Johannesburg is the economic and financial pivot of sub-Saharan Africa, and also the biggest city in the world, which is not situated next to any large water mass such as a river, sea or ocean. The city was established in 1886, the result of the Witwatersrand gold rush which started two years prior and attracted hopefuls from all over the world who wished to start a new life and make money from mining the area’s valuable resources.
Commonly referred to as Jozi, Jo’burg or Egoli, even today, Johannesburg is the home of many hopefuls from Africa and the rest of the world who come to the city in search of their own “gold” within the hub of commerce, businesses and opportunities. The planting of trees in parks and urban areas has played a significant part in Johannesburg’s planning and development, making it the biggest man-made forest on the planet.
Where is Johannesburg?
Johannesburg is the capital city of South Africa’s Gauteng Province. The city is densely populated and situated on the “Highveld”, an Eastern plateau of South Africa with an elevation of 1,753 metres.
The central business district is home to over 957,441 inhabitants, while the Greater Johannesbug Metropolitan area has a population of over seven million people. English is the standard language of communication in business and most everyday activities.
The most prestigious and expensive areas in Johannesburg are situated in the northern suburbs and include Westcliff and Sandton (primarily Sandhurst and Bryanston which are suburbs in the Greater Sandton area).
Getting around has become simpler over the past decade, as the city introduced a rapid bus system and upgraded the Metrobus system. The Gautrain, a railway system, operates on two lines, a North-South line from Pretoria to Johannesburg, and a West-East line from Sandton to the airport. Tourists can use the Gautrain to get around common areas, the system also has a supplementary bus system to take commuters to other areas from the various stations. The Gautrain is convenient for travelling to and from the airport and other common areas, but the preferred mode of transport for locals as well as tourists is private transportation. Vehicles can be pre-booked online and rented at the airport as well as other centres across the city.
Top 5 Things to do in Johannesburg
The 55 hectare zoo is home to a wide variety of native and exotic animals and one of the few places in the world where people can view white lions. This is a definite must see for those interested in the majestic beauty of African animals.
The Lion and Rhino Park
The Lion and Rhino Park is situated in the West Rand, where one can get a short Safari experience close to the city. Visitors can take a drive into the privately owned game reserve, learn about South Africa’s Big Five and conservation, as well as buy souvenirs from the curio shop.
Montecasino is situated in Fourways, a suburb of the Greater Sandton area. The shopping complex was built as a replica of Venice, complete with a painted sky roof, villa facade walls and window shutters.
Top of Africa
The tallest building in Africa, the Carlton Centre is situated in the Johannesburg CBD. From the top, people can learn about the history of the city and view its vast landscapes and buildings. Once the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, the Carlton Centre is still one of the tallest structures in the region.
Gold Reef City / Apartheid Museum
Johannesburg’s most popular amusement park, situated in the South of the city, has a host of attractions including the Apartheid Museum and a reconstructed gold mine showing a glimpse of Johannesburg’s early days and what lead to the city’s establishment. Gold Reef City has various rollercoaster rides including the Anaconda, which holds the record as the tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster in Africa.
OR Tambo International Airport
OR Tambo International Airport is situated in Kempton Park and is the primary airport for international flights to and from South Africa, and caters for domestic flights. The airport hosts several restaurants, curio and souvenir shops, as well as clothing shops and a pharmacy.
OR Tambo is one of the few airports in the world which offers non-stop flights to all six continents and caters for 17 million passengers annually.
Johannesburg is a bustling city, with many attractions to see and places to go. It is a mix of culture and commerce, and an ideal destination if you want to experience city life and get a glimpse of South Africa’s natural heritage.