60+ Interesting Facts About South Africa

  1. South Africa, the southernmost country in Africa, has the highest number of White (European) and Colored (interracial) people in the African continent.
  2. South Africa is infamous for its adoption of apartheid (racial discrimination). This system continued from the 1960s until the beginning of the 1990s.
  3. More than 1800 white farmers lost their lives due to homicide in South Africa between 1998 and 2016. (Source)
  4. South Africa has the world’s largest gap between rich and poor. This extreme income inequality is mainly due to the apartheid policy adopted between 1948 and 1994. (Source)
  5. South Africa was the only African country with nuclear weapons. However, it later dismantled the nuclear program after signing NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) in 1989. (Source)
  6. South Africa has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in Africa after Nigeria. The 32.9% unemployment rate is also the highest among G20 countries. (Source)
  7. After Bolivia and India, South Africa has the highest number of official languages (11) in the world.
  8. South Africa has separate capital cities for the executive (Pretoria), legislative (Cape Town), and judiciary (Bloemfontein).
  9. Fynbos heathland in South Africa has more than 9,000 plant species. Nearly 6,000 of these are endemic (present nowhere else).
  10. The Cape Floral Region is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one present in a single country. This World Heritage Site covers just 1% of Africa but comprises 20% of plants in the continent.
  11. Vredefort Crater in Free State (South Africa) is the world’s largest visible crater. It has an estimated radius of 118 miles (190 km) and was formed around 2 billion years ago through the impact of an asteroid. Morokweng Crater near the Kalahari Desert in South Africa is the sixth biggest crater in the world. (Source)
  12. Millions of fish migrate from the southern tip of South Africa to warmer waters in the summer season. This South African annual fish migration, known as “Sardine Run,” can be seen from space. (Source)
  13. South Africa is the only African member of the G20 group of nations. The African Union represents other countries of this continent after becoming a permanent member of this forum in 2023. 
  14. South Africa is known for several modern inventions. A few of the most famous and helpful include CT scans, oil from coal, DryBath gel (bath without water), magnetic-field shark barriers, penis transplants, bio-bricks, etc. (Source)
  15. The world’s first human heart transplant was performed in Cape Town, South Africa. Chris Barnard, a South African doctor, performed this transplant on 3rd December 1967. (Source)
  16. South Africa has the highest number of HIV/AIDS-affected patients (around 7 million) in the world. (Source)
    Assembling and budding of HIV virus (in green) on body cells
    South Africa has highest number of HIV affected people

  17. In November 2006, South Africa became the first country in Africa (and 5th in the world) to legalize same-sex weddings. (Source)
  18. South Africa has the highest number of reported rape cases (incidents per 100,000 people) in the world. (Source)
  19. South Africa is the most unsafe country in Africa. Its crime index in 2019 was 76.8, the highest in the region.
  20. South Africa has the second-largest economy in Africa after Nigeria. In 2021, its GDP was over $418 billion. 
  21. Johannesburg is the largest landlocked city in the world. With more than 10 million trees, the city is famous as the world’s largest artificial urban forest.
  22. According to a study, the oldest evidence of life (microbes) on land was discovered in an ancient riverbed in South Africa. (Source)
  23. Karoo region in South Africa is known for preserving fossils of notable land vertebrates, including dinosaurs, tortoises, and mammals. (Source)
  24. South Africa is the discovery place of several skulls of ancient humans. Due to these findings, a site in Gauteng province near Johannesburg is famous as the Cradle of Humankind.
  25. South Africa is the largest producer of platinum in the world. The country produced 110mt of platinum in 2018, five times more than the 2nd largest platinum producer (Russia with 21mt). (Source)
  26. South Africa also has the largest reserves of platinum in the world. Out of 69,000 metric tons of platinum worldwide, 63,000 metric tons are present in South Africa. (Source)
  27. South Africa is the largest producer of manganese in the world. It also holds the world's largest manganese reserves (640 MT). (Source)
  28. South Africa has the largest production of chromium in the world. It produces 11 million metric tons of chromium annually, far more than any other country. (Source)
  29. The world’s largest diamond was discovered in 1905 from a mine in South Africa. The weight of the “Cullinan” diamond is 1.33 pounds. (Source)
  30. South Africa is the 8th largest producer of gold in the world. The country was once the world’s largest gold producer.
  31. The Mponeneg gold mine in South Africa is the world’s deepest mine. The four deepest mines in the world are in South Africa. (Source)
  32. South African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere and one of the biggest in the world. It is located near Sutherland, South Africa.
    Southern African Large Telescope (SALT)
    SALT is the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere

  33. Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa is the world’s 3rd highest commercial bungee jump. The height of 216 meters also makes it the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the world. (Source)
  34. In 2010, South Africa became the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup.
  35. South Africa also achieved another milestone in 2010. It became the world’s second country after England to host the soccer, rugby, and cricket world cups.
  36. South Africa has the highest number of registered football clubs in the world. There are around 52,000 football clubs in this African country.
  37. Route 62 in South Africa is the world’s longest wine route. The total length of this route is 850 km, which stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
  38. The first African film to win an Academy Award was "Tsoste" (2006). It was a South African production.
  39. Carlton Centre in Johannesburg is the tallest building in Africa, with a height of 233 meters. South Africa has six of the ten tallest buildings in the continent. (Source)
  40. The Port of Durban is the largest container port in Africa and one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It handles nearly 31 million tons of cargo annually. 
  41. Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg is the 4th largest hospital in the world, with a bed capacity of 3,400. It is the largest hospital in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. (Source)
  42. Blue Train and Rovos Rail in South Africa are the 3rd and 5th most luxurious trains in the world. Ravos Rail also covers other neighboring countries. (Source)
  43. Since 1500, more than 2,500 shipwrecks have occurred off the South African coast. These include ships from England, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands. Therefore, the Cape of Good Hope is known as the “graveyard of ships.”
  44. The Cango Caves, a system of limestone caves in South Africa, is among the largest underground cave systems in Africa. The government declared it a national monument in 1938. 
  45. South Africa is the largest producer of meat in Africa. It produces 20% of the total meat in this continent. Comparatively, the share of the second largest country (Egypt) is nearly 10%. (Source)
  46. The earliest known drawing in the world was discovered in a cave in South Africa. This cave painting is around 73,000 years old. (Source)
  47. South Africa invented the world's first commercially successful swimming pool vacuum cleaner in 1951.
    A swimming pool cleaner
    South Africa invented world's first swimming pool cleaner

  48. Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is Africa’s oldest and largest stock exchange by market capitalization. It was founded in 1887.
  49. In 1899, General Louis Botha (who later became South African Prime Minister) captured Winston Churchill during Boer War. However, Churchill managed to escape from prison in Pretoria after four weeks of captivity in December 1899.
  50. Lesotho is one of the three enclave countries in the world and the only in Africa. This largest enclave country is present entirely inside South Africa.
  51. The South African Air Force was established on 1st February 1920. It was the first air force of the Commonwealth. (Source)
  52. There are 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa. These are five cultural, four natural, and one mixed site. (Source)
  53. Western Cape in South Africa is one of the best land-based whale-watching spots in the world. Here, tourists can view humpback, southern right, and Bryde's whales in the wild.
  54. In 1991, South Africa became the world’s first country to grant legal protection to great white sharks. (Source)
  55. Vilakazi Street in Johannesburg is the world’s only street that produced two Nobel Prize winners: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
  56. South Africa holds the record for hosting the world’s largest bicycle race. There were 31,219 finishers in the 2004 Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour in Cape Town, organized on 14th March 2004. (Source)
  57. In 1951, South Africa became the 3rd country in the world (after the USA and Canada) to start an MBA program.
  58. The arrest of Nelson Mandela in 1962 came after the disclosure of his location by the CIA. Later, he remained in jail for 27 years. (Source)
  59. Nelson Mandela is known in South Africa by six different names. These are either his childhood names or adopted as a tribute for his efforts against apartheid. (Source)
  60. Afrikaans, an official language in South Africa, is the world’s youngest official language. It is also one of the least-spoken languages, with just around 13 million speakers. (Source)
  61. Mercedes Benz manufactures right-hand-drive cars only in South Africa. The company exports these cars to Japan, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and southern Africa. (Source)
  62. South Africa has the 5th best blue sky in the world and the bluest in Africa. (Source)

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