Since as long as I can remember, when anyone mentions South Africa to a non-South African citizen, you're almost guaranteed to hear comments about the crime, the poverty and even the wild animals that just casually roam the streets.
These assumptions are somewhat accurate, but it's not what South Africa is all about.
I've lived in South Africa my entire life, so I'd say I know this place relatively well.
OK, there are many understood negative factors about South Africa, however, there are plenty things many people don't know about this country.
So here, I am promoting South Africa.
I'm not going to bore you about the facts and history of this country.
I'm just here to clear up some rumors and inform you about some things you should know before you visit this wonderful country.
Here are four important things you should know before visiting South Africa:
1. Yes, there is crime. No, you will not be mugged everywhere you go.
The crime in South Africa is an extremely serious issue in the country, but it should not be a reason to avoid South Africa as a destination.
Yes, there is crime, and yes, there is plenty of crime.
However, we do not all live in houses with our own security guards and guard dogs and guns.
We do not avoid going out because we worry about what will happen.
The crime in our country does not cripple our living; we don't stop our lives because of it.
And you shouldn't avoid South Africa because of it.
The reality is, all countries have some form of a crime rate, but people get on with their lives.
I'm not here to bash other countries, but it's the truth.
There is crime everywhere, not just in South Africa.
You do not need to bring any weapons or forms of protection when coming to South Africa.
2. Wild animals do not roam our streets.
Contrary to popular belief, wild animals do not casually roam our streets.
No, we do not have lions, elephants or giraffes as pets.
We have normal pets like cats and dogs, not buffalo.
I know when one thinks of Africa, "The Lion King" comes to mind, but it is very, very different.
There are no lions, except in our game reserves, which you will see plenty of on a safari.
So, you definitely don't have to worry that you will be mauled by a bear or any wild animal in the city.
That just doesn't happen.
We South Africans really don't ever see wild animals in our day-to-day living, so seeing that would be really strange for even us.
3. We have Internet and electricity.
Although it might be hard to believe for many, in South Africa, we do have Internet.
Almost everywhere you go there is WiFi, and definitely everywhere you go there is electricity.
I am not writing this article on a piece of paper. I'm writing it on my laptop that was bought in South Africa and is charged using electricity in South Africa.
OK, I'm sure you get the point.
South Africa is a developing country and has the same technology as most countries.
We are not living in mud huts in the Stone Age, although many people think we are.
We have WiFi, social media, cell phones and cars (not elephants), and we managed to successfully host the 2010 World Cup with our resources.
So do not worry; we have Internet and electricity for you.
(Alright, you get the idea. My rant is over.)
4. We do not know your friend, family member or anyone you mention.
A common question I have encountered from a foreigner is, "Oh, you're from South Africa? Do you know my friend John? He lives in Johannesburg."
Here's the thing: I don't know your friend, and there is a very logical reason for this.
South Africa is a very large country with a population of over 52 million people, so the chances of knowing someone a stranger casually mentions is highly unlikely.
You will be sure to meet plenty of different, friendly and diverse people in South Africa. (And chances are, no one will know your friend John).
So there you have it. Those are some important things you need to know about South Africa and its stereotypes.
South Africa is a beautiful, developing country with huge potential.
Yes, there is crime, but it is not a reason to avoid South Africa.
You will not be seeing any wild animals walking around the streets. You can see those wild animals on your safari.
You have no need to stress because you'll have plenty of Internet, WiFi and electricity.
You will not feel like you're in the Stone Age, I promise.
But please, don't ask us if we know your friend who lives in Cape Town. We definitely do not know him.
I hope this was a useful guide and helped clear up some rumors about South Africa.