South Africa’s unique Travel, Nature and Military History makes it a ‘must visit’ destination.

Big tusker in the Kruger National park

The Kruger National Park nature reserve supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. It is roughly the size of Wales, or the state of Massachusetts (USA), which makes it the eighth largest reserve in the world.

Home to one of the world’s 6 floral kingdoms, South Africa has one-tenth (23 200) of the world’s flowering plants, of which nearly 19 000 are endemic, making it the richest region in the world in terms of species to area – 1.7 times richer even than Brazil. It is the only country in the world to contain an entire floral kingdom.

It is home to more kinds of mammals than North and South America combined; or Europe and Asia together.

South African grasslands have approximately 30 species per square kilometer  greater than the biodiversity of rain-forests.

Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world. Standing at just over 1000 meters  it dominates the city’s skyline. Table Mountain can be seen as far as 200 kilometers out to sea.

  • South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.
  • Paarl is South Africa’s third oldest town and home to KWV Cellars- the largest wine cellar in the world (covering 22 hectares).
  • Kimberley’s ‘Big Hole’ is the largest hand-dug hole in the world and is deeper than Table Mountain is high. Kimberley also has the only drive-in pubs in the world.
  • Mpumalanga province is home to the Blyderiver Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world – and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the U.S. is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are very dry.
  • The Tugela Falls in KwaZulu Natal, at 948m (3110ft), is the second highest waterfall in the world.
  • The world’s best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus, Western Cape.
  • Mossel Bay is in the Guinness Book of records as having the second most moderate climate in the world.
  • Seal Island in False Bay is the only place in the world where Great Whites consistently breach (leap completely out of the water) to catch their prey, mainly seals. It also boasts the highest frequency of Great White shark attacks in the world.
  • In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark.
  • According to ‘Trivial Pursuit’, Graaf-Reinett in the Western Cape has the world’s biggest grapevine.
  • Fossilized footprints were found at Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape, in a sand-dune-turned-rock. The 117,000 year-old fossils are the oldest known footprints of an anatomically modern human.
  • Most of the world’s proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo region.
  • The 2,02 billion year-old crater in Vredefort is the oldest known crater on Earth. The general estimate of its original diameter is roughly 300 km, which makes it the largest crater on the planet, as well.
  • The Sterkfontein Caves, in Gauteng, is the site where the oldest human skeletal remains were found in the world (3,5 million years old). This is the place where the human race was born!
  • Close to Oudtshoorn are the Cango Caves, a 3 km long sequence of caverns of glittering stalagmites and stalactites, which makes it the longest underground cave sequence in the world.
  • The Boesmansgat is renowned as the second deepest sinkhole (about 299 metres) and the largest of its kind in the world. Many attempts have been made at world records in cave-diving in this exceptional sinkhole.
  • The St. Lucia estuarine system, in Kwazulu Natal, is the largest estuarine system in Africa.
  • South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 0.39 inches) and the largest (the baobab tree).

And from an Entertainment perspective:

  • South Africa has the second oldest Film Industry in the world.
  • The Cape Argus Cycle Tour is the largest timed cycle race in the world.
  • South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.
  • South Africa has the highest commercial bungi jump in the world (710 feet).
  • M-Net is Africa’s largest pay television service, delivering 24-hour programming to dozens of countries across the continent.
  • South Africa has the most luxurious train in the world, The Rovos Rail.
  • The Lost City Resort is the largest thermal resort in the world as well as the largest building project undertaken in the southern hemisphere.
Military History:
South Africa has the world’s second oldest air force, established 1920.
The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) was the first war of the 20th century and saw the introduction of trench warfare, the first large-scale use of concentration camps for non-combatants, and the most prolonged period of guerrilla warfare by a conquered nation’s military against a victorious army.
Camouflage was first used in battle by the Boers, who used camouflaged trenches and adapted battledress to blend into treeless landscapes.
The world’s first news footage and propaganda films were shot during the Anglo-Boer War.
Technologically, it saw the first use of a generation of weapons that are still with us today – automatic handguns, magazine-fed rifles, and machine guns.
The Guinness Book of Records lists the Anglo-Boer War as Britain’s most costly war outside of the two World Wars.

South Africa-A little bit of history

The Hollanders

Were traders that landed at the southern tip of South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East, founding the city of Cape Town.

Their main intention was to make fruit and vegetable gardens so the ships that stopped there could load up with fresh produce. In 1806, many of the Dutch settlers trekked north to found their own republics.

This was known as The Great Trek. The discovery of diamonds and gold in 1886 was the start of the gold rush. The British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa


• Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

• Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E

• Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas

• Climate: mostly semiarid, subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

• Natural resources: gold, coal, iron ore, diamonds, platinum, copper, natural gas

• Natural hazards: prolonged droughts


• Ethnic groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

• Religions: Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)

• Languages: IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census)


South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region.

Growth has been robust since 2004, as South Africa has reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth.

At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating “load-shedding” cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities.

Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era – especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation.

South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.

Fifty facts about South Africa our remarkable nation

Compiled by South Africa The Good News |

1. The rand was the best performing currency against the US Dollar between 2002 and 2005 (Bloomberg Currency Scoreboard)

2. South Africa has 55,000 high net-wealth individuals holding at least US$1million in financial assets (World Wealth Report 2008)

3. South Africa has the 27th biggest economy in the world, with a Gross Domestic Product of US$254 billion (World Bank)

4. South Africa accounts for almost 25% of the GDP of the entire African continent, with an economy more than twice the size of the second biggest –Algeria. (World Bank)

5. Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province but produces 34% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (Stats SA)

6. The JSE Securities Exchange is the 14th largest equities exchange in the world, with a total market capitalisation of some R2.3 trillion (JSE)

7. More than 12,000 ‘Black Diamond’ families (South Africa’s new black middle class) – or 50,000 people – are moving from the townships into the suburbs of South Africa’s metro areas every month (UCT Unilever Institute)

8. The black middle class grew by 30% in 2005, adding another 421,000 black adults to SA’s middle-income layer and ramping up the black population’s share of SA’s total middle class to almost a third. Between 2001 and 2004, there were 300,000 new black entrants to the middle class (Financial Mail)

1. South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa’s electricity (Eskom)

2. South African power supplier provides the fourth cheapest electricity in the world

3. Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto is the biggest hospital in the world

4. Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.

5. There are 39 million cell phone users in South Africa (International Telecommunication Union)

1. The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown by 200% since 1994, from 3 million to over 9 million in 2007 (Dept of Environment and Tourism)

2. The Singita game reserve was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveller)

3. The world’s best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus in the Western Cape.

4. In 2002, South Africa was the world’s fastest growing tourist destination. In 2006, South Africa’s tourism grew at three times the global average.
1. South Africa hosts the largest timed cycle race in the world (the Cape Argus Cycle Tour), the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon) and the world’s largest open water swimming event (the Midmar Mile).

2. South Africa will become the first African country to host the Soccer World Cup in 2010 … and only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby and Soccer World Cups.

3. Since the 1940s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.

4. In 1994, we won 11 medals in the Commonwealth Games. In 2002, we won 46.
SA Teaching the World
1. South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo

2. South Africa is the first, and to date the only, country to build nuclear weapons and the voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme

3. South Africa Constitution is widely regarded as being one of the most progressive in the world, drawing from the experiences of the world’s most advanced democracies

4. The South African oil company Sasol has established the only commercially viable oil-from-coal operations in the world.

5. Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of “passive resistance” (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.

1. Almost a quarter of South Africa’s non-interest budget is spent on

2. The University of South Africa UNISA is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with 250,000 students.

3. Our learner to teacher ratio has improved from 1:50 in 1994 to 1:34 in 2004

4. South Africa’s matric pass rate has improved from 49% in 1994 to 70% in 2004, but student’s receiving university exemptions has remained at 18%

5. The first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.

1. Over thirteen million South Africans (a quarter of the population) have access to social grants (Department of Social Development)

2. Since 1994, 500 houses have been built each day for the poor and 1,000 houses per day have received electricity

3. Seventy percent of South Africa’s population is urbanised
© South Africa: The Good News

1. The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent

2. The Cango Caves near Oudsthoorn is the world’s longest underground cave sequence

3. South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet

4. In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark.

5. South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, at the Vredefort Dome near Parys. The scar is 2 billion years old.

6. South Africa has the 3rd highest level of biodiversity (SA Tourism)

7. The Cape Hyrax’s (dassie) closest relative is the African elephant

8. South Africa has embraced the concept of trans-frontier ‘peace parks’, linking ecological reserves across national borders
1. South Africa is the cradle of mankind

2. Afrikaans is the youngest official language in the world

3. The Western Deep Levels is the world’s deepest mine at 3777 metres

4. South Africa has the world’s largest deposits of gold, chromium, platinum and manganese

5. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West.

6. South Africa has the world’s second oldest air force, established 1920.

7. South African Breweries (SABMiller) ranks as the second largest brewing company in the world. It supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.

8. South Africa has the second oldest film industry in the world

9. In 2007 South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was included in the Time 100, an annual list, assembled by Time magazine, of the 100 most influential people in the world

10. Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world, according to the UK’s National Physical Laboratory