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Overview

Often referred to locally as eGoli, a Zulu name meaning "Place of Gold," Johannesburg owes its existence to the unprecedented wealth of gold that was discovered beneath its soil in 1886, and is still mined in the vicinity today. The city and its environs form a bustling, commerce-driven economic powerhouse that supports 20 percent of South Africa’s population and generates an astonishing 10 percent of the entire continent’s GDP, making it an important center for business travel. A reputation for high crime levels and limited tourist attractions means that few leisure visitors to South Africa accord Johannesburg more than a token overnight ...

Often referred to locally as eGoli, a Zulu name meaning "Place of Gold," Johannesburg owes its existence to the unprecedented wealth of gold that was discovered beneath its soil in 1886, and is still mined in the vicinity today. The city and its environs form a bustling, commerce-driven economic powerhouse that supports 20 percent of South Africa’s population and generates an astonishing 10 percent of the entire continent’s GDP, making it an important center for business travel. A reputation for high crime levels and limited tourist attractions means that few leisure visitors to South Africa accord Johannesburg more than a token overnight stay. But it offers plenty of worthwhile sightseeing, from the fascinating archaeological sites scattered around the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site to the chilling Apartheid Museum and adjacent Gold Reef City (a theme park recreating gold-rush era Johannesburg). A plethora of suburban malls and markets offers the best shopping opportunities anywhere between Cape Town and Cairo, and it also hosts one of the continent’s liveliest and most cosmopolitan arts scenes.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Johannesburg is located in the eastern plateau area of South Africa known as the Highveld. It is the largest city in South Africa, by population and is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa.
  • Language: English, Afrikaans and other ethnic languages
  • Currency: South African Rand
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    There is no bad time to visit weather-wise. Summers are hot by day and warm by night, periodically stormy but but seldom humid. Winters are cooler and tend to be quite cold at night, but are characterized by cloudless blue skies.