Provinces

Gauteng

Gauteng is the smallest province of South Africa but it is the commercial and administrative heart of the country and even for the entire southern Africa. The name Gauteng is the Sotho name for 'Place of Gold'.

In 1886 a huge gold vein was discovered in the province and soon gold was the basis of the national economy. During the mining endeavors, even more wealth was discovered when men stumbled across diamonds and coal.

Regardless of the wealth of the land, Gauteng is more than just city, suburbs, money and politics. The Sterkfontein Caves were declared part a World Heritage site when bones of no less than 3.5 million years old were found. This place is also called the Cradle of Humankind.

Around Johannesburg, you can spot wildlife in parks such as the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve and especially in the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve. You can also undertake great hikes through the nature areas in Gauteng and the area around the Vaal River is a popular recreation area for water sports.

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Johannesburg

Pretoria (Tshwane)

The other major city in Gauteng is the City of Tshwane (Pretoria). This is the political capital of South Africa and it is also called the 'Capital of Apartheid'. Pretoria has had a turbulent history in which the Boers have played an important role. From this city, a cold and hard governmental policy was laid down and a public legal racial classification system was imposed stating where people with certain skin colors could live and work. White people dominated the country for a long, but in 1994, Mandela made his oath as president in Pretoria. Since then, black people had more influence.

Besides being the political capital of South Africa, Tswane is also one of the major academic centers in the country. It is a quiet, stylish city with few tall buildings, many parks and lakes, historic buildings and leafy neighborhoods. Each spring, the approximately 70,000 jacaranda trees go into full bloom and the city is dressed in a lilac color.

The city's original name, Pretoria was founded by two pioneering "boers": Andries and Pretorius Wessel. This name has recently been changed to the Sotho name Tshwane. With the changing of her name, the city shows it that it has taken on a new path.

The new name took on a positive reputation when Nelson Mandela made his oath as president in 1994. In Tshwane there are many monuments and buildings that are reminiscent of the complex history of the city and the country such as the Voortrekkers Monument and the impressive Union Buildings.