While many areas of the northern hemisphere are being punished by record-breaking heatwaves, the other side of the planet is suffering at the other end of the thermometer. A ‘big freeze’ that had its hold on South Africa last week was responsible for 19 cold temperature records being smashed.
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12 locations saw record low temperatures and a further seven towns and suburbs suffered their ‘lowest maximums’. Many areas broke records that have stood for decades.
Johannesburg saw a record-low of -7ºC (19.4ºF), beating the previous record low of -6.3ºC from July 19, 1995. The coldest minimum was recorded in the city of Kimberley in the Northern Cape province, which saw the mercury plummet to -9.9ºC (14ºF).
Some parts of the country were covered in snow. Forecasters predict the weather will return to normal this week.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is a country in Southern Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world’s 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of 1,221,037 square kilometres (471,445 square miles). South Africa has three capital cities: executive Pretoria, judicial Bloemfontein and legislative Cape Town. The largest city is Johannesburg. About 80% of South Africans are of Black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages. The remaining population consists of Africa’s largest communities of European (White South Africans), Asian (Indian South Africans and Chinese South Africans), and Multiracial (Coloured South Africans) ancestry.
It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (former Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World, and the most populous country located entirely south of the equator. South Africa is a biodiversity hotspot, with a diversity of unique biomes and plant and animal life.