Situated in southern Africa, the country of South Africa is known as the “rainbow nation.” North of the country’s boundaries are Botswana and Zimbabwe, with the Indian and Atlantic Oceans running parallel to it. Throughout the country, there is a wide range of climates and habitats, which include anything from savannas to deserts and marshes. Despite its diversity, South Africa is home to a wealth of natural resources, a vast array of languages, and a diverse variety of civilizations.
Here are some fascinating facts about this amazing country:
- South Africa has three capital cities: Pretoria, which serves as the seat of the executive branch, Cape Town, which serves as the seat of the legislative branch, and Bloemfontein, which serves as the seat of justice. There are nine provinces in total: the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, ZwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo. Each one has its own government to administer its affairs.
- Bloukrans Bridge is home to the highest commercial bridge bungee jumping in the world. The bridge is 216m above the Bloukrans River. In 1990, the Bloukrans River Bridge became Africa’s first bungee jumping bridge. Mohr Keet, who was 96 at the time, established a Guinness World Record for the oldest person to bungy jump when he leapt from Bloukrans Bridge on April 6, 2010.
- On December 3, 1967, Christiaan Barnard and his team performed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant in a Cape Town hospital.
- The Cullinan Diamond, weighing 3,106 carats (621.35 g), was discovered on 26 January 1905 in the Premier No.2 mine in Cullinan, South Africa. Cullinan produced stones of diverse shapes and sizes, the greatest of which is 530.4 carats (106.08 g), the world’s largest clean cut diamond.
- As the only African country to have successfully developed nuclear weapons, South Africa is also the world’s first nuclear weapons-free country, having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1991, and the first government in the world to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons programme.
- South Africa is home to ten World Heritage Sites that have been declared by UNESCO. They include the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (2003), the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (2007), the Khomani Cultural Landscape (2017), the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains (2018), the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (2004), the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (1999), the Vredefort Dome (2005), the Maloti-Drakensberg Park (2000), and Robben Island (1999).
- South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum, chromium, and manganese; the world’s second largest producer of titanium; the world’s third largest producer of vanadium; the world’s sixth largest producer of iron ore; the world’s eleventh largest producer of gold and cobalt; and the world’s fifteenth largest producer of phosphate.
- There are 11 official languages in South Africa, all of which have equal status. Zulu (the most widely spoken language), Xhosa (the second most widely spoken language), Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Vena, Afrikaans, and English are the most widely spoken languages in South Africa. Despite the fact that English is the fourth most popular first language in the country, it is widely recognised and utilised in government and the media.
- Albert Luthuli, the first Black African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, was honoured with the prize in 1960. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), the first democratically elected president of South Africa, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk in 1993 for their efforts to end apartheid in the country.
- The national symbols of South Africa are as follows: the Springbok is the national animal of South Africa, while the Blue Crane is the national bird, the Galjoen is the national fish, the King Protea is the national flower, and the Real Yellowwood is the national tree.