Gauteng Province, South Africa
Gauteng is the smallest of South Africa 's nine provinces, measuring 18 810 square kilometres. The three main cities in the province are Johannesburg, Soweto and Tshwane (previously known as Pretoria). Gauteng's history dates back to 218 000 BC, when a meteorite created the Tswaing crater north of Tshwane.
Gauteng is also known as Place of Gold (translated from Sotho), because of the gold which was mined in the area over the years.
It is said to be the economic powerhouse of South Africa. Gauteng is a cosmopolitan, multicultural mix of people from all walks of life, from the vibrant metropolis of Soweto, through dynamic Johannesburg, City of Gold, to the tree-lined diplomacy of Pretoria. Gauteng's unique cultural and social legacy is its multicultural melting pot, evidenced in the many museums, theatres, galleries, cultural precincts and craft markets. The capital, Johannesburg, offers visitors a large selection of recreational, cultural and historical attractions. Situated about 50km from Johannesburg, Pretoria is renowned for its colourful gardens, shrubs and trees, particularly beautiful in spring when jacarandas envelop the avenues in mauve.
The history of Gauteng is complex. It is ironic that humanity suffered in the place of its genesis and that the scar of a crashing meteorite (Tswaing crater) is not as heavily etched on the souls of the residents as the cruelty of Apartheid. But history did not begin with Apartheid. The kingdoms and people of Gauteng live on their oral traditions and stories of their ancestors. When the settlers arrived stories were retold.
Do yourself a favour and take the time out to discover the real Gauteng. Uncover the stories of its people, the Basotho, Tswana and Pedi people who roamed the plains and mountains. Learn about the wars and their ways and experience the richness of the diverse history.
People of Gauteng will not forget why it is they can tell their stories yet again. There are many monuments which stand testament to all the battles fought for the region. The Hector Peterson Memorial in Soweto and the Women's Memorial in Pretoria are but some of the historic testimonies to the bravery of those seen as heroes. The Sharpeville Memorial is a reminder of where protestors were killed. The Hector Peterson Memorial is a tribute to the youth of Soweto who died in the 1976 uprising. And there are so many more. As there is much more to Gauteng's heritage than Palaeontology and politics.
Gauteng is said to have one of the world's best climates: summer days are warm and relatively wind free and winter days are crisp and clear. Rainfall is experienced in summer as well as occasional afternoon thunderstorms of short duration. Winters are mild and dry with occasional early morning frost on the Highveld. Johannesburg and Pretoria differ in temperature by about 2 degrees, Pretoria being the warmer of the two.
Although Gauteng's main attraction is big business (being the place of gold), there is so much more. museums, galleries, historical battlefields. Gauteng is also an entertainment playground offering world-class restaurants, shebeens, shopping malls and music venues.
The Cradle of Humankind is only 45 minutes away from Johannesburg, nestling in the peaceful Sterkfontein rural valley. It is a World Heritage Site, as well as the world's richest hominid site. The landscape comprises a band of important palaeoanthropological sites.
The Lesedi Cultural Village is a multi-cultural African village set among pristine bushveld and rocky hills - the Xhosa with their beautiful thatched homes and red blankets, the Zulu with their fighting shields, the Pedi courtyards and drums and the straw hats and ponies of the Basotho.
The Hartebeesport Dam is a major attraction with its spectacular scenery and proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria, and is the principal water recreation area of Northern Gauteng. The dam is open to all and the dam wall is the country's only Roman Triumphal Arch style wall.
Soweto is a former township from the times of Apartheid. Starting about 15km away from the centre of Johannesburg, it comprises some 63 sq. km, where an estimated three million people live.