South Africa is one of the most diverse and strikingly beautiful countries in the world. A troubled past (to say the least), has led to the formation of a state that is as unique as it gets. If you’ve never been to South Africa, we’ve got you – so here are the top 3 things you didn’t know about South Africa (and why you should pay it a visit).
3. The Cradle of Humankind
South Africa is the birthplace of humanity – specifically, a small portion of the country located in the Gauteng province called the Cradle of Humankind. Many of the most significant fossils have been found at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, such as “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot.”
Our ancestors, located here, were already able to manipulate fire and use stone tools 1,000,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens first evolved in this area roughly 200,000, and are our direct ancestors!
If you want to visit the Cradle of Humankind, you can head there for a day tour. It’s about an hour outside of Pretoria (a large city in Gauteng), so it is super accessible.
2. Fynbos – South Africa’s Floral Kingdom
Fynbos is the indigenous vegetation that belongs to the Western Cape, including Cape Town, of South Africa. To the untrained eye, Fynbos may appear as typical shrubbery – which can often be quite dry – but it’s unbelievably biodiverse. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, which is 77.5 sqm in size, has double the number of heather species (alone) than the entirety of Europe.
This Fynbos biome is unique to the Western Cape – and it’s more botanically diverse than the tropical rainforest of the Amazon, located in South America. You’ll encounter Fynbos everywhere in the Western Cape, so keep that in mind on your visit!
1.Eleven Official Languages
South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation, in large part because it is extremely culturally and ethnically diverse. During colonialism and Apartheid all of South Africa’s national languages were European but following the end of the old regime, and the implementation of the new constitution in 1994, 11 languages were cited as “official”.
99% of South African’s will speak one of these languages as their first language, and most can speak more than one. The 11 official languages are: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sesotho, Swazi, Setswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
Afrikaans is a combination of Dutch, Khoisan languages and, to a lesser degree, German. It is predominantly a West Germanic language, and is totally unique to Southern Africa. Afrikaans was the language of the Apartheid regime, but was originally developed by descendants of Khoisan peoples.
So Much To See and Learn in SA
South Africa is truly one of the most special countries in the world. Breathtaking natural beauty, combined with fascinating modern and ancient history, and an incredibly diverse population, makes this country a veritable melting pot – and a dream stop for travelers. If South Africa isn’t already on your bucket list, what on earth are you waiting for?