Fascinating Facts about South Africa
South Africa is a strong and resilient country, with a rich history and culture that inspires the world. Here are some fascinating facts about South Africa that will make you see this beautiful Rainbow Nation in a new light.
- South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world by land size. It is twice the size of France and five times larger than the United Kingdom.
- It is located at the southern tip of the African continent.
- South Africa is the only country in the world with three capital cities: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial).
Union Buildings - Pretoria
- South Africa has 11 official languages, including Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans.
- The South African flag is the only national flag in the world to have six colours.
- The South African national anthem, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika," contains five of the country's official languages.
- The Kingdom of Lesotho is a separate country located within the borders of South Africa. This makes it one of only 3 enclave states in the world.
- South Africa has 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in Africa.
- South Africa is the world's largest producer of platinum.
- The country was ruled by apartheid for 46 years, which separated the population based on race. It was abolished in 1994 when the first democratic elections were held.
- South Africa is the world's largest producer of rooibos tea, which is native to the Western Cape region.
- South Africa is one of the world's two largest producers of macadamia nuts, along with Australia.
- South Africa has a diverse landscape, which includes deserts, mountains, forests, wetlands and coastline.
West Coast National Park
- There are more than 3,000 shipwrecks scattered in and around the South Africa coastline.
- The world's largest telescope, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), is being built by South Africa in partnership with Australia.
- The Tugela Falls in Drakensberg is the second highest waterfall in the world and the highest waterfall in Africa.
- The oldest meteor scar in the world, the Vredefort Dome, is located in South Africa and is over two billion years old.
- The Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa is the smallest of the world's six floral kingdoms but one of the richest in terms of plant diversity with over 9,000 plant species.
- Some of the world’s oldest fossilised hominid bones were discovered in the Sterkfontein Caves, near Johannesburg and date back 2.5 to 4.5 million years.
- The Karoo Desert in South Africa is home to some of the richest deposits of dinosaur fossils in the world.
- The world's largest diamond, the Cullinan Diamond, was discovered in the Premier Mine in Cullinan in 1905.
- Johannesburg is the largest city in the world that is not located on a river, lake, or coastline.
- Johannesburg is home to one of the world's largest man-made forests.
- Johannesburg is also known as the "City of Gold" due to its history as a gold mining hub.
- Vilakazi Street in Soweto is the only street in the world to have produced two Nobel Prize winners—Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
- Collectors Treasury in Johannesburg is the largest used bookshop in Africa. It was founded in 1974.
- Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature and one of the oldest mountains in the world.
- The Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at Cape Agulhas.
- The Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga is the world's largest green canyon.
Blyde River Canyon
- The city of Kimberley in the Northern Cape is home to the "Big Hole," which is one of the largest hand-dug excavations in the world.
- The Cango Caves in the Western Cape contain some of the largest stalactites in the world.
- The city of Durban is the city with the largest Indian population outside of India.
- Famous people from South Africa include Nelson Mandela, Mark Shuttleworth, Elon Musk, Charlize Theron, Princess Charlene of Monaco and Trevor Noah.
- Mahatma Gandhi started Satyagraha in South Africa and was frequently imprisoned there.
- The world's first successful heart transplant was performed by South African surgeon Dr Christiaan Barnard in 1967 in Cape Town.
- JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings author, was born in the South African town of Bloemfontein, and The Hobbit was inspired by Hogsback in the Eastern Cape.
- South Africa has 21 national parks. Kruger National Park is the country’s largest national park and game reserve and it is the size of a small country.
- The iconic "Big Five" animals, consisting of the elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo, can be found in South Africa's national parks.
- South Africa is home to the largest and tallest land mammals, the elephant and the giraffe.
- South Africa has the most white rhinos in the world.
- South Africa has the most ostriches in the world – the largest bird in the world.
- The South African national animal is the springbok, a type of antelope.
- The South African coastline is over 3,000 kilometers long and is home to a variety of marine life, including whales, sharks, and dolphins.
- Hermanus in the Western Cape has been recognized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as one of the 12 best whale watching destinations in the world. From July to November every year, large numbers of Southern Right Whales come from the cold Antarctic waters to the warmer waters of Walker Bay, to mate, calve and breach.
- The annual Sardine Run can be seen from space! It takes place between May and July, when millions of sardines travel from the cold Atlantic waters of Cape Point to the warmer Indian Ocean in Kwazulu-Natal and Eastern Cape in shoals so big that they can be seen from space by satellite.
Sports and activities
- South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first time the tournament was held in Africa.
- South Africa and England are the only countries to have hosted the Soccer, Rugby, and Cricket World Cups.
- The world's largest individually timed cycle race, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, takes place in South Africa.
- The Bloukrans Bungee is the highest commercial natural bungy jump in the world.
- The Orlando Cooling Towers in Soweto are the site of the world’s first bungee jump between two cooling towers and the world’s highest Suspended Catch Air Device (SCAD) Freefall.
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