South Africa is located on the southern tip of the African continent. The country is rich in recorded history and enjoys one of the highest numbers of tourists in the African region. Pretoria is the capital of South Africa, the seat of the executive arm of government. It was named after Andries Pretorius. The name has however been debated for a while now, with proposals to change its name to Tshwane.
Other arms of government are based in other cities. The legislative capital of South Africa is in Cape Town, while the judicial Capital is Bloemfontein. It was established in 1855 with a larger white population than other cities. Whites are actually the majority in Pretoria. The major language spoken in Pretoria is Afrikaans. Here are some 10 things to learn about the Capital of South Africa:
Things To Know About The Capital Of South Africa
1. Church Street is the longest street in South Africa. It is also one of the longest straight streets in the world. At 26 km, Church Street, the City’s main road is one of the longest in the world. It was infamous for the 1983 bombings targeted at the South African Air Force headquarters. The attack claimed 19 lives and wounded more than 200 people. It was a very tragic incident at the time of its happening.
2. The streets of Pretoria are also lined with numerous jacaranda trees. These trees in full bloom have a characteristic purple-blue colour. They bloom in spring/October for about three weeks. The numerous Jacaranda trees led to the city being nicknamed Jacaranda City. A popular belief during this time is that if a jacaranda flower falls on a student’s head, they will pass their exams. This is because it coincides with the University of Pretoria end year exams.
3. Pretoria is also the country’s academic centre. It is home to the University of Pretoria. The University of Pretoria is the largest residential University in South Africa. The institution provides education to around 40000 students. Pretoria is also home to the Tshwane University of Technology, a research-intensive institution. UNISA is also based in Pretoria; it is the largest long-distance educational institution in the world.
4. The Union Buildings in Pretoria is the official seat of power in South Africa. The structure was constructed in 1913 and was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The Union Building is also the site of all presidential swearing-in ceremonies. It was designed to house the public service and it was considered at the time, the largest building in the country.
5. Pretoria was once a destination for the world’s largest soccer ball sculpture. It was constructed when it was announced that South Africa would host the 2010 World Cup. It was built on the top of the Lukasrand Telkom Tower. The ball sculpture has a diameter of 24 meters and is 8 storeys tall. The ball is also fully recyclable. This, however, was before DOHA, Qatar recently broke the record in which Doha Bank sponsored and developed a project to build a giant soccer ball, which measures 40 feet in diameter.
6. Pretoria is the capital city with the highest number of embassies in Africa. The city hosts 130 embassies, which makes it second in the world after Washington DC with 189 embassies. This, of course, is at the advantage of any traveller from the country.
7. The oldest intact skull is housed in Pretoria’s Transvaal Museum. Mrs Ples, as it is commonly referred to, was discovered near Johannesburg at the cradle of mankind. The skull is believed to have belonged to an ancient ancestor of mankind and it dates back to more than two million years ago.
8. Records show that Winston Churchill served time in the Staats Model School in Pretoria. This was during the Anglo-Boer war from 1899 – 1902. The future British prime minister would later escape and flee to Mozambique.
At the time of his capture, he was 25 years old. He was captured when Boer commandos ambushed the armoured train that he and other British soldiers were riding in.
9. Pretoria is also linked to Cape Town by the Blue Train. The Blue Train offers one of South Africa’s premier travelling experiences. With butler service, gold-tinted picture windows, soundproofed en suite cabins, the 1600km luxury train ride is among the world’s most luxurious train journeys.
10. Pretoria is also home to the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. It was established in 1899 by J.W.B. Gunning. It is located in the CBD and is also informally referred to as the Pretoria Zoo.
It was named the official National Zoological Gardens in 1916. It is home to about 700 species.