South Africa has nine provinces, each with its own legislature, premier and executive council - and distinctive landscape, population, economy and climate.
With only 1.4% of South Africa's land area, the tiny province of Gauteng punches way above its weight, contributing around 34% to the national economy and some 7% to the GDP of the entire African continent.
North West lies in the north of South Africa on the Botswana border, fringed by the Kalahari desert in the west, Gauteng province to the east, and the Free State to the south. It is known as the Platinum Province for the wealth of the metal it has underground.
Financing was a priority topic at the World Forestry Congress in Durban this week. Another was the youth and their vital role in planning and managing forestry and agriculture. The theme, investing in a sustainable future, was debated by delegates from around the world.
A decades-long study of the rocks in South Africa's Karoo has revealed that a single cataclysmic event on land and sea led to the Permian extinction, when life on Earth nearly came to an end. It happened about 200 million years before the dinosaurs died out, and was more severe.
The Western Cape is one of South Africa's most beautiful provinces, a region of majestic mountains, colourful patchworks of farmland set in lovely valleys, long beaches and, further inland, the wide-open landscape of the semidesert Karoo.
Mpumalanga - "the place where the sun rises" - is a province with spectacular scenic beauty and an abundance of wildlife, lying in the northeast of South Africa.
Limpopo is South Africa's northernmost province, lying within the great curve of the Limpopo River. It is a region of contrasts, from true bushveld country to majestic mountains, primeval indigenous forests, the giant Kruger National Park game reserve - and South Africa's lost city of gold.
The garden province of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is a subtropical region of lush and well-watered valleys, washed by the warm Indian Ocean. A popular tourist destination, the province stretches from Port Edward in the south to the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique to the north.
The Free State lies in the heart of South Africa, with the Kingdom of Lesotho nestling in the hollow of its bean-like shape. Lying between the Vaal River in the north and the Orange River in the south, the region is one of flat, rolling grassland and crop fields, rising to lovely sandstone mountains in the northeast.