|South Africa is home to eight of the world's official heritage sites,
as determined by Unesco's World Heritage Committee. This is is not
surprising given the spectacular and diverse culture, nature and wildlife
that South Africa offers its tourists.
Some unique features include the fact that Table Mountain National
Park has more plant species in its 22 000 hectares than the British
Isles or New Zealand. The Drakensberg has both the highest mountain
range in Africa south of Kilimanjaro and the continent's richest
concentration of rock art.
The Richtersveld is the only one in the world that it is owned
and managed by a community.
South Africa has a total of 4 cultural, 3 natural and one mixed
(cultural and natural) sites:
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerley the Greater St Lucia Wetland
Park) has both one of the largest estuary systems in Africa and
the continent's southernmost coral reefs. The park has been noted
for its exceptional biodiversity, including some 521 bird species.
Robben Island is most famous as the place where Nelson Mandela,
the first democratically elected president of South Africa, was
imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years in jail. The island has since
become a symbol of the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression.
Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind covering the region of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans,
Kromdraai and environs has one of the world's richest concentrations
of hominid fossils, evidence of human evolution over the last 3.5-million
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
The Park has outstanding natural beauty, Africa's highest mountain
range south of Kilimanjaro, and the largest and most concentrated
series of rock art paintings in Africa - making it a World Heritage
site of both natural and cultural significance.
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Mapungubwe - "place of the stone of wisdom" - was South
Africa's first kingdom, and developed into the subcontinent's largest
realm, lasting for 400 years before it was abandoned in the 14th
century. Its highly sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with
China, India and Egypt.
Cape Floral Region
The Cape Floral Region takes up only 0.04% of the world's land area,
yet contains an astonishing 3% percent of its plant species. This
makes it one of the richest areas for plants in the world and one
of the globe's 18 biodiversity hot spots.
Some 2-billion years ago a meteorite 10 kilometres in diameter
hit the earth about 100km southwest of Johannesburg, creating an
enormous impact crater. This area, near the town of Vredefort in
the Free State, is known as the Vredefort Dome.
Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape covers 160 000
hectares of dramatic mountainous desert in the north-west part of
South Africa. A unique feature of the site is that it is owned and
managed by a community that until recently had very little to call
See also Encounter Magazine's guide on South
Africa World heritage.