Free State, North West, Mpumalanga Highveld and Limpopo province. Groundnuts are grown mainly in the Free State, North West and the Northern Cape.
South Africa is the world's 13th largest sugar producer. Sugarcane is grown in 15 areas extending from northern Pondoland in the Eastern Cape through the coastal belt and Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal to the Mpumalanga Lowveld. An estimated 2.5mt of sugar is produced each season.
South Africa is the ninth largest wine producer in the world. Over 110 000ha of land are under cultivation, with over 300-million vines. About 84% of wines are produced by cooperatives. Over 4 000 primary wine producers employ over 60 000 people.
Deciduous fruit is grown mainly in the Western Cape and in the Langkloof Valley in the Eastern Cape. Smaller production areas are found along the Orange River and in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. Citrus is produced in the irrigation areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Pineapples are grown in the Eastern Cape and northern KwaZulu-Natal.
There are other major agricultural crops produced across South Africa. Cotton is cultivated under irrigation as well as in dry land conditions in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West. Virginia tobacco is produced mainly in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, with smaller quantities of Oriental tobacco grown in the Western and Eastern Cape. Tea grows mainly in the coastal and mountainous areas of the Western Cape and in certain areas of the Eastern Cape. Ornamental plant production for export is concentrated in the central parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
Livestock production is the largest agricultural industry in South Africa, with a population of some 13.8-million cattle and 28.8-million sheep. Dairy is produced throughout South Africa, with most farms in the eastern and northern Free State, North West, the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the Eastern and Western Cape, Gauteng and the southern parts of Mpumalanga. Beef production South Africa produces 85% of its meat requirements. Cattle ranches are found mainly in the Eastern Cape, parts of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Northern Cape. Sheep production is concentrated in the Northern and Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga, with Ermelo in Mpumalanga being one of the largest wool-producing districts. About 50% of the country's sheep are fine-wool Merinos with mutton produced from the Dorper. The indigenous meat-producing Boer goat accounts for about 30% of all commercial goats with Angora goats used for mohair production. Poultry and pig farms are more intensive than the extensive sheep and cattle production, and are found near the metropolitan areas of Gauteng, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Non- traditional livestock are also raised in South Africa. South Africa accounts for around 65% of world sales of ostrich products - leather, meat and feathers. Game farming has grown over the years, and today is a viable industry with great economic potential. The country's main game areas are in Limpopo province, North West, Mpumalanga, the Free State, the Eastern Cape, the Karoo, the Kalahari in the Northern Cape and the thorn scrub of KwaZulu-Natal.
Useful Conversions:
1°C = (1°F-32)/1.8 1 mm = .04 inches 1 meter = 3.28 feet

1km = .62 miles 1 hectare = 2.471 acres 1 liter = .26 gallons

Palmer, T and Ainslie, A. Country Pasture/Forage Resources Profiles: South Africa, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006
SANParks,, 2013,, 2011
World Weather Online,, 2013

Wildlife of South Africa and Kruger National Park, Natural Resources of South Africa, Water Supply and Sanitation in South Africa and Drinking water on our Trip

Steven McIntyre
Wildlife of South Africa and Kruger National Park:

When Class XVI was told that our international trip would be to South Africa the first thing that came to mind was the amazing and dangerous wildlife that exists there. South Africa is home to and best known for what the world calls the “Big Five”: elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. These five animals are not the five biggest, prettiest, or rarest. They are merely the five that take the greatest offense at being shot and are most likely to retaliate. South Africa is full of wildlife; it is home to almost ten percent of the world’s known bird, fish, and plant species and about six percent of its mammal and reptile species. The South African seas are crowded with wildlife as well. About 2,000 marine species visit South African waters at some point during the year, which include thousands of hungry sharks, whales, dolphins, and seals.

South Africa’s wild animals have suffered a decline in population due to decades of poaching. Unlike in North America, most of these animals roam free in a totally undeveloped environment. In an attempt to save these animals from extinction, governments throughout Africa, have enacted anti-poaching laws as well as an international ban on ivory trade. The South African government works to preserve its wildlife with dozens of protected land and marine areas, including the famous Kruger National Park.
Kruger National Park was established in 1926 and is the one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa covering over 7,580 square miles, which is over two times the size of Yellowstone National Park. The park is home to the “Big Five” as well as over 142 species of other large mammals that include hippo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, eland, sable, antelope and others, 517 species of birds including the South African National bird the Blue Crane, 114 species of reptile that include the black mamba and the crocodile, 33 species of amphibians and 50 fish species.
Kruger National Park is home to 9 of the 10 most deadly animals in Africa and possibly the world. The following is a list of those animals with the statistics to back up the claim.

  1. Mosquito - Malaria, it is believed that between 600,000 and one million people die from malaria each year.

  2. Puff Adder snake accounts for nearly 32,000 deaths per year and many more disabilities

  3. Hippo - are said to kill 2,900 people annually in Africa.

  4. Crocodile – estimated to kill hundreds of people a year in Africa.

  5. Elephants - Zoologists estimate elephants kill 500 people a year worldwide.

  6. Cape Buffalo - ‘The Black Death’ or ‘Widow Maker’, the African buffalo is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal as it gores and kills over 200 people every year.

  7. Black Mamba - Anti-venom is now widely available and bite victims can rapidly access adequate treatment in most of South Africa, but is fatal without anti-venom.

  8. Lion – They are said to kill and eat at least 10 people a year in the Kruger.

  9. Rhino – Very unpredictable and dangerous and have killed humans.

The park’s greatest responsibility is protecting its wildlife and the number one threat comes from poaching, despite the government’s strict anti-poaching laws. The park has an anti-poaching unit that consists of 650 park rangers, two drones and two helicopters. In 2012, some 200 poachers were arrested, and about 30 were killed in skirmishes. The poacher’s primary targets are the black and white rhino and the elephant. Rhino horn can be sold from about $66,000 to $82,000 per kilogram. The poaching of rhino horn has escalated over the past decade with 949 rhinos killed in Kruger from 2001 to 2012 with over 520 in 2013 alone. To help combat poaching the park began fitting Rhinos with invisible tracing devices in their bodies and horns, which enable officials to locate their carcasses and to track the smuggled horns by satellite. South Africa is home to 22,000 black and white rhinos of which 12,000 that are located in Kruger. This represents about 93% of the specie’s world population.

The park hosts over one million visitors each year. There are campgrounds, bush lodges, and luxury lodges in the park that provides food and some shopping. Visitors may tour the park by car, take guided tours by open top jeeps, as well as guided hiking tours. If you hear that Kruger National Park is like a zoo or a circus this is a myth! As stated above, South Africa including Kruger National Park is home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world that, if provoked, can be deadly. Therefore, I would suggest the OALP class follow the safety rules closely on our planned tour through the park.

Poaching, hunting and growth of farms and ranches has taken a toll on the Wildlife of South Africa. Yet, thanks to the foresight of conservationists past and present, South Africa remains blessed with abundant wildlife.

Natural Resources of South Africa:

South Africa’s most important natural resources come from mining many different metals. Gold and diamonds are the most valuable of these resources. The mines are very important as they create jobs and produce valuable metals that provide money and materials to the South African people. In addition to diamonds and gold, the country also contains reserves of coal, iron ore, platinum, manganese, chromium, copper, uranium, silver, beryllium, and titanium.

Here are a few facts about some of the most important and valuable economic resources that South Africa produces:

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