interesting facts about south africa

28 Sizzling Facts About South Africa

Looking to boost your knowledge of the big wide world and increase your chances of being crowned the next pub quiz champion? Why not start with these fun facts about South Africa!

1. How many people live in South Africa?

In 2022, South Africa’s population was just shy of 59.89 million people.

2. What’s the main currency?

You’ll need to change your money into the South African Rand to spend here.

3. It’s a pretty young country.

Census statistics show that Western Cape citizens are predominantly younger than 25 years of age.

Flag of South Africa

Flag of South Africa

4. What’s the capital of South Africa?

South Africa has three capital cities! It has Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria.

5. Mountain ranges here are extremely old.

When it comes to mountains, South Africa’s Table Mountain is said to be one of the very oldest on the planet.

6. When life gives you lemons…

Only Spain is considered a bigger exporter of citrus fruit worldwide.

7. Did they get lost?

Bizarrely, South Africa has a penguin colony! It thrives due to the cold Antarctic currents on the west coast near the Cape!

8. You can absolutely drink the water in South Africa.

South Africa is rated 3rd in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water.

9. South African energy is famously affordable.

South Africa provides its residents with the cheapest electricity in the world.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

10. It’s big on wind power.

There are about 280,000 windmills on farms across South Africa.

11. It’s a sporting capital.

South Africa is now the only country in the world to have hosted the Football, Cricket and Rugby World Cup!

12. South Africa is well-known for its bling.

Gold and diamonds are a girl’s best friend and South Africa has some of the largest reserves in the world. They’re also the country’s biggest export.

The deepest mine in South Africa is a gold mine which reached a depth of 11,749 feet in 1977 – thats over 2 miles deep! (most mines descend to approximately 3,300 feet).

penguins on the beach - Simon's Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Simon’s Town, Cape Town, South Africa

13. They’re serious about mining.

South Africa is the world’s leader in mining and minerals. It has nearly 90% of the platinum metals on Earth, 80% of the manganese, 73% of the chrome, 45% of the vanadium and 41% of the gold.

14. South Africa is amazingly biodiverse.

South African grasslands have approximately 30 species per 0.4 square mile (per square kilometer), greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.

15. Human life may have started here.

For the history lovers amongst us, the oldest remains of modern humans were found in Klasies River Cave in the Eastern Cape; they are well over 160,000 years old!

a rhino - Swartkop se Dam, Breede River DC, South Africa

Swartkop se Dam, Breede River DC, South Africa

16. In fact, life may have started in South Africa, full stop.

In eastern South Africa, scientists have found traces of blue-green algae dating back 3,500 million years; this is some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth!

17. It’s a divers’ paradise.

There are more than 2,000 shipwrecks off the South African coast, most dating back at least 500 years. How we’d love to explore them all…

18. The country produced a legendary scribe.

J.R.R. Tolkien, the Lord of The Rings author, was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

19. There are plenty of whales to spot.

Between the months of August and November, Southern Right Whales (and a few Humpbacks) come to the Cape to mate and calve.

20. There’s a hospital here that’s breaking records.

The Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is the largest acute hospital in the world, with 2,964 beds. It’s the only public hospital serving the 3.5 million people in Soweto, Johannesburg!

21. What’s the biggest of the three South African capitals?

Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city.

Panorama of Johannesburg


22. Head into the urban jungle!

Johannesburg has a man-made ‘forest’ home to over 10 million trees; this number is set to grow as the city plans to plant an extra 200,000 trees! Not only do these trees combat the greenhouse effect, they also help reduce noise in this ‘urban jungle’.

23. Egg lovers beware!

It takes one minute longer to boil an egg in Johannesburg than it does in the coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban. This is because Johannesburg is 2000m above sea level, and the air is not as dense.

24. Much of it is very desirable!

Cape Town was appointed the best place in the world to visit by the New York Times in 2014!

25. Its leisure scene is popular, too.

In 2013 the UK’s The Guardian newspaper named the Sea Point swimming pool, Cape Town, as one of the top ten swimming pools in the world.

26. Keep this in mind…

Just so you know, it’s against the law to sit closer than 2 meters to individuals of the opposite sex if he/she is only wearing swimming attire.

27. Hotels are massive here.

The world’s largest themed resort hotel in the world, ‘The Palace of the Lost City’, is found in South Africa. Surrounding the Palace is a 25 hectare man-made botanical jungle – it’s got around two million different shrubs and plants! Pack your bags, let’s go!

Table Mountain

Table Mountain

28. Want to call South Africa?

To call your friends in South Africa, you’ll need to use the international dialling code +27.

FAQs about South Africa

Why does South Africa have three capital cities?

It’s all a little complex - it’s to do with political agreements, disagreements, and colonialism. It’s worth reading more about!

What’s the full name of South Africa?

In native Afrikaans, the country’s official name is the Republiek van Suid-Afrika. That translates roughly to the Republic of South Africa.

Is South Africa affordable to visit?

Yes, on the whole, South Africa is cheaper to visit and tour than many countries in Europe - it’s often the flights that are most expensive!

Do you know any fun facts about South Africa? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on June 5, 2024. Suggest an edit

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