We just returned from our Easter holiday along South Africa’s Garden Route and once again I was reminded of what a special country we live in. Unmistakable of course is the natural beauty and diversity, but then also the difference between authentically rural and modernistic urban, the leisure industry of travel and tourism versus mining and banking and of course the eleven official languages, the cultural differences and the nine provinces each with its own unique character.
There are so many things that make South Africa special and when I started thinking about it, I realised that there are some less obvious ones that we also have to treasure. With some help from the internet, I would like to share some interesting facts about South Africa divided into various categories.
Let’s start with a look at things that are Infrastructure-related:
- The world’s biggest hospital is the Chris Hani – Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
- South Africa is one of only 12 countries where tap water is safe to drink. Its tap water is currently rated the third best worldwide.
- Pretoria has the second largest number of embassies in the world after Washington , D.C.
- South Africa is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of mohair.
- The rand, the world’s most actively traded emerging market currency, has joined an elite club of 15 currencies – the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) – where forex transactions are settled immediately, lowering the risks of transacting across time zones.
- South Africa mines deeper than any other country in the world, up to depths of 2.5 miles at the Western Deep Levels Mine.
- It has the largest hydro-electric tunnel system in the world at the Orange Fish Rivers Tunnel.
- South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
- Electricity costs are the second lowest in the world.
- South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts.
- Officially, the youngest language in the world is Afrikaans. By the early-20th century Afrikaans had developed from Dutch, French and other influences into a fully-fledged language with its own dictionary. After a mere 90 years, it is the second most spoken language in South Africa (Zulu is the most spoken, the Zulu people being the largest ethnic group).
- South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of gold, platinum, chromium, vanadium, manganese and alumino-silicates. It also produces nearly 40% of the world’s chrome and vermiculite.
- Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
- South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa ‘s electricity.
- There are about 280,000 windmills on farms across South Africa , second in number only to Australia .
- The world’s two largest platinum mines are located near Rustenburg.
- While occupying 4% of Africa’s landmass, South Africa boasts more than 50% of the cars, phones, automatic bank tellers and industrial facilities on the continent.
- The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), now rising from a Karoo koppie in Sutherland is the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere (and third largest in the world).
- South Africa is a middle income country with a strong emerging economy – the 25th largest in the world – and produces more goods than Portugal, Russia or Singapore . It also has Africa’s biggest economy, three times larger than Nigeria or Egypt.
- South Africa has the fourth largest coal reserves in the world. Its coal industry ranks sixth in the world in terms of output of hard coal and third in terms of seaborne international coal trade.
- Currently, South Africa is the only country in the world that has voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arsenal.
- South Africa has 19,004 miles of railway track – 80% of Africa’s rail infrastructure.
South Africa has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean, featuring Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cinsault, Riesling, Shiraz , Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and its very own and unique Pinotage varietals.
In my next posts, I will share some interesting bits on travel, nature, business, entertainment, etc