10 interesting facts about South Africa



How many South African facts do you know? This mix of informative and interesting facts will test your knowledge on South Africa.

These South African facts include information on the country’s history, statistics, and the most impressive touristic spots.

There’s also some interesting facts about South Africa that may surprise you. Check out some of them below:

1. The South African flag was used for the first time on Freedom Day 1994

The V-shape symbolizes the coming together of the different elements in South African society and moving ahead in unity.

2. Nelson Mandela has six different names in South Africa

At birth, he was Rolihlahla Mandela. On his first day of school, his teacher gave him the name Nelson, following the custom back in the 1920s to give all children English names as English colonials ‘couldn’t’ pronounce African names. When he was 16 he was given the name of Dalibhunga (‘creator or founder of the council’) during a traditional rites of passage ceremony. South Africans commonly call him Madiba, which is the name of the Thembu clan to which he belongs, or simply Tata or Khulu, the Xhosa words for ‘father’ and ‘grandfather’.

3. 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.

4. The world’s largest visible crateris in South Africa

Around 2,030 million years ago a meteor the size of a mountain (about 10km across) fell to earth in South Africa’s free State making a crater 300km across; it is the oldest crater from either a comet or meteorite and the site of the largest energy release in history. In 2015, scientists claimed to have found a bigger crater (around 400km wide) underground in the Austrlian outback, although it is not visible on the earth’s.

5. The meandering 850km road through Cape Winelands is world’s longest wine route

Route 62 runs between Cape Town, Constantia to Port Elizabeth, via Oudtshoorn and the Garden Route, embracing 350 years of wine making as it passes classic Cape-Dutch homesteads, green mountains, 200 cellars and miles of vines.

6. South African fish migration is so huge you can see it from space

Between May and July, millions of small silver fish travel in vast shoals from the cold waters off South Africa’s Cape Point up to the coastlines of the northern Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal. This annual migration event is the Sardine Run. The shoals are so big – 15km long, 3.5km wide and up to 40m deep – they can be seen by satellite. In their wake come hundreds of birds, sharks, whales, dolphins and so on.

7. 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.

8. Bones found in South Africa help support the theory that modern humans originated in Africa

Fossilized bones from hominids dating back between 4.5 and 2.5 million years were found in limestone caves some 50km northwest of Johannesburg. In the Sterkfontein Caves, there was also evidence that humans used stone tools two million years ago and made fire 1.8 million years ago.

9. The aboriginal people of South Africa are the San and the Khoi

The hunter-gather Sans and pastoral Khoi together become known as the KhoiSan and lived in what is now the Western Cape around 300AD. Zulu and Xhosa tribes established large kingdoms in the region in the 15th century.

10. There are around 3,000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa

The 3,000km of coastline, including the infamous Cape of Good Hope and the coastline of the Eastern Cape, have been claiming seafaring victims for centuries. South African law now protects all shipwrecks.

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