Baobabs, sunburnt hippos and 280 000 windmills – Ten more little known facts about South Africa

  1. There are round about 280 000 windmills on farms across South Africa, second in number only to Australia.
  2. Hippos are susceptible to sunburn, and spend most of their days with just their noses out of water. Their noses have special flaps that close when submerged, and they can stay under water for 25 minutes.
  3. South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 10 mm) and the largest (the baobab).
  4. Kimberley may have the biggest man-made hole in the world, but the southern Free State town of Jagersfontein has the deepest vertical man-made hole (and a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles breed in it).
  5. 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.
  6. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts, and the nuts and oils are exported to countries across the world.
  7. Dr. Christiaan Barnard, at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, performed the first human heart transplant in the world in 1967. He was also the first to do a “piggyback” transplant in 1971, and he was the first to do a heart-lung transplant.
  8. In its eastern part, South Africa entirely surrounds another country – Lesotho, an independent constitutional monarchy.
  9. South Africa has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean, featuring some of the best Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cinsault, Riesling, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage varietals.
  10. African Black-footed Penguins, although they cannot fly, can swim up to 40 km ph which is faster than the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin, which can attain speeds of 37 km ph.

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