26 May 2006

Some facts about South Africa you may never have known

South African flagWhen people ask where I come, a few will say, “I really wish I knew more about South Africa. I feel silly that Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest men of our time but I dont know much else about the place, exept that there was once a thing thing called apartheid. Did I pronounce that right?” Which is cool. At least they’re interested.

Inevitably I watch people pull the standard ‘oh, how unfortunate for you’ face while they ask, “Is the crime really as bad as people say it is? I don’t think I’d want to go there”.
The other day I got asked, “I should probably know this but… is South Africa still segregated?” also, “Aah South Africa! So can you speak Afri-cans? That’s like the language the africans there speak?” and “Do some schools there have electricity?” Oh and my favourite, “Mandela? Hmm no… never heard of it.”
No wait, I take that back. I once met someone in a chatroom who took a look at my profile pic and declared, “Why do you pretend you’re white in your profile when you actually come from South Africa?” Another person told me he’d never heard of South Africa and then asked me where it was.

Now I realise that I’m not from not the World’s Greatest Country and Im not at all surprised that people know so little about it when they’ve never been there and probably only seen one documentary about it on TV… but with sooo many South Africans all over the world (we’re a plague of curious world travellers descending on every country), it won’t be long before you’re being served at the bar by one of us or work across a desk from one… and if she’s cute you’ll want to impress her with your vast knowledge about her silly little country…

So with just a tiny further ado, here are some cool new emeging facts coming from the New South Africa – FYI: the current president who took over from Mandela after he retired is Thabo Mbeki, and the ruling party is the ANC. Also Afrikaans is one of the 11 many official languages of South Africa. Afrikaans is spoken by all races and ethnic groups in South Africa and much has been done in recent years to promote varieties of this language that were suppressed during the years of Apartheid. Close to 6 million speak Afrikaans as their home language out of 40.6 million South Africans.

  1. South Africa accounts for almost 45{a9f0d31f6175b3e4775e11a66c07db268fb74408d6095f6b46eeec420c0e9f62} of the GDP of the entire African continent, with an economy three times the size of the second biggest (Egypt)
  2. Of the 10 LSM levels ( LSM1=poorest; LSM10 wealthiest ), the average SA family located in LSM6
  3. The current police to population ratio is 1:304.
  4. South African media ranks 31st out of 167 countries in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005, higher than any country in Asia, the Middle East or South America, and ahead of Japan, Spain, Italy and the United States.
  5. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange was the 7th best performing stock market in 2005, according to the World Federation of Exchanges
  6. Home ownership in SA has increased from 64{a9f0d31f6175b3e4775e11a66c07db268fb74408d6095f6b46eeec420c0e9f62} (5,12m households) in 1994 to 78{a9f0d31f6175b3e4775e11a66c07db268fb74408d6095f6b46eeec420c0e9f62} (7,9m households) in 2004, according to a South African Advertising Research Foundation development index
  7. The value of South African real estate improved by 30{a9f0d31f6175b3e4775e11a66c07db268fb74408d6095f6b46eeec420c0e9f62} over the past 5 years
  8. Since 1994, 500 houses have been built each day for the poor
  9. Interest rates are at a 25-year low
  10. South Africa is one of only 12 countries with potable tap water
  11. The University of South Africa UNISA is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with 250,000 students
  12. In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark
  13. Afrikaans is the youngest official language in the world
  14. The South African Rand (ZAR), the world’s most actively traded emerging market currency, has joined an elite club of 15 currencies – the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) – where forex transactions are settled immediately, lowering the risks of transacting across time zones
  15. The Rand was the best performing currency against the US Dollar from 2002 – 2005, according to the Bloomberg Currency Scorecard
  16. South Africa is the best-ranked country in terms of price stability, our fiscal policy is ranked 11th, our international trade competitiveness 21st, and we are the 28th most-attractive destination for foreign direct investment, according to the World Competiveness Yearbook 2005
  17. South Africa is the first, and to date only, country to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme
  18. South African tourism has grown by 116{a9f0d31f6175b3e4775e11a66c07db268fb74408d6095f6b46eeec420c0e9f62} over the last 2 years
  19. In the global measure of women in Parliament, South Africa ranks 8th in the world.
  20. More facts from South Africa – The Good News


  • Cravin Moorehead
    November 1, 2006 Reply

    c’mon i kno u got more facts than that! i need to finish a project n ur just throwin off B.S. that doesnt mean anything!

  • Rethabile
    June 6, 2006 Reply

    Ken, that’s not a very nice thing to say, is it? Thabos aren’t the only criminals in South Africa. You’d be surprised at how many Hendriks also do crime. If you’re saying that blacks steal, I’d say put it to rest, it’s a tired stereotype. If you’re not, it’d be interesting to find out what you are saying.

  • ken
    June 1, 2006 Reply

    tell that to Thabo who just ripped your entire “in-car entertainment system” out your GTI and is pawning it at the local cape flats crack house!


  • ken
    June 1, 2006 Reply

    one of the funniest things I ever heard in South Africa was on TV… and advertisement stating that “Crime does not Pay”

  • TiNs
    May 30, 2006 Reply

    Dunno about Rugby, but there was a lot of flak when SA started playing International Cricket. Anyway they taught the rest of the world a thing or two about competetive cricket and fitness …

  • Fuschia Faery
    May 29, 2006 Reply

    “we’re a plague” – giggles!

  • Claudius fin guy Spat
    May 28, 2006 Reply

    Here are some other facts you left out:

    9. Africans eat twice their body weight every minute.
    10teen. If South Africa were a planet, it would be cheese.
    c. In 1976 SA became the first country to legalize saying “bring the pain”
    next. For every two South Africans, there is alot of boring fact telling.
    last before least. If you took the square mileage of South Africa and multiplied it by 6, no one would care.
    finaleast. South Africa used to have one veluptuous, gorgeous, brilliant, sugar-juggling, excitingly off-the-page hotty. Now I do.

  • nathan
    May 28, 2006 Reply

    I wonder if Australia and Canada are upset because they don’t have cool acronym names like NZ, SA (and the better, longer, USA), and UK. “Uck” that’s great.

  • olivia
    May 28, 2006 Reply

    Wow Miko, how weird… I never knew that. I guess since SA and NZ take rugby so incredibly seriously (their national pride and testicles ride on the game), and there was that year we won the World Cup when we were finally allowed to compete at an international level following the end of the sports boycott, the NZ’s wouldnt have liked us stealing their cup. Ive always sensed a healthy dose of competitive spirit against the NZ’s but Id never call it hatred. In fact we have a real admiration for their team. Maybe things have changed in the 6 or so years since I left… I dont know.

  • Miko
    May 28, 2006 Reply

    When I was growing up, in rugby-loving NZ, we were taught to HATE you guys! I didn’t quite understand the political issues, but I still remember the violent demonstrations in Auckland regarding the rugby tour. It was terrible. How very ironic that years after moving to Japan (which was another despised country in those days and I suffered for it) a lovely seaweed-eating South African changed my life, so much for the better! My hat’s off to you, Livs! You’re the best.

  • Bron
    May 27, 2006 Reply

    You tell ’em friend – much love the 2nd coolest saffy chick

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