4 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Southern Africa

Photo of author

By David

Southern Africa is the southernmost region of Africa, and encompases the following nations: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The region is also home to some of the world’s most stunning natural beauties, from wildlife reserves to geologic formations.

More than that, Southern Africa is one of the most underlooked regions in the world when it comes to human history. The region was once home to ancient civilizations that still have their mark on the landscape today, such as Great Zimbabwe.

In this article, we’ll cover four of the most interesting facts about Southern Africa. Be sure to read until the end, as you might learn something new!

The Economy

The economy of Southern Africa is actually taking a lot of people around the world by surprise. Despite the dips in economic growth due to the coronavirus pandemic, many countries have managed quite well, and even above expectations.

For example, in this article published by financial advisor Christopher Roy Garland, the economy of the region only fell by 16% during the pandemic compared to the expected 40%. In addition to this, countries in Southern Africa were seeing increased growth rates before the pandemic, such as Botswana with a 3% economic growth in 2019.

Great Zimbabwe

Southern Africa is probably one of the last places you’d expect to find ruins of ancient medieval kingdoms, but the region is actually home to some very impressive historical sites.

Founded in the 9th century A.D, Great Zimbabwe was one of Africa’s great kingdoms. The city is thought to have been the capital of a regional empire, but experts are not sure which. The site itself is a staggering 1,780 acres, and some of the walls still standing today reach as high as 36 feet.

The iron-age city of Great Zimbabwe was abandoned around the 15th century and was first re-discovered in 1867 by a German-American hunter. The site may have also been found by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century, but there is no concrete evidence to back this up.

The World’s Largest Waterfall

Yep, Southern Africa is home to the world’s largest waterfall — Victoria Falls. While it is neither the tallest nor the widest in the world, it still manages to hold onto its title when looking at its width and height combined.

Victoria Falls formed about 200 million years ago, during the Jurassic Era. The area surrounding the site has been inhabited since before the stone age, and the name for the falls in the local dialect translates to “the smoke that thunders.”

As the site has been known to humans since before history, so there is no real recorded discovery of the falls. However, they first appeared on a map in 1715 after french cartographer Nicholas de Fer mapped the region.

The Languages

Southern Africa has two main language groups — Khoisan and Bantu. The Khoisan language group makes up a lot of Southern Africa, and also has an outlying pocket of speakers in East Africa. A unique characteristic of the Khoisan language are the clicking sounds that are used to produce various consonants.

The Bantu language is considered to be the larger of the two language groups in Southern Africa, as Bantu speakers span from Cameroon in the Gulf of Guinea across Africa to Kenya, and all the way down to the tip of the continent in South Africa. The most commonly spoken Bantu language is Swahili. With over 200 million speakers globally, it is among the top 10 most spoken languages.

Are you aware of other interesting facts about Southern Africa we didn’t cover here? Please share them in the comments section below.