About South Africa

Interesting facts about South Africa


  1. Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
  2. The world is divided into six floral kingdoms. All these kingdoms encompass several countries & in some cases, several continents. South Africa, which has a floral kingdom wholly contained within the country, is the one exception. The Cape Floral Kingdom has 9,600 plant species, 70% of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
  3. Table Mountain alone has over 1,500 species of plants, more than the entire United Kingdom.
  4. South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
  5. South Africa, Zimbabwe & Mozambique are tearing down fences between the countries' game parks to create a 13,500 square mile game park, which will become the largest in conservation area in the world. It will be bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan.
  6. South Africa has a penguin colony, thanks to the cold Antarctic currents on the west coast near the Cape.
  7. South Africa is rated 3rd in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water.
  8. South Africa has the cheapest electricity in the world.
  9. South Africa is the only country in the world to voluntarily abandon its nuclear weapons program.
  10. South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa's electricity.
  11. South Africa is home to the world's smallest succulent plants (less than 0.39 inches) and the largest (the baobab tree).
  12. South Africa is the world's largest producer of macadamia nuts.
  13. 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 & 41% of the gold.
  14. South Africa was the first country in Africa to host the prestigious FIFA World Cup.
  15. South African grasslands have approximately 30 species per square kilometre, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.
  16. South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz C Class, right-hand drive vehicles.
  17. General Motors South Africa will be the only manufacturing site outside of the United States to build the Hummer H3 vehicle.
  18. South Africa has deserts, mountains, escarpments, plateaus, grasslands, bush, wetlands & subtropical forests.
  19. Most of the world's proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo region.
  20. The world's largest diamond was the Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106.75 carats uncut. It was cut into the Great Star of Africa,weighing 530.2 carats, the Lesser Star of Africa, which weighs 317.40 carats & 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless color & clarity. They now form part of the British crown jewels.
  21. Three of the five fastest land animals live in South Africa - the cheetah (63 miles per hour), the wildebeest & the lion.
  22. There are more than 2,000 shipwrecks, dating back at least 500 years, off the South African coast.
  23. Although Pretoria is considered to be the capital of South Africa, the country actually has three capitals: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative) & Bloemfontein (judicial).
  24. Approximately 900 bird species are found in South Africa alone, which represents 10% of the worlds total bird species.
  25. South Africa has the most luxurious train in the world, The Rovos Rail.
  26. South Africa has the highest commercial bungi jump in the world (710 feet).

Interesting facts about Cape Town

  1. Table Mountain’s flat top was formed about 300 million years ago. The mountain was at sea level during an ice age and ice sheets flattened the layers of sandstone to form the famous landmark.
  2. The San and the Khoikhoi are the first recorded peoples of the Cape. The San were hunter-gatherers while the Khoikhoi were mainly herders.
  3. In later years, the Khoisan generation called the area Hoerikwaggo, meaning “mountain that rises from the sea”.
  4. Cape Town is situated on an underground river called Camissa, meaning “place of sweet waters”.
  5. Asian immigration to South Africa started in 1654 when slaves from Malaysia were brought to the Cape, in turn encouraging the spread of the Islamic faith in Cape Town culture.
  6. Cape Town was founded in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company based in The Netherlands arrived to set up a halfway point for ships travelling to the East.
  7. Cape Town’s Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa. It was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company.
  8. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town is the most-visited destination in South Africa - ahead of Table Mountain.
  9. The Cape Floral Kingdom is home to 7000 plants found nowhere else in the world.
  10. Lion’s Head may have a big cat in it’s name, but it has not seen a lion for over 200 years. After once thriving in the area, the last lion was shot in 1802.
  11. Simon’s Town is home to a thriving colony of Africa’s only penguin species, the Jackass Penguin.
  12. Cape Town was the first city outside Europe to get Blue Flag status due to its high water quality, fantastic facilities, safety and cleanliness.
  13. Cape Town was appointed the best place in the world to visit by the New York Times in 2014
  14. Approximately 3.5-million people live in Cape Town, South Africa's second most-populated city.

Useful Information


Most banks are open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s) are readily available in cities and towns.


Swimming is generally safe and hygienic. A record 84 sites have international Blue Flag status for the 2015/16 period with 49 of them in the Western Cape.


Distances are given in kilometres (1 mile = 1.62 kilometres’). Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius (Centigrade) (20 degrees Celsius = 68 degrees Fahrenheit)

Credit Cards

Most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express etc.) are accepted. They may also be used to draw cash from ATM’s. Some petrol stations accept credit cards too.


The main unit of currency is the rand, divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency should be declared on entry.

Customs Allowance

Personal effects are allowed in duty free. Visitors may bring in goods worth R5, 000; duty is levelled at 20% up to R20, 000.


South Africa’s dress code is casual, except in some hotels, clubs and restaurants that require more formal attire. Topless swimming and sunbathing is not officially allowed.


Water - Tap water is safe to drink 
Alcohol – only over 18’s may purchase; may not be consumed in public. For drivers, the legal blood/alcohol limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1,000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml 0.05mg per 100ml.


Vaccinations for cholera and small pox are not required, but travellers from a yellow fever zone must have a valid certificate. Visitors to game parks must take anti-malarial tablets available from pharmacies. Medical and hospital charges must be paid for immediately. Travel insurance is strongly recommended.


Passports must be valid for six months after date of departure from SA. Visas are generally required. Visitors must have a return ticket.


Waiters and taxi drivers generally expect 10%-15% of the bill. Porters expect from R10 per bag.


Value Added Tax, currently at 14% is levied on most goods and services. Visitors may reclaim VAT on purchases over R250 at international points of departure.