South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa, and it has a coast along both the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world, with over 56 million people. Like many countries, it is rich in culture, beautiful landscapes and its very own animal kingdom. Now let’s take a closer look at the reasons why we love South Africa and can’t wait to visit.
1 – There are over 3,000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa.
The tip of Cape of Good Hope at the southernmost part of South Africa is nicknamed “the Graveyard of Ships”. Some think that millions of dollars worth of treasures are below the waters of the Cape of Good Hope. However, the government feels it is more important to leave the shipwrecks undisturbed. There is more than 500 years of history under the sea and they will not risk it being destroyed for the sake of easy money.
2 – The national animal is a springbok.
The springbok is a tiny white and brown gazelle, standing only about 75 cm high. It’s the official mascot of the South African rugby team. As the name implies, the springbok jumps incredibly high!
3 – There is a house shaped like a shoe in Mpumalango
Originally built by a developer for his wife in 1990, the house is now a museum in South Africa. Oddly enough though this is just one of many shoe shape homes in the world. The shoe gives way to an underground cave. You can now call and book to have your wedding take place in the cave’s chapel. So we guess there really was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
4 – The first African country to recognize same-sex marriages was South Africa.
Africa is probably the most homophobic continent on our globe, which is why it was such a surprise when the civil union passed with flying colors in 2006. Christian lawmakers in South Africa denounced the bell as inciting god’s anger. However, 85% of the representatives passed the bill. Gay supporters say it was a pivotal day in South African history and that it shows that the people of South Africa do support equal rights for all.
5 – South Africa hosts one of the world’s largest bicycle race.
South Africa hosts the Cape Town cycle tour, a nine-day celebration of all things cycling. The tour is over 68 miles long. It’s one of the biggest bicycle races in all the world. The tour traverses amazing countrysides and landscapes. Thousands flock each year to take part. Over 45 million dollars have been raised over the years and the money goes towards efforts promoting cycling in the country.
6 – South Africa is home to the world’s second-biggest brewing company.
South African Breweries started back in 1895. It is the second-largest brewing company in the world! It now has sites in over 75 countries, and South Africa is its home. They’re even credited with helping the unemployment rate in South Africa, offering jobs to everyone old enough to drink who wants a career or internship with their fabulous brewery.
7 – The first heart transplant was performed in Capetown.
Back in 3 December 1967, Louis Washkansky was the first human to receive a heart transplant. Louis Washkansky was a 53 year old who was dying from heart disease. He received the heart of a 25-year-old woman who died in a car accident. The surgery was performed by Christian Bernard who studied both in Cape Town and the United States. His story is told in the movie To be First (2007)
8 – Not one but two Nobel Prize winners live in the same street.
Nelson Mandela and Archibishop Desmond TuTu lived in Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Can you imagine walking down the street seeing both of these men grabbing the morning paper?
9 – The world’s largest diamond comes from South Africa.
Most people know that South Africa for its many diamonds. But did you know that it’s home to the largest diamond ever found? Back in 1905, a 3,106 carat diamond was found in Pretoria. The rock weighs over 1.3 pounds. The giant stone was cut into hundreds of pieces with the largest one the Star of Africa (Cullinan) weighing in at 530 karats. It took the stonecutter many tries to break the stone down. It was said that when he finally accomplished the feat he passed out from other exhaustion!
Ready to travel and visit South Africa?
Let us know in the comments what facts surprised you, and what else we should know about the country. We hope this article made you curious about it and sparked an interest in visiting.
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