Tag Archives: south africa

The South African Rand

We use the rand every single day, whether it is paying for our rent, buying lunch, paying for that dream holiday or simply putting some away for that “rainy day”.

But have we ever thought of the history of our currency? Here are a few facts and information nuggets to get you  better acquainted with our “boks”

Bacic Info:

* The rand is named after the area in South Africa where gold was first discovered – The Witwatersrand (White-Waters-Ridge)

* The Symbol is “R”  which is subdivided into 100 cents “c”

* The ISO 4217 code is ZAR from the Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand

* The Rand was first introduced on the 14th February 1961 (Valentines Day!!!) after having used the Pound

* When it was introduced the Rand was 1.40 to the Dollar – this slowly depreciated to R3 = $1 in November 1992 and finally to R8 = $1 today.

* It is the currency of the Common Monetary Area which includes South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (although not part of the Common Monetary Area it can still be used as legal tender in Namibia)

* The denominations of the notes in 1961 were 1, 2, 10 , 20 and bore the image of Jan van Riebeeck

~ Interesting fact: The notes came in two variants – one having English written first and the other with Afrikaans 

* In 1978 the denominations were changed to 2, 5, 10 with 20 and 50 being introduced in 1984

* The images of the Big 5 on the notes was introduced in the 1990’s with the 100 and 200 appearing in 1994.

~ Interesting fact: The phrase “Big 5” was coined by big game hunters when they referred to the most difficult animals to hunt on foot 

The Notes Currently:

While we all know which note is represented by which Big 5 animal – have you ever considered what the reverse of the notes represent? There is in fact a wealth of information about South Africa depicted.

The R10 note – Rhinoceros

The reverse side is depicted by images representing “Agriculture”.  Our awesome country is basically self-sufficient in all major agricultural products. We are among the world’s top exporters of:

* Avocados

* Grapefruit

* Tangerines

* Plums

* Pears

* Ostrich Products

Wildely grown are maize, oats, sugar cane, wheat and sunflowers

The R20 note – Elephant

Representative of mining, of which South Africa is the world leader. We held the position of world’s largest gold producer for over 100 years (impressive!!!) until 2007. (Surpassed by China) We are the 4th largest producer of “a girl’s best friend” ~ diamonds.

The R50 note – Lion

Our Manufacturing industry! Sasol is the first and also the largest, oil-from coal refinery in the world! It provides as much as 40% of the country’s fuel. Putting us also in the top 10 exporters is that of primary steel.

The R100 note – Buffalo

Tourism, of which the zebra is the icon for our thriving tourism industry. From 2004, Tourism eclipsed gold as the foreign exchange earner. We are consistently receiving awards placing us among the top ten tourist destinations in the world. (Cape Town being voted as the world’s favourite city)

The R200 note – Leopard

Our elusive Leopard note’s reverse side represents Tansport and Communication. South Africa has the distinction of being the first country in the world (!) to launch prepaid, “please call me sms”, free voicemail and invented touchtone dialling. We are ranked as teh fourth-fastest growing mobile communications market in the world.

Note Boo-Boos

Not everything goes perfectly in the printing world and in 2011, the Reserve bank issued defective R100 notes.- defective because they lacked fluorescent printing under UV light.

Printing of the R100 was therefore moved in June from the South African Bank Note Company to Crane Currency’s Swedish division, producing reportedly 80 million R100 notes.

The Reserve bank had to shred approximately 3.6 million R100 notes printed by Crane’s, as they had the same serial numbers as a batch printed by the South African Bank Note Company.

And as if that is not enough the notes printed in Sweden were of the wrong colour and one millimeter short.

Where to from here?

On the 11th February, 2012, it was announced that there would be a new set of banknotes depicting the image of Nelson Mandela. These are in production, but no release date has been given.


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Posted by on 11/09/2012 in South Africa


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South Africa’s National Symbols

Top of the day to you all!

Every country has it’s own national symbols, but not to be biased or anything 🙂 I do think South Africa’s are the best and the most beautiful. May you enjoy learning more about Awesome South Africa and as an added bonus there is even a yummy recipe for you to follow!

Awesome National Animal

The Springbok – a  lithe and beautiful antelope, standing at only approx 75cm in height and weighing in at approx 40kg. The Sprinbok’s name is derived from its jumping display when running (pronk in Afrikaans)

Should you see them, snap your picture quickly as they are also the fastest of the antelopes and can reach speeds of approx 80km/h

Running from the middle of their back to their tails is a pocket-like skin flap. Should they be excited or frightened they lift this flap in order to warn other Springbok, as the white hairs underneath stand up as a conspicuous crest.

Both the male and females have horns, but the female’s are shorter and thinner.

Many many moons ago the Springboks would migrate in herds consisting of over 1 MILLION individuals!!!!!! Farmers would sit for days watching the herds pass over their lands. Unfortunately today most are confined to game reserves….or….on the reverse side of a Kruger rand.

The Springbok also lends its name to our Awesome South African Rugby team – affectionately shortened to “the Bokke”


Photo Credit to Bernd Wasiolka/

Awesome National Tree

An age old family line the Yellowwood has the honour of being national tree, having grown here for over 100-million years. The base of the trunk often reaches 3m in diameter with a height of approx 40m.

While you are visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to view the Proteas, you will be able to tick off another national symbol as the Yellowwood trees grow along the Yellowwood Trail, leading to Table Mountain.  Else you will find them in the ravines of the Drakensberg up to the Soutpansberg and The Blouberg in Limpopo.

Awesome National Flower

The King Protea (or Giant Protea) is the largest of the protea family (of which there are approx 1,400 varieties) and makes up an important part of the Cape Floral Region (a Unesco World Heritage Site).

Scientists have found that the Protea is an ancient flower dating back around 300 million years!

It’s specific name ‘cynaroides’, meaning ‘like cynara’ (the artichoke) was given due to the artichoke-like appearance of the flower-heads and its common name is from ‘Proteus’, the Greek god who changed his appearance whenever he wanted, as there as so many varieties.

Should you wish to snap a few pictures yourself of these beautiful flowers in bloom, then head on over to the Cape Town surrounds:

  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • Drive either from Cape Point to Kommetjie or Noordhoek to Constantia
  • In November – Cape Point

Our Awesome South African cricket team is named after this flower.


Awesome National Bird

This title goes to the elegant Blue Crane.  Should you wish to see this bird you would need to travel to South Africa, as its distribution is almost solely restricted to South Africa. Common in the Karoo, but can also be found in the Highveld and grasslands of KwaZulu-Natal.

While being tall (approx 1m) the Blue Crane is in fact the smallest species of crane. A ground-dwelling bird they live and feed in flocks of up to 40 birds. Pairs are monogamous with long-term bonds, once becoming parents, they have an almost non-existent nest, usually just a few small sticks pulled together.

Did you know that the long black ‘tail’ feathers are in fact wing feathers!

Awesome National Fish

The Galjoen was the choice as it is found only on the coastline stretching from Namibia to Durban.  Not only is it the national fish, but also a highly prized sports angling species – but it is illegal to either buy or sell these fish. They are reserved purely for recreational fishers and the fishers must be in possession of a recreational permit.

Galjoen braai (barbeque) recipe

1 fresh Galjoen, scaled, but not skinned

50ml melted butter

 50ml cooking oil

50ml coarse salt

30ml lemon juice

Open the galjoen, leaving the stomach area intact.

Remove the entrails carefully and wipe the fish clean inside – out.

Mix together the butter and cooking oil and a little of the salt, brush over the skin.

 Sprinkle the coarse salt generously over the flesh and place the open fish in a hinged grid.

 Braai the Galjoen, skin down about 300mm above moderate coals.

When the skin is crisp and golden brown turn the fish over and lower the grid to brown the flesh quickly without letting it become dry.

Baste with lemon juice from time to time.


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Posted by on 20/01/2012 in South Africa, Travel


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My Awesome South Africa

“Ringing out from our blue heavens, from our deep seas breaking round;

Over everlasting mountains where the echoing crags resound;

From our plains where creaking wagons cut their trails into the earth –

Calls the spirit of our Country…”

Every person has a choice to let the negatives become your focus point or to find the positives and remember those.

With that in mind today I make a decision.

I will focus on all the good and beautiful things that form proud and majestic South Africa.  I will hear her call and listen to her spirit.

Why? Because I am not in South Africa – South Africa is in me.

So where are all the good and beautiful things? Well they are all around us.

From our Mother City, Cape Town’s Table Mountain, being honoured as one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World (to be confirmed and validated early 2012). This will be a definite boost to our tourism for those wanting to tick off destinations on their bucket lists. The best way to relax and enjoy the view is of course with a glass of world class wine from the Cape Winelands.

Table Mountain

Did you know: Table Mountain is the only natural site on the planet to have a constellation of stars named after it? The constellation is called Mensa – meaning “the table”

We move on to a kaleidoscope of activities and must do’s: Oysters during the Knysna Oyster festival , – cherry picking on a cherry farm in Ceres – experiencing arts and culture at the Grahamstown festival – standing in awe at the Tswaing Meteorite Crater just outside Pretoria, experiencing the wonder of luxury train travel on Rovos Rail, seeing the beauty of blue lined Pretoria streets (not nicknamed the Jacaranda City for nothing), when the trees are in full bloom during the month of October.

One word: Awesome

Stopping at the oldest wildlife parks in Africa – the Kruger National Park, boasting the Big 5 (Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo, Lion), quality roads, accommodation and fantastic views. Spend some time in Kruger and you will take a lifetime of memories home with you and some fantastic photography shots. There is nothing quite like an African thunderstorm while in the bush.

Did you know: South Africa also has the Baby 5:

Ant Lion

Elephant Shrew

Leopard Tortoise

Red Billed Buffalo Weaver

Rhino Beetle

South Africa is AWESOME in sports: The first black golfer to win a major tournament on the European circuit was Vincent Tshabalala (French Open, 1976) – RSA was host to the Soccer World Cup (2010) – World Female Athlete of the year went to Hestrie Cloete (2003) – Gary Player has won 164 tournaments across the world – Karen Muir, at 12 years of age was the youngest to set the world record in any sport (swimming) – RSA was host to the Rugby World Cup (1995) – In 1979 Jody Schecter won the Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship for Ferrari (it would be 21 years before Ferrari won this title again) – RSA was host to the Cricket World Cup (2003) and these are only to name a few of the awards and events South Africa has hosted.

In the 1953 musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, Marilyn Monroe sings the words “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, if that is true then South Africa is every girls dream destination. In the 15 years after the first diamond (appropriately named the Eureka) was found in 1867, South Africa yielded more diamonds than India had in over 2,000 years!! The Kimberly Hole was at the centre of attraction during this time and after its 43 year existence lays claim to being the biggest man-made hole in the world. What about the Cullinan Diamond? The original rough diamond, the largest ever found, was approximately the size of a soft drink can! The diamond was cut and polished – the largest gem was called the Great Star of Africa and is now found in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross (British Royal Sceptre) and the Lesser Star of Africa is found in the British Crown.

Great Star of Africa

Did you know: To produce a single one-carat diamond, 250 tons of earth will have to be mined.

Another word: AWESOME

Fun Facts: Johannesburg has the biggest man-made forest in the world – Barberton’s mountains are the oldest in the world – The Fish River Canyon is the world’s second largest – St Lucia is the largest estuarine system in Africa – Afrikaans, the language, is only 90 years old, making it the youngest in the world – The Tugela Falls is the second-highest in the world – Durban has the highest number of tall buildings in South Africa (218) – The Rand was stronger than the US Dollar until 1982 – In 1961 the Pound is replaced by the Rand – Cape Town is voted as the world’s favourite city – Rovos Rail won the World’s Leading Safari Train for 3 consecutive years and has also been voted World’s leading luxury train – South Africa voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons programme (the only country in the world to do so)


I can go on and on about my awesome South Africa, listing a thousand reasons why I love my country and yes I know nothing can be a hundred percent perfect, so to the people I say:

Remember “UBuntu” – “I am what I am, because of who we all are” – the essence of being human, trusting, caring, it is a way of life, helpfulness and community. Remember it means humanity towards others, because we can’t be human all by ourselves, we need each other and you want to be known for your generosity.

and to my country I say: Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe – ons vir jou, Suid Afrika


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Posted by on 27/11/2011 in Travel


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