Saturday, February 6, 2016

Awesome Facts About South Africa

The Republic of South Africa is positioned at the southern tip of the continent of Africa and it has one of the most diverse ethnic societies of the world. The country has diverse culture, religion and languages due to this multi-ethnic characteristics. The nation is also referred to as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ due to this rich ethnicity.

The country of South Africa consists of the people of Sub-Saharan ancestry who speak different Bantu languages, nine of which are included in the official list. The nation recognises 11 official languages and two of these, the Afrikaans which originated from Dutch is the most common language while English is usually used for official purposes. The popularity and wide usage of these two languages comes from the history of colonialism that existed in the country few decades back. The country had history of colonial rule followed by the division of the country in terms of the race one belonged to, i.e., the whites and the blacks.

South Africa is a beautiful land that has rich treasures of ethnic heritage, history and rare flora and fauna of the world. 

The series of caves in the Gauteng Province of the country contained some rare old human fossils and archaeological remains, thus the site has been termed as the ‘Cradle of Humankind’. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because the fossils contained there are one of the oldest in the world. The various findings in the lands of South Africa suggests that the land was inhabited by a number of hominid species starting with the Australopithecus africanus about 3 million years ago. These were followed by the Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei and the modern humans, the Homo sapiens who have inhabited the place for about 170,000 years.

The land of South Africa was inhabited by a number of Bantu-speaking people before the colonisation started. Bartolomeu Dias, the famous Portuguese explorer was the first person to discover the lands of South Africa for the European community. He discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 as directed by the king of Portugal to find a trade route to India. His travel experience helped the other Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama who ultimately found the sea route to India landing at Calicut in 1498. The Portuguese maritime powers declined in the early 17th century which was soon overtaken by the Dutch.

Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch colonial administrator established a refreshment station at Cape of Good Hope in 1652 which later became Cape Town. The Dutch East India Company established a colony taking with them a number of slaves from India, Indonesia, and Madagascar to work at the lands. A large number of precious minerals like gold and diamond was found in the land in later years which attracted other colonial powers like the British towards the country. A number of fights and wars broke out and the British came to rule in 1795 overthrowing the Dutch.

The nation of South Africa has a long history of struggle and fights before the nation became a republic in 1961, however the racial discrimination called apartheid continued in the state. The first multi-racial election was held in 1994 ending the policy of apartheid in the country. Today, the nation has about 80% of people of African descent, whites about 8%, coloured 9% and Indian/Asian 3%. Christians dominate the scene among the people of other faiths, followed by Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others.

The large geographical area of the land of South Africa stands at 25th in the world and it is bounded by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean on three sides. The nearness of the sea is responsible for the general temperate type of climate present in the country. The interior of the country is generally a plateau and in some places, the land is almost flat. The great Kalahari Desert lies to the north-west of the country so the interior climate is slightly hot as compared to the coastal areas. The diverse landscape present in the country is the home of different varieties of wildlife not found anywhere.

The flora and fauna found in the lands of South Africa are one of its kind and they are a delight for wildlife enthusiasts. Different mammals are found in the country like the Transvaal lions, African leopards, South African cheetahs, white rhinos, giraffes hyenas, hippopotamus etc. The Kruger National Park, the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and Sabi Sand Game Reserve are the treasure houses of the wildlife of South Africa. The riverine rabbit is another endemic species found in the lands of South Africa which is critically endangered like many other species of the land.

The lands of South Africa are rich in diverse plant species which makes the country a very colourful and different place to explore. The grasslands type of vegetation are the most common which includes different types of grasses, shrubs and acacia trees. The baobab trees are specific to the lands of the country and in the dry areas, the aloes and euphorbias are found in abundance. The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa and it is endemic to its lands and the West Coast National Park is another place worth visiting. The Postberg Flower Reserve Section of the park is a must-visit in the months of August and September when the place is filled with blooming flowers.

Cape Town

The South African arts are one of the oldest art objects in the world being about 75,000 years and they were found in a South African cave. The Khoisan tribes, the Bantu/Nguni people had a distinct arts culture among them which are still visible through cave paintings. The cuisine of South Africa most often includes meat and the dishes are influenced by different cultures that is present on its lands. Dance is also a part of life and the people enjoy dancing there.

The two great personalities who fought against racism and colour distinction in South Africa are Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. While Gandhi ji later fought for Indian Independence, Nelson Mandela fought for equality in South Africa.

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