“South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased but when you combine the natural beauty ... and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife.... Then I think that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land.”
~Nelson Mandela ~
South Africa is probably the most visited country in Africa. From the cosmopolitan cities to the wine farms, the incredible national parks, to the stunning beaches and everything in between – South Africa is a great place to visit, no matter what your interests are, you will never be bored.
South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent and shares borders with six countries: Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho.
Interesting facts about South Africa:
1. Johannesburg is the largest city of South Africa (with its population of 6,2 million), however, SA has 3 capital cities including Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. The reason being is that the government is divided into 3 different branches (legislative, executive and judicial).
2. South Africa is home to about 61,432,657 million people.
3. The currency is South African Rand (ZAR).
4. South Africa makes a year-round destination. South Africa's climate is seasonal, getting quite cold in winter (May-August). It's pleasantly warm and sunny in spring and autumn, and often hot in summer (November to March) with frequent rains to cool things down.
5. In South Africa, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet off the coast of the South Cape in Cape Point (Cape Peninsula).
Attractions & Landmarks:
South Africa has various mountain ranges such as the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg (in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, covering 2,428.13 km², and is part of a world heritage site) , the Magaliesberg (northern South Africa), or the Cederberg mountains (western Cape).
The highest mountain in South Africa is Mafadi Peak, which is on the border to Lesotho. Mafadi Peak is 3,450 m high.
In the north of the country, you will find the Kalahari Desert, which borders neighboring countries Namibia and Botswana.
The longest river in South Africa is the Orange River, which forms also part of the border between Namibia from South Africa.
The Blyde River Canyon, 26 km long and located in Mpumalanga, is the third largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, and is the largest 'green canyon' on the planet.
The Tugela Falls are the second-highest waterfalls in the world and are located in the Drakensberg (Dragon's Mountains) of Royal Natal National Park in KwaZulu-Natal Province.
6. Wildlife in South Africa is abundant. There are monkeys, baboons, many species of antilopes, including kudu, springbok, wildebeest, impala, oryx and gemsbok. When you go on safari you can see Big 5 (Buffalos, Elephants, leopards, lions, rhinoceros).
7. South Africa is home to the African Penguins (Boulders Beach in Cape Town), Seals (Duiker Island in Hout Bay, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town) and the Great White Sharks. Whale watching is very popular in Hermanus.
8. South Africa is often called the 'Rainbow Nation', because there are so many different tribes, cultural traditions and languages.
9. South Africa has eleven official languages: English, Afrikaans and nine ethnic languages, of which Zulu and Xhosa are the most widely spoken, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Ndebele. While most South Africans can communicate in more than one language, English is the most commonly spoken and the language of official business and commerce.
10. Nowadays, most of the people in South Africa live in or near the big cities, including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The rural areas are still very poor and also many people live in townships outside of the cities.
11. Did you know that in South Africa, cars drive on the left side of the road as they do in the UK and Australia?
Traditional South African cuisine:
12. South African cuisine is a "melting pot" of different cooking styles and combines the best of the food traditions worldwide. The South African cooking mainly consists of chicken, tomatoes, lemons and limes, corn (mealie pap), potatoes, beans as well as ginger, chili and spices.
13. South Africans love their meat and game meat such as kudu and springbok are common. However, most people eat beef, chicken, lamb and ostrich with their meals. The people in South Africa love a BBQ ('braai').
14. South Africans love the outdoors and enjoy having a lunch or dinner, which was cooked on a fireplace. They love to cook over wood fire or coals and either cook a steaming 'potjiekos', so named for the food 'kos' cooked in a back iron pot, which is called 'potjie' in Afrikaans or they gather for a 'braai', the South African equivalent of a barbecue.
bobotie: typical Cape Malay food containing rice, lamb and fragrant spices
koeksisters: taste like donuts soaked in sticky sweet sauce
mealie pap: corn porridge
biltong: a cured and dried meat that is a typical South African snack and similar to beef jerky
boerewors: Afrikaans for 'farmers sausage', is often put on the grill, formed in a curl
South African braai favorites:
boerewors: Farmer’s sausage, mainly pork with spices and herbs
braaivleis: meat that is grilled, either on open fire or on a barbecue
sosaties: marinated meat grilled on skewers
chicken wings: popular at every braai and also popular take-away
mielies: corn on the cob
bunny chow (kota): Indian SA fast food dish consisting of a hollowed-out loaf of white bread filled with curry, meet and French fries, serving with salad on the side.
samoosas: stuffed fried pastry parcels with meat and veggies or vegetarian
sarmie: sandwich prepared in a variety of fillings
mealie pap: cooked porridge made with sweetcorn flakes, often served with braai meats or stews
slap chips: hot but soft, soggy chips (french fries) soaked in vinegar or drenched in sauce
gatsby: bread roll filled with Cape Malay curry or steak and lots of spicy sauce
chakalaka: vegetable relish, usually s[icy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, stews
Popular dinner treats:
bobotie: layered lamb stew with rice, bananas, raisins, coconut milk
tomato bredie: soup or stew made with tomatoes and vegetables
pumpkin soup: orange butternut pumpkin soup, often curried or spicy hot
waterblommetjie bredie: soup or stew made with meat cooked with water flowers from the Cape pondweed
Dessert and Sweets:
koeksisters: syrupy sweet twisted donut strips, looking like girls braids
melktert: milktart, a milk flavoured cake
malva pudding: sweet apricot flavored sponge cake, often served with custard
rusks: thick and hard sweet biscuit slice, that is dunked in tea or coffee before eating
Fish and seafood:
Kingklip: White regional game fish
Snoek: A regional game fish
Smoked Trout: Locally farmed Rainbow Trout either braaied or as a pâté
Squid: Eaten as 'calamari steaks' or sliced into 'calamari rings'