South Africa is a pretty impressive place, call us biased if you must, but here are some cool facts about the place we proudly call home.
South Africa – There are plenty of reasons to be proud to be a South African: we have gorgeous beaches, beautiful mountains and plenty of other things which are worth bragging about to our foreign guests.
But, beyond the things we all know about, there are some unexpectedly interesting spots and facts, too.
Highest Bungee Jump in the world!
If you consider yourself a thrill-seeker or an adrenaline junkie I suggest you head on over to the Bloukrans Bridge. Here you will be wrapped up tightly in a full body harness while taking a huge leap off Africa’s highest bridge which just happens to be the World’s highest bungee jump bridge in the world! Standing 216 metres above the Bloukrans River, this bridge is certainly not for the fainthearted but will be a truly memorable experience for adventure-seekers..
World’s longest wine route
Here’s an interesting fact for all our local wine lovers: South Africa is home to the world’s longest wine route. Stretching all the way from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, the Cape’s Route 62 meanders through some of our country’s most fertile valleys where our grapes thrive. So, if you’re thinking about going on a road trip, you might want to consider the R62. (Just make sure you have a designated driver with you who won’t feel the urge to imbibe!)
We have one of the most iconic landmarks in the world
It dominates the city skyline just as does the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. A UNESCO World Heritage site, literally hovering over the city and now officially recognized as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Table Mountain is South Africa’s most photographed landmark. The rocks on the mountain are over 600 million years old, making it one of the oldest mountains in the world. Another interesting fact is that more than 70% of all the plants found on the mountain are endemic, meaning they are not found anywhere else. A mind-blowing fact is that it hosts the richest floral kingdom on earth, with more than 1470 floral species (someone actually counted!).
The world’s largest visible crateris in South Africa
The Vredefort crater is the largest verified impact crater on Earth. More than 300 kilometres (190 mi) across when it was formed, what remains of it is in the present-day Free State province of South Africa. It is named after the town of Vredefort, which is near its centre. Although the crater itself has long since been worn away, the remaining geological structures at its centre are known as the Vredefort Dome or Vredefort impact structure. The crater is estimated to be 2.023 billion years old (± 4 million years), with impact being in the Paleoproterozoic Era. It is the second-oldest known crater on Earth.
In 2005, the Vredefort Dome was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites for its geologic interest.
Joburg is the Largest Man-Made Urban Forest in the World
You might not know this but Johannesburg is the largest landlocked city in the entire world. Sure there are bigger cities, but they are either coastal or built on a lake or river – so we’re saluting Joburg for now. While Johannesburg may not be the “largest man-made forest in the world” it can still claim to be the “largest man-made urban forest” with more than 10 million trees.
Not only do trees reduce carbon emissions, they considerably improve Johannesburg’s residents quality of life. On satellite pictures, the city looks like a rain forest, albeit man-made. There are 1.2 million trees within the parks and on the pavements, and 4.8 million in private gardens throughout the suburbs.
A fish migration is so huge it can be seen from space
This phenomenon has been described and named as “The Greatest Shoal On Earth” due to the sheer volume of small glistening silver small fish than can be seen from space. The Sardine Run occurs every year between May and July. Shoals as big as 20 – 30km long, 3km wide and up to 30m deep can be seen.
Best land-based whale watching in the word
The town of Hermanus is only a 1.5 hour’s drive from Cape Town and arguably offers the best land-based whale watching in the world, making this seaside town the whale capital of South Africa. Spend some time gazing out to see over Walker Bay and you’re sure to spot a whale or two.
There are around 3,000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa
It’s been estimated there are around 3,000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa. The 3,000km of coastline, including the infamous Cape of Good Hope and the coastline of the Eastern Cape, have been claiming seafaring victims for centuries. All shipwrecks are now protected under South African law.
Modern humans probably originated right here
This might be of interest to some of our future and current palaeontologists and historians. Did you know that there were fossilised bones which formed a part of our human evolutionary chain dating back more than 2.5 million years found in a limestone cave just outside Johannesburg? There were also tools found in the Sterkfontein Caves which were believed to be used more than 1.8 million years ago. All these discoveries are hard evidence that modern humans probably originated on the African continent.
South Africa, in 2006, was the first African country and the fifth country in the world to recognise same sex marriage
Same-sex marriage in South Africa has been legal since the Civil Union Act came into force on 30 November 2006. The decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie on 1 December 2005 extended the common-law definition of marriage to include same-sex spouses—as the Constitution of South Africa guarantees equal protection before the law to all citizens regardless of sexual orientation—and gave Parliament one year to rectify the inequality in the marriage statutes. On 14 November 2006, the National Assembly passed a law allowing same-sex couples to legally solemnise their union 229 to 41, which was subsequently approved by the National Council of Provinces on 28 November in a 36 to 11 vote, and the law came into effect two days later.
South Africa was the fifth country, the first and as of August 2019 only in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage.
Windiest place in South Africa
While PE might be known for being the windy city, it isn’t the windiest place in South Africa. Cape Point is officially the windiest place. The wind speed there averages at 14.1 metres per second, but at the same time Cape Point is also one of the few places in the world with the purest air in the world, and thus it is home to one of Global Research Watch’s atmospheric research stations, whose job it is to monitor the changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
First successful heart transplant
On 3 December 1967, the world’s first human to human heart transplant took place at Groot Schuur Hospital, Cape Town. By South African doctor, Dr Christiaan Bernard. This extraordinary event pushed the boundaries of science to a whole new level and we, as South Africans are lucky enough to say it all began here.
We as South African’s are luckier than most countries when it comes to wildlife. We’re fortunate enough to have the largest land mammal (elephant), the tallest land animal (giraffe), the largest bird (ostrich), the fastest land animal (cheetah) and the largest antelope (eland) all in our very own backyard.
The hottest place in South Africa
If you’re interested in staying in a place with extreme heat on a daily basis, you’ll have to move to Letaba in Limpopo Province, This place has officially been marked as the hottest place in the country, with an average maximum temperature of 35C. So, you might want to purchase a bottle of sunblock or two before moving there.
South Africa is the largest producer of platinum in the world
South Africa is the world’s largest platinum producer, producing more than twice as much as every other country on Earth combined. South Africa has three major platinum bearing areas, the Merensky Reef, the Upper Group 2 (UG2) Reef and the Platreef. The Merensky Reef, the major platinum source, was first used for platinum mining in 1925 until the close of the 20th century. The UG2 Reef opened in the 1970s and from then on became the major source of platinum in South Africa, accounting for over a majority of the platinum mined in the country. The Platreef was not mined on a large scale until 1993 and is the third largest platinum mine in the country. Mining in the country has taken a hit in recent years due to labor strikes, protests, safety concerns and scandal involving the mining companies.
South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa’s electricity
State energy company Eskom is one of the largest utilities in the world and generates 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity as well as two-thirds of the electricity for the African continent. It owns and operates the national transmission system.
The world’s second largest brewing company is in South Africa
South African Breweries (officially The South African Breweries Limited, informally SAB) is a major brewery headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa and was a wholly owned subsidiary of SABMiller until its interests were sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev on 10 October 2016. South African Breweries is now a direct subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV.
The company that is now South African Breweries was founded in 1895 as Castle Brewery to serve a growing market of miners and prospectors in and around Johannesburg. Two years later, it became the first industrial company to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the year after (1898) it listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1950, SAB relocated its headquarters and control from London to South Africa. In 1955, Castle Brewing purchased the Ohlsson’s and Chandlers Union breweries, and the group was renamed South African Breweries.
The world’s largest diamond was found in South Africa
On January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” it was the largest diamond ever found.
Largest hospital in Africa
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the largest hospital in Africa. It has 6,760 staff members, 3,400 beds and occupies 70 ha (170 acres). The hospital is located in the Soweto area south of Johannesburg. It is one of the 40 Gauteng provincial hospitals, and is financed and managed by the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health. It is a teaching hospital for the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, along with the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital and the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital.
Arikaans is the youngest official language in the world
Rich in idiom and emotion, Afrikaans was born 340 years ago in the homes of South Africa’s white Dutch, German and French settlers. Not only is it the world’s youngest national language, it is one of the smallest, with just 13 million speakers.