Gauteng

Situated in the Highveld, Gauteng is the smallest province in South Africa, accounting for only 1.5% of the land area.

Nevertheless, it is highly urbanised, containing the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, its administrative capital, Pretoria, and other large industrial areas such as Midrand and Vanderbijlpark. As of 2015, it has a population of nearly 13.2 million, making it the most populous province in South Africa

Etymology

A snippet of text showing the Sesotho word “Gaudeng” (modern Gauteng) in Jacottet’s A practical method to learn Sesuto : with exercises and a short vocabulary, published in 1906.

The name Gauteng is derived from the Sotho name, “gauta” meaning “gold” with the locative suffix “-eng”. “Gauta” itself is derived from Dutch word for gold, “goud”. There was a thriving gold industry in the province following the 1886 discovery of gold in Johannesburg. In Sesotho, the name “Gauteng” was used for Johannesburg and surrounding areas long before it was adopted in 1994 as the official name of a province.

History

Gauteng, formerly known as Pretoria–Witwatersrand–Vereeniging (PWV), was carved out of the old Transvaal province in 1994, although the terminology “PWV”, describing the region existed long before that.

The history of the area that is now Gauteng can be traced back to the early 1800s when settlers originating from the Cape Colony defeated chief Mzilikazi and started establishing villages in the area. After the discovery of gold in 1886, the region proceeded to become the single largest gold producer in the world and the city of Johannesburg was founded. The older city Pretoria was not subject to the same attention and development. Pretoria grew at a slower rate and was highly regarded due to its role in the Second Boer War. The Cullinan Diamond which is the largest diamond ever mined was mined near Pretoria in a nearby town called Cullinan in the year 1905.

Gauteng has only been properly documented since the 1800s and as a result, not much information regarding its history predating the 1800s is available. At the Sterkfontein caves, some of the oldest fossils of hominids have been discovered, such as Mrs. Ples and Little Foot.

Many crucial events happened in present-day Gauteng with regards to the anti-apartheid struggle, such as the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, the Rivonia Trial in 1963 and 1964 and the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Today, the Apartheid Museum stands testament to these struggles in Johannesburg.

Geography

The undulating hills that form part of the rural areas in the province just north of Johannesburg. Although Gauteng is a heavily urbanised province much of its area extensively cultivated for agriculture.

Gauteng’s southern border is the Vaal River, which separates it from the Free State. It also borders on North West to the west, Limpopo to the north, and Mpumalanga to the east. Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border. Most of Gauteng is on the Highveld, a high-altitude grassland (circa 1,500 m or 4,921 ft above sea level). Between Johannesburg and Pretoria there are low parallel ridges and undulating hills, some part of the Magaliesberg Mountains and the Witwatersrand. The north of the province is more subtropical, due to its lower altitude and is mostly dry savanna habitat.

Climate

The climate is mostly influenced by altitude. Even though the province is at a subtropical latitude, the climate is comparatively cooler, especially in Johannesburg, at 1,700 m (5,577 ft) above sea level (Pretoria is at 1,330 m or 4,364 ft). Most precipitation occurs as brief afternoon thunderstorms; however, relative humidity never becomes uncomfortable. Winters are crisp and dry with frost occurring often in the southern areas. Snow is rare, but it has occurred on some occasions in the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

Johannesburg averages: January maximum: 26 °C (78.8 °F) (min: 15 °C or 59 °F), June maximum: 16 °C (60.8 °F) (min: 4 °C or 39.2 °F), annual precipitation: 713 mm (28.1 in)

Pretoria averages: January maximum: 29 °C (84.2 °F) (min: 18 °C or 64.4 °F), June maximum: 19 °C (66.2 °F) (min: 5 °C or 41 °F), annual precipitation: 674 mm (26.5 in)

Economy

Gauteng is considered the economic hub of South Africa and contributes heavily in the financial, manufacturing, transport, technology, and telecommunications sectors, among others. It also plays host to a large number of overseas companies requiring a commercial base in and gateway to Africa.

Gauteng is home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in Africa. Some of the largest companies in Africa and abroad are based in Gauteng, or have offices and branches there, such as Vodacom, MTN, Neotel, Microsoft South Africa and the largest Porsche Centre in the world.

Although Gauteng is the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces—it covers a mere 1.5% of the country’s total land area, the province is responsible for a third of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). Gauteng generates about 10% of the total GDP of sub-Saharan Africa and about 7% of total African GDP.