Top Ten Things You Probably Didn’t Know about South Africa

September 30, 2009

in South Africa,Top Ten Lists

Top of the week to ya! If Wednesday is hump day, I’m thinking it would be the “top” of the week –yeah? Anyway. I’m getting settled in South Africa pretty well. It helps to have visited a few times before the move. But I’m at the stage where if I walk out the front door, I’m likely to see something that will surprise me every day. Really fun. It’s good to learn new things.

Here are a few fun facts, so you can join me in the cultural immersion!

Top Ten Things You Probably Didn’t Know about South Africa (Unless You’re South African)

10. South Africa averages less than one fatal shark attack every year. (For humans anyway). I would’ve thought it was more with those crazy breaching great whites!

9. Most shopping malls have a supermarket or two in them, and some other big department stores that have everything from games to coolboxes (coolers) to dishes, food and pool floats. Lots of people get shopping carts from these stores and push them around the mall. I am struggling to get used to getting sidelined by a grocery cart hurrying to a sale at the other end of the mall!

8. South Africa is roughly twice the size of Texas! Yee haw! We have a lot of trails to explore and I brought my cowboy hat.

7. English is one of 11 official languages in SA. The list also includes Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho. Well, you may have known that if you read this blog the other day. There are five languages in the South African National Anthem.

6. Pic-n-Pay, a shoe store in the States, is a supermarket here! I especially like the Greek Yoghurt, and that you can buy milk in plastic bags instead of plastic cartons. (see example, below)

5. While South Africa was constitutionally obliged to fight with the British in WWII, the Prime Minister, Barry Hertzhog, preferred to either remain neutral, or be Pro-Axis (as in, fighting against the Allies.) Hertzhog was deposed, and Jan Smuts returned to power as Prime Minister, and declared war against Germany. He fortified the country against sea invasion because of its strategic positioning. The leaders of the Ossewabrandwag, a pro-Nazi South African movement, were jailed for the rest of the war after committing acts of sabotage!

4. Cape Point, near Cape Town is not the most southerly point of Africa, as is often thought. That accolade actually belongs to Cape Agulhas, which is 90 miles/150 km east-south-east. Cape Agulhas is also the generally agreed upon spot where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

3. J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein. (That’s the writer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in case you were born yesterday!) And that’s Mark’s hometown!

2. There are six unique floral kingdoms in the world, one of which, the Cape Floral Kingdom, is only found in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It has 8,700 plant species, and 68% of them are only found in this tiny bit of South Africa!

1. The world’s first heart transplant was performed in Cape Town, South Africa, by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in 1967.

So here’s to learning more about a great country with a lot of heart! whaa-wha-whaaaa… ;)

xCC

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