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South African National Symbols

A National Symbol is a symbol that is intended to unite people by creating a visual, verbal or iconic representation of the people, values, goals or history of that people. The National Symbols are often rallied around as part of celebrations of patriotism, and are designed to be inclusive and representative of all the peoples of the national community.

National Flag

national flag of south africa

The National Flag of South Africa was first adopted on Freedom Day, 27 April 1994, and first flown on 10 May 1994, which is the day Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president.

The design of the national flag can be interpreted as the convergence of the diverse elements within the South African society, and in taking the road ahead in unity.

National Coat of Arms

The National Coat of Arms, or State Emblem, is the highest visual symbol of the state.

It can be interpreted as such:

  • Central image of a secretary bird with uplifted wings, a sun rising above the secretary bird, and protea below the bird representing the aesthetic harmony of all cultures in the country flowering as a nationsouth african coat of arms
  • Ears of wheat: Emblems of the fertility of the land
  • Tusks of the African elephant: Symbolizing wisdom, strength and steadfastness
  • Shield: Signifying the protection of South African
  • Spear and knobkierie: Visualizing the defense of peace rather than a posture of war
  • Images of Khoisan people: The first inhabitants of the land

The motto of the National Coat of Arms is !ke e:/xarra//ke, which means "diverse people unite"

National Orders of South Africa

  • Order of Mapungubwe: awarded for excellence and exceptional achievement
  • Order of the Baobab: awarded for distinguished serve in business or the economy, science, medicine or technology innovation, and community service
  • Order of the Companions of OR Thambo: awarded to heads of state and other dignitaries promoting peace, cooperation and friendship towards South Africa
  • Order of Luthuli: awarded for significant contribution towards the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution
  • Order of Ikhamanga: awarded for excellence in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism or sport
  • Order of the Mendi Decoration for Bravery: awarded to citizens who have performed extraordinary acts of bravery

Order of Mapungubwe

order of mapungubwe

Order of the Baobab

order of the baobab

Order of the Companions of OR Thambo

order of or thambo

Order of Luthuli

order of luthuli

Order of Ikhamanga

order of ikhamanga

Order of the Mendi Decoration for Bravery

order of mendi

National Animal

national animal springbok

The National Animal is the Springbok.

Scientific Name: Antidorcas marsupialis


National Bird

blue crane

The National Bird of South Africa is the blue crane. The Blue crane distribution is almost entirely restricted to South Africa.

Scientific Name: Anthropoides paradiseus


National Flower

king protea

Widely distributed in certain areas of the Western Cape, the giant or King Protea is the National Flower of South Africa.

Scientific Name: Protea cynaroides


National Fish


The galjoen is the National Fish, and was chosen for its endemism. It is found along the coast from Namibia to Durban, and nowhere else in the world.

Scientific Name: Dichistius capensis


National Tree

yellow wood tree

The real yellowwood tree, found from Table Mountain along the southern and eastern Cape coast, the Drakensberg up to the Soutpansberg and the Blouberg in Limpopo, is the National Tree of South Africa.

Scientific Name: Podocarpus latifolius