Welcome - from the City of Johannesburg
Welcome to Joburg - the heartbeat of the country. It's the economic and cultural centre of South Africa, where people work hard and play harder.
Everyone is on the move, from doing business to hitting the city's nightspots until late. Johannesburg is a bustling, dynamic, and cosmopolitan city with great places to eat, interesting sites to visit and a good range of places to stay.
For more information on tourism in this dynamic city go to the official Web site of the City of Johannesburg.
Johannesburg is one of the most modern and prosperous cities in South Africa. Due to its many different central districts it 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 is home to some of Africa's tallest structures, such as the Sentech Tower, Hillbrow Tower and the Carlton Centre. The Johannesburg city skyline has most of the tallest buildings on the continent and contains most international organisations such as IBM, Absa, BHP Billiton, Willis Group, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank. Johannesburg is a modern and exciting city. Many of the city's older buildings have been pulled down and more modern ones built in their place. North of the CBD is Hillbrow, the most densely populated residential area in southern Africa. Thousands of people live in its towering blocks of flats. Northwest of the CBD is Braamfontein, a secondary CBD housing many offices and business premises. The Oriental Plaza, west of the CBD, is a unique Indian shopping complex.
History of Johannesburg
The area surrounding Johannesburg was originally inhabited by San tribes. By the 1200s, groups of Bantu-speaking peoples started moving southwards from central Africa and encroached on the indigenous San population. By the mid 1700s, the broader region was densely settled by various Sotho-Tswana communities (one linguistic branch of Bantu-speakers), whose villages, towns, chiefdoms and kingdoms stretched from what is now Botswana in the west, to present day Lesotho in the south, to the present day Pedi areas of the northern Transvaal. More specifically, the stone-walled ruins of Sotho-Tswana towns and villages are scattered around the parts of the former Transvaal in which Johannesburg is situated. The Sotho-Tswana practiced farming, raised cattle, sheep and goats, and extensively mined and smelted copper, iron and tin. Moreover, from the early 1960s until his retirement, Professor Revil Mason, of the University of the Witwatersrand, explored and documented many Late Iron Age archeological sites throughout the Johannesburg area, dating from between the 1100s and 1700s, and many of these sites contained the ruins of Sotho-Tswana mines and iron smelting furnaces, suggesting that the area was being exploited for its mineral wealth before the arrival of Europeans or the discovery of gold. The most prominent site within Johannesburg is Melville Koppies, which contains an iron smelting furnace. Many Sotho-Tswana towns and villages in the areas around Johannesburg were destroyed and their people driven away during the wars emanating from Zululand during the late 1700s and early 1800s (the mfecane or difaqane wars), and as a result, an offshoot of the Zulu kingdom, the Matabele, set up a kingdom to the northwest of Johannesburg around modern day Hartebeestpoort and Rustenburg, and historians believe that the Matebele kingdom dominated the Johannesburg area. The Dutch speaking Voortrekkers arrived in the early 1800s, driving away the Matebele with the help of Sotho-Tswana allies, establishing settlements around Rustenburg and Pretoria in the early 1830s, and claiming sovereignty over what would become Johannesburg as part of the South African Republic or Transvaal Republic. Gold was discovered in the 1880s and triggered the gold rush.
Gold was initially discovered some 400 km to the east of present-day Johannesburg, in Barberton. Gold prospectors soon discovered that there were even richer gold reefs in the Witwatersrand. Gold was discovered at Langlaagte, Johannesburg in 1886.
Johannesburg was a dusty settlement some 90 km from the Transvaal Republic capital which was Pretoria. The town was much the same as any small prospecting settlement, but, as word spread, people flocked to the area from all other regions of the country, as well as from North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. As the value of control of the land increased, tensions developed between the Boer government in Pretoria and the British, culminating in the Jameson Raid that ended in fiasco at Doornkop in January 1896 and the Second Boer War (1899-1902) that saw British forces under Lord Roberts occupy the city on 30 May 1900 after a series of battles to the south of its then-limits.
Fighting took place at the Gatsrand Pass (near Zakariyya Park) on 27 May, north of Vanwyksrust -today's Nancefield, Eldorado Park and Naturena - the next day, culminating in a mass infantry attack on what is now the waterworks ridge in Chiawelo and Senaoane on 29 May.
Controversy surrounds the origin of the name, as there were any number of people with the name "Johannes" who were involved in the early history of the city. The principal clerk attached to the office of the surveyor-general, Johannes Rissik, Christiaan Johannes Joubert, member of the Volksraad and the Republic's chief of mining, Paul Kruger, President of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal). Rissik and Joubert were members of a delegation sent to England to attain mining rights for the area. Joubert had a park in the city named after him and Rissik street is today a main street where the (now dilapidated) Post Office and City Hall are located.
Currently the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council is implementing a large scale Inner City Revival project, leading to some business moving back to the inner city.
Kwaito is the musical genre from Johannesburg that is considered to be the post-struggle (post-apartheid) music of choice by South African youth. Some consider Kwaito to be apolitical dance music because the same lyrics are typically repeated throughout the entire song and are placed over the rhythms and beats of House music.
Kwaito has touched more than the music scene in South Africa. In recent years, it has become deeply embedded in young South African culture because it represents "the streets", street life, and the people who live there. As Grant Clark noted after his trip to Johannesburg, "Kwaito has evolved its own street style. It's not just music, it's the way you walk, talk, dance, and of course, dress."
The city's most popular sports by participation are association football, cricket, rugby union, and running. The Lions, formerly the Cats, represent Johannesburg, North West and Mpumalanga in the Southern Hemisphere's Super 14 Rugby Competition, which includes teams from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Cricket is one of the more popular sports. In cricket, the Highveld Lions represent Johannesburg, the rest of Gauteng as well as the North West Province at the Wanderers Stadium which was the venue for the 2003 Cricket World Cup Final in which Australia successfully defended their title. Wanderers Stadium hosted what many cricket fans consider the greatest ever ODI match in which South Africa successfully chased down 434 runs. They take part in the first class SuperSport Series, the one-day MTN Domestic Championship and the Twenty20 Standard Bank Pro 20 Series.
Johannesburg also hosted matches and the final of the ICC World Twenty20, in which India beat Pakistan in the final.
Early each Sunday morning, tens of thousands of runners gather to take part in informal runs organised by several athletic clubs. The city has several football clubs in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the First Division. In the PSL, the top Johannesburg teams are all fierce rivals and include Kaizer Chiefs (also known as the Amakhosi), Orlando Pirates (also known as the Buccaneers) and Moroka Swallows, based at the city's Johannesburg, Rand, and FNB stadiums respectively. Witwatersrand University, nicknamed the Clever Boys, who have a player membership of over 1,500, one of the world's largest are also part of the premier league. First Division teams include Katlehong City and Alexandra United, who play at Alexandra and Reiger Park stadia respectively.
Johannesburg, much like Los Angeles, is a young and sprawling city geared towards private motorists, and lacks a convenient public transportation system. A significant number of the city's residents are dependent on the city's informal minibus taxis.
OR Tambo International Airport Terminal BJohannesburg is served by OR Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International Airport) for both domestic and international flights. Other airports include Rand Airport, Grand Central Airport, and Lanseria. Rand Airport, located in Germiston, is a small airfield used mostly for private aircraft and the home of South African Airways's first Boeing 747 Classic, the Lebombo, which is now an aviation museum. Grand Central is located in Midrand and also caters to small, private aircraft. Lanseria Airport is used for commercial flights to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Botswana, and Sun City.
The M1 is one of the busiest highways in Johannesburg.
The fact that Johannesburg is not near a large navigable body of water has meant that ground transportation has been the most important method of transporting people and goods in and out of the city. One of Africa's most famous "beltways" or ring roads/orbitals is the Johannesburg Ring Road. The road is composed of three freeways that converge on the city, forming an 80 kilometers (50 mi) loop around it: the N3 Eastern Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Durban; the N1 Western Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Pretoria and Cape Town; and the N12 Southern Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Witbank and Kimberley. The N3 was built exclusively with asphalt, while the N12 and N1 sections were made with concrete, hence the nickname given to the N1 Western Bypass, "The Concrete Highway". In spite of being up to 12 lanes wide in some areas (6 lanes in either direction), the Johannesburg Ring Road is frequently clogged with traffic. The Gillooly's Interchange, built on an old farm and the point at which the N3 Eastern Bypass and the R24 Airport Freeway intersect, is the busiest interchange in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also claimed[who?] that the N1 is the busiest road in South Africa.
Johannesburg has the most freeways connected to it. It has the N1, N3, N12, N14, N17, R21, R24 and the R59, all leading to Johannesburg. The M1 and M2 freeways were built to direct traffic towards the city centre. These two freeways are congested due to mass urbanisation.
Johannesburg has two kinds of taxis, metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city looking for passengers and instead must be called and ordered to a destination. The Gauteng Provincial Government has launched a new metered taxi programme in an attempt to increase use of metered taxis in the city.
The minibus "taxis" are the de facto standard and essential form of transport for the majority of the population. Since the 1980s The minibus taxi industry has been severely affected by turf wars.
Johannesburg's metro railway system connects central Johannesburg to Soweto, Pretoria, and most of the satellite towns along the Witwatersrand. The railways transport huge numbers of workers everyday. However, the railway infrastructure was built in Johannesburg's infancy and covers only the older areas in the city's south. The northern areas, including the business districts of Sandton, Midrand, Randburg, and Rosebank, currently lack rail infrastructure.
Construction of the Gautrain Rapid Rail started in October 2006 and will be completed by 2011, not in time for the FIFA World Cup. It will consist of a number of underground stations, as well as above ground stations. It will run from Johannesburg's Park Station, through Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand and into Pretoria. There will also be a line from the OR Tambo International Airport traveling to Sandton. This will be the first new railway system that has been laid in South Africa since 1977. The Gauteng Provincial Government's Blue IQ Project, Gautrain, however, has made provisions for the creation of a rapid rail link, running north to south, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and east-west between Sandton and Johannesburg International Airport. Slated to be ready in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the rail system is being designed to alleviate traffic on the N1 freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, which records vehicle loads of up to 300,000 per day.
Johannesburg is served by a bus fleet operated by Metrobus, a corporate unit of the City of Johannesburg. It has a fleet consisting of approximately 550 single and double-decker buses, plying 84 different routes in the city. This total includes 200 modern buses (150 double-deckers and 50 single-deckers), made by Volvo and Marcopolo/Brasa in 2002. Metrobus' fleet carries approximately 20 million passengers per annum. In addition there are a number of private bus operators, though most focus on the inter-city routes, or on bus charters for touring groups. The City's main bus terminus is situated in Gandhi Square, where passengers can also obtain information regarding the Metrobus service from the walk-in customer information desk.
PUTCO also operated buss routes in and around the city.
Bus Rapid Transit
The City of Johannesburg has begun construction on its new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The BRT project, titled Rea Vaya (We are moving), aims to rid the city's roads of congestion and promote safe, efficient and reliable public transport. It will run seven days a week, from 05h00 until midnight. Bus frequencies will be between two and five minutes during peak hours, and seven and ten minutes during the off-peak. The system will operate on main roads throughout the city, running down designated median lanes. Rea Vaya will also offer additional, smaller feeder-buses to areas around each BRT station to ensure speedy connections from homes to main routes. The BRT stations will be located every 500m along each BRT route, offering ticket vending machines and live travel information. Larger BRT stations will also offer sales kiosks, bathrooms and park and ride facilities. The BRT system has been designed with other transport modes in mind, so as to ensure a smooth change from various transportation options - particularly with the Gautrain. The first phase of the BRT is intended to be up and running in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Education and Culture
The University of the Witwatersrand. Braamfontein buildings are visible in the background.Johannesburg has a well-developed higher education system of both private and public universities. Johannesburg is served by the public universities University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg.
University of Johannesburg was formed on 1 January 2005 when three separate universities and campuses—Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand, and the Johannesburg campuses of Vista University—were merged. The new university offers education primarily in English and Afrikaans, although courses may be taken in any of South Africa's official languages.
The University of the Witwatersrand is one of the leading universities in South Africa, and is famous as a centre of resistance to apartheid.
Private universities include Monash University, which has one of its eight campuses in Johannesburg (six of the other campuses are in Australia, while the eighth is in Malaysia), and Midrand Graduate Institute which is located in Midrand.
Johannesburg also boasts one of the finest film schools in the world; winning amongst others the Academy Award's Oscar for Best Foreign Student Film in 2006. The South African Film School, or AFDA for short, is situated in Auckland Park.
Johannesburg also has three teacher-training colleges and a technical college. There are numerous kindergartens, primary schools and high schools in the region. Libraries, art galleries and museums are plentiful. One of them is MuseumAfrica, located in the CBD. Specialist museums cover subjects such as Africana, costume, design, fossils, geology, military history, medical, pharmacy, photography and transportation networks such as railways. Gold Reef City, a living museum, was originally part of the Crown Mines Complex, where gold was mined to a depth of 3,000 metres. The Market Theatre stages plays, comedy shows, and musical performances. The Civic Theatre complex hosts drama, opera and ballet.
AECI Dynamite Factory Museum
The AECI Dynamite Factory Museum, housed in the 1895 residence of a mining official, records the history of explosives, with particular emphasis on their use in the mining industry. It also provides a social commentary and insight into the part played by some of the world famous figures who helped shape the destiny of southern Africa.
Adler Museum of Medicine
History of Medicine, brainchild of Dr Cyril Adler, was formally inaugurated in 1962. The Museum`s role was to collect and preserve for posterity all material that would illustrate the History of medicine in general and of South Africa in particular.
Constitution Hill is the home of the Constitutional Court, but also the site of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, commonly known as Number Four, where thousands of ordinary people were brutally punished before the dawn of democracy in 1994. Many of South Africa’s leading political activists, including Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, were detained here.
Hector Peterson MuseumHector Peterson Museum
The Hector Peterson Museum in Soweto commemorates the 566 people who died in the student uprising that followed the events of June 16, 1976. The museum is named for Hector Peterson, a 12-year-old boy who was the first person shot dead by police on that day, and is located near a memorial to his death.
James Hall Transport MuseumJames Hall Transport Museum
The James Hall museum of Transport is the largest and most comprehensive museum of land transport in South Africa. It was established by the late Jimmie Hall together with the City of Johannesburg in February 1964.
Madiba Freedom MuseumMadiba Freedom Museum
Named after the former President Mandela's clan. The museums theme is Mzabalazo and charts South Africa's journey to demoscracy.
You step into the typical 1950s shebeen at MuseuMAfricA in Newtown, down town Johannesburg, and an automatic motion monitor churns out a Marabi tune. Such exhibits, laying bare, as they do, the heart and soul of inner city Johannesburg, make a trip to the museum a worthwhile experience.
Origins Centre Museum
Located on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Braamfontein, this musem contains some excellent examples of southern African rock art.
Bernberg Fashion Museum
Bernberg Fashion Museum is a primarily a museum collection, consisting of objects, and explains why and how clothing has changed and how the fashions of the past influence those of today.
South African National Museum of Military History
It is the only museum of its kind in South Africa and provides a nucleus of Museum and military history expertise in southern Africa. At the Museum you can see all types of guns, tanks, armoured cars, aircraft and naval hardware, including a midget submarine called the Molch used by the Germans in the Second World War (1939 - 1945).
The Zoology Museum is the only natural history museum in Johannesburg which is unusual since all the other major cities in South Africa have large public natural history museums. It has retained a unique character as the display specimens are exhibited in finely crafted teak cabinets which allow the viewer to engage directly with scores of objects at close range.
Direct links from the official Web site of the City of Johannesburg