Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interesting Facts About South Africa

South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, just across the Vaal River near Parys, called the Vredefort Dome. The meteor plummeted to Earth nearly two billion years ago (Earth is said to be 4,5 billion years old), predating the heady days of oxygen and multi-celled life.

The rocks around Barberton in Mpumalanga are some of the most ancient in the world - over three billion years old. Because they are also the most accessible such formations, NASA scientists come here to gain an idea of how life might form on distant planets.

The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 850 metres. First place goes to the Angel Falls in Venezuela at 979 metres.

There are 18 000 indigenous vascular plant species in South Africa of which 80% are uniquely South African.

Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world - and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the US is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are dry as bones.

South African grasslands have 30 species per square kilometre, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.

Can mountains be folded? Yes they can, and you can see such wonders in the Western Cape at the Cederberg and the Swartberg mountains.

South Africa and its neighbours are some of the most generously endowed geographic solar hotspots in the world, soaking up just over half of the world’s highest category of solar wattage per square metre of land.

Therapsids are the true ancestors of mammals, and lived over 200 million years ago, long before the upstart dinosaurs of the Jurassic Age (which ended abruptly 65 million years ago). Most of the world’s proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo - along with a 280 million year old fossilized shark.

According to recent studies, the star-watching town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape is one of the most geologically stable places on Earth, yet it has a 66-million year old volcano, not yet officially extinct.

Kimberley may have the biggest man-made hole in the world, but did you know that the southern Free State town of Jagersfontein has the deepest vertical man-made hole (and that a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles breed in it?

South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 10 mm) and the largest (the baobab).

Lake Fundudzi in Venda is possibly the world’s only inland freshwater lake formed by a landslide.

The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

Walt Disney serves South African wine exclusively at its 73-acre Animal Kingdom Lodge in the United States.

South Africa has the longest wine route in the world, the R62 wine route.

South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts and the nuts and oils are exported to countries across the world.

South Africa is the only country in the world where you can order something called monkey gland steak at a restaurant without the risk of a real internal organ being placed before you. It was invented many decades ago by overseas chefs as a pointed insult, aimed at the brash inhabitants of Johannesburg who poured Worcestershire and tomato sauce over everything.

No other country eats as much kingklip as South Africans do (also known as Congrio, Ling and Rockling in other parts of the southern hemisphere).

The world’s first heart transplant was done in South Africa in 1967 by South African Dr Chris Barnard.

South Africa’s Dr Percy Amolis invented the Retinal Cryoprobe used successfully on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to repair a detached retina. He also removed a cataract from Nelson Mandela’s eye that enabled the former president to, for the first time, read a speech without glasses.

Where else is an entirely new species being recreated from scratch? The quagga vanished in a frenzy of hunting in the 1800s, but after finding that the DNA is almost identical to the common Burchell’s zebra, the species is being brought back from beyond the brink by careful breeding of stripe-challenged zebras.

There are only 12 countries in the world that supply tap water that is fit to drink, and South Africa is one of them. Our tap water quality is third best overall in the world.

South Africa also has the world’s most progressive and admired water legislation, and it is making a real difference on the ground. Since 1998 when the so-called “Blue Revolution” began, four million more poor people have access to clean water.

South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are tearing down fences between the countries’ game parks to create a 35 000km2 game park which will become the largest conservation area in the world. It will be bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan.

South Africa is ranked number one in the world for its floral kingdom.

South Africa’s Coastal Management policy is one of the best in the world with the country being the first outside Europe to gain Blue Flag status for its coastal management.

South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.

South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz, C Class, right hand drive vehicles.

General Motors South Africa will be the only manufacturing site outside of the United States to build the Hummer H3 vehicle.

South Africans are natural inventors, giving the world those breakwater dolosse and the automatic pool cleaner.

South Africa also came up with the first, largest and most viable oil-from-coal refinery (which supplies 40% of our petrol). And did you know that a South African physicist co-developed the CAT-scan, that South Africa makes the seats for Concorde, and also designs and creates flight control technology for Britain’s fighter jets.

Source: sarocks.co.za

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