For the first time ever the FIFA World Cup will be held on the African continent, and South Africa is eagerly anticipating the inauguration of the event.  Four new stadiums are being built, and the government is investing just short of $1 billion in infrastructure improvements.  Already more then $3 billion in sponsorships have been secured by FIFA, the largest total for any World Cup to date.  More importantly, a diverse 44 million South Africans await the chance to showcase their country, and the world awaits an up close and personal visit to Africa. 

South Africa is an industrialized nation with a diverse population and 11 official languages. Along with China and India, South Africa is being considered for inclusion into the G-8 group of leading industrialized nations. Soccer is the number one sport in the country, ahead of cricket and rugby, and the country has a strong sports tradition.  The Premier Soccer League featuring 16 top level teams, and takes part in the Champion's League tournament of African clubs. Several star South Africans include Aaron Mokoena, Benni McCarthy, and Quinton Fortune who currently plays for Manchester United.

Having suffered from restrictions of Apartheid, the South African national team is only beginning to come into it's own, qualifying for the FIFA Cup in 1998 and 2002. In 1996, "Bafana Bafana" accomplished their biggest success, winning the African Cup of Nations. Because they are the host nation, South Africa will automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup.  Although South Africa's fans are just as passionate as those from any other continent, they have a reputation for good behavior and respect for opposing fans.

Being that this is the first time such an event is hosted on the African continent, some of the unique 
challenges faced by South Africa and the continent will come to light. The nation struggles with some serious health, social and economic problems, but a lot of improvement has been made since democratization in 1994.  FIFA inspectors rated South Africa's capable of organizing an "excellent" World Cup based on the assessment of security, transport, medical and hospitality infrastructure, and the 2010 World Cup promises to showcase the strengths of a unique country.

Read more about the 2010 FIFA World Cup here.