South Africa is a country full of secrets and interesting facts that will definitely surprise you. If you have decided to travel to South Africa soon and you want to learn some basic notions about its history, culture or traditions, here is a list of fun facts about South Africa as an introduction!
Fun facts about South Africa
- South Africa’s surface area is greater than the territories of Holland, Germany, Belgium, France and Italy added together.
- There are eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Southern Ndebele, Sotho, Northern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
- South Africa does not just have one capital city – it has three! Pretoria; the executive capital; Cape Town, the legislative capital; and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.
- This country is the natural habitat of the biggest land mammal on Earth, the African elephant, and also of the smallest one, the pygmy shrew.
- It is also the territory of the tallest land mammal, the giraffe, and of the fastest, the cheetah.
- One of the best places on Earth for whale sighting, Hermanus, is located in South Africa. It is not necessary to get a boat – you will be able to watch them from the coast! A fun fact: these mammals are more than 12 metres long and they eat an average of 600 kg. of plankton per day.
- There is an official bird in South Africa, the blue crane or paradise crane.
- In March 2018, Cape Town, one of the three capital cities, almost became the first major city to run out of water. Day Zero was scheduled on March 18th, but with the effort made by each one of the citizens to save every single millilitre of water they could. With the rains in June the city was able to overcome the crisis.
- The marula is the most widely used fruits in the country. It is used to make liquors, juices and jams.
- One of the most well-known dishes in South African gastronomy is Mashonza. Its star ingredient is its distinctive feature – worms!
- The second highest bungee jump is located here, over the Bloukrans River – it is 216 metres high. Mohr Keet jumped from the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy in 2010 and broke the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to bungee jump – he was 96 at the time. Scott Huntly also broke another World Record here in 2011, when he became the person to bungee jump more times in a single day – he jumped 107 times.
- One of the most common ways of moving from one city to another is hitchhiking. It is not strange to see people on the road waiting for somebody that can pick them up and get them to their destination.
- The biggest diamond in the world was found here in 1905. It was almost 12 cm big and weighed 3,106 carats.
- The first heart transplant in the world also took place here. On December 3rd 1967, Professor Christiaan Barnard’s team carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant.
- Ten Nobel Prize winners are South African, and two of them lived on the same street! Nobel Peace Prize winners Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu were neighbours on Vilakazi Street, in Johannesburg.
- South Africa was a British colony until 1961, but then the country became independent after holding a referendum. 52 % of the votes were in favour of independence.
- In 1994, the first democratic elections without racial discrimination were held – Nelson Mandela won these elections and since then, Freedom day is celebrated on the 27th of April every year.
- Also on 27th April 1994, the current South African flag came into existence. A contest was celebrated to choose it on the occasion of the first democratic elections. The current flag was chosen out of more than 7,000 different designs.
- Nelson Mandela was the first black leader of the executive branch in South Africa and he held his position for five years. Mandela fought Apartheid and he was in prison for 27 years – until 1990. He stayed on Robben Island 18 of those years and now this island is UNESCO World Heritage.
- The Gini index is a statistical measure used to calculate the rate of inequality within a country. According to its calculations, South Africa is among the top ten countries in the world with the highest inequality rates, which is why the work carried out by NGOs such as Meraki Bay in Africa is so important. Our efforts are designed to better the life of all the citizens of Hangberg though our different programs regardless of their age.
And with that said, there won’t be anyone who knows more about South Africa than you anymore! Now the next step is to come and see it for yourself, our NGO welcomes your help with open arms!
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