Interesting Facts About South Africa

by | Africa

Apr 8, 2022

What comes to mind when you think about South Africa? For most people, a calm country in Southern Africa blessed with a dense population of many races comes to mind. For others, a fact about South Africa is that it is a rich cultural heritage. And for yet another, it is the land of good music and art. But, I tell you what, there is more about South Africa than what meets the eye. In this article, I will be exploring some of the most interesting facts about beautiful South Africa.

Interesting Facts About the Location and Size of South Africa

South Africa is the most south-oriented country on the African continent. South Africa is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean to the south. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique to the north. To the east, it is bordered by a small country called Lesotho.

South Africa spans about a 1.2million sq. km, comprising water bodies, landforms, mountains, plateaus, etc. This means that South Africa is just about three times the size of Japan. 

Interesting Facts About the History of South Africa

As one will already expect, South Africa got its name from its location. Early inhabitants described the country based on its location for easy navigation. 

It is believed that modern humans lived in South Africa 100,000 years ago. But it only became acknowledged as a sovereign nation-state in 1934. It became a sovereign nation in the British Empire.

In 1961, the monarchy system was dissolved, making South Africa a republican country, independent of the Grain Britain and its colonizers.

The South African flag was designed by Mr. Fred Brownell and was used for the first time on 27th April 1994. 

The National anthem of South Africa, a song composed of English lyrics and lyrics from an old hymn called Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika (God bless South Africa), was made the South African anthem in 1997. 

The lyrics were written by Enoch Sotonga, C.J Langenhoven, Jeanne ZaidelRudolph, etc., and the music was composed by Enoch Sotonga, Marthinus Lourens Villiers. M. Khumalo and Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph arranged the music. 

Interesting Facts About the People in South Africa (Population and languages)

As of 2021, the population of South Africa was estimated to be around 60 million. It is the sixth most populated country in Africa, followed closely by Kenya and then Uganda.

South Africa is home to many different races. It is not a totally black community. In South Africa, you will find whites. People of European ancestry. You will find blacks. And you will find Indians. 

The last census conducted in South Africa was conducted in 2021 and suggested that the white population of South Africa numbers about 4.5 million, which accounts for 8.9 percent of South Africa. 

The Indian and Asian population accounts for just around 2.5 percent, numbering about 1.8 million people. 

The African population constitutes just about 79.2 percent. That’s around 41 million people. 

The variety of South African races is probably why the country is known as the rainbow nation.

The major ethnic group of South Africa includes Zulu, Xhosa, the Nguni people, Bantu, etc. 

The Zulu people are the biggest ethnic group in South Africa. Most Zulu people live around the KwaZulu Natal Province and the Gauteng province. 

The second-largest is the Xhosa. They occupy most of the Eastern Cape Province and the Western Cape province. 

South Africa is the third country with the most official languages in the world, Zimbabwe coming first. Ten out of the 35 indigenous languages are official languages. Add the English Language, and you have got 11 official languages in South Africa. 

The languages include Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikans. 

One of the most interesting facts about South Africa is about Nelson Mandela. The great leader, Nelson Mandela, had six names. He was known at birth as Rolihlahla Mandela. But his teacher called him Nelson because all children had to be referred to back then by English names—as the colonial masters had difficulty pronouncing indigenous South African names. When he turned sixteen years old, he became known as Dalibhunga. He was known as Madiba until his death. The name translates father or grandfather and is conferred on anyone who deserves to be referred.

The most prevalent religion in South Africa is Christianity—87.9 percent of the black community are Christians. As of the year 2016:

  • 79.7 percent of the South African population comprises protestant Christians. 
  • 6.8 percent comprised Roman Catholics. 
  • 10.9 percent do not identify with any religion. 
  • 4.4 percent identify with the traditional African religion. 
  • 1.6 percent identify as Muslims, making it one of the countries with the lowest Muslim population in Africa. 
  • 1.0 percent of South Africa’s population identify as Hindus.
  • The population of South Africa is growing at a rate of 1.43 percent.
  • As of the year 2018, the birth rate was about 21 births/1,000. 
  • The death rate was 9 deaths/1,000. 
  • The average South African is expected to live up to 64.7 years. 
  • Males have an average life expectancy of 61.5 years. 
  • Females are expected to, on average, live up to 67.5 years old. 
  • The estimated mortality rate in South Africa is 22.1 deaths/1,000.

South Africa has three capitals. Pretoria is the Administrative Capital. Cape Town is the country’s legislative capital. Bloemfontein is the Judicial Capital. 

Interesting Facts About South Africa´s Land Forms and Tourism

South Africa is home to some of the most outstanding landforms on the African continent. In South Africa, you will find mountains, valleys, hills, plateaus, and a desert. Most of these are tourists attraction sites and bring thousands of tourists to South Africa. 

Of the many landforms and reliefs present in South Africa, here are some of the most interesting: 

The Table Mountain

The South African Table Mountain is one of the oldest standing mountains in the world. The most visited national park in South Africa is bordered by the Table Mountain and draws about 4.2 million tourists every year.   

The Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert spans many countries, including Botswana and South Africa. It is one of the three deserts in Africa. Some parts of this desert support life, and one can see animals, including lions, giraffes, birds, etc.   

Tugela Falls

The tallest waterfall in South Africa is called the Tugela falls, and it is up to 948 meters tall. It comprises many seasonal waterfalls and is believed to be one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. Its source is the Tugela River. 

Orange River

The Orange River is the longest river in South Africa. It is also known as the isiZulu river and spans up to 2,432 kilometers. It spans Lesotho, South Africa, and then Namibia.   

Marion Island

Marion Island is one of the twelve islands in South Africa; it lies in the southernmost part of South Africa. This island is home to many animals, including the Southern Elephant Seals, the fur seals, and the Penguins. It is one of the few areas in South Africa where snowfalls. Tourists are not allowed to come here, partly because of the harsh weather.  

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Interesting Facts: Weather in South Africa 

In terms of weather, South Africa is distinct from most African countries in that it has four seasons. The summer, fall, winter, and spring. 

  • Autumn and fall take place from 1st March to 31st May.
  • Winter takes place from 1st June to 31st August. 
  • Spring happens between 1st September to 30th November.
  • And Summer happens from around 1st December to the end of February. 

Other Interesting Facts About South Africa

  1. South Africa has a national animal called the Springbrook, and it is the only gazelle found in South Africa. This animal appears on the uniform of the South African rugby team. 
  2. South Africa was the first country in Africa to recognize and then legalize same-sex marriage. The laws of South Africa protect gay rights, and abuse of gays and lesbians is punishable.
  3. Only two countries in the world have hosted world cups in three sports. One is England, and the other is South Africa. In 2010, South Africa hosted the world football cup, which was won by Spain. The official song of the competition was Waka Waka, a song by Shakira. In 2003, the country hosted the world cricket cup. And in 1995, it hosted the world rugby cup. 
  4. The world’s largest bicycle race is hosted in South Africa. This race draws about 35,000 riders from around the world, who ride 109-km across cape town. 
  5. Most of the world’s platinum is produced in South Africa. And it isn’t just platinum. South Africa produces most of the electricity in Africa. Around 80 percent of this energy is produced from coal, the rest from solar and water. 
  6. The second-largest company brewing beer is in South Africa. It is called SABMiller and came to be in 1895. 
  7. In 1967, Dr. Christiaan Barnard conducted the first-ever successful heart transplant, and this took place in South Africa. 
  8. South Africa has the longest wine route in the world, stretching up to 850kilometers long. 
  9. South Africa has one of the highest numbers of people living with HIV in the world. 
  10. South Africa abandoned its nuclear program. It is one of the only countries in the world ever to do that.

Read: Interesting Facts About Africa

Photo by Tobias Reich on Unsplash

By Ubong Jonhson

Ubong Johnson (Ubee) is a relationship expert, medical student, and writer. He writes articles which cover everything from relationships and nutrition to lifestyle. His works of short fiction have appeared in several literary magazines including The Shallow Tales Review, Ngiga Review, and the Kalahari Review. He is the founder and editor of Fiction Niche.

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