South Africa is known to be an incredibly diverse country, with amazing wildlife, friendly people and buzzing cities. But there is much more to South Africa than meets the eye, and we have rounded up our favourite 17 facts about the country that you probably didn’t know:
- Table Mountain has over 2,200 different species of plants growing on it – more than the entirety of the UK!
- South Africa is the first, and so far only country, to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily destroy them. South Africa chose to destroy their weapons after the Cold War – the 23,000 remaining nuclear weapons are now held by just 9 countries, comprising of the UK, USA, Russia, North Korea, France, China, Israel, Pakistan and India.
- South Africa holds the Guinness World Record for a number of remarkable feats, including being home to the longest test cricket match ever recorded (10 days), being the country that created the largest vuvuzuela ever (35m long), and being the winners of the title for the longest motorcycle ride through a tunnel of fire (120.4m in case you were interested!). South Africa and its people currently hold over 150 Guinness World Records.
- Every year, South Africa moves about 2 inches further away from South America, due to its location on a continental plate.
- There are 727 airports in South Africa – 143 of these have paved runways.
- South Africa is currently the only country in the world to have hosted the football, cricket and rugby world cup.
- The country boasts the world’s highest commercial natural bungee jump. The jump, located at Bloukrans Bridge in the Western Cape, is built over a huge and spectacular gorge. Those who choose to take the plunge fall a total of 216m over the Bloukrans River valley.
- Every year there is a fish migration through South African waters called the Sardine Run, which is so huge that it can be seen from space. The shoals can total up to 15km long, 3.5km wide and 40m deep. Adding to this amazing sight, hundreds of birds, sharks, whales and dolphins all congregate on the Sardine Run to feed.
- In 2006 South Africa became the first African country, and only the fifth country in the world, to recognise same sex marriage. This is in direct contrast to the majority of African nations – in 34 of the 55 African states homosexuality is illegal.
- Vilakazi Street in Soweto was the residential address of two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
- Kruger National Park boasts more wildlife species than anywhere else on the entire African continent.
- Nearly half of the gold ever mined comes from South Africa, mainly from one location called Witwatersrand.
- A South African app exists which can calculate how many cows should be given for a woman as her dowry (lobola). The app considers the person’s age, height, weight, waist size, and how attractive they are – as well as the financial, family and employment situation.
- South Africa is the home of the largest man made hole in the world. The Big Hole, as it is named, was originally a diamond mine and between 1871 and 1908 14.5 million carats of diamonds were excavated from its depths. It is a whopping 460 metres wide and 1069 metres deep. Now that is what we call a hole!
- South Africa has the most number of Twitter users of any country in the whole of Africa!
- South Africa naturally hosts four of the seven fastest mammals in the world, namely the wildebeest, the African lion, the springbok and the cheetah.
- South Africa has three capital cities. Cape Town is the legislative capital, as it is the seat of Parliament. Meanwhile Pretoria, as the seat of the President and Cabinet, is the administrative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital, as it is the home of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Aside from these bizarre facts, South Africa has much to offer to visitors to the country – and we would recommend going there to really uncover the true fascinations of the country. Volunteering is a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself into the country and culture, especially if you dedicate several weeks to living and exploring there. To find out more about what volunteer projects you can do in South Africa, check out our volunteering webpage.