South Africa

What’s the currency used in South Africa?

And the answer: rand.

Photo courtesy: VCG Image

The rand takes its name from the Witwatersrand, which translates to "white waters' ridge," and is where Johannesburg was built. A bank note featuring the image of Nelson Mandela is commonly referred to as a "randela."

South Africa is home to an ancient and rich cultural history. Signs of human inhabitance in the region date back millions of years. In fact, some of the oldest human fossils have been discovered in a cave formation near Johannesburg now known as the "Cradle of Humanity." There are even hunter-gatherer tribes that originally moved into the region about 24,000 years ago still living around the Kalahari Desert in the northwest of the country, as their ancestors did.

South Africa is nicknamed the "rainbow nation" on account of its colorful cultural milieu. The nation has 11 official languages, and many more unofficial, as well as a diverse and steadily changing population. Much of this success can be attributed to revolutionary and South African president Nelson Mandela, who changed the face of the nation forever with his successful but hard-won efforts to end the oppressive state of apartheid in 1993. Mandela and former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk reached a peaceful agreement on the future of South Africa at the end of the year, an achievement for which they jointly received the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Contained within South Africa's borders are Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele, Khoisan, Hindu, Muslim, and Afrikaner peoples, to name a few. Though varied, each identity who calls South Africa home is a necessary contribution to the country’s heritage and culture.

Music is an essential element of South African culture. Check out the video below for a taste of South African house music.

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