The Johannesburg Metro lies in the heart of Gauteng and comprises seven regions: Inner City, Soweto and environs; Diepsloot/Kya Sands; Randburg/near north suburbs; Roodepoort area; Sandton/Alexandra; and Orange Farm/Lenasia.
- Johannesburg grew from mining developments after gold was discovered in the region in 1886. Today it is one of the world’s biggest economic hubs with a population of 7 151 447 (2007)
- It is the only major city in the world that does not lie on a waterway
- Johannesburg outstripped Cape Town’s 200 years of growth in its first decade and the tussle over gold led to war between the British and Afrikaners
- Earlier, pastoral BaFokeng people dominated the landscape from about 1500 and a few other Sotho-Tswana peoples, most notably the BaKwena, also lived in the region. There is ample evidence of earlier hunter/gatherer habitation
- The city is believed to have been named in honour of Johannes Meyer and Johannes Rissik, land surveyers of the gold rush era
- Despite its relatively dry climate, Johannesburg has more than 10-million trees, and is said to be the biggest man-made forest in the world
- Johannesburg lies at an altitude of 1753m and is located on the highveld, the eastern plateau of South Africa. The city’s fine climate is sunny, dry and fairly mild. You can almost set your watch to the summer afternoon thundershowers. Winter is the sunniest time of the year, with mild days and cold nights, but like the rest of Gauteng, Joburg is a year-round destination
- Johannesburg is served by an excellent freeway network, including the N1/N3 ring road and the M1 linking Sandton to the CBD. It’s easy to get around town using the Rea Vaya rapid bus system
- The high-speed Gautrain makes OR Tambo International Airport an easy 20-minute trip from Sandston’s sparkling business district, with links to Rosebank and Parktown still under construction
- Water needs are supplied by the Vaal Dam, which receives inflow from various sources including the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
People and economy
- The Johannesburg Metro includes the city’s vibrant central business district and the new Sandton development node. This two-pronged commercial structure is a boon for spatial development and traffic planners, and the city does not suffer from the same high levels of congestion seen in major hubs elsewhere in the world
- Most companies – both local and global – operating in South Africa are headquartered in Johannesburg
- The financial services infrastructure out of Johannesburg is the envy of much of the world. The country’s big banks are all headquartered here and major global auditing firms are represented
- Johannesburg has a diversified ITC sector that’s busy developing solutions for manufacturing giants, financial and insurance houses, consumers and everything in between. Global ITC corporates are well represented and there is a healthy supply chain
- Light industry is scattered throughout the metro, and cement production and a range of industrial fabrication takes place
- The University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand are academic centres of excellence and are well integrated to serve the wider economy
- Advertising, print, broadcast and online media and marketing agencies abound
- Transport, private health care, real estate, and a far-ranging consumer retail market are all in evidence
- City Deep, south of town, is touted at the biggest “dry port” in the world and the area has been declared an industrial development zone (IDZ). Around 60% of goods arriving through the ports of Durban and Cape Town are destined for Gauteng
- The informal sector, comprising local traders, is substantial and officially supported by government.
Attractions at a glance
- The Apartheid Museum, just south of Johannesburg and set in the distinctive landscape of gold mine mounds southeast of the city, is sensitively styled and gives poignant insight into South African history
- Nearby Gold Reef City, a casino and mining town theme park, offers exhilarating rides as well as the chance to tour an authentic mine
- Attractions in the vibrant centre centre include Museum Afrika, the Market Theatre and Bassline Jazz Club, all in the vibey revamped Newtown district, which also features thriving arts and design centres
- Constitution Hill is the seat of South Africa’s revered Constitutional Court and also houses the Old Fort Prison Complex
- The Johannesburg Zoo and nearby Zoo Lake are great meeting places that are well used and appreciated by locals
- Tours to Soweto take in the Hector Pieterson Museum as well as a traditional meal at any number of restaurants catering for the tourist trade. There are also informative stops in the neighbourhoods where Nelson Mandela and other apartheid struggle heroes lived and worked. These are places where visitors can get a sense of Soweto’s special place in South African culture
- Johannesburg’s Botanical Garden is in the suburb of Emmarentia and is a favourite picnic venue among Jo’burgers from all walks of life, while the Walter Sisulu National Botanic Garden in Roodepoort holds popular summer concerts
- The FNB Stadium, which hosted the opening and closing games of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, is often filled to capacity for local and international sporting events. If you can, take in a local soccer game
- Johannesburg features some of the finest retail therapy opportunities under the African sun. The ever-expanding Sandton City is a great one-stop-shopping venue, while prospective diners are spoilt for choice at the adjacent Mandela Square, after which they’re at liberty to take in a show at Theatre on the Square. Meanwhile, Rosebank offers a more relaxed experience, where shoppers can browse through a range of African curios and relax in outdoor cafes … and that’s just for starters
- Accommodation ranges from international and boutique hotels to a huge range of artistically unique guesthouses and friendly B&Bs.
For more information, contact The Johannesburg Tourism Company, Ground Floor, Grosvenor Corner, 195 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North. Phone: +27 (0) 11 214 0700.