The North West Province is primarily inhabited by the Tswana people and incorporates the former homestead of Bophuthatswana. The provincial capital is Mahikeng, which was renamed known as Mafikeng prior to its renaming in 2010.
The area is rich in minerals and the foundation of the economy rests on the mining of diamonds, gold, platinum and uranium. The main mining towns are Klerksdorp (gold and uranium), Rustenburg (platinum), Brits (platinum), Orkney (gold), Lichtenberg (diamonds), Christiana (diamonds), and Bloemhof (diamonds). In addition to mining, the province has many sheep and cattle ranches, and crop-growing regions for maize (corn), cotton, sunflowers, citrus fruit and tobacco.
The province is also the home of world class casino-resort Sun City, as well as several game and nature resorts.
North West Province Demographics
Land size: 104,882 square kilometres
Population size: 3,676,300 people
Population race breakdown: 89.8% black African, 7.3% white, 2% coloured, 0.6% Indian/Asian
Languages spoken: 63.4% Tswana, 9% Afrikaans, 5.8% Sotho, 5.5% Xhosa, 3.7% Tsonga
Top 3 Nature and Game Reserves in the North West Province
Pilanesberg National Park
The Pilanesberg National Park is situated around the Mankwe Dam and surrounded by 580 square kilometres of bushveld. The game reserve is the home of a variety of plants, birds and animals (including South Africa’s Big Five). The park is also situated within the crater of an extinct volcano and is one of the largest game park’s in the country. It is popular due to its being situated only two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, making it easily accessible to locals and tourists from the country’s commercial hub.
Taung National Heritage Site
Taung means “place of the lion” in the local Tswana language. The area is of great archaeological and scientific significance because of the discovery of the skull of a child, which was unearthed there in 1924. The child belonged to the early hominid species of Australopithecus africanus, which means “southern ape of Africa”. Professor Raymond Dart from the University of the Witwatersrand was credited with the discovery which proved that early man existed in Africa millions of years ago. The discovery has been named one of the most significant scientific events in history and has led to the belief that early humans originated in Africa. The Buxton Quarry, which is the site of the discovery of the Taung Child is a heritage site and commemorates the event.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is considered one of the best conservation areas in Africa. It is a hidden gem among the larger and more well-known reserves in the country, offers game viewing all year round, luxury accommodation, safaris and a private 1200 metre airstrip. The 680 square kilometre park was originally a farm, but the land was not suitable for farming so the park later acquired game and is now the home of the Big Five and wild dogs.
Top 3 Places to go to in the North West Province
Sun City is a world-renowned resort and casino complex. During Apartheid, the casino resort was able to operate as it was situated in the Bophuthatswana independent homeland, which was not subject to the laws of the Republic. Famous acts such as Queen, Frank Sinatra, Elton John and Rod Stewart performed there during the Apartheid era. Today, Sun International has several hotels, auditoriums and includes the palace of the Lost City. The resort also has two golf courses which were designed by Gary Player. The 2014 film Blended starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore was filmed primarily at Sun City.
Mafikeng, which is now officially known as Mahikeng, is situated close to South Africa’s border with Botswana. The provincial capital was founded by Molema Tawana, son of Kgosi Tawana of the Tshidi Barolong tribe in the nineteenth century. It lies by the banks of the Upper Molopo River. The town has two game reserves, a train station, a local airport, a nature reserve and a university campus. It served as the capital of the Bantustan (independent homeland) of Bophuthatswana until it was incorporated into the rest of South Africa in 1994.
Lesedi Cultural Village
The Lesedi Cultural Village gives visitors the opportunity of learning about and experiencing five of South Africa’s culures, namely: the Zulus, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho and Ndebele tribes. The resort features the five homesteads in the styles of each culture, including traditional bee hive huts. Visitor accommodation is located within the homesteads which appear traditional from the outside but feature luxurious, fully-equipped cottages on the inside. The village offers day tours, dances and meals, and is situated close to Sun City and the Pilanesberg.
The North West Province has much to offer aspiring archaeologists and people with an interest in science, history and African culture. In addition, wildlife can be viewed at its various game reserves or one can simply enjoy some recreational activities at Sun City.