Cape Town is certainly one of the richest cities on the entire continent. Its position as a supply port on the roads of the Indies immediately attributed a valuable role to it, which it retained even later; the presence of various industries and a first-rate production system, together with its political and cultural importance, have enriched its functions. A series of important urban works (including the construction of a city motorway network) undertaken after World War II have profoundly changed the urban fabric; its agglomeration in fact exceeds 3 million residents Johannesburg, on the other hand, is the economic capital of the country, which developed following the discovery of a gold field and the consequent construction of the infrastructures for its exploitation. Capital of business, seat of high-level tertiary activities, it rises in the center of an intensely urbanized area, so much so that, together with the steel centers of Vereeniging and Vanderbjil Park, it forms a whole series of satellite cities and Pretoria, the conurbation known as PWV (aka Pretoria- Witwatersrand – Vereeniging). Both in Cape Town and Johannesburg the traces of apartheid policy are evident on the urban structure: the residential areas, located in the center of the city and close to the administrative offices or Johannesburg to the offices of the mining companies), are inhabited by the white minority; in the neighborhoods on the margins, however, the black ghettos (townships), dormitory districts occupied mostly by workers working in industries. Pretoria is the administrative capital of the country, and therefore the center of the public service sector. Capital of what was once the rich province of Transvaal, divided between the provinces of Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and part of the North-West, it has a political and cultural role of primary importance. Durban and Port Elizabeth Instead, they play a fundamental role in port traffic: in the first case, it is the largest port in the country (and one of the best equipped in the world), the one to which the transport of raw materials refers and through which most of the of direct goods both within the country and abroad; in the second, of what, in responding to the economic needs of its hinterland, has seen the development of mainly fruit, wool and leather trafficking. Finally, Bloemfontein, a modern industrial and commercial center, is the judicial capital of the country.
In relation to climatic variations, the vegetation cover is somewhat differentiated; temperate grasslands predominate on the plateaus, passing through bushy and xerophilous steppes towards less rainy southern and western areas; on the eastern side, mainly in the upper and middle Veld, shrub savannahs are encountered, often associated with tall trees such as acacia, euphorbia and baobab. Along the coastal strip of Natal and the eastern section of the Cape province stretches of subtropical forest extend, which take on the character of a tunnel forest along the course of some rivers, for example the Tugela. The vegetation cover typical of the southwestern part of the country, which enjoys a Mediterranean climate, is the evergreen scrub, represented by a mixed association, herbaceous and shrubby, with often accentuated xerophilic aspects. From the scrub it gradually passes to the desert steppe characterized by thorny shrubs; further west to the sea the vegetation becomes increasingly impoverished and the landscape takes on the typical appearance of the real desert. The great variety of natural habitats is reflected in the extraordinary diversity of species that populate these lands: from large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetahs, to herbivores such as elephants, zebras, antelopes and giraffes. According to ezinereligion, there is also a large variety of birds that populate South Africa such as ostriches, flamingos, kori bustards etc. However, the white colonization has considerably reduced the number of large carnivores and herbivores that once populated these lands: among the animals in danger of extinction we must remember the white rhino of which few specimens survive in the reserves. The biodiversity of flora and fauna is strongly threatened by human activity which causes the alteration of ecosystems, through deforestation and poaching works. Furthermore, the excessive exploitation of small agricultural areas causes an increase in soil erosion and desertification. In South Africa 6.6% of the territory is protected; there are 21 national parks and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites: iSimangaliso Wetland Park (1999), uKhahlamba-Drakensberge National Park (2000), the flora of the Cape Province (2004) and Vredefort Dome (2005).