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Tuesday, 27th June 2017 

South African Fast Facts 2011

A list of 80 South African Fast Facts to show that we are not among the worst

In this week’s newsletter of "South Africa The Good News" has been included an updated version, (larger, longer, and better) of South African "Fast Facts". These have been broadly categorised into Economic, Political, Social, Tourism, Education, Environmental and Miscellaneous facts. All these facts have been sourced from the hundreds of surveys that are now available at the push of a button from Google, Wikipedia, Nationmaster etc.

Having said that, it is important to understand that no survey on anything covers every single country in the world. There are approximately 230 countries listed globally, 209 members of FIFA, and 189 registered with the UN (although some researchers will tell you the number is 250 if "countries" like the Vatican City, independent from Italy, are taken into account). The deepest survey we have come across includes 192 countries (Unemployment Statistics), but most surveys don’t exceed 140 countries, and in many only the world’s top 60 countries, as measured by $GDP are included.

There are only 80 countries with a population in excess of 10 million people. South Africa ranks in the late 20’s/early 30’s on many of the basic measures e.g. population 25th, $GDP 32nd, $GDP (price purchasing parity) 25th, land size 25th, roads network 17th, rail network 11th, air network 25th, beer consumption 12th etc.

Given our history, it is extraordinary how well South Africa performs in some areas and sadly (and easily explainable) how badly we perform in others. In www.sagoodnews.co.za, we often feel somewhat schizophrenic as we celebrate the good and confront (lament) the bad. And, of course, we live in eternal hope that the Powers that Be will use the lessons from the areas in which we excel to improve on the areas in which we fail.

Having said that, we are "worst in the world" at nothing! If you read anywhere in our media that we are "worst in the world", Google the issue, establish the size of the survey, and then write to the offending journalist/newspaper editor/talk show host/television announcer and correct him/her!

Our intention, in time, is to add a new "fast fact" every week, and "yes", we will add a section on where we do worst!


Steuart Pennington and James Miller (editor sagoodnews.co.za)

80 South African Fast Facts


•According to the Open Budget Index, South Africa has the most transparent budget in the world.
•South Africa is the only African country that is a member of the G20.
•In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Survey of Democratic Freedom, South Africa ranks 31st out of 184 countries.
•According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010/11, South Africa has the 34th most efficient government out of the 139 countries ranked.
•WorldAudit.org ranks South Africa as the 40th least corrupt nation out of 150 nations surveyed, ahead of Italy, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico. Transparency International ranks South Africa at 52 out of 150 countries.
•WorldAudit.org ranks South Africa as the 43rd most democratic country, ahead of India, Brazil, China and Russia, out of the 150 countries surveyed. The Freedom Institute places us 29th.
•South Africa ranks as the 61st strongest state out of 177 countries in the Fund for Pace's Failed State Index 2010. The index measures state vulnerability based on 12 social, economic, political and military indicators.
•In terms of the Global Competitiveness Report, South Africa’s biggest improvements over the past year have been combating crime (we moved from 120 to 110); Brain drain (we moved from 80 to 160); Government debt (we moved from 60 to 45) and tax efficiency (we moved from 40 to 30).


• In 2011, at 5.5%, South African interest rates were at a 30-year low.
• South African Tax Revenue has increased from R100 billion in 1994 to R640 billion in 2010.
• South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio is 32% (USA 100%, Japan 200%, UK 90%). The World Bank recommends a ratio of 60%.
• South Africa sold $1.8 billion worth of cars to the US in 2010, putting us ahead of Sweden and Italy as suppliers to the US market. Car sales are projected to grow 10% in 2011 to 460,000 units.
• South Africa exported 36.9% more vehicles in 2010 than 2009.
• The South African stock market rose 16.09% in 2010, ranking 8th out of the G20 nations and ahead of all of the G7 countries (Bespoke Investment Group).
• South Africa is ranked 1st out of 139 countries in respect of regulation of security exchanges according to the World Economic Forum competitiveness report 2010-2011.
• South Africa Ranks No 1 in respect of auditing and reporting, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010/11.
• South Africa ranks 1st out of 60 countries in the Economist’s House Price index for the period 1997 – 2009.
• The South African Rand was the second best performing currency against the US Dollar between 2007 and 2011, according to Bloomberg’s Currency Scorecard.
• SA is ranked 2nd out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting both borrowers and lenders when obtaining credit for business (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011)
• SA is ranked 6th in the world for protection of minority shareholders interests, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010/11.
• SA is ranked 10th out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting investors in business. (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011).
• South Africa ranks 11th out of 60 countries in the "Big Mac Index 2011" behind China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Russia and Egypt. The relative price of a Big Mac went down by 29% in South Africa. In Norway, it went up by 118%.
• South Africa is ranked 12th out of a total of?134 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2010, ahead of many developed nations, including, the UK (15th), United States (19), Canada (20), Australia (23) and France (46).
• South Africa ranks 24th out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Largest Gold Reserves" Index.
• In a survey of 192 countries, South Africa’s unemployment as a percentage of economically active population ranked 27th.
• South Africa is ranked 34th out of 183 countries for ease of doing business according to Doing Business 2011, a joint publication of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.
• South Africa ranks 41st out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Biggest Exporters" Index.
• South Africa ranked 54th out of 139 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2010/11.
• South Africa ranks 54th in a comparison of the overall tax burden of 150 countries worldwide.
• South Africa ranks in the top 20 countries for agricultural output.
• According to a survey of 62 countries by the World Bank and the IMF, South Africa has the 36th highest foreign debt, ahead of the US, Japan and all the European countries surveyed. The economist ranks South Africa 29th out of 60.


•The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown from 3.9million in 1994 to 11.3 million in 2010. South Africa is ranked among the top 5 countries in the world in respect of tourism growth (growing at 3 times the global average).
•Cape Town was named the top tourist destination in the world in the 2011 Traveler’s Choice Destinations awards.
•OR Tambo airport is the best airport in Africa, according to the World Airport Awards 2010/11. It was also in the top 3 most improved airports in the world for the same period.
•27 South African beaches were awarded Blue Flags, an international indicator of high environmental standards for recreational beaches in 2010.
•South Africa is ranked 66th out of 139 in the World Economic Forums Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2010/11.


•South Africa was the first African country to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. It is only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby Union and Soccer World Cups.
•In 2009, the Springboks become the first international team to be World Champions in both 15-a-side and Sevens rugby.
•South Africa is home to the world's largest individually timed cycle race (the Cape Argus Cycle Race), the world's largest open water swim (the Midmar Mile) and the world's largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon).
•5 South Africans hold the world extreme swimming world record for swimming 2.5kms around Cape Horn.
•Since the 1940’s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.


•SA has 30,000 schools (7,000 secondary, 23,000 primary). In 1994 only 12,000 had electricity. Now 24,000 have access to electricity.
•The University of South Africa (UNISA) is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with approximately 300,000 students.
•South Africa’s learner to teacher ratio has improved from 1:50 in 1994 to 1:31 in 2010.
•61% of South African primary school children and 30% of high school children receive free food as part of the school feeding scheme.
•The first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.
•Stellenbosch University was the first African university in the world to design and launch a microsatellite.

•In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to provide full protection status?for the Great White shark within its jurisdictional waters. Countries including USA, Australia, Malta and Namibia followed suit later.
•Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world according to the UK's National Physical Laboratory.
•Johannesburg ranks 2nd among countries from Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa in dealing with urbanisation and environmental challenges, in the MasterCard Insights Report on Urbanisation and Environmental Challenges.
•South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (Fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet.
•The Vredefort Dome (or Vredefort crater) in the Free State, is the largest verified impact crater on Earth at between 250 and 300km in diameter and is estimated to be over 2 billion years old.

Social and Infrastructure

•SA's population is the 27th largest in the world (there are 230 countries, only 80 have a population in excess of 10 million).
•The current police to population ratio is approximately 1:308 (SAPS – April 2011)
•The percentage of the South African population with access to clean drinking water has increased from 62% in 1994, to 93% in 2011. Access to electricity has increased from 34% in 1994, to 84% in 2011.
•In 2010, 13.5 million South Africans benefited from access to social grants, 8.5 million of which were children, 3.5 million pensioners and 1.5 million with disabilities. In 1994, only 2.5 million people had access to social grants, the majority of which were pensioners.
•Since 1994, 435 houses have been built each day for the poor.
•Two South African cities were voted amongst the world's top 100 Most Liveable Cities in the 2010 study conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Cape Town was ranked in 86th place and Johannesburg 90th
•SA ranks 6th out of 139 countries on the Legal Rights index, (Global Competitiveness Report).
•SA ranks 28th out of 139 countries on property rights (Global Competitiveness Report).
•SA ranked 34 out of 192 countries in terms of infrastructure and 12th for our rail network.
•South African media ranks38th out of 178 countries in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2010, higher than France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and all of the other BRICS countries.
•SA has the 18th largest prisoner to population ratio (USA is number 1).
•In terms of total crimes recorded SA ranked 10th, USA 8th and the UK 6th.
•Out of 230 cities surveyed around the world, Johannesburg ranks the 151st and Cape Town the 171st most expensive city for expatriates to live in according to the 2010 Cost of Living Standards Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting, ahead of Tokyo (2), Moscow (4), Hong Kong (8), London (=17), Paris (=17), Tel Aviv (19), Sao Paulo (21), Sydney (24), Rome (26), New York (27), Dubai (55) and Auckland (149).


•South Africa has 11 official, state wide, languages, more than any other country.
•The only street in the world to house 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West.
•Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of "Passive resistance" (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.
•The Western Deep Level mines are the world’s deepest mines at approaching 4km.
•South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo.
•South Africa is the first, and to date only, country to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme.
•SA ranks 12th in terms of beer consumption (China 1; USA 2; Russia 3; Brazil 4 and Germany 5).
•SA has 45 million active cell phones (population 49 million) – ranking in the top 5 globally in terms of cell phone coverage.
•2 Cape Town restaurants are in the top 50 restaurants in the world according to the S.Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list 2010. La Colombe restaurant in Constantia, Cape Town, was voted the 12th best and Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek came in at 31.

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