Overview

  • Situated at the southern tip of Africa, South Africa has a landmass of 1 233 404 km² edged on 3 sides by a nearly 3000km coastline washed by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. It is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also wraps itself around two independent countries, the Lesotho and Swaziland.
  • South Africa has three capital cities – Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Administrative) and Bloemfontein (Judicial). There are nine provinces in total: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, ZwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Each has its own government.
  • There are 9 provinces in South Africa, namely: Eastern Cape, Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal; Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
  • The South African population of more than 49m people is extremely diverse. Africans are in the majority, approx. 80% of the population, followed by the white population approx. 4,4m; the coloured population approx. 4,2 million and the Indian/Asian population at approx. 1,2m.
  • There are 11 official languages, each with equal status, in South Africa: isiZulu (the most commonly spoken), Afrikaans, isiXhosa (2nd most common), siSwati, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Sepedi, isiNdebele, Setswana, Tshivenda­, and English, which is the language of business, politics and the media. There is also a large number of other, non-official languages. Most Africans speak more than one language.
  • South Africa’s currency is the rand, which offers visitors great value for money. The rand comes in a range of coins (R1 = 100 cents) and note denominations of R10, R50, R100
  • South Africa is the largest producer of platinum in the world. In 2014 it produced 110,000kg, more than four times the amount of the next biggest producer, Russia.
  • Almost 80 percent of South Africa’s population is Christian; the other 20 percent is made up of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and other religions.
  • A well-known fact about South Africa is that since 1994 we have enjoyed democratic government, the apartheid policies of the past overthrown. Our constitution is regarded as an example to the world, and enshrines a wide scope of human rights protected by an independent judiciary. The country is headed by a State President, Jacob Zuma, of the African National Congress (ANC).
  • South Africa has a temperate climate and is known for its long sunny days, hence the title: ‘Sunny South Africa’.
  • South Africa is full of record-breaking animals. It’s where you’ll find the largest land mammal (elephant), the largest bird (ostrich), the tallest animal (giraffe), the largest fish (whale shark), the largest reptile (leatherback turtle), the fastest land mammal (cheetah) and the largest antelope (eland).
  • There are more wildlife species in the Kruger National Park than anywhere else on the African continent.
  • South Africa has one of the world’s most luxurious trains. Up to 72 passengers can travel in lavish wood-panelled Rovos trains; the Royal Suites occupy half a carriage and have full-sized bathrooms, separate shower, permanent double bed and two armchairs.
  • The longest continuous wine route on earth is found in South Africa.
  • With more than 6 million trees in Johannesburg, it is believed to be the site of the largest man-made forest on earth.
  • Although the Blyde River Canyon is only rated third largest in the world, it is believed to be the biggest “green” one on earth.
  • The world’s largest bird, the ostrich, is found here.
  • South Africa is home to the world’s heaviest flying bird, the Khori Bustard.
  • South Africa is now the only country in the world to have hosted the Soccer, Cricket and Rugby World Cup!
  • Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and one of the planet’s 12 main energy centres, radiating magnetic, electric or spiritual energy.
  • Some countries have deserts; some have subtropical forests, right? South Africa has: deserts, wetlands, grasslands, bush, subtropical forests, mountains and escarpments.
  • South Africa’s drinking water is rated 3rd best in the world for being “safe and ready to drink”.
  • Water is not all there is to drink in this thirsty country! South Africa’s Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers. Included in the Cape Winelands region is Route 62, considered the longest wine route in the world. That alone is good reason to visit South Africa if you haven’t yet been!
  • The world’s largest themed resort hotel in the world – The Palace of the Lost City – is found in South Africa. Surrounding the Palace is a 25 hectare manmade botanical jungle with almost 2 million plants, trees and shrubs.
  • The Karoo region in the Western Cape is home to some of the best fossils of early dinosaurs. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of the mammalian fossils found to date were found in the Karoo.
  • Can you think of any other place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street? Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto
  • We host the largest individually-timed cycling race in the world, the Cape Argus, and the world’s largest ultra marathon, the Comrades.
  • Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in the world in 1967. This took place at the renowned Groote Schuur Hospital.
  • South African has the highest commercial bungee jumping bridge in the world at Bloukrans
  • The oldest remains of modern humans were found in South Africa and are well over 160,000 years old.

South Africa is home to eight World Heritage Sites:

  1. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
  2. Robben Island
  3. The Cape Floristic Region
  4. The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
  5. Vredefort Dome (the oldest meteor scar in the world)
  6. The Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs fossil hominid sites.
  7. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  8. The Ukhahlamba / Drakensberg Park