World Facts

Top 10 Interesting Facts About South Africa

South Africa is home to many geographical wonders.

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South Africa, a sovereign nation, is Africa's southernmost country. South Africa is gifted with an abundance of natural resources including spectacular landscapes and rich biodiversity. The country also has great cultural wealth. Every year, millions of tourists visit the country to enjoy its natural beauty and cultural extravaganza. South Africa is associated with many fascinating facts and some of them are mentioned below.

10. South Africa Has Three Capital Cities

South Africa does not have one specific national capital but has three capital cities. The legislative, executive and judicial branches of the country constitute its government. Each branch is headquartered in a different city. Cape Town serves as the legislative center of South Africa. The Parliament functions from here. Pretoria hosts the executive branch of the government. The President and his/her Cabinet are based in this city. Bloemfontein has the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest judicial office in South Africa.

9. South Africa Has 11 Official Languages

South Africa is a linguistically diverse country with at least 35 indigenous languages. Ten of these languages have been designated as "official" in the country. These are Zulu, Afrikaans, Venda, Sotho, Northern Sotho, SiSwati, Ndebele, Tswana, Xhosa, and Tswana. South African English is the 11th official language of the nation.

8. South Africa Has The World's Second-Tallest Waterfall

Tugela Falls flowing strongly at sunrise

The Drakensberg Mountains in the Royal Natal National Park in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Province houses the Tugela Falls, the world's second-highest waterfall after the Angel Falls in Venezuela. There is, however, an argument that it is taller than the Angel Falls. The Tugela Falls comprises of five free-leaping falls with a total drop of 983 m.

7. The World Largest Green Canyon Is Found South Africa

Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon, also called the Motlatse Canyon, is located in Mpumalanga where it forms part of the Drakensberg escarpment. The habitat of the spectacular canyon is protected as part of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. The canyon is 25 km long, and 750 m deep. The highest point in the canyon is at an elevation of 6,378 ft above sea-level. Lush, subtropical vegetation covers most of the canyon making it one of the world's largest "green canyons." It is also among the most extensive and deepest canyons in the world. In Africa, it ranks second in size after the Fish River Canyon.

6. The Legendary Leader Nelson Mandela Is From South Africa

In 1994, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa delivers his speech at the White House. Editorial credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Nelson Mandela, the renowned anti-apartheid revolutionary, philanthropist, and political leader was a South African. He was the first black head of state in South Africa and served as the country's President from 1994 to 1999. He was instrumental in dismantling the legacy of apartheid prevalent in the country.

5. Vilakazi Is The World's Only Street To Have Produced Two Nobel Prize Winners

Outside Nelson Mandela's house in Vilakazi Street, Soweto. Editorial credit: Sunshine Seeds / Shutterstock.com

Vilakazi is a street in South Africa's Soweto neighborhood in Johannesburg. It is a historically important street where the 13-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot dead by the police during a peaceful protest against the enforcement of teaching in Afrikaans. It is also the street that produced Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the two Nobel Prize winners from the country. Today, their homes on the street are visited by people from all across the globe.

4. South Africa Has One Of The New7Wonders of Nature

Sunset at Table Mountain

One of the most prominent geographical landmarks of South Africa, Table Mountain is located in the Western Cape province overlooking Cape Town city. It is one of the most visited places in South Africa. Many visitors to the country use the cableway to the mountain or hike to its top. It is a flat-topped mountain offering stunning views of Cape Town and the blue ocean washing its shores. Table Mountain also has incredible biodiversity. Most of the flora and fauna found here are endemic.

3. The World's Largest Impact Crater Is In South Africa

Vredefort Crater is a massive crater in the Free State province of South Africa. It is the planet's largest verified impact crater. It is believed to have formed about 2.023 billion years back when it had a diameter of around 300 km. Today, the forces of weathering and erosion have worn away most of the crater but the remaining geological structure at its center is called the Vredefort Dome. In 2005, the crater was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. The World's First Human Heart Transplant Happened In South Africa

On December 3, 1967, Louis Washkansky, a 53-year-old grocer from South Africa received the first human heart transplant in the world. He was suffering from chronic heart disease. The transplant operation happened at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Denise Darvall who died due to a major car accident was the heart donor. Surgeon Christiaan Barnard and his team are credited with the completion of the surgery.

1. The Endangered African Penguin Can Be Seen In South Africa

African penguin on a sandy beach.

The Spheniscus demersus, also calledSouth African penguin or Cape penguin, is found only in the waters in southern Africa. It feeds primarily on fish and squid. The species lives in colonies on 24 islands off the coast of Southern Africa. Two colonies are also found on the mainland near Cape Town at Boulders Beach and Stony Point.

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