South Africa is famous for a great many things: its wine, its beautiful beaches, Table Mountain… It is a destination that most travellers have somewhere on their bucket-list of holiday spots, and for very good reason – it’s one of those places that has something for everyone, whether you’re a culture vulture, a beach-goer or a foodie. But beyond all the places to go and things to do, there is plenty about this intriguing and stunning country to pique the curiosity of those considering a visit. Here are our top ten fun facts about the Rainbow Nation…
- Rainbow Nation. Seems like a good place to start given the end of the introduction… This phrase was coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu following the democratic elections in the country in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela elected president.
- Nobel Prize-winning street. Sticking with Messrs Mandela and Tutu… Both men are Nobel Peace Prize winners, and both had houses on the same street in Soweto – South Africa is the only country to boast such as feat.
- Where oceans collide. While the exact point of contact is debated, South Africa is home to the meeting of two oceans: the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Why not make your own mind up while on a visit to Cape Town…
- Land of linguists. South Africa has 11 official languages. That’s right – eleven! You’ll have likely heard of a couple… English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Xitsonga, Tshivenda, Setswana, siSwati, Sesotho, Sesotho sa Leboa.
- Mr Mandela is unquestionably South Africa’s most famous son. But the name known the world over was actually given to the great man by one of his school teachers. Nelson’s birth name? Rolihlahla.
- The Sardine Run. Running sardines? Not quite… Arguably even more impressive than that. If you’re an ocean lover this world-famous spectacle is for you – watch on as sharks, dolphins, whales and birds feast on vast shoals of fish.
- Medical marvel. The first ever successful heart transplant was performed in South Africa, at a hospital in Cape Town in 1967.
- Drifting apart. South Africa is on the move! With each passing year it is estimated that South Africa (and the rest of the continent) moves approximately two inches further away from South America.
- Sporting pioneer. In 2010 South Africa became the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup. Who remembers vuvuzelas?
- No to nuclear. South Africa is the only country in the world to build and subsequently dismantle its entire nuclear arsenal.
So there you have it – a few facts and titbits to share with your fellow holidaymakers as you drive through South Africa’s expansive vineyards, relax on one of its many beaches or enjoy the view as you hang above Cape Town in a cable car en route to Table Mountain. Now you’ve got a few fun facts to share, how about a challenge? Why not learn how to say each of the above facts in a different language? Discounting English, that’s 10 official languages for 10 facts… Good luck and happy travels!