12 Fascinating Facts About South Africa

Flag_of_South_Africa.svgSouth Africa is a land of extremes. Relics from the oldest peoples on earth and some of the most ancient dinosaur fossils have been discovered here. Famous people have emerged from her unique history and culture.

The country is rich in resources drawn from below the ground as minerals and grown from her surface as high-value agricultural products.

All Renedian’s southern African motorcycle safaris spend time here.

Here are some fascinating facts to prepare for your visit:

  1. With 11 official languages (English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Zulu, Venda, and Xhosa), South Africa is truly a multilingual country. The most widely used language in homes is Zulu, spoken by 25 percent of families. English is used in business and politics but only in nine percent of homes. One will also hear Portuguese, German, Greek and French amongst some groups.
  2. The street of Vilakazi in Soweto produced two Nobel Peace Prize winners: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  3. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu coined South Africa the ‘Rainbow Nation’ because of her multicultural diversity. Almost 80 percent of South Africa’s residents identify themselves as black, but there are numerous cultural heritages in this group. The other 20 percent is Caucasian and mostly of European descent, a product of the colonialism of the 1800s.
  4. South Africa has 90 percent of the world’s platinum metals and produces 41 percent of the world’s gold, making mining the country’s largest industry.
  5. About 80 percent of the country’s citizens identify themselves as Christian; Islam and Hinduism are a very distant second and third, respectively. Of the Christian religions, the Dutch Reformed Church is the largest, followed by Roman Catholics, Methodists, and Lutherans.
  6. Genetic evidence suggests the indigenous San peoples are possibly the oldest peoples in the world, dating back approximately 60,000 years. Genetic traces found nowhere else, put them at the root of the human tree.
  7. There are more than 2,000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa, many of them dating back more than 500 years.
  8. Dr. Christian Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant in South Africa on December 3, 1967. His brother Marius Barnard and a team of 30 people assisted him. The patient lived 18 days before succumbing to pneumonia, secondary to the immunosuppressive drugs he was taking.
  9. The 5-star Palace of the Lost City is the world’s largest themed resort hotel, surrounded by 25 hectares of contrived jungle, with 2 million plants, trees, and shrubs.
  10. South Africa is the world’s second largest fruit producer and a net food exporter. Amongst her high-value agricultural products are excellent wines and indigenous rooibos and honeybush teas.
  11. The winemaking tradition dates back more than 350 years to when the first grapes were pressed. South Africa now ranks eighth in overall volume production of wine and produces 4.1% of the world’s wine.
  12. The most complete ever found fossil of a dinosaur species known as Heterodontosaurus tucki was discovered in 2005. It’s believed to have roamed the earth 200 million years ago.