10 Shocking Facts About South Africa

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Did you know that South Africa is the 25th biggest country in the world by surface? And the 24th most densely populated country in the world, the sixth in Africa? Did you know that it was formed by the union of four former English colonies? And these are just a few facts about this fascinating country. Here are 10 more that may shock you.

Gems and Gold

In the late 19th century, locals discovered diamonds in Kimberley, now the capital of South Africa’s Northern Cape province. This prompted prospectors to flock to the town, looking for more precious stones, ultimately triggering the Mineral Revolution in 1867. 

This has transformed South Africa from an agrarian state to a heavily industrialized nation, attracting immigrants and heavily boosting the country’s economy.

Language Diversity

Perhaps it’s the history of the country that’s responsible for its incredible diversity: the country has 11 official languages (+ the South African sign language), from English and Afrikaans to Zulu and Xhosa. Aside from these, the country has more than 25 languages and dialects that are officially recognized.

Big on Sports

Sports play a very important role in the lives of South Africans. The country is a rugby powerhouse, with Springboks, its Rugby Union National Team, being one of the best in the world. Other important sports include cricket, association football, and rugby league. 

One shocking fact: according to a Statista study, more South Africans visit betting sites with sign up bonus than play the lottery. This is certainly helped by the country’s high smartphone use as well as the locals’ enthusiasm for sports, in general.

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Ostrich Capital

South Africa has a wonderful biodiversity, with nearly 10% of the world’s plant species, and around 7% of all bird and mammal species within its borders. And it has a surprisingly high number of ostriches.

South Africa is the world’s leading producer of ostrich products. The country has more than 360 registered ostrich farms, with at least 200 of them active at any time.

Second-Highest Bungee Bridge

The highest bridge for bungee jumping is located in Arkansas, USA. But the second-highest is in South Africa. With a height of 216 meters, the Bloukrans Bridge, located near Nature’s Valley in the Western Cape, attracts thrillseekers from all over the world.

Biggest Asteroid Crater

South Africa is also home to the largest asteroid impact crater in the world. That we know of, that is. The Vredefort impact structure, located in the Free State province, was produced by an asteroid of around 20-25 km in diameter, that hit the surface around 2 billion years ago. 

Biggest Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush is one of the most famous in history, thanks in large part to Jack London’s novels written around that time. But it wasn’t the only one. Actually, the 1886 Witwatersrand Gold Rush was one of the largest in the world, attracting prospectors from Australia to California, and turning South Africa into one of the largest gold producers in the world.

Largest Diamond

The largest diamond in history was discovered in 1905 in Cullinan, South Africa. The stone, named after the owner of the mine where it was discovered, had 3106 carats (621.2 grams) uncut. The stone was cut into more than 100 pieces, with the largest ones used in Britain’s Crown Jewels.

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Raisin King

Aside from gemstones, gold, and ostrich products, another thing South Africa is good at is grapes. Aside from the oldest wine industry and the longest wine route in the world, South Africa is also the biggest producer of gold raisins, responsible for around 60% of the global supply of this delicious product.

Final words

South Africa is a land of astonishing contrasts and remarkable achievements. From the riches of its diamond and gold mines that transformed its economy to its diverse linguistic landscape with 11 official languages, the country’s history and culture are truly unique. Its love for sports, especially rugby, and the world’s second-highest bungee jumping bridge demonstrates the thrill-seeking spirit of its people. South Africa’s biodiversity is equally astounding, with a high number of ostriches and a floral kingdom boasting unparalleled plant diversity. Not to be overlooked, the country is home to the world’s largest impact crater and holds the record for the largest diamond ever discovered. Lastly, South Africa’s expertise in wine production extends to its domination of the gold raisin market. These shocking facts highlight the wonders that await those who explore this captivating nation.

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