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Interesting Facts about South Africa

With some amazing facts about South Africa like it is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world and the Tugela Falls in South Africa is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 850 metres, we have listed here a number of interesting facts about South Africa.

  • South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.

  • South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.

  • South Africa is one of the most generously endowed geographic solar hotspots in the world, soaking up just over half of the world’s highest category of solar wattage per square metre of land.

  • South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.

  • There are only 12 countries in the world that supply tap water that is fit to drink, and South Africa is one of them. Our tap water quality is third best overall in the world.

  • South Africa was the world’s best performing tourist destination in 2002.

  • The Lost City Resort Hotel at Sun City is the largest theme resort hotel in the world.

  • South Africa is the only country in the world to voluntarily abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

  • South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world. The meteor plummeted to Earth nearly two billion years ago, predating the heady days of oxygen and multi-celled life. The Vredefort Dome was recently declared a World Heritage Site.

  • South Africa is the top ranked gold producing country and has 80% of the world’s platinum reserves.

  • South Africa has 11 official languages, from A-Z: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

  • South Africa has deserts, mountains, escarpments, plateaus, grasslands, bush, wetlands and subtropical forests.

  • There are 18 000 indigenous vascular plant species in South Africa of which 80% are uniquely South African.

  • South Africa is the first country outside of Europe to gain Blue Flag status for its coastal management.

  • South Africa’s hotels, game lodges and restaurants are frequent winners of top global awards, for example, “Best Hotel in the World” by Conde Naste Traveller.

  • South Africa has the only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Vilakazi Street in Soweto has houses owned by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

  • South Africa offers approximately 1700 conference venues that range from large city conference venues catering for up to 5000 delegates, to small-meeting venues at resorts.

  • South Africa also has the world’s most progressive and admired water legislation, and it is making a real difference on the ground. Since 1998 when the so-called “Blue Revolution” began, four million more poor people have access to clean water.

  • South Africa’s Dr Percy Amolis invented the Retinal Cryoprobe used successfully on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to repair a detached retina. He also removed a cataract from Nelson Mandela’s eye that enabled the former president to, for the first time, read a speech without glasses.

  • The quagga vanished in a frenzy of hunting in the 1800s, but after finding that the DNA is almost identical to the common Burchell’s zebra, the species is being brought back from beyond the brink by careful breeding of stripe-challenged zebras.

  • The highest quality cars in Europe are made in South Africa: BMW’s Rosslyn plant was awarded the highly prestigious European Gold Plant Quality Award ranking it first among European plants in quality.

  • Most of the world’s proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo region – along with a 280 million year old fossilized shark.

  • The rocks around Barberton in Mpumalanga are some of the most ancient in the world – over three billion years old.

  • The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 850 metres. [First place goes to the Angel Falls in Venezuela at 979 metres].

  • Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world (and the largest ‘green canyon’). The Grand Canyon in the US is the biggest, and second place goes to the Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

  • The Transfrontier Park set in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe is a world first. The 38 600 square kilometre park will be bigger than the Yellowstone National Park in the US, and bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan.

  • According to recent studies, the star-watching town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape is one of the most geologically stable places on Earth, yet it has a 66-million year old volcano, not yet officially extinct.

  • Kimberley may have the biggest man-made hole in the world, but the southern Free State town of Jagersfontein has the deepest vertical man-made hole.

  • South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 10 mm) and the largest (the baobab).

  • Lake Fundudzi in Venda is possibly the world’s only inland freshwater lake formed by a landslide.

  • South Africans come from all walks of life – rich and poor – can attend university. The government’s National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides study loans and helps thousands of clever young people from poor families to pursue their university ambitions.

  • By the year  1994, South Africa had 21 universities and 15 technikons. By 2005, as a result of the social transformation drive, this was reduced to 6 comprehensive universities, 6 universities of technology and 11 universities.

  • South Africa has an estimated 750 000 students who attend the 23 universities across the country, South African research is the strongest on the continent, with thousands of scholars conducting studies to advance knowledge and drive development.

  • South Africans have been awarded six Nobel prizes in scholarly fields, as well as four Nobel peace prizes.

  • South African higher education institutions have thrown open the doors of learning since 1994. In 1993 only 40% of students were African; today 60% – over 400 000 students – are African. White students make up 27% of enrolments, coloured students 6% and Indian students 7%. More than half of all students are now women

  • South African institutions attract many foreign students, especially from other countries in Africa. About one out of every 15 of our students is from another country. Foreign students pay fees and levies. By opening our campuses to the world, universities give South African students an opportunity to learn about other cultures and viewpoints.



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