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Posted on: Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Did You Know? 25 Fascinating Facts about South Africa

Posted to: Attractions
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South Africa is a wonderfully popular destination, known for its wildlife, landscapes, culture and friendly folk. There are many facts and trivia about South Africa that make it rather unusual and an even more exciting place to visit.

We have listed some of our favourite “unique” Facts about South Africa

There are more than 1 500 plant species on Table Mountain in Cape Town alone. This represents more floral species than the whole of the United Kingdom.


Unique Plant Life


South Africa is responsible for the generation of two-thirds of the continent’s electricity.

Incredibly, this country is home to the largest bird (ostrich), largest land mammal (elephant), tallest animal (giraffe), smallest succulent (10 millimetres), heaviest flying bird (khori bustard), largest fish (whale shark), largest antelope (eland), largest tree (baobab), fastest land mammal (cheetah), largest reptile (leatherback turtle), and smallest mammal (least dwarf shrew).

Vilakazi Street in Soweto was the residential address of two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

South Africa has 80% of the rail infrastructure of Africa.

This country is home to the longest wine route in the world, the Cape Route 62 (or R62), which is about 1 000 kilometres long and beautifully scenic.




South Africa is the largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world.

The country is five times the size of Japan and three times the size of Texas.

South Africa is a treasure trove for archaeologists and palaeontologists as it has produced some of the world’s oldest and most valuable fossils to date.

About a fifth of the world’s gold hails from the mines of South Africa.


Blyde River Canyon


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

We host the largest individually-timed cycling race in the world, the Cape Argus, and the world’s largest ultra marathon, the Comrades.


The magnificent Drakensberg


Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in the world in 1967. This took place at the renowned Groote Schuur Hospital.

Lesotho is a country that is surrounded entirely by South African borders.

South African inventions include the CAT Scan, automatic pool cleaner (Kreepy Krauly®), breakwater dolosse, Pratley’s Putty®, Q20® lubricant, the retinal cryoprobe, and the Smartlock Safety Syringe®.

Table Mountain is acknowledged as being one of the oldest mountains on the planet.

There are more wildlife species in the Kruger National Park than anywhere else on the African continent.




South Africa boasts 90% of the platinum metals on earth.

Mossel Bay, which is in the Western Cape and along the beautiful Garden Route, has the second-most moderate climate of any other city or country in the world.

Some of the most exciting sporting events that have been hosted in South Africa include the 1995 Rugby World Cup, 2003 Cricket World Cup, 2005 and 2006 Women’s World Cup of Golf, 2006 inaugural A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport, 2009 IPL Cricket, and 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Bloukrans Bridge is the highest commercial bungy jump in the world and is situated along the Garden Route. It is an impressive 216 metres high.

Rooibos tea has become a worldwide favourite for its fresh taste and excellent health properties. It is only grown in a small region (in the Cederberg) of South Africa and has to be exported in massive quantities from here.

The South African coast boasts more than 2 000 shipwrecks.

There are about 900 different avian species in South Africa, which represents around 10% of the bird species of the world.

The magnificent Tugela Falls are the second-highest on the globe, measuring some 850 metres (or 2 789 feet).


Mountain Zebra National Park


Amelia Meyer


Amelia is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for all things travel-related. She is based in Knysna, but has studied, lived and travelled further afield. She studied Film, Media and Literature at the University of Cape Town. She began her solo career in the form of Voxate Writing & Editing in 2008 and loves every minute of it. Amelia believes in silver linings, lessons learnt and the responsibility to do what’s right. When she is not writing, she can frequently be found at the local animal shelter, on the bicycle trails of the nature reserves or sampling new restaurants with her family.

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