Liesel EiselenWe have a lot be thankful for – just because we live on the southern tip of Africa. Of course we also have a great many challenges (which nation does not?), but consider for a moment how fortunate we are and just how broadly Mother Nature smiles on this part of the globe.

Particularly during the past two years, natural disasters have occurred in a great many places across the globe – with particular ferocity and frequency. Just think of the recent earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand, the floods in Australia, India, Pakistan and large parts of South America, the havoc wreaked by the Icelandic volcano…

In my lifetime, I remember only one earthquake in this country – the one that shook a part of the Western Cape in 1969. As earthquakes go, it was relatively mild (6,4 on the Richter Scale), and only seven people lost their lives. The upshot of it was that some lovely historic buildings were destroyed in the earthquake and then renovated and preserved for posterity.

Likewise, I can think of only one major flood – Laingsburg – which was very localised.
We have few tornadoes, no hurricanes, no monsoon rains, and no massive multi-storeyed freeway overpasses that have ever collapsed on hundreds of cars in this country. We’ve had no major fires in urban, densely populated areas that have resulted due to natural disasters, and no melting glaciers or avalanches have ever posed a threat to us. We have not experienced any tsunamis and none of us have ever had to flee from poisonous fumes, glowing lava or hot ash.

During the past 40 years, deaths due to natural disasters have averaged 60 a year in this country, compared to over 900 (if one divides the number of deaths by the number of countries – worldwide).

We do have to contend with droughts and hailstorms – and thank goodness I am not a farmer, even one with great insurance – but in comparison to the enormous amount of damage natural forces regularly wreak in other parts of the world, we come off virtually scot free, every time…

In addition, as any blurb on South Africa tells prospective visitors, we have a world in one country – beautiful mountains, deserts, vast stretches of white beaches, savannah, the Karoo with its koppies, the thorn tree studded Bushveld, subtropical KZN and the Lowveld, the fynbos of the Western Cape – and sometimes even some functioning ski slopes in southern mountain ranges.

Add to that a variety of fauna and flora that no other country can even begin to rival, a vast array of natural resources and most of our days are sunny.

To comprehend just how naturally blessed we are, compare our sundrenched days to the annual days of sunshine in Seattle – a miserable 58. (On average, we have 8,5 hours of sunshine per day, compared to 3,5 in London).

Of course, we also have one of the most ethnically diverse populations anywhere on earth. Such a national composition indubitably presents great challenges, but it also gives this country vibrancy and energy that makes Europe and the United States appear staid and boring.

One cannot but marvel at the people of this country who, proportionally, have won a remarkable number of Nobel Prizes, have proportionally registered more patents than any other nation and made for formidable sporting rivals in virtually every major sport (five South Africans have just broken the world extreme swimming record).

And probably the most delightful statistic of all proves that we are nice as well – not only do we readily greet and smile at strangers on the street and in lifts, but I was delighted to read recently that South Africans are not only the second most financially generous donors to good causes, but also rank fourth on the world-wide list when it comes to volunteering! (recently released report, Global Giving: The Culture of Philanthropy, from Barclays Wealth).

So look on the bright side for a change and count your blessings! Just watch your step, especially on the Drakensberg plateau, when you hear thunder rumbling – proportionally lightning annually kills more people in South Africa than anywhere else in the world! (150 South African deaths are recorded annually due to lightning, compared to, for example 50 in the US).

Oh, and I almost forgot, we have the longest wine route in the world, the country is rated third in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water, is the world’s second largest fruit exporter, the only country in the world that voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons programme and the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts.

We have the highest commercial bungi jump in the world, the world’s third largest canyon (Blyde – and the Fish River canyon is second after the US’s Grand Canyon) – and we have Rovos Rail as well, the most luxurious train in the world – which can take you, amongst others, to neighbouring Victoria Falls – at 1 708 metres wide, the largest curtain of water in the world!

Reprinted with permission.

Sourced by SA – The Good News
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