15 things to know about South Africa
1.South Africa is known as the Rainbow nation.
Of the nearly 55 million inhabitants of South Africa, around 80% are black, around 9% are white and just under 9% are mixed breeds. The most widely spoken languages are Afrikaans and English, but the official languages of South Africa are 11, mostly tribal languages.
2.The South African flag was used for the first time in the 1994 Freedom Day.
The V shape, which flows into a single horizontal band, symbolizes the union of the different elements in South African society progressing together towards unity.
3.South Africa has three capitals
The legislative capital: Cape Town, the administrative capital: Pretoria and the judicial capital: Bloemfontein. 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 internal government.
4.Almost 50 years of apartheid
The apartheid – the rule of white minority – in South Africa. It was the policy of racial segregation established in 1948 by the South African white government, and remained in force until 1994.
5.Nelson Mandela is known by six different names in South Africa.
At birth, Rolihlahla Mandela was appointed. On his first day of school, his teacher gave him the name of Nelson, following the custom in the ’20s to give all children English names. When he was 16 years old he was given the name of Dalibhunga which means “founder of the council” during the traditional rites of the passing ceremony. The South Africans commonly call it Madiba, which is the name of the Thembu clan to which it belongs, or simply Tata or Khulu, the words Xhosa for “father” and “grandfather”.
6.The Kruger National Park has the largest diversity of large mammals of any reserve in the world.
It is the place where it is easier in the world to see “The Big 5”, mainly due to the higher population density of rhinos and leopards in the world.
7.The national animal of South Africa is the springbok.
These specimens can be found on open grassland, in the bush and very often near pools of water. Springbok is also the emblem and nickname of the South African national rugby team.
8.South Africa is a nation rich in record animals.
Here you will find the largest mammal on earth (elephant), the largest bird (ostrich), the tallest animal (giraffe), the largest fish (whale shark), the largest reptile (leatherback turtle), the mammal fastest terrestrial (cheetah) and the largest antelope (eland).
9.The largest sardine migration (Sardine Run)
It is so big that it can be seen from space. Between May and July every year millions of small silver fish travel in vast docks from the cold waters off South Africa’s Cape Point to the shores of the North Eastern Cape and south of KwaZulu-Natal. The trails of shoals of fish are so large – 15 km long, 3.5 km wide and up to 40 meters deep – that they can be seen via satellite.
10.The largest visible craters in the world are in South Africa.
Approximately 2.030 million years ago, a mountain-sized meteor (about 10 km in diameter) fell to earth in the Free State of South Africa, creating a crater of 300 km; it is the oldest crater made by a comet or a meteorite and is reportedly the site of the greatest energy release in history.
11.Diamonds and the Kimberly Process
In South Africa there is the highest concentration of gold and diamond mines, as well as chromium, asbestos, coal and copper.Kimberley, in South Africa, is home to the world’s largest diamond mine, also known as the “Big Hole”. Carved by humans, so large that it is visible from space, the pit has produced some of the world’s largest diamonds and made De Beers famous all over the world.The Kimberley Process (KPCS) is a certification agreement aimed at ensuring that profits from the diamond trade are not used to finance civil wars. The agreement was finalized and approved with the combined effort of the governments of many countries, of diamond-producing multinationals, and of civil society.
11.Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains in the world.
One of the iconic landmarks of South Africa. It hosts more than 2,200 species of plants, 70 percent of which are endemic.
12.South Africa has one of the most luxurious trains in the world.
Up to 72 passengers can travel on the luxurious Rovos Rail steam train with wooden panels that evoke colonial splendor; The Royal Suites occupy half the carriage and have full baths, separate showers, double beds and two armchairs.
13.South Africa, in 2006, was the first African country and the fifth country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage.
While the rest of the African continent is fiercely homophobic (in June 2015, homosexuality was illegal in 34 of the 55 African states), South Africa is a world leader in homosexual rights. Discrimination based on sexual orientation was declared illegal in 1996, gays have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1998 and same-sex couples can marry, adopt children and have equal access to in vitro fertilization and maternity surrogate.
14.South Africa is part of BRICS and G-20
This is an acronym that refers to an association between the five major emerging markets. Composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the BRICS represent 42% of the world population. South Africa is also part of the G-20, an international forum for the top 20 economies in the world.
15.Its wines are among the finest in the world.
Viticulture techniques were introduced here by the French and never abandoned. The vines use almost exclusively French grapes, with the exception of the local Pinotage. The wine region extends around Cape Town: Stellenbosch is the center of South African enology, but important in this sense are also the localities of Constantia, Franschoek, Hermanus and Paarl. South Africa is the seventh wine producer in the world and the only one noteworthy in Africa.