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View of Johannesburg CBD from Braamfontein


Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Jo'burg; Jozi; Joni (Tsonga version); Egoli (Place of Gold); Gauteng (Place of Gold); Maboneng (City of Lights)
Motto: "Unity in development"
Johannesburg is located in South Africa
Johannesburg location within South Africa
Coordinates: 26°12′16″S 28°2′44″E Coordinates: 26°12′16″S 28°2′44″E
Country South Africa
Province Gauteng
Municipality City of Johannesburg
Region Region F
Established 1886
 •  Mayor Parks Tau ( ANC)
 • City 508.69 km2 (196.41 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,644.96 km2 (635.12 sq mi)
Elevation 1,753 m (5,751 ft)
Population (2001 city; 2011 metro)
 • City 1,009,035
 • Density Bad rounding here2,000/km2 (Bad rounding here5,100/sq mi)
 •  Metro 4,434,827
 • Metro density Bad rounding here2,700/km2 (Bad rounding here7,000/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2001)
 •  Black African 48.7%
 •  Coloured 17.1%
 •  Indian/ Asian 11.2%
 •  White 22.9%
First languages (2001)
 • English 37.1%
 •  Zulu 17.3%
 • Afrikaans 16.0%
 •  Sotho 5.7%
 • Other 23.9%
Time zone SAST ( UTC+2)
Area code(s) 011

Johannesburg ( / ˈ h æ n ɪ s b ɜr ɡ /; Afrikaans:  [jo.ˈɦɐ.nəs.ˌbœrx]) also known as Jozi, Jo'burg, Joni, eGoli or Joeys, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city is one of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the world, and is also the world's largest city not situated on a river, lake, or coastline. It claims to be the lightning capital of the world, though this title is also claimed by others.

While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa's three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court, which has the final word on interpretation of South Africa's new post-Apartheid constitution. The city is the source of a large-scale gold and diamond trade, due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills.

Johannesburg is served by two international and one domestic airport. 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 is to the east of the city and Lanseria International Airport to the west. Rand Airport to the south east only handles general aviation flights, though it has the capacity for large jet aircraft.

According to the 2007 Community Survey, the population of the City of Johannesburg was 4,434,827 and the population of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area was 7,151,447. A broader definition of the Johannesburg metropolitan area, including Ekurhuleni, the West Rand, Soweto and Lenasia, has a population of 10,267,700. The municipal city's land area of 1,645 km2 (635 sq mi) is very large when compared to other cities, resulting in a moderate population density of 2,364 /km2 (6,120 /sq mi).

Johannesburg includes Soweto, which was a separate city from the late 1970s until the 1990s. Originally an acronym for "South-Western Townships", Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg populated mostly by native African workers in the gold mining industry. Eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, the apartheid regime (in power 1948–1994) separated Soweto from the rest of Johannesburg to make it a completely Black area. The area called Lenasia has always been part of the City of Johannesburg. Lenasia is predominantly populated by those of English-speaking Indian ethnicity.


The farm where gold was first discovered in 1886

The region surrounding Johannesburg was originally inhabited by San tribes. By the 13th century, groups of Bantu-speaking people started moving southwards from central Africa and encroached on the indigenous San population. By the mid 18th century, the broader region was largely settled by various Sotho–Tswana communities (one linguistic branch of Bantu-speakers), whose villages, towns, chiefdoms and kingdoms stretched from what is now Botswana in the west, to present day Lesotho in the south, to the present day Pedi areas of the northern Transvaal.

More specifically, the stone-walled ruins of Sotho–Tswana towns and villages are scattered around the parts of the former Transvaal in which Johannesburg is situated. The Sotho–Tswana practised farming, raised cattle, sheep and goats, and extensively mined and smelted copper, iron and tin. Moreover, from the early 1960s until his retirement, Professor Revil Mason, of the University of the Witwatersrand, explored and documented many Late Iron Age archaeological sites throughout the Johannesburg area, dating from between the 12th century and 18th century, and many of these sites contained the ruins of Sotho–Tswana mines and iron smelting furnaces, suggesting that the area was being exploited for its mineral wealth before the arrival of Europeans or the discovery of gold. The most prominent site within Johannesburg is Melville Koppies, which contains an iron smelting furnace.

Many Sotho–Tswana towns and villages in the areas around Johannesburg were destroyed and their people driven away during the wars emanating from Zululand during the late 18th and early 19th centuries (the mfecane or difaqane wars), and as a result, an offshoot of the Zulu kingdom, the Ndebele (often referred to by the name the local Sotho–Tswana gave them, the Matebele), set up a kingdom to the northeast of Pretoria around modern day KwaNdebele.

The Dutch speaking Voortrekkers arrived in the early 19th century, driving away the Matebele with the help of Sotho–Tswana allies, establishing settlements around Rustenburg and Pretoria in the early 1830s, and claiming sovereignty over what would become Johannesburg as part of the South African Republic (known informally as the Transvaal Republic). Gold was discovered in the 1880s and triggered the gold rush. Gold was initially discovered some 400 km to the east of present-day Johannesburg, in Barberton. Gold prospectors soon discovered that there were even richer gold reefs in the Witwatersrand. Gold was discovered at Langlaagte, Johannesburg in 1886.

Johannesburg was a dusty settlement some 55 km from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) capital which was Pretoria. The town—named after two surveyors employed by the ZAR, Johannes Meyer and Johannes Rissik—was 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 Europe. Like many late 19th century mining towns, Johannesburg was a rough and disorganized place, populated by white miners from other continents, African tribesmen recruited to perform unskilled mine work, African women beer brewers who cooked for and sold beer to the black migrant workers, a very large number of European prostitutes, gangsters, impoverished Afrikaners, tradesmen, and Zulu "AmaWasha," Zulu men who surprisingly dominated laundry work. As the value of control of the land increased, tensions developed between the Boer government in Pretoria and the British, culminating in the Jameson Raid that ended in fiasco at Doornkop in January 1896 and the Second Boer War (1899–1902) that saw British forces under Lord Roberts occupy the city on 30 May 1900 after a series of battles to the south of its then-limits.

Pritchard Street c. 1910

Fighting took place at the Gatsrand Pass (near Zakariyya Park) on 27 May, north of Vanwyksrust—today's Nancefield, Eldorado Park and Naturena—the next day, culminating in a mass infantry attack on what is now the waterworks ridge in Chiawelo and Senaoane on 29 May.

During the war, many African mineworkers left Johannesburg creating a labor shortage, which the mines ameliorated by bringing in laborers from China, especially southern China. After the war, they were replaced by black workers, but many Chinese stayed on, creating Johannesburg's Chinese community, which during the apartheid era, was not legally classified as "Asian," but as "Coloured."

Street scene in Johannesburg in 1970

Controversy surrounds the origin of the name, as there were any number of people with the name "Johannes" who were involved in the early history of the city. The principal clerk attached to the office of the surveyor-general, Johannes Rissik, Christiaan Johannes Joubert, member of the Volksraad and the Republic's chief of mining, Paul Kruger, President of the South African Republic (ZAR). Rissik and Joubert were members of a delegation sent to England to attain mining rights for the area. Joubert had a park in the city named after him and Rissik Street is today a main street where the (historically important and dilapidated, since burnt out) Post Office and City Hall are located. The population in 1904 was 155,642, of whom 83,363 were Whites.

Major building developments took place in the 1930s, after South Africa went off the gold standard. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Hillbrow went high-rise. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the apartheid government constructed the massive agglomeration of townships that became known as Soweto (South Western Townships). New freeways encouraged massive suburban sprawl to the north of the city. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, tower blocks (including the Carlton Centre and the Southern Life Centre) filled the skyline of the central business district. The central area of the city underwent something of a decline in the 1980s and 1990s, due to crime and when property speculators directed large amounts of capital into suburban shopping malls, decentralised office parks, and entertainment centres. Sandton City was opened in 1973, followed by Rosebank Mall in 1976, and Eastgate in 1979.

On 12 May 2008 a series of riots started in the township of Alexandra, in the north-eastern part of Johannesburg, when locals attacked migrants from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing two people and injuring 40 others. These riots sparked the xenophobic attacks of 2008.

Soccer City in Johannesburg hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup final.


Johannesburg aerial view looking towards the south-east

Johannesburg is located in the eastern plateau area of South Africa known as the Highveld, at an elevation of 1,753 metres (5,751 ft). The former CBD is located on the south side of the prominent ridge called the Witwatersrand (Afrikaans: White Water's Ridge) and the terrain falls to the north and south. By and large the Witwatersrand marks the watershed between the Limpopo and Vaal rivers. The north and west of the city has undulating hills while the eastern parts are flatter.

Johannesburg may not be built on a river or harbour, but its streams are the source of two of southern Africa's mightiest rivers. A number of streams meander through the suburbs of Johannesburg, and form the source of two of southern Africa's primary rivers – the Limpopo and the Orange. Most of the springs from which many of these streams emanate are now covered in concrete and canalised, accounting for the fact that the names of early farms in the area often end with "fontein", meaning "spring" in Afrikaans. Braamfontein, Rietfontein, Zevenfontein, Doornfontein, Zandfontein and Randjesfontein are some examples. When the first white settlers reached the area that is now Johannesburg, they noticed the glistening rocks on the ridges, running with trickles of water, fed by the streams – giving the area its name, the Witwatersrand, "the ridge of white waters". Another explanation is that the whiteness comes from the quartzite rock, which has a particular sheen to it after rain.


Johannesburg features a Subtropical highland climate ( Köppen Cwb). The city enjoys a dry, sunny climate with late afternoon thundershowers in the summer months of October to April. Temperatures in Johannesburg are usually fairly mild due to the city's high elevation, with the average maximum daytime temperature in January of 25.6 °C (78.1 °F), dropping to an average maximum of around 16 °C (61 °F) in June. Winter is the sunniest time of the year, with mild days and cool nights, dropping to 4.1 °C (39.4 °F) in June and July. The temperature occasionally drops to below freezing at night, causing frost. Snow is a rare occurrence, with snowfall having been experienced in May 1956, August 1962, June 1964, September 1981, and with light sleet in August 2006. Snow fell again on 27 June 2007, accumulating up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in the southern suburbs, and then again on 7 August 2012.

Regular cold fronts pass over in winter bringing very cold southerly winds but usually clear skies. The annual average rainfall is 713 millimetres (28.1 in), which is mostly concentrated in the summer months. Infrequent showers occur through the course of the winter months. The lowest nighttime minimum temperature at Johannesburg is −8.2 °C (17.2 °F), recorded on the 13th June 1979. The lowest daytime maximum temperature is 1.5 °C (34.7 °F), recorded on the 19th June 1964.

Despite the relatively dry climate, Johannesburg has over ten million trees, and it is now the biggest man-made forest in the world, followed by Graskop in Mpumalanga which is the second biggest. 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 the Randlord, Hermann Eckstein, 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. Early (white) residents who moved into the areas Parkhurst, Parktown, Parkview, Westcliff, Saxonwold, Houghton Estate, Illovo, Hyde Park, Dunkeld, Melrose, Inanda, Sandhurst, now collectively referred to as the Northern Suburbs, retained many of the original trees and have even expanded their forests with the encouragement of successive city councils. In recent years however, deforestation has occurred to make way for both residential and commercial redevelopment.

Climate data for Johannesburg
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35
Average high °C (°F) 25.6
Average low °C (°F) 14.7
Record low °C (°F) 7
Precipitation mm (inches) 125
Avg. precipitation days 15.9 11.2 11.9 8.6 2.9 2 1 2.1 3.8 9.8 15.2 14.9 99.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 251.1 224 238.7 237 275.9 267 285.2 285.2 282 269.7 249 263.5 3,128.3
Source #1: Hong Kong Observatory
Source #2: South African Weather Service


A panorama of the Johannesburg CBD at sunrise looking east across the M1 highway.
The skyline of Johannesburg's Central Business District as seen from the observatory of the Carlton Centre
The skyline of Hillbrow
The Southern Life Centre
The KwaDukuza eGoli Hotel
Absa Bank

Johannesburg is the most modern and prosperous city in Africa. Due to its many different central districts Johannesburg would fall under the Multiple Nuclei Model in Human Geography terms. It is the hub of South Africa's commercial, financial, industrial, and mining undertakings. Johannesburg is part of a larger urban region. It is closely linked with several other satellite towns. Randburg and Sandton form part of the northern area. The east and west ridges spread out from central Johannesburg. The Central Business District covers an area of 6 square kilometres. It consists of closely packed skyscrapers such as the Carlton Centre, Marble Towers, Trust Bank Building, Ponte City Apartments, Southern Life Centre and 11 Diagonal Street.


Johannesburg is home to some of Africa's tallest structures, such as the Sentech Tower, Hillbrow Tower and the Carlton Centre. The Johannesburg city skyline has most of the tallest buildings on the continent and contains most international organisations such as IBM, Absa, BHP Billiton, Willis Group, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank. Many of the city's older buildings have been pulled down and more modern ones built in their place. North of the CBD is Hillbrow, the most densely populated residential area in southern Africa. Northwest of the CBD is Braamfontein, a secondary CBD housing many offices and business premises.

Parks and gardens

Parks and gardens in Johannesburg are maintained by Johannesburg City Parks. City Parks is also responsible for planting the city's many green trees, making Johannesburg one of the 'greenest' cities in the world. It has been estimated that there are six million trees in the city – 1.2 million on pavements and sidewalks, and a further 4.8 million in private gardens. City Parks continues to invest in planting trees, particularly those previously disadvantaged areas of Johannesburg which were not positive beneficiaries of apartheid Johannesburg's urban planning.

Johannesburg Botanical Garden, located in the suburb of Emmarentia, is a popular recreational park.

Residential areas

Johannesburg's residential areas range from luxurious, wooded suburbs, to shanty towns and squatter settlements. Alexandra, a township northeast of the city centre, is home to about 125,000 people. It was established by workers who migrated from rural areas in the late 1930s. Since the 1980s, large numbers of people have moved to Johannesburg in search of work. A lack of housing in the city has forced many to set up squatter settlements on the outskirts of the city. Most of these communities lack electricity and running water, and residents live in makeshift shacks made of scrap metal,board, and other discarded materials. In some settlements, such as Phola Park south of Johannesburg, town planners have attempted to build streets and provide residents with basic needs.


Geographical distribution of home languages in Johannesburg
   Northern Sotho
  No language dominant

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), consisting of people 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. 81% of households have access to running water, and 80% use electricity as the main source of energy. 29% of Johannesburg residents stay in informal dwellings. 66% of households are headed by one person.

Blacks account for 73% of the population, followed by whites at 16%, coloureds 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 of age. 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.

32% of Johannesburg residents speak Nguni languages at home, 24% speak Sotho languages, 18% speak English, 7% speak Afrikaans and 6% speak Tshivenda. 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 not affiliated with any organised religion, 14% are members of African Independent Churches, 3% are Muslim, 1% are Jewish and 1% are Hindu.

Johannesburg has a large Latter-day Saint (or Mormon) membership, with around 48,112 members, and had the first LDS Temple built in Africa. It was dedicated in 1985 and is located in the historic suburb of Parktown.

Key statistics (2001)

  • Area: 508.69 square kilometres (196.41 sq mi)
  • Population: 1,009,035: 1,983.58 inhabitants per square kilometre (5,137.4 /sq mi)
  • Households: 345,591: 679.37 per square kilometre (1,759.6 /sq mi)
Gender Population %
Female 502,888 49.84
Male 506,147 50.16
Race Population %
Black 491,831 48.74
White 231,263 22.92
Coloured 172,649 17.11
Asian 113,291 11.23
First language Population %
IsiZulu 174,620 17.31
IsiXhosa 56,995 5.65
Afrikaans 161,653 16.02
Sepedi 42,759 4.24
Setswana 53,973 5.35
English 374,576 37.12
Sesotho 57,223 5.67
Xitsonga 24,509 2.43
SiSwati 7,581 0.75
Tshivenda 15,401 1.53
IsiNdebele 11,725 1.16
Other 28,019 2.78


Region A Diepsloot, Kya Sand
Region B : Randburg, Rosebank, Emmarentia, Greenside, Melville, Northcliff, Rosebank, Parktown, Parktown North
Region C : Roodepoort, Constantia Kloof, Northgate
Region D : Doornkop, Soweto, Dobsonville, Protea Glen
Region E : Alexandra, Wynberg, Sandton
Region F : Inner City
Region G : Orange Farm, Ennerdale, Lenasia

After apartheid era, the present day City of Johannesburg was created from 11 existing 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 produced and spent ZAR 600 (USD 93) per person, while the black authorities were only 10% self-sufficient, spending R 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 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 R 153 million (USD 23.6 million).

Following the creation of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Johannesburg was divided into eleven administrative regions (which did not correspond to the areas governed by the former local authorities). In 2006, the number of administrative regions was consolidated, from eleven to seven.


After the Group Areas Act was scrapped in 1991, Johannesburg was affected by urban blight. Thousands of poor, who had been forbidden to live in the city proper, moved into the city from surrounding black townships like Soweto and many immigrants from economically beleaguered and war torn African nations flooded into South Africa. Many buildings were abandoned by landlords, especially in high-density areas, such as Hillbrow. Many corporations and institutions, including the stock exchange, moved their headquarters away from the city centre, to suburbs like Sandton.

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. As of 11 December 2008, every street corner in Johannesburg central is under high-tech CCTV surveillance. The CCTV system, operated by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), is also able to detect stolen or hijacked vehicles by scanning the number plates of every vehicle travelling through the Central business district (CBD), then comparing them to the eNaTIS database. The JMPD claims that the average response time by police for crimes committed in the CBD is 60 seconds.

Crime levels in Johannesburg have dropped as the economy has stabilised and begun to grow. Between 2001 and 2006, R9-Billion (US$1.2 billion) has been invested in the city centre. Further investment of around R10-Billion (US$ 1.5 billion) is expected in the city centre alone by 2010. This excludes development directly associated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In an effort to prepare Johannesburg for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, local government enlisted the help of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help bring down the crime rate, as the opening and closing matches of the tournament were played in the city.

Murders in the Johannesburg municipality amounted to 1,697 in 2007 according to the South African Medical Research Council, a rate of 1 per 2326 inhabitants.


Sandton City

Johannesburg is one of the world's leading financial centres and it 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. In a 2007 survey conducted by MasterCard, Johannesburg ranked 47 out of 50 top cities in the world as a worldwide centre of commerce (the only city in Africa).

Mining was the foundation of the Witwatersrand's economy, but its importance is gradually declining due to dwindling reserves and service and manufacturing industries have become more significant to the city's economy. While gold mining no longer takes place within the city limits, most mining companies still have their headquarters in Johannesburg. The city's manufacturing industries extend across a range of areas and there is still a reliance on heavy industries including steel and cement plants. The service and other industries include banking, IT, real estate, transport, broadcast and print media, private health care, transport and a vibrant leisure and consumer retail market. Johannesburg has Africa's largest stock exchange, the JSE although it has moved out of the central business district. Due to its commercial role, the city is the seat of the provincial government and the site of a number of government branch offices, as well as consular offices and other institutions.

There is also a significant informal economy consisting of cash-only street traders and vendors. The level of this economic activity is difficult to track in official statistics and it supports a sector of the population including immigrants who are not in formal employment. This informal industry is arguably the largest in the world, perhaps only second to the informal sector of Beijing.

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, the biggest of which is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, but additional sources will be needed early in the 21st century.

The container terminal at City Deep is known to be the largest "dry port" in the world, with some 50% of cargo that arrives through the ports of Durban and Cape Town arriving in Johannesburg. The City Deep area has been declared an IDZ (industrial development zone) by the Gauteng government.


Johannesburg's largest shopping centre is Sandton City, while Hyde Park is one of its most prestigious. Other centres include Rosebank, Eastgate, Westgate, Northgate, Southgate, The Glen Shopping Centre, Johannesburg South, Cresta and Clearwater mall. There are also plans to build a large shopping centre, known as the Zonk'Izizwe Shopping Resort, in Midrand. "Zonk'Izizwe" means "All Nations" in Zulu language, indicating that the centre will cater to the city's diverse mix of peoples and races. Also a complex named Greenstone in Modderfontein has been opened. See Category:Shopping centres in Johannesburg.


Johannesburg's suburbs are the product of urban sprawl and are regionalised into north, south, east and west, and they generally have different personalities. While the Central Business District and the immediate surrounding areas were formerly desirable living areas, the spatial accommodation of the suburbs has tended to see a flight from the city and immediate surrounds. The inner city buildings have been let out to the lower income groups and illegal immigrants and as a result abandoned buildings and crime have become a feature of inner city life. The immediate city suburbs include Yeoville, a hot spot for black nightlife despite its otherwise poor reputation. The suburbs to the south of the city are mainly blue collar neighbourhoods and situated closer to some townships. The suburbs to the west have in recent years floundered with the decline of the mining industry but have in some cases experienced some revival with properties being bought up by the black middle class. The biggest sprawl lies to the east and north. The eastern suburbs are relatively prosperous and close to various industrial zones. The northern suburbs have been the recipient of most of the flight from the inner city and some residential areas have become commercialised particularly around the area of Sandton, stretching north towards Midrand, a half way point between Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.

Traditionally the northern and northwestern suburbs have been the centre for the wealthy, containing the high-end retail shops as well as several upper-class residential areas such as Hyde Park, Sandhurst, Northcliff, Bryanston and Houghton, where Nelson Mandela makes his home. The northwestern area in particular is vibrant and lively, with the mostly black suburb of Sophiatown once centre of political activity and the Bohemian-flavoured Melville featuring restaurants and nightlife. Auckland Park is home to the headquarters of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, AFDA (The South African School of Motion Picture and Live Performance) 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.

To the south of Johannesburg is Lenasia, a mostly Asian area which was constructed during the Apartheid era specifically to house Asians. It is closer to the city centre and smaller than Soweto.


Central Business district of Johannesburg
Suburbs of Johannesburg
Trust Bank Building

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 (with related visits to Constitution Hill) and the Hector Pieterson Museum. There is also a large industry around visiting former townships, such as Soweto and Alexandra. Most visitors to Soweto see the Mandela Museum, which is located in the former home of Nelson Mandela.

Visitors can get a feeling for the layout of the city by visiting the Carlton Centre, in the south-eastern area of the CBD, which has an observation deck on the 50th floor. At 223 metres (731 ft), it is the highest office building in Africa and affords sweeping vistas of the city and surrounds. The Museum Africa covers the history of the city of Johannesburg, as well as housing a large collection of rock art. Also a large draw for tourists is Gold Reef City, a theme park which offers a depiction of mining life at the turn of the nineteenth century, including an underground mine tour; other attractions include a large amusement park and a popular Tribal Dancing show.

The city has several art museums, such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, which featured South African and European landscape and figurative paintings. 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. The Johannesburg Civic Theatre is South Africa's foremost "receiving house" of live entertainment—presenting world class theatre, both local and international. The Suburbs of Melville, Newtown, Parkhurst, Norwood, Rosebank and Greenside are popular for their bohemian atmosphere, street life, and many restaurants and bars.

Shopping is often popular with tourists, as the city offers a range of venues and experiences, from numerous upmarket shopping malls such as Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square, to various markets and flea markets, such as the Oriental Plaza and the Rosebank Flea Market; the latter are popular for souvenirs and African Art. See above. (Cultural) tourists also visit the "Mai Mai Market" ("Ezinyangeni" – the place of healers; located on the eastern wing of the city centre) dedicated to traditional herbs and traditional healers.

The Cradle of Humankind a UNESCO World Heritage Site is 25 kilometres (16 mi) 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. Other attractions in this area include the Lesedi Cultural Village, while Magaliesburg and the Hartbeespoort Dam are popular weekend (and holiday) destinations for Johannesburg residents. The Origins Centre Museum, see below, covers the origins of humankind in Africa, and houses an extensive collection of rock art.

Johannesburg and environs offer various options to visitors wishing to view wildlife. The Johannesburg Zoo is one of the largest in South Africa. The Lion Park nature reserve, near Lanseria, is home to over 80 lions and various other game, while the Krugersdorp Nature Reserve, a 1500 Ha Game Reserve, is a forty-minute drive from the city centre. The De Wildt Cheetah Centre in the Magaliesberg runs a successful breeding program for cheetah, wild dog and other endangered species. The Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, situated in the "Cradle of Humankind" on 1200 Ha of "the typical highveld of Gauteng" also runs a breeding programme for endangered species including Bengal Tigers, Siberian Tigers and the extremely rare White lion.

Sports teams and stadiums

Club Sport League Stadium
Highveld Lions Cricket MTN Domestic Championship Wanderers Stadium
Kaizer Chiefs Football Premier Soccer League FNB Stadium
Moroka Swallows Football Premier Soccer League Dobsonville Stadium
Orlando Pirates Football Premier Soccer League Orlando Stadium
Jomo Cosmos Football National First Division Makhulong Stadium
FC AK Football National First Division Eldorado Park Stadium
Lions Rugby union Super Rugby Ellis Park Stadium
Golden Lions Rugby union Currie Cup Ellis Park Stadium

Johannesburg's most popular sports by participation are association football, cricket, rugby union, and running. Early each Sunday morning, tens of thousands of runners gather to take part in informal runs organised by several athletic clubs.


The city has several football clubs in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the National First Division. In the PSL, the top Johannesburg teams are all fierce rivals and include Kaizer Chiefs (nicknamed Amakhosi), Orlando Pirates (nicknamed the Buccaneers), Moroka Swallows and Wits University (nicknamed the Clever Boys). They are based at the city's FNB, Orlando, Dobsonville and Bidvest stadiums. Several large scale league and cup games are played at Soccer City the venue of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. First Division teams are Jomo Cosmos and FC AK. Katlehong City and Alexandra United, play at Alexandra and Reiger Park stadium respectively.


Cricket is one of the more popular sports. In cricket, the Highveld Lions represent Johannesburg, the rest of Gauteng as well as the North West Province at the Wanderers Stadium which was the venue for the 2003 Cricket World Cup Final in which Australia successfully defended their title. Wanderers Stadium hosted what many cricket fans consider the greatest ever ODI match in which South Africa successfully chased down 434 runs. They take part in the first class SuperSport Series, the one-day MTN Domestic Championship and the Twenty20 Standard Bank Pro 20 Series.
Johannesburg also hosted matches from and the final of the ICC World Twenty20, in which India beat Pakistan in the final.


The Lions, formerly the Cats, represent Johannesburg, North West and Mpumalanga in the Southern Hemisphere's Super Rugby competition, which includes teams from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.


A street in Hillbrow, the most densely populated residential area in Southern Africa
OR Tambo International Airport Terminal B
Gautrain At O R Tambo Intl Airport
A board on the N3 indicating the exit for Johannesburg. The M1 is one of the busiest highways in Johannesburg.
The M2 in the afternoon as it passes through the Central Business District
Busy side street off Beyers Naudé Drive in Cresta, Gauteng

Johannesburg is a young and sprawling city geared towards private motorists, and lacks a convenient public transportation system. A significant number of the city's residents are dependent on the city's informal minibus taxis.


Johannesburg is served principally by OR Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International Airport and before that was known as Jan Smuts Airport) for both domestic and international flights. Lanseria Airport, located to the north-west of the city and closer to the business hub of Sandton, is used for commercial flights to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Botswana, and Sun City. Other airports include Rand Airport and Grand Central Airport. 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.


The fact that Johannesburg is not near a large navigable body of water has meant that 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 composed of three freeways that converge on the city, forming an 80-kilometre (50 mi) 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, 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 the busiest interchange in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also claimed that the N1 is the busiest road in South Africa.

Johannesburg has the most freeways connected to it. It has the N1, N3, N12, N14, N17, R21, R24 and the R59, all leading to Johannesburg. The M1 and M2 freeways were built to direct traffic towards the city centre. These two freeways are congested due to mass urbanisation.


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. The Gauteng Provincial Government has launched a new metered taxi programme in an attempt to increase use of metered taxis in the city.

The minibus "taxis" are the de facto standard and essential form of transport for the majority of the population. Since the 1980s The minibus taxi industry has been severely affected by turf wars.

Mass transit

The Metrorail Gauteng commuter rail system connects central Johannesburg to Soweto, Pretoria, and most of the satellite towns along the Witwatersrand. The railways transport huge numbers of workers everyday. However, the Metrorail infrastructure was built in Johannesburg's infancy and covers only the older areas in the city's south. The northern areas, including the business districts of Sandton, Midrand, Randburg, and Rosebank, are served by the rapid rail link Gautrain.


A part of the Gauteng Provincial Government's Blue IQ Project, Gautrain has made provision for a rapid rail link, running north to south, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and west to east between Sandton and the OR Tambo International Airport. Construction of the Gautrain Rapid Rail started in October 2006 and as of August 2011, all stations were running except for Park Station in Johannesburg's CBD. It consists of a number of underground stations, as well as above ground stations. Stations on the North-South line include Johannesburg's Park Station, Rosebank, Sandton, Marlboro, Midrand and Pretoria. There is also a line from the OR Tambo International Airport travelling to Sandton via Rhodesfield and Marlboro.

The east-west line from the airport to Sandton opened in June 2010 in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while the North-South line opened on 2 August 2011, except for Park Station which will open at a later date.

The rail system was designed to alleviate traffic on the N1 freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, which records vehicle loads of up to 300,000 per day. An extensive bus feeder system has also been implemented, which allows access to the main stations from the outer suburbs. This is the first new railway system that has been laid in South Africa since 1977.

As of mid-2010, a high speed rail link has been proposed between Johannesburg and Durban.


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. 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. The City's main bus terminus is situated in Gandhi Square, where passengers can also obtain information regarding the Metrobus service from the walk-in customer information desk.

A new bus rapid transit named Rea Vaya has also been implemented. It currently serves to transport people from Johannesburg's southern neighbourhoods into and around the CBD.

PUTCO also operates bus routes in and around the city.

Education and culture

The University of the Witwatersrand

Johannesburg has a well-developed higher 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 the Johannesburg campuses of Vista University—were merged. 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 Africa, and is famous as a centre of resistance to apartheid.

The University of Pretoria's business school the Gordon Institute of Business Science is located in Illovo, Johannesburg.

Private universities include the South African campus of Monash University (six of the other campuses are in Australia, while the eighth is in Malaysia), and Midrand Graduate Institute which is located in Midrand.

Johannesburg also has one of several film schools in the country, one of which has won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Student Film in 2006. The South African School of Motion Picture and Live Performance, or AFDA for short, is situated in Auckland Park.

Johannesburg also has three teacher-training colleges and a technical college. There are numerous kindergartens, primary schools and high schools in the region. The city contains some libraries, art galleries and museums. One of them is Museum Africa, and the Johannesburg City Library, both located in the CBD. Specialist museums cover subjects such as Africana, costume, design, fossils, geology, military history, medical, pharmacy, photography and transportation networks such as railways. Gold Reef City, a living museum, was originally part of the Crown Mines Complex, where gold was mined to a depth of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). The Market Theatre stages plays, comedy shows, and musical performances.

The Civic Theatre complex hosts drama, opera and ballet.

The Giant Wheel, a Ferris wheel at Gold Reef City

Public Art in Johannesburg

Johannesburg is home to an extensive portfolio of public art. A diverse and evolving city, Johannesburg boasts a vibrant art scene and a variety of works that range from sculptures to murals to pieces by internationally renowned artists like William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx's Fire Walker. Many pieces are developed through community workshops, such as the Vilakazi Street sculptures. Others are functional, such as street furniture found in Hillbrow and the City Centre.

The Museums in Johannesburg

The following is a list of some of the museums in Johannesburg.

AECI Dynamite Factory Museum

The AECI Dynamite Factory Museum, housed in the 1895 residence of a mining official, records the history of explosives, with particular emphasis on their use in the mining industry. It also provides a social commentary and insight into the part played by some of the world famous figures who helped shape the destiny of southern Africa.

Adler Museum of Medicine

History of Medicine, brainchild of Dr Cyril Adler, was formally inaugurated 1962. The Museum's role was to collect and preserve for posterity all material that would illustrate the History of medicine in general and of South Africa in particular.

Apartheid Museum

Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is the home of the Constitutional Court, but also the site of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, commonly known as Number Four, where thousands of ordinary people were brutally punished before the dawn of democracy in 1994. Many of South Africa’s leading political activists, including Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, were detained here.

Hector Peterson Museum

The Hector Peterson Museum in Soweto commemorates the 566 people who died in the student uprising that followed the events of 16 June 1976. The museum is named for Hector Peterson, a 12-year-old boy who was the first person shot dead by police on that day, and is located near a memorial to his death.

James Hall Transport Museum

The James Hall Museum of Transport is the largest and most comprehensive museum of land transport in South Africa. It was established by the late Jimmie Hall together with the City of Johannesburg in February 1964.

Madiba Freedom Museum

Named after the former President Mandela's clan. The museums theme is Mzabalazo and charts South Africa's journey to democracy.

Museum Africa

Museum Africa is located in Newtown, and covers the history of both the city and the continent.

Origins Centre Museum

Located on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Braamfontein, this museum contains some excellent examples of southern African rock art.

Bernberg Fashion Museum

Bernberg Fashion Museum is a primarily a museum collection, consisting of objects, and explains why and how clothing has changed and how the fashions of the past influence those of today.

South African National Museum of Military History

It is the only museum of its kind in South Africa and provides a nucleus of Museum and military history expertise in southern Africa. At the Museum you can see all types of guns, tanks, armoured cars, aircraft and naval hardware, including a midget submarine called the Molch used by the Germans in the Second World War (1939–1945).

Zoology Museum

The Zoology Museum is the only natural history museum in Johannesburg which is unusual because all the other major cities in South Africa have large public natural history museums. It has retained a unique character as the display specimens are exhibited in finely crafted teak cabinets which allow the viewer to engage directly with scores of objects at close range.

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Johannesburg's twin towns and sister cities are:

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