South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa

Travel Facts

The southernmost tip of the African continent holds an abundance of treasures and surprises. Even though the country is a tourist’s hot favourite, still there are many South Africa Travel Facts that are awaiting to be discovered. With an array of natural wonders, vibrant cities, rich cultural history, and a diverse mix of people, South Africa Destinations will leave you awe-inspired.

From its sprawling nature reserves to its stunning coastlines and not one, but three distinct capital cities, each with its unique flavour and governmental function, South Africa offers a little bit of everything. So, without further ado, let's delve into some lesser-known facts about this incredible country that are sure to leave you eager to explore its many wonders.

Quick South Africa Overall Facts

South Africa Travel Facts
  • Official Name: Republic of South Africa
  • Type Of Government: Republic
  • Capitals: Pretoria (administrative)
  • Cape Town (Legislative)
  • Bloemfontein (Judicial)
  • Population: 59,392,255 (2021)
  • Official Languages: Afrikaans, English, Northern Sotho, Sesotho, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Setswana, SiSwati, Zitsongs, Tshivenda.
  • Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Area: 1,221,037 square kilometers
  • Land Area: 1,214,470 square kilometres
  • Water Area: 4620 square kilometres
  • Primary Rivers: Orange (the longest river in South Africa), Limpopo, Vaal, and Molopo.
  • Important Mountain Ranges: Drakensberg mountains (The highest peak of South Africa, Mafadi Peak is located here)

Six Interesting General South Africa Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

Let’s begin our journey of knowing South Africa by going through some of the general yet appealing facts:

  • Not one, but two Nobel Peace Prize winners belong to the same street in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both had their residence located on Vilakazi Street in Johannesburg (Soweto). This makes it the only country in the world to achieve this feat.

  • South Africa boasts a coastline that stretches into infinity.

The coastline of the country runs from northeast to the southwest along the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. This extensive coastline stretches for a length of more than 2500 km (1553 miles). This immense shoreline provides an abundance of breathtaking beaches, stunning marine life, and thrilling water sports opportunities which makes it the best place to visit during South Africa Travel.

  • The country has got three hearts: its three capitals.

South Africa is a unique nation with three capital cities, each serving a distinct governmental purpose. While Pretoria functions as the administrative capital, Bloemfontein serves as the judicial capital, and Cape Town holds the title of the legislative capital. This unusual arrangement is what makes the country diverse as well as dynamic.

  • The Headland of Cape Agulhas- A Place Where Two Great Oceans Meet.

Cape Agulhas marks the official boundary separating the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It is located approximately 176 km (109 miles) southeast of Cape Town.

At this point, the warm Agulhas current from the Indian Ocean encounters the cold Benguela current from the Atlantic Ocean, causing the currents to reverse their courses. Thus, making it one of the Top Places to See in South Africa.

  • There are diamond mines in South Africa.

There are many diamond deposits in South Africa. Between the years 1866 and 1867, diamonds were found for the first time on the shores of the Orange River. In the late 19th century, gold was discovered for the first time in the Transvaal.

As a matter of fact, the world’s largest diamond, Cullinan (named after the owner of the mine) was extracted from the Premier Mine in Pretoria on 25th Jan 1905.

Bonus Facts: Out of the world’s diamonds, around 9,1% belongs to South African diamond mines.

South Africa Map

South Africa Map

A detailed South Africa map is a crucial tool that is essential for navigating the country. It will help you locate the key Tourist Attractions in South Africa such as Blyde River Canyon, the Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain,Kruger National Park , and the Garden Route.

  • A map can also guide you through the nine provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwa Zulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northwest, and Western Cape. Each of these provinces is famed for offering unique landscapes and cultural experiences.
  • An Insight: While Northern Cape is the largest province, Gauteng is the most populated one.

  • South Africa is known to share its international boundary with six other countries: Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini (Swaziland). Lesotho is enclaved inside South Africa. This means that the country is enclosed and surrounded by South Africa from all sides.
  • The Orange River, Africa’s longest river, runs for approximately 2432 kilometres from the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho to the Atlantic Ocean on the country’s west coast.
  • The Great Escarpment is also another prominent geographical feature that stretches over 5000 km and separates the country’s highveld plateau from coastal lowlands.

You can easily access both physical and digital South Africa Maps from either online or at local tourist information centres for ease of navigation.

Did You Know?

The majority of South Africa’s landscape is a plateau that gradually descends in altitude from the eastern part (around 2400 meters) towards the west (around 600 meters). And, the central portion of this elevated plateau, with heights varying between 1200 and 1800 meters, is known as Highveld.

Bonus Fact: Despite being a democratic republic, one province in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal still follows monarchy. The province is ruled by a King, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, who is the ruler of the Zulu Nation.

South Africa’s Geographical Regions & Landscapes

South Africa Travel Facts

You might have heard of countries with deserts or countries with subtropical forests. But South Africa stands out as one of the few countries that have got deserts, wetlands, grasslands, bushes, mountains, escarpments, coastlines, and subtropical forests; all to its name. The rolling grasslands and tree-dotted plains are named highveld and bushveld, respectively. Apart from that, let’s learn about other interesting geographical facts related to South Africa:

  • The Blyde River Canyon, located in Mpumalanga, is the world’s third-largest canyon. Without a doubt, it’s the country’s most spectacular geological feature.
  • The place is home to the oldest and largest impact crater on the planet. It is the Vredefort Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the most deeply eroded meteorite structure in the world, and dates back over 2 billion years.
  • Nestled between majestic mountains and verdant valleys, the Cape Winelands is a haven for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. You will explore picturesque vineyards, indulge in world-class wines, and savour gourmet cuisine in the region's charming towns, such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl during your South Africa Safari Holidays.
  • The Wild Coast stretches along the Eastern Cape and offers rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and an abundance of marine life. This unspoiled paradise is perfect for those seeking adventure and tranquillity on South Africa Tours. They offer activities such as hiking, surfing, and dolphin watching on offer which is one of the Best Things To Do In South Africa for any adventure seeker.
  • The majestic Drakensberg Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provide a dramatic backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities available in this breathtaking region.

South Africa People Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

The population of South Africa is a marvellous blend of diverse ethnic backgrounds, languages, and cultures. The mixed culture of the country has been part of its identity which in turn is reflected in its otherwise popular name the “Rainbow Nation”. Also, the country has gained the reputation of being a cultural “melting point”; thanks to its 11 official languages. These languages are English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa, IsiNdebele, Sesotho, Setswana, Xitsonga, Tshivenda, SiSwati, and Northern Sotho.

  • With approximately 60 million people, South Africa is the world's 24th most populous country. And it ranks the fifth largest country in the continent in terms of population.
  • The population density in South Africa is about 49 people per square kilometre. (127 per mile2).
  • Around 80% of the population of South Africa is Christian, the rest are either Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, or other regions.
  • The Zulu ethnic group living mainly in the KwaZulu-Natal province is the largest ethnic group in South Africa. They make up around 22% of the population. The Xhosa people constitute the second-largest ethnic group, accounting for approximately 16% of the population.

Did You Know?

We all know South Africa has got a nickname called “Rainbow Nation”. But do you know how it got this name and who was behind this? Let us tell you that the term “Rainbow Nation” was initially coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and was later widely propagated by Nelson Mandela. This name was given to exhibit the spirit of togetherness among South Africans after the apartheid era in 1994. Many different cultures continued to exist and still prevail since the darkest era of Apartheid, thus giving it a well-deserved popular name “the Rainbow Nation”.

South Africa Cultural Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa's vibrant culture is a product of its diverse population and is a blend of various influences. Its rich history reflects colonialism, immigration, and most importantly indigenous heritage.

  • The country's art scene is a blend of traditional African, European, and Asian influences, resulting in a wide range of artistic styles, from beadwork and pottery to contemporary paintings and sculptures.
  • South Africa has a strong music tradition, with genres such as jazz, hip-hop and traditional African music thriving in the country. Musical genres such as kwaito, maskandi, and marabi have started getting international recognition.
  • To celebrate its diverse culture, beliefs, and traditions; the people of South Africa have marked 24th September as its Annual Heritage Day. They gather dressed in a specific traditional manner and enjoy a barbecue (braai) together.

Did You Know?

South Africa has gained worldwide recognition for being a world leader in LGBTQ+ rights. In 2006, the country recognised same-sex marriage. Now, same-sex couples can enjoy the same rights as any other couple and marry, adopt children, or opt for IVF and surrogacy. It is the first country in the African continent and 5th country in the world to prohibit this unfair discrimination against the LGBTQ community and give them equal rights to non-LGBT people.

South Africa Economy

South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa has a mixed economy that includes mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors. Some facts related to South Africa’s economy are underlined below:

  • The country is only behind Nigeria when it comes to the strong economy among African countries. This suggests that it has got the second-largest economy along with the highest GDP in the African continent.
  • South Africa is naturally rich in resources such as diamonds, gold, iron ore, platinum, manganese, coal, and copper.
  • The country holds the badge of honour for being the primary producer of titanium group metals.

It is also the 6th largest gold producer across the globe. Two of the gold mines in the country have made it to the top eight largest gold mines in the world. They are the South Deep gold mine and the Mponeng gold mine.

Did You Know?

The South African currency notes exhibit a portrait of Nelson Mandela on one side and any of the Big Five on the opposite. This currency is accepted in even neighbouring countries like Namibia and other countries like Lesotho and Eswatini.

Weather and climate Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa's diverse climate and weather conditions cater to a wide range of travel interests. Understanding these regional and seasonal variations will help you plan for your South Africa Tours effectively while making the most of it. Let’s look at some facts related to South Africa Climate below:

  • South Africa boasts diverse climate zones, including a Mediterranean southwest, subtropical northeast, semi-arid west, and a warm Indian Ocean-influenced east.
  • In the northeastern regions, summer months bring afternoon thunderstorms with brief, heavy rainfall, while winter tends to be dry and sunny.
  • Cape Town and the Western Cape experience a Mediterranean climate with wet, mild winters and warm, dry summers.
  • Cape Town and the Western Cape experience a Mediterranean climate with wet, mild winters and warm, dry summers.
  • Coastal regions in South Africa generally experience mild temperatures year-round, with warmer Indian Ocean waters in the east and colder Atlantic Ocean waters in the west.
  • The Best Time To Visit South Africa depends on your preferred activities and the region you plan to explore. While the dry winter months are ideal for wildlife spotting, the summer months are perfect for beach activities.
Falcon’s Key Tip:

Due to its location, South Africa experiences high levels of UV radiation throughout the year, making sun protection essential. So, always remember to carry your sunblock on your next South Africa Safari.

Getting To South Africa Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa is well-connected to the rest of the world, thanks to its extensive network of airports. The country boasts three major international airports and several smaller regional airports.

  • O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg is the busiest airport in Africa, handling over 21 million passengers annually.
  • Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is South Africa's second-busiest airport, accommodating around 11 million passengers per year.
  • King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban is the country's third-busiest airport, serving approximately 6 million passengers annually.

Direct flights from Europe, Asia, and the Americas are available, while travellers from other African countries can take advantage of regional flights. Once upon arrival, visitors can choose from various transportation options, including car rentals, buses, and trains, to explore the country's diverse regions.

National Parks and Game Reserves in South Africa

South Africa Travel Facts

South Africa is renowned for its remarkable wildlife and pristine natural habitats. The country boasts numerous national parks and reserves that protect its diverse flora and fauna.

  • As one of the largest game reserves in Africa, Kruger National Park is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Home to the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros), the park also hosts a vast array of other species, providing unmatched game viewing opportunities.
  • Located in the Eastern Cape, Addo Elephant National Park is dedicated to the conservation of the African elephant. Visitors on South Africa Safari can enjoy up-close encounters with these gentle giants, as well as other unique species such as the flightless dung beetle and the endangered black rhino.
  • Situated in the remote Kalahari Desert, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers a unique safari experience. The park is famous for its striking red dunes, abundant birdlife, and rare desert-adapted species such as the black-maned Kalahari lion and the elusive brown hyena.

South Africa Wildlife Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

A diverse array of wildlife shelters in the national parks and game reserves of South Africa. Visitors on South Africa Safari get the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these animals including the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros). Let’s have an overview of its wildlife facts that will fascinate you enough to book your next South Africa Tours right now:

  • It might sound surprising, but South Africa only covers 2% of the Earth’s land area. Despite that, it is home to a remarkable 10% of the world’s plant species, 15% of coastal marine species, and 7% of global mammal, bird, and reptile species.
  • A South Africa Wildlife Safari for you is going to be memorable and a once-in-lifetime opportunity to see some of the best wildlife. This is because you are going to encounter the world’s largest fish, largest bird, and largest land mammal; all in one go.
  • With about 900 species of birds, South Africa encompasses 10% of the total population of species of birds on earth.
  • The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, incorporating South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park.
  • It is one of the most expansive conservation areas in the World. The place is a haven for numerous species of flora and fauna.
  • South Africa is renowned for its famous "Big Five," a term originally coined to represent the five animals considered the most challenging to hunt: elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, lion, and leopard. Today, these magnificent creatures serve as a major draw for wildlife enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Falcon’s Tip:

Check out our South Africa Safari Packages to find out more about safari tours ensuring wild-life counters. Find South Africa Safari Tours as your choice and liking.

Did You Know?

South Africa is the only nation where you can spot the "Big Seven" – the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo) along with the great white shark and the southern right whale. This incredible diversity of wildlife can be seen across the country's numerous national parks and nature reserves.

South African Cuisine Facts

South Africa Travel Facts

The country's diverse population has given rise to an incredible variety of culinary delights, with dishes influenced by indigenous, European, and Asian cultures.

  • Biltong, a type of dried, cured meat, is a popular South African snack that has its roots in the country's early European settlers' preservation techniques.
  • Bunny chow, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry, is a South African fast food originating from the Indian community in Durban.
  • Bobotie is a spiced minced meat dish topped with an egg and milk mixture. It is a traditional Cape Malay recipe that has become a favourite and is declared the national dish of South Africa.

Did You Know?

South Africa is the largest producer of meat in the continent and the second-largest producer of fruits in the world.

Other Mind-blowing Travel Facts about South Africa

South Africa Travel Facts
  • Cape Floral Kingdom: An array of Natural Riches
  • The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the six floristic regions in the world. Despite covering only 0.5% of Africa’s land, it harbours 20% of the plant species of Africa.

    It is home to over 9,000 plant species, 70% of which are not found anywhere else in the world. The interesting part about this floral kingdom is that it is the only floristic region that is entirely contained in a single country.

  • A Cradle of Humanity: Understanding Human Evolution
  • South Africa has played a crucial role in understanding human evolution. The country is home to several important paleoanthropological sites, such as the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng province. The place is believed to contain the largest concentration of human remains, fossils, and tools.

  • A Wine Lover's Paradise: Cape Winelands
  • The Cape Winelands region in Western Cape is the longest (850 km) meandering wine route in the country. It consists of 560 wineries and 4400 primary producers. 3.4% of the world’s wine only comes from South Africa. If you Visit South Africa, Cape Winelands wine tasting must be one of the top things you want to tick off.

  • A Locomotive Journey Back in Time: Luxurious Rovos Rail
  • South Africa is home to the luxurious Rovos Rail, often referred to as the "Pride of Africa." This opulent train takes passengers on a nostalgic journey through the country's spectacular landscapes. It conducts a 17-hour train journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town that costs more than a flight would ever cost.

Bonus Fact

There are a total of 10 UNESCO World heritage sites present in South Africa. These include Cradle of Humankind, Vredefort Dome, Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Robben Island, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Cape Floral Region, Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, Khomani Cultural Landscape, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape and Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape.

Unravel The Travel Facts & Discover the Rainbow Nation

South Africa Travel Facts

These fascinating South Africa Travel Facts offer just a glimpse into the wealth of experiences and discoveries that await travellers from far and wide. We are sure with its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant culture, this extraordinary nation is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.

So, whether you're planning a South Africa Trip or simply interested in learning more about this captivating destination, we hope you've enjoyed this comprehensive exploration of these interesting travel facts.

Frequently Asked Questions

We Think You’ll Love

The currency used in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). The exchange rate varies. So, it's advisable to check current rates before your trip.

Visa requirements for South Africa depend on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Many visitors from eligible countries can obtain a visa on arrival for short stays. Check the South African government's website for the most up-to-date information on visa requirements. .

Recommended vaccinations for South Africa include Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and routine vaccinations such as MMR and DTP. Yellow fever vaccination is required if you're arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission. Consult your doctor for personalized advice on vaccinations.

The best time for wildlife viewing in South Africa is during the dry winter months (May to September), when animals congregate around water sources, making them easier to spot.

Tap water is generally safe to drink in major cities and towns in South Africa. However, it's advisable to drink bottled water in rural areas or if you're unsure about the water quality.

Primary means of transportation in South Africa include domestic flights, buses, trains, and rental cars. Minibus taxis are also a popular mode of transport for shorter distances.

South Africa uses 220-230V voltage and Type M plugs. You may need a voltage converter and plug adapter for your electronic devices and appliances.

Must-visit attractions in South Africa include Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, Cape Town, the Garden Route, Blyde River Canyon, Robben Island, and the Cape Winelands.

Credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa, especially in urban areas. ATMs are also easily accessible in cities and towns.

South Africa is generally safe for travellers, but it's essential to take standard precautions. Stay vigilant, avoid displaying valuables, and stick to well-populated areas, especially at night.

We are thrilled to help you plan your perfect safari holiday

We'd be delighted to help you with any questions you have about properties & safaris. Please fill in the form below so that we can help you create your perfect safari holiday.


Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call or send us an e-mail:

Meet us on Social Media

Start Planning Your Tailored African Safari

Expert Safari Knowledge- Falcon Safaris

Expert Safari Knowledge

With decades of expertise, we're your trusted safari guides, ensuring every moment exceeds your expectations.

Tailor-made African Safaris- Falcon Safaris

Tailor-made African Safaris

Tailored to your preferences, our African Safaris guarantee an adventure perfectly suited to your desires.

Long-term Africa Relationships- Falcon Safaris

Long-term Relationships

Our enduring partnerships across Africa provide exclusive access and authentic experiences.

Carefree Travel- Falcon Safaris

Carefree Travel

Leave your worries behind and accept carefree travel with Falcon Safaris, where every detail is handled to perfection.

Our Travelers Say

Explore Our Africa With Customize Your Tour

We love Africa's diversity and create amazing trips for you. With 30+ years of experience, we customize every trip just for you.

Start a Trip