10 Fun Facts About South Africa

Welcome to South Africa, a land of diversity, rich culture, and breathtaking landscapes!

As part of our Fun Facts Series, we’re exploring 10 fun facts about this vibrant country – from its multicultural heritage to its stunning natural wonders. 

10 Fun Facts About South Africa | Multiculturala Kid Blogs

1. It’s Multicultural

South Africa is often called the “Rainbow Nation” due to its multicultural diversity. It is home to many ethnicities, languages, and cultures that together create one beautiful country.

Celebrate diversity with our tissue paper Rainbow Nation craft, and learn how to say hello in South African languages.

Rainbow Nation Craft | 10 Fun Facts About South Africa | MKB

2. It’s Multilingual

In 2023, South Africa officially recognized South African Sign Language as one of its languages. Now, South Africa has 12 official languages. The other languages include Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. The most widely spoken language is Zulu.

But South Africa also has other common languages. They are Hindi, Swahili, Dutch, Portuguese, and Greek. With so many languages, it is understandable why most South Africans speak at least two languages!

3. Capital Cities

South Africa has three capital cities, one for each branch of government:

  • Cape Town is the legislative capital. This is where the Parliament is seated. 
  • Pretoria is the executive (or administrative) capital. This is where the Cabinet and the President are seated.
  • Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. It’s home to the Supreme Court of Appeal, the second-highest court in South Africa.
Find these places on the map!

Use the map below to locate:

  • the three capital cities – Cape Town, Pretoria, and Bloemfontein
  • Johannesburg – another city
  • Lesotho – a country surrounded by South Africa
Map of South Africa | 10 Fun Facts About South Africa | Multiculturala Kid Blogs

4. Urban Forest

Johannesburg, the most populated city in South Africa, is home to one of the largest man-made urban forests in the world. Over 10 million trees help to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality for the city.

Jacaranda trees, in bloom from late September through mid-November, cover the city in purple.

Jacaranda trees | South Africa fun facts

CanY71 from Getty Images, via Canva | Furian, via Deposit Photos

5. Freedom Day

Freedom Day is celebrated every year on April 27. It honors the first democratic elections held in 1994 in South Africa. This was the first time that South Africans of all races could vote, and it marked the end of apartheid.*  It was during this election that Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa. 

*Apartheid was a system for keeping white people and nonwhites separated in South Africa.

6. Table Mountain 

This flat-topped mountain is one of the oldest mountains in the world. It is believed to be about 240 million years old. Table Mountain overlooks the city of Cape Town and is accessible by using the cableway or hiking to the top. 

It is home to more than 2,200 species of plants. For this reason, Table Mountain is one of the richest floral kingdoms in the world. The formation of clouds over the plateau is known as the Tablecloth. 

Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Table Mountain  Cape Town | South Africa fun facts

Binty from Getty Images, via Canva

7. Diverse Flavors

South African cuisine is a melting pot of flavors influenced by the country’s diverse cultural heritage. Here’s a taste of some traditional dishes:

Braai (barbecue) is popular at South African social gatherings. Boerewors (spiced sausage), lamb chops, chicken kebabs, and mielies (corn cob) are accompanied by side dishes like potato salad, chakalaka (spicy vegetable relish), and pap (maize porridge).

Bobotie is a savory minced meat dish (often beef or lamb) topped with an egg custard and served with yellow rice and chutney.

Biltong is a popular snack made from dried, cured meat (typically beef or game meat like venison).

South African foods | Multicultural Kid Blogs

AJ Paulsen from Getty Images, via Canva

8. Rooibos

Rooibos (ROY-BOSS) means “red bush.” It is a shrub native to the rugged mountains of the Cederberg region of South Africa. This is the only place in the world where rooibos can grow wild or be cultivated. 

The leaves from the flowering shrub make Rooibos tea. It is naturally caffeine-free, rich in antioxidants, and boasts many health benefits, including reducing inflammation and cholesterol.

The Khoisan people used Rooibos over 300 years ago. They are an indigenous tribe from the region. They used Rooibos as medicine for various ailments.

Rooibos Tea | Fun facts about South Africa

 yasuhiroamano from Getty Images, via Canva

9. Amazing Animals

South Africa is home to many amazing animals, including several record-breaking species:

  • Giraffe (tallest land animal)
  • African elephant (largest land mammal)
  • Cheetah (fastest land mammal)
  • Elend (largest antelope)
  • Ostrich (largest bird) It also holds records for the fastest land speed of any bird and for laying the largest eggs of any living bird species.
  • Whale shark (largest fish)
  • Leatherback turtle (largest reptile)

South Africa has numerous national parks and game reserves where visitors can experience these animals in their natural habitats.

Identify each animal in the picture. Research to discover the details of their records.

Amazing animals from South Africa | Multicultural Kid Blogs

10. African Art Car

In 1991 BMW invited Esther Mahlangu to create a unique “Art Car.” Esther is a renowned South African artist. She was the first non-Western person and the first female to design a BMW Art Car. She transformed the BMW 525i sedan into a stunning work of art featuring colorful geometric patterns that are characteristic of her Ndebele heritage. 

The art of the Ndebele is distinctive. The colorful geometric patterns are rich in symbolism and serve as expressions of identity, status, and culture. They feature it on their homes, clothing, and beadwork. Take a peek Inside the Beautifully Graphic Painted Ndebele Homes in South Africa. -Vogue

 Olli1800, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about South Africa at Globe Trottin’ Kids!

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Julie Yeros is a National Geographic Certified Educator and the creator of Globe Trottin’ Kids – a global learning website for kids and educators.

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