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Gauteng ("Place of Gold") is South Africa's smallest but most populous province, a vibrant urban sprawl centered on the economic powerhouse of Johannesburg, founded in 1888 following the discovery of the world's richest gold seams below its present-day city center. The excellent but harrowing Apartheid Museum and more upbeat Gold Reef City (a theme park recreating the gold rush days) provide insight into the city's recent and not-so-recent past, while nearby Soweto witnessed the 1976 riot that helped spark the collapse of apartheid. The national capital is Pretoria, whose jacaranda-lined streets are flanked by the Union Buildings (where ...

Gauteng ("Place of Gold") is South Africa's smallest but most populous province, a vibrant urban sprawl centered on the economic powerhouse of Johannesburg, founded in 1888 following the discovery of the world's richest gold seams below its present-day city center. The excellent but harrowing Apartheid Museum and more upbeat Gold Reef City (a theme park recreating the gold rush days) provide insight into the city's recent and not-so-recent past, while nearby Soweto witnessed the 1976 riot that helped spark the collapse of apartheid. The national capital is Pretoria, whose jacaranda-lined streets are flanked by the Union Buildings (where President Mandela was inaugurated in 1994) and Voortrekker Monument (commemorating the Great Trek). The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 45, houses a peerless wealth of hominid fossils, while garish Sun City, 2 hours north, is complemented by the nearby Pilanesberg Game Reserve, where the "Big Five" roam free in an extinct volcanic crater.

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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Now Happening in Gauteng

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Southern Africa, Near Johannesburg
  • Language: Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, English
  • Currency: Rand
  • Research: Gauteng | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Agreeable climate all year through, though storms are frequent Nov-Mar and nights can be very chilly Jun-Aug