UNIQUE SOUTH AFRICA

WHAT MAKES SOUTH AFRICA UNIQUE?

INFRASTRUCTURE

The world's biggest hospital is the Chris Hani - Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.

South Africa is one of only 12 countries where tap water is safe to drink. Its tap water is rated the third best worldwide.

South Africa is the world's biggest producer and exporter of mohair.

South Africa mines deeper than any other country in the world, up to depths of  2.5 miles at the Western Deep Levels Mine.

It has the largest hydro-electric tunnel system in the world at the Orange Fish Rivers Tunnel.

Electricity costs are the second lowest in the world.

Officially, the youngest language in the world is Afrikaans. By the early-20th century Afrikaans had developed from Dutch, French and other influences into a fully fledged language with its own dictionary. After a mere 90 years, it is the second most spoken language in South Africa (Zulu is the most spoken, the Zulu people being the largest ethnic group).

South Africa is the world's biggest producer of gold, platinum, chromium, vanadium, manganese and alumino-silicates. It also produces nearly 40% of the world's chrome and vermiculite.

The world's two largest platinum mines are located near Rustenburg.

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

Currently, South Africa is the only country in the world which has voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arsenal.

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

While occupying 4% of Africa's landmass, South Africa boasts more than 50% of the cars, phones, automatic bank tellers and industrial facilities on the continent.

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), now rising from a Karoo koppie in Sutherland is the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere (and third largest in the world), which was completed in 2005.

South Africa is a middle income country with a strong emerging economy – the 25th largest in the world - and produces more goods than Portugal, Russia or Singapore. It also has Africa’s biggest economy, three times larger than Nigeria or Egypt.

South Africa has the fourth largest coal reserves in the world. Its coal industry ranks sixth in the world in terms of output of hard coal and third in terms of seaborne international coal trade.

Companies:

  • The Rand Refinery is the largest refinery of gold in the world.

  • The South African oil company SASOL has established the only commercially proven oil from coal operations in the world.

  • The world's biggest producer of non-fuel minerals is South African company Anglo American Corporation.

  • 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.

  • Eskom, the national electricity utility, is the world's fourth largest in terms of both sales volume and normal capacity.

  • The Johannesburg Stock Exchange is ranked as the 10th largest in the world.

  • The De Beers Group of companies control more than 80% of the world supply of rough diamonds.

  • South African Breweries ranks as the second largest brewing company in the world. It supplies up to 50% of China's beer.  It purchased USA based Millers Brewery in 2003.

  • Samancor Limited is the world's largest producer by sales of manganese and chrome products.

  • KSDP Pentagraph is rated as the world's second best design company by British design magazine, 'Creative Review'. The company is responsible for the new-look packaging of 'Fanta' and design modifications of 'Coca-Cola' soft drinks worldwide.

Entertainment:

  • 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.

  • Local Big Macs are now officially the cheapest, about 30% cheaper than anywhere else in the world.

  • Cape Grace Hotel (120 rooms) was voted World's Best Hotel, by readers of Conde Naste Traveller magazine (this hotel attained the highest score ever in the history of the awards).

  • M-Net is Africa's largest pay television service, delivering 24-hour programming to dozens of countries across the continent.

Travel & Nature:

  • 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.

  • The Lost City Resort is the largest thermal resort in the world as well as the largest building project undertaken in the southern hemisphere.

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

  • Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of the seven wonders of the geological world. Standing at just over 580 feet, it dominates the city's skyline. Table Mountain can be seen as far as 130 miles out to sea.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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! 

  • The 2,02 billion year-old crater in Vredefort is the oldest known crater on Earth. The general estimate of its original diamater is roughly 300 km, which makes it the largest crater on the planet, as well.

  • The St. Lucia estuarine system, in Kwazulu Natal, is the largest estuarine system in Africa.

Military History:

  • The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) was the first war of the 20th century and saw the introduction of trench warfare, sadly - the first large-scale use of concentration camps for non-combatants, and the most prolonged period of guerilla warfare by a "conquered" nation's military against a "victorious" army.

  • Camouflage was first used in battle by the Boers, who effectively used camouflaged trenches and adapted battledress to blend into treeless landscapes. It was during this war that British forces were forced to switch from colorful uniforms to more sobre 'khaki'.

  • 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 Guiness Book of Records lists the Anglo-Boer War as Britain's most costly war outside of the two World Wars.

  • The world's first news footage and propoganda films were shot during the Anglo-Boer War.

Innovative Inventions:

  • Hippo Water Roller - www.classicencounters.comThe 'Hippo Water Roller'  is a classic example of design with SA conditions in mind. The roller is intended for use by communities without access to tap water. It enables people to pull a 90litre drum of water - instead of carrying it by hand - with a minimum of effort. 

 

 

  • Kreepy Krawly - www.classicencounters.comThe 'Kreepy Krawly', the world's first automatic pool cleaning unit, was invented by two engineers from Randburg.

 

  • The 'Freeplay' wind-up radio was designed by Syzygy, a Cape Town company. Power for theFreeplay Radio - www.classicencounters.com radio is generated by a winding handle. The institute says the radio is not only useful in SA, but also in the entire southern African region, where access to electricity and the high cost of battery power are major stumbling blocks to radio access. 
     

 

  • The CT Scanner was invented by Allan Macleod Cormack, from Cape Town, for which he won a Nobel Physics Prize in 1979. CT Scan - www.classicencounters.com

 

 

 

  • Ken Hall has been given an accolade by Time magazine for his plastic mini-oven which hThe Cobb - www.classicencounters.come invented to reduce the risk of fires in squatter camps. He said he designed his oven, called the 'Cobb', after realising how people and children in squatter camps were burned because of exploding paraffin stoves. The "oven" uses six charcoal brickets which provide heat for more than two hours. 

 

Short Articles

U.S. State Department View:

  • South Africa has a sophisticated financial structure with a large and active stock exchange that ranks 11th in the world in terms of total market capitalization. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) performs all central banking functions. The SARB is independent and now operates in much the same way as Western central banks, influencing interest rates and controlling liquidity through its interest rates on funds provided to private sector banks. Quantitative credit controls and administrative control of deposit and lending rates have largely disappeared. Enjoys one of the more sophisticated banking systems in the world.

Healthy & Natural, Vol. 7, Issue 5:

  • Scientific studies from South Africa and Japan corroborate findings of potent antioxidants in an indigenous herb tea from the Southwestern Cape region of South Africa. Called rooibos (roy-boss), this red tea is the only other tea in the world which undergoes a fermentation process like black tea. Fermentation turns the leaves of rooibos from green to a deep red color and gives it a slightly sweet note with a deep body. Studies show that rooibos contains comparable amounts of polyphenols to green tea and shows anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity. Rooibos, unlike black and green tea is completely caffeine-free.

EcoTourist:

  • Whale watching in South Africa has become part of the South African experience for tourists. The Cape Whale Route stretches from Doringbaai on the West Coast to the Tsitsikamma National Park on the East Coast and incorporates many varied whale-viewing points. The best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus. About thirty-seven species of whales and dolphins typically visit South Africa. The southern right whale is seen the most frequently.

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