2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Geography

Coordinates: 26°08′00″S, 27°54′00″E

Flag of Johannesburg Johannesburg: Seal
( In detail) ( In detail)
City motto: Unity in Development
Location of Johannesburg
Province Gauteng
Mayor Amos Masondo
 - % water
1,644 km²
 - Total ( 2001)
 - Density
Ranked 96th
Established 1886
Time zone SAST ( UTC+2)
Calling code 011

Johannesburg, also known as eGoli, is the most populous city in South Africa. The city is affectionately known as "Jo'burg", "Jozi" and "JHB" by South Africans. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng Province, the wealthiest province in South Africa, and the site of the South African Constitutional Court. The city is one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world, and one of Africa's global cities (classified as a gamma world city). Whilst sometimes mistakenly assumed to be South Africa's capital city, Johannesburg is not even one of South Africa's three official capital cities (although Pretoria, which is in the same province, is).

Johannesburg is the site of a large-scale gold and diamond trade due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills. Johannesburg is also served by O.R. Tambo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Africa and a gateway for international air travel to and from the rest of southern Africa.

According to the 2001 Census, the population of the city is more than three million. Johannesburg's land area of 1,644 km² is very large when compared to other cities, resulting in a population density of only 1,962/km². The population of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area is almost eight million. Johannesburg also encompasses Soweto to the south west, a township which the apartheid government established to accommodate the large number of migrant workers.


The farm where gold was first discovered in 1886.
The farm where gold was first discovered in 1886.
The Central Business District of Johannesburg around 1931.
The Central Business District of Johannesburg around 1931.

The region surrounding Johannesburg has been inhabited for millions of years. The Sterkfontein Caves, to the north west, have produced the most complete skeleton of a 3.3 million-year old hominid as well as close to 700 specimens of a closely related species, Australopithecus africanus, among them Mrs Ples, which is between 2.8 and 2.3 million years old.

It is is theorised that the Johannesburg region was inhabited by the nomadic Bushmen people around 100,000 years ago. The Bushmen is said to have lived in the area until the Bantu-speaking people migrated into the area around the year AD 1060. The Bantu people were Iron Age people who domesticated animals, farmed crops, worked metal, made pottery, and lived in organised villages.

The region remained inhabited by both the Bushmen and the Bantu people. When Europeans arrived in the area, small numbers of Boers started farms, but there was no major European settlement until the 1880s, when gold was discovered in the region, triggering a gold rush.

Gold was initially discovered slightly to the east of present-day Johannesburg, in Barberton. Gold prospectors soon discovered that there were even richer gold reefs in the Witwatersrand.

The town was initially much the same as any small prospecting settlement, but as word spread, people flocked to the area from all other regions of the country as well as from North America, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Europe. As the value of control of the land increased, tensions developed between the Afrikaners, who controlled the region during the nineteenth century, and the British, culminating in the Second Anglo-Boer War. The Boers lost the war and control of the area was ceded to the British.

When the Union of South Africa was declared in 1910, this paved the way for a more organised mining structure. Later the South African government instituted a harsh racial system whereby blacks and Indians were heavily taxed, barred from holding skilled jobs, and consequently forced to work as migrant labour on Johannesburg's growing crop of gold mines.

The South African government then instituted a system of forced removals, moving the population of non-European descent into specified areas. It is this system that created the sprawling shantytown of Soweto (South Western Townships), one of the areas where blacks were forced to live during the apartheid era. Nelson Mandela spent many years living in Soweto and his Soweto home in Orlando is currently a major tourist attraction.

Large-scale violence broke out in 1976 when the Soweto Students' Representative Council organised protests against the use of Afrikaans as primary language of instruction, considered to be the language of the oppressors, in black schools. Police shot into a student march, and 1000 people died in the following 12 months protesting the apartheid system. One of the most famous victims of the massacre, Hector Pieterson, is commemorated with a large Museum dedicated to his memory in Soweto.

The regulations of apartheid were abandoned in February 1990, and since the 1994 elections, Johannesburg has been free of discriminatory laws. The black townships have been integrated into the municipal government system, and to some extent, the suburbs have become multiracial. However, there has been a large-scale migration of businesses and commerce away from the Central Business District and southern suburbs in favour of the northern suburbs. This was fueled by a rise in the crime rate, serious traffic congestion and inadequate public transport, and a more favourable tax environment for landlords in the northern suburbs prior to the integration of the city. Currently the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council is implementing a large scale Inner City Revival project leading to many business moving back to the inner city.


Administrative Regions
Region 1 Diepsloot, Kya Sand
Region 2 Midrand, Ivory Park
Region 3 Bryanston, Douglasdale, Fourways, Randburg, Sandton, Strijdompark, Sunninghill, Woodmead
Region 4 Emmarentia, Greenside, Melville, Northcliff, Rosebank, Parktown, Parktown North,
Region 5 Roodepoort, Constantia Kloof, Northgate
Region 6 Doornkop, Soweto, Dobsonville, Protea Glen
Region 7 Alexandra, Wynberg, Bruma
Region 8 Inner City
Region 9 Johannesburg South, City Deep, Aeroton, Southgate
   Region 10   Meadowlands, Diepkloof
   Region 11   Orange Farm, Ennerdale, Lenasia

During the apartheid era, Johannesburg was divided into 11 local authorities, seven of which were white and four black or Coloured. The white authorities were 90 % self-sufficient from property tax and other local taxes, and spent Rand 600 ( USD $93) per person, while the black authorities were only ten percent self-sufficient, spending Rand 100 (USD $15) per person.

The first post-apartheid City Council was created in 1995. The council adopted the slogan "One City, One Taxpayer" in order to highlight its primary goal of addressing unequal tax revenue distribution. To this end, revenue from wealthy, traditionally white areas would help pay for services needed in poorer, black areas. The City Council was divided into four regions, each with a substantially autonomous local regional authority that was to be overseen by a central metropolitan council. Furthermore, the municipal boundaries were expanded to include wealthy satellite towns like Sandton and Randburg, poorer neighbouring townships such as Soweto and Alexandra, and informal settlements like Orange Farm.

In 1999, Johannesburg appointed a city manager in order to reshape the city's ailing financial situation. The manager, together with the Municipal Council, drew up a blueprint called "Igoli 2002". This was a three-year plan that called upon the government to sell non-core assets, restructure certain utilities, and required that all others become self-sufficient. The plan took the city from near insolvency to an operating surplus of R153 million (USD $23.6 million).


After the Group Areas Act was scrapped in the early 1990s, Johannesburg was affected by urban blight. Thousands of poor, mostly black, people who had been forbidden to live in the city proper, moved into the city from surrounding black townships such as Soweto. Crime levels in formerly white areas rose. Many buildings were abandoned by landlords, especially in the high-density areas such as Hillbrow. Many corporations and institutions, including the JSE Securities Exchange, moved their headquarters away from the city centre, to suburbs such as Sandton. By the late 1990s, Johannesburg was rated as one of the most dangerous cities in the world with well over 1000 murders every year.

Reviving the city centre is one of the main aims of the municipal government of Johannesburg. Drastic measures have been taken to reduce crime in the city. These measures include closed-circuit television on street corners. Statistics show that crime levels in Johannesburg have dropped as the economy has stabilised and begun to grow . In an effort to prepare Johannesburg for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, local government has enlisted the help of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to help bring down the crime rate, as the opening and closing matches of the tournament will be played in the city .

Geography and climate

Johannesburg is located in the eastern plateau area of South Africa, known as the Highveld, at an elevation of 1753 metres. The city is located on a small ridge called the Witwatersrand (White Water's Ridge: Afrikaans) and the city's northern and western suburbs have undulating hills, while the eastern metro area is generally flat.

The city enjoys a dry, sunny climate with the exception of occasional late afternoon downpours in the summer months of October to April. Temperatures in Johannesburg are usually fairly mild thanks to the city's high altitude, with the average maximum daytime temperature in January of 26ºC, dropping to an average maximum of around 16°C in June. During the winter, the temperature occasionally drops to below freezing at nightime, causing frost. Snow is a rare occurrence, although the city experienced snowfall in September 1982 and light snow in August 2006). The annual average rainfall is 713mm, which is mostly concentrated in the summer months.

Despite the relatively dry climate, Johannesburg contains about six million trees, and it is often claimed that the city has the largest man-made forest in the world. Many trees were originally planted in the northern areas of the city at the end of the 19th century, to provide wood for the mining industry. The areas were developed by a German immigrant, who called the forest estates Sachsenwald. The name was changed to Saxonwold, now the name of a suburb, during World War I. White residents who moved into the areas, now generally referred to as the Northern Suburbs, retained many of the original trees and planted new ones, with the encouragement of successive city councils. In recent years, however, a considerable number of trees have been felled, to make way for the Northern Suburbs' speedy residential and commercial redevelopment. The city is therefore at risk of losing its forest coverage within a few decades.

Climate Table
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Highest recorded temperature ( °C) 35 34 32 29 26 23 24 26 31 32 33 32 35
Average daily maximum temperature ( °C) 26 25 24 21 19 16 17 19 23 24 24 25 22
Average daily minimum temperature ( °C) 15 14 13 10 7 4 4 6 9 11 13 14 10
Lowest recorded temperature ( °C) 7 6 2 1 -3 -8 -5 -5 -3 0 2 4 -8
Average monthly precipitation ( mm) 125 90 91 54 13 9 4 6 27 72 117 105 713
Average number of rain days (>= 1 mm) 16 11 12 9 3 2 1 2 4 10 15 15 99
Source: South African Weather Service


Geographical distribution of home languages in Johannesburg.
Geographical distribution of home languages in Johannesburg.

According to the 2001 South African National Census, the population of Johannesburg is 3,225,812 people, though including the East Rand and other suburban areas it's around 7 million, who live in 1,006,930 formal households, of which 86 % have a flush or chemical toilet, and 91 % have refuse removed by the municipality at least once a week. 86 % of households have access to running water, and 80 % use electricity as the main source of energy. 22 % of Johannesburg residents stay in informal dwellings. 65 % of households are headed by one person.

Black Africans account for 73 % of the population, followed by whites at 16 %, Coloured South Africans at 6 % and Asians at 4 %. 42 % of the population is under the age of 24, while 6 % of the population is over 60 years old. 37 % of city residents are unemployed. 91 % of the unemployed are black. Women comprise 43 % of the working population. 19 % of economically active adults work in wholesale and retail sectors, 18 % in financial, real estate and business services, 17 % in community, social and personal services and 12 % are in manufacturing. Only 0.7 % work in mining.

34 % of Johannesburg residents speak Nguni languages at home, 26 % speak Sotho languages, 19 % speak English, and 8 % speak Afrikaans. 29 % of adults have graduated from high school. 14 % have higher education (University or Technical school). 7 % of residents are completely illiterate. 15 % have primary education.

34 % use public transportation to commute to work or school. 32 % walk to work or school. 34 % use private transportation to travel to work or school.

53 % belong to mainstream Christian churches. 24 % are atheist. 14 % are members of African Independent Churches. 3 % are Muslim. 1 % are Jewish. 1 % are Hindu.


The skyline of Johannesburg's Central Business District as seen from the observatory of the Carlton Centre.
The skyline of Johannesburg's Central Business District as seen from the observatory of the Carlton Centre.

Johannesburg is the economic and financial hub of South Africa, producing 16 % of South Africa's gross domestic product, and accounts for 40 % of Gauteng's economic activity. Mining is the foundation of the Witwatersrand's economy, but its importance is gradually declining. While gold mining no longer takes place within the city limits, most mining companies have their headquarters in Johannesburg. The city has a great variety of manufacturing industries, including steel and cement plants. Many banking and commercial companies are also located in Johannesburg. Johannesburg has Africa's largest stock exchange, the JSE Securities Exchange. Due to its commercial importance, this city is the site of a number of government branch offices, as well as consular offices and other institutions that are usually found only in capital cities. There is also a very large informal economy consisting of cash-only street traders and vendors which are largely missed in official statistics. The Witwatersrand urban complex is a major consumer of water in a dry region. Its continued economic and population growth has depended on schemes to divert water from other regions of South Africa and from the highlands of Lesotho, but additional sources will be needed early in the 21st century.

The container terminal at City Deep is purported to be the largest "dry port" in the world, with some 60 % of cargo that arrives through the port of Durban arriving in Johannesburg. The City Deep area has been declared an IDZ (industrial development zone) by the Gauteng government, as part of the Blue IQ Project.

Johannesburg's largest and most prestigious shopping centres are Sandton City and Hyde Park respectively. Other centres include Rosebank, Eastgate, Westgate, Northgate, Southgate, and Cresta. There are also plans to build an extremely large shopping centre, known as the Zonk'Izizwe Shopping Resort, in Midrand. "Zonk'Izizwe" means "All Nations" in isiZulu, indicating that the centre will cater to the city's diverse mix of peoples and races.


Johannesburg as seen from the International Space Station.
Johannesburg as seen from the International Space Station.

The different suburbs of Johannesburg are generally categorised by compass direction, as different areas of the city have greatly different personalities. Since Johannesburg is such a large city, there is great variety in the suburbs that comprise it. While the Central Business District and the surrounding areas were formerly highly desired wealthy areas, they have lost their former reputation after migrants took over abandoned buildings, and the crime level rose accordingly. The suburbs to the south of the city are mainly lower-class residential suburbs along with some townships, although most suburbs in the South tend to be extremely large and undistinguished.

The northern and northwestern suburbs have become the centre for the wealthy, containing the high-end retail shops and well as several upper-class residential areas including Houghton, where Nelson Mandela makes his home. The northwestern area in particular is vibrant and lively, with the mostly-black suburb of Sophiatown a hotbed of political activity and the Bohemian-flavoured Melville featuring lively gathering places and nightlife. Auckland Park is home to the headquarters of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the University of Johannesburg.

To the southwest of the City Centre is Soweto, a mostly black urban area constructed during the apartheid regime specifically for housing African people who were then living in areas designated by the government for white settlement. Today, Soweto is among the poorest parts of Johannesburg. The eastern suburbs include Yeoville, a hot spot for black nightlife despite its otherwise poor reputation, and several residential areas that are slowly gaining respectability.


Johannesburg has not traditionally been known as a tourist destination, but the city is a transit point for connecting flights to Cape Town, Durban, and the Kruger National Park. Consequently, most international visitors to South Africa pass through Johannesburg at least once, which has led to the development of more attractions for tourists. Recent additions have centred around history museums, such as the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum. Gold Reef City, a large amusement park to the south of the Central Business District, is also a large draw for tourists in the city. The Johannesburg Zoo is also one of the largest in South Africa.

The city also has several art museums, such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, which featured South African and European landscape and figurative paintings. The Museum Africa covers the history of the city of Johannesburg, as well as housing a large collection of rock art. The Market Theatre complex attained notoriety in the 1970s and 1980s by staging anti-apartheid plays, and has now become a centre for modern South African playwriting.

There is also a large industry around visiting former townships, such as Soweto and Alexandra. Most visitors to Soweto go to see the Mandela Museum, which is located in the former home of Nelson Mandela.

The Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site is 25 kilometres to the northwest of the city. The Sterkfontein fossil site is famous for being the world's richest hominid site and produced the first adult Australopithecus africanus and the first near-complete skeleton of an early Australopithecine.

Sports teams and stadiums

Ellis Park Stadium, the host of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Ellis Park Stadium, the host of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Club Sport League Stadium
Kaizer Chiefs Football Premier Soccer League Johannesburg Stadium
Moroka Swallows Football Premier Soccer League Rand Stadium
Orlando Pirates Football Premier Soccer League FNB Stadium
Alexander United Football MTN Supersport Leagues Alexander Stadium
Katlehong City Football MTN Supersport Leagues Potgietersrus Rugby Stadium
Highveld Lions Cricket Standard Bank Cup Series Wanderers Stadium
Lions Rugby Super 14 Ellis Park Stadium
Golden Lions Rugby Currie Cup Ellis Park Stadium

Johannesburg’s most popular sports by participation are football, running, rugby, and cricket. The Lions, formerly the Cats, represent Johannesburg, North West and Mpumalanga in the Southern Hemisphere's Super 14 Rugby Competition, which includes teams from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Johannesburg is also the home of the Golden Lions, who play at Ellis Park Stadium and compete in the Currie Cup.

Early each Sunday morning, tens of thousands of runners gather to take part in informal runs organised by several athletic clubs. People from Johannesburg are football mad and clubs from Johannesburg either play in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) or the First Division. In the PSL, the top Johannesburg teams are all fierce rivals and include Kaizer Chiefs (also known as the Amakhosi), Orlando Pirates (also known as the Buccaneers) and Moroka Swallows, based at the city's Johannesburg, Rand, and FNB stadiums respectively. Witwatersrand University, nicknamed the Clever Boys, who have a player membership of over 1,500, one of the world's largest are also part of the premier league. First Division teams include Katlehong City and Alexander United, who play at Alexander and Reiger Park stadiums respectively

In cricket, the Highveld Lions represent Johannesburg, the rest of Gauteng as well as the North West Province at the Wanderers Stadium. They take part in the Supersport and MTN Domestic Championship. Johannesburg will also be the location of several matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is to be held in South Africa.


The M2 in the afternoon as it passes through the Central Business District.
The M2 in the afternoon as it passes through the Central Business District.
Beyers Naudé Drive, one of Johannesburg's main arterial avenues, in Fourways.
Beyers Naudé Drive, one of Johannesburg's main arterial avenues, in Fourways.
A full minibus taxi.
A full minibus taxi.
A board on the M1 indicating the exit for Johannesburg. The M1 is one of the busiest highways in Johannesburg.
A board on the M1 indicating the exit for Johannesburg. The M1 is one of the busiest highways in Johannesburg.
A rainy drive on the N1.
A rainy drive on the N1.

Johannesburg, much like Los Angeles, is a young and sprawling city geared towards private motorists, and lacks a convenient public transportation system. However, as many of Johannesburg's residents are comparatively poor when compared to those of Los Angeles, a significant number are unable to afford their own cars and are dependent on the city's informal minibus taxis.

Mass transit

Johannesburg's metro railway system connects central Johannesburg to Soweto, Pretoria, and most of the satellite towns along the Witwatersrand. The railways transport huge numbers of workers every day. However, the railway infrastructure was built in Johannesburg's infancy and covers only the older areas in the city's south. In the past half century Johannesburg has grown largely northwards, and none of the northern areas, including the key business districts of Sandton, Midrand, Randburg, and Rosebank, have any rail infrastructure.

The Gauteng Provincial Government's Blue IQ Project, Gautrain, however, has made provisions for the creation of a rapid rail link, running north to south, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and east-west between Sandton and Johannesburg International Airport. Slated to be ready in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the rail system is being designed to alleviate traffic on the N1 freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, which records vehicle loads of up to 160,000 per day.


Johannesburg is served by OR Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International Airport) for both domestic and international flights. Other airports include Rand Airport, Grand Central Airport, and Lanseria. Rand Airport, located in Germiston, is a small airfield used mostly for private aircraft and the home of South African Airways's first Boeing 747 Classic, the Lebombo, which is now an aviation museum. Grand Central is located in Midrand and also caters to small, private aircraft. Lanseria Airport is used for commercial flights to Cape Town, Botswana, and Sun City.


Johannesburg is served by a bus fleet operated by Metrobus, a corporate unit of the City of Johannesburg. It has a fleet consisting of approximately 550 single and double-decker buses, plying 84 different routes in the city. This total includes 200 modern buses (150 double-deckers and 50 single-deckers), made by Volvo and Marcopolo/Brasa in 2002. Metrobus' fleet carries approximately 20 million passengers per annum. Metrobus also operates a number of open-top buses in the "City Slicker" role, using them to provide guided tours around the city. In addition there are a number of private bus operators, though most focus on the inter-city routes, or on bus charters for touring groups.


Johannesburg has two kinds of taxis, metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city looking for passengers and instead must be called and ordered to a destination. Metered taxis are rare, in comparison to many other cities.

The minibus "taxis" are the de facto standard and essential form of transport for the majority of the population. Although essential, these taxis are often of a poor standard in not only road-worthiness, but also in terms of driver quality with a majority of taxi drivers breaking traffic laws regularly (such as driving in the emergency lane while speeding on a highway). With the high demand for transport by the working class of South Africa, minibus taxis are often over-filled with passengers causing yet another hazard for road users. However, without subsidies from Government and a lack of other feasible public transport, minibus taxis will remain an essential form of transport for many of Joburg's working class.

Main article: Johannesburg freeways

The fact that Johannesburg is not built near a large navigable body of water has meant that from the very beginning of the city's history, ground transportation has been the most important method of transporting people and goods in and out of the city. One of Africa's most famous "beltways" or ring roads/orbitals is the Johannesburg Ring Road. The road is comprised of three freeways that converge on the city, forming an 80-kilometre loop around it: the N3 Eastern Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Durban; the N1 Western Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Pretoria and Cape Town; and the N12 Southern Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Witbank and Kimberley. The N3 was built exclusively with asphalt, while the N12 and N1 sections were made with concrete, hence the nickname given to the N1 Western Bypass, "The Concrete Highway". In spite of being up to 12 lanes wide in some areas (6 lanes in either direction), the Johannesburg Ring Road is frequently clogged with traffic. The Gillooly's Interchange, built on an old farm and the point at which the N3 Eastern Bypass and the R24 Airport Freeway intersect, is purported to be the busiest interchange in the Southern Hemisphere.


Construction of the Gautrain Rapid Rail started construction in October 2006 and will be completed by 2010, in time for the FIFA World Cup. It will comprise of number of underground stations (in the built up areas) as well as above ground. It will run from Johannesburg's Park Station, through Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand and into Pretoria. There will also be a line from the OR Tambo International Airport traveling to Sandton. This will be the first new rail way that has been laid in South Africa since 1977.

Universities in Johannesburg

Johannesburg has a well-developed higher education system of both private and public universities. Johannesburg is served by the public universities University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg.

University of Johannesburg was formed on 1 January 2005 when three separate universities and campuses— Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand, and Vista University—were merged together. The new university offers education primarily in English and Afrikaans, although courses may be taken in any of South Africa's official languages.

The University of the Witwatersrand is one of the leading universities in South Africa, and is famous as a centre of resistance to apartheid, earning it the nickname "Moscow on the Hill".

Private universities include Monash University, which has one of its eight campuses in Johannesburg (six of the other campuses are in Australia, while the eighth is in Malaysia), and Midrand Graduate Institute which is located in Midrand.

Sister cities

Johannesburg's sister cities are:

Retrieved from ""