While we’re not allowed to travel outside of the comfort of our homes at the moment, we can marvel at these unusual facts about our beautiful country. South Africa has made history in a number of fields and is home to some pretty spectacular natural wonders that can be explored once the national lockdown is lifted! 

  1. It takes one minute longer to boil an egg in Johannesburg than in Cape Town and Durban. This is because Johannesburg is two thousand metres above sea level where the air is less dense.

2. The world’s largest diamond, the Cullinan Diamond, was found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed in at an impressive 3 106.75 carats!

3. South Africa moves about five centimetres further away from South America every year because of a subtle continuation of continental drift.

4. We love our wine in South Africa and the largest wine cellar in the world is situated in Paarl. KWV Cellars stretches over twenty-two hectares and has a capacity of 121 million litres.

5. Cape Town is home to the oldest building in South Africa: the Castle of Good Hope. It was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India company.

The court of the Castle of Good Hope. Image: Bigstock

6. The author of the world-famous Lord of the Rings books, J.R.R. Tolkien, was born in Bloemfontein in the Free State in 1892. 

7. The Vredefort Dome near Parys in the Free State is home to our planet’s oldest meteor scar – it is two billion years old!

8. South Africa hosts the largest timed cycle race in the world (Cape Town Cycle Tour), the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon (Comrades Marathon) and the world’s largest open water swimming event (Midmar Mile).

9. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and genius behind Tesla, was born in Pretoria, Gauteng in 1971.

10. Afrikaans, which is one of South Africa’s eleven official languages, is the youngest official language in the world.

11. There are around three thousand shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa and they are all protected by South African laws.

12. The dolos, which is a reinforced concrete block used for protection against the erosive force of waves from a body of water, was invented by a South African draughtsman in 1963.

13. South Africa has one of the most luxurious trains in the world: the Rovos Rail. We also have the luxury short-journey Blue Train and an adventure train called the Shongololo Express.

14. Sutherland in the Karoo is home to one of the three largest telescopes in the world, SALT.

The Southern African Large Telescope in Sutherland. Image: Bigstock

15. South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulents (less than 990.6 millimeters) in the Karoo – and the largest, the Big Baobab in Limpopo which used to have a bar in its trunk.

16. Pratley Putty, which was invented by a South African in the 1960s, is the only South African product to have been to the moon. It was used on the Apollo 11’s landing craft which landed on the moon and on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

17. In 1882, Kimberley became the first town in the southern hemisphere to install electric streetlights.

18. South Africa is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites: The Fossil Hominid Sites at Sterkfontein, the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo, the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape, Robben Island, the floral regions in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, the Vredefort Dome and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.

Garden Castle. Image: Bigstock

19. South Africa is home to the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. We dare you to dive off the 216 metre Bloukrans Bridge in Storms River!

20. The Cape Winelands in the Western Cape is the longest wine route in the world. It is approximately 850 kilometres long and includes more than two hundred wine cellars.

21. The annual Sardine Run can be seen from space! The shoals are approximately seven kilometres long, one and a half kilometres wide and thirty metres deep.

22. The world-famous Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn is the longest underground cave sequence in the world.

Inside the Cango Caves. Image: Bigstock

23. Johannesburg is the world’s largest man-made forest, home to over ten million trees which help to reduce noise in the city.

24. South Africa’s tap water is the third best and safest water that is ready to drink in the world.

25. South Africa is one of only two countries in the world to have hosted the soccer, cricket, and rugby world cups. The first was England.

26. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is found in Soweto. Vilakazi Street was home to former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

27. Rooibos tea is a blend of tea grown only in the Cederberg area of the Western Cape.

28. The Kreepy Krauly was the world’s first automatic pool cleaning product, invented in 1974 by a South African called Ferdinand Chauvier.

29. South Africa has the second-highest number of official languages in the world (eleven) – second only to India which has twenty-two.

30. South Africa was the first country in the world to provide full protection for the Great White shark in 1991.

Do you know any more unusual facts about South Africa? Share them with us in the comments below!

Feature image: Bigstock