Summary: South Africa
Professional Travel and Cultural Competence
The Rainbow Nation
South Africa is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. In urban areas many different ethnic
groups make up the population. In addition to the indigenous black peoples of South Africa, colonialism
and immigration have brought in white Europeans, Indians, Indo-Malays, Chinese and many more. As
such it is difficult to generalize at all on South African etiquettes and culture due to the diversity.
When dealing with foreigners, most South Africans shake hands while maintaining eye contact
Some women do not shake hands and merely nod their head, so it is best to wait for a woman to
extend her hand.
Greetings are leisurely and include time for social discussion and exchanging pleasantries.
They often use metaphors and sports analogies to demonstrate a point.
Do not interrupt a South African while they are speaking.
If you are invited to a South African's home, bring flowers, good quality chocolates, or a bottle of
good South African wine to the hostess.
Wrapping a gift nicely shows extra effort.
Gifts are opened when received.