Johannesburg is the largest, most populous city in South Africa and is the provincial capital of the Gauteng province. Gauteng is the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. Johannesburg is one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world. Johannesburg is home to South Africa's highest court, the South African Constitutional Court which has the final word on interpretation of South Africa's new post-Apartheid constitution.
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 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 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 also served by 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. More recently Lanseria International Airport has started international flights, and is situated conveniently on the opposite side of the metropolis.
Johannesburg has a land area of 1,645 square kilometres with a population in the city of almost 4 million and a population in the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area of almost eight million. Johannesburg 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.
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.
Johannesburg enjoys a dry, sunny climate, with the exception of occasional late afternoon downpours in the summer months of October to April. Temperatures in Johannesburg are usually fairly mild thanks to the city's high altitude, with the average maximum daytime temperature in January of 26 °C dropping to an average maximum of around 16 °C in June. Winter is the sunniest time of the year, with cool days and cold nights. The annual average rainfall in Johannesburg is 713 millimetres, which is mostly concentrated in the summer months. 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 August 2006 (light). Snow fell again on 27 June 2007, accumulating up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in the southern suburbs. 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.
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.
Johannesburg is one of the most modern and prosperous cities in South 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'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.
History of Johannesburg
Gauteng Conference Centre