I had fun this weekend researching some interesting facts about South Africa for your perusal, including top rankings, firsts and other unusual facts of this extraordinary country.
A Country of Firsts:
- The world’s 1st heart transplant – the operation was performed in 1967 by South African, Dr Christiaan Barnard.
- The world’s 1st (and largest) Oil from Coal Refinery – SASOL.
- Diamonds – The world’s largest diamond was the Cullinan, discovered in South Africa in 1905, (weighing 3,106.75 carats uncut.) It was cut into the “Great Star of Africa”, weighing 530.2 carats, the “Lesser Star of Africa”, (weighing 317.40 carats), and 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless colour and clarity. These now form part of the British Crown Jewels.
- Plants – South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 10 mm) and the largest (the Baobab). South Africa is ranked number one in the world for its Floral Kingdom.
- The world’s Largest Theme Park – The Lost City Resort Hotel at Sun City .
- Ancient Rocks – The rocks around Barberton in Mpumalanga are some of the most ancient in the world – over three billion years old. Because they are also accessible formations, NASA scientists come here to gain an idea of how life might form on distant planets.
- South Africa has the longest wine route in the world, the R62 wine route.
- South Africa is the only country in the world to voluntarily abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
- Antioxident Tea – Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss): an indigenous herb tea from the Southwestern Cape region of South Africa. This red tea is the only other tea in the world that undergoes a fermentation process like black tea. Rooibos, unlike black and green tea is completely caffeine-free.
- Gold – South Africa is the top ranked gold producing country, having 80% of the world’s platinum reserves.
- Tourist Destination – South Africa was the world’s best performing tourist destination in 2002.
- South Africa has 11 official languages, – Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
- The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prize-winners is in Soweto near Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
- Meteor Scar– South Africa has the oldest scar in the world. The mete
South African Inventions:
- Retinal Cyroprobe – invented by South Africa’s Dr Percy Amolis. It was used on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to successfully repair a detached retina. He also removed a cataract from Nelson Mandela’s eye that enabled the former President to read a speech without glasses, for the first time.
- South Africans invented the breakwater Dolosse and the Automatic Pool Cleaner.
- A South African physicist co-developed the CAT-scan.
- General Motors South Africa will be the only manufacturing site outside of the United States to build the Hummer H3 vehicle.
- South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz, C Class, (right-hand drive vehicles).
- South Africa manufactured the seats for Concorde, as well as designing and creating flight control technology for Britain’s fighter jets.
Other Interesting & Unusual Facts:
- South Africa is 5 times the size of Japan and three times the size of Texas.
- South Africa is one of only 12 countries in the world that supply tap water that is fit to drink. South African tap water quality is 3rd best overall in the world.
- South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
- South Africa has deserts, mountains, escarpments, plateaus, grasslands, bush, wetlands and subtropical forests.
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