Johannesburg

Johannesburg

 
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Orlando Towers

Johannesburg, Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa by population. It's the provincial capital of Gauteng – the wealthiest province in South Africa, with the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city is one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world, and the world's largest city not situated on a river, lake or coastline.  And it claims to be the biggest man-made forest in the world!

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Related contentGetting around Johannesburg

Introduction

Geography
Johannesburg is located in the eastern plateau known as the Highveld, at an elevation of 1,753 metres (5,751 ft). The original 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, 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.

Climate
Johannesburg features a Subtropical highland climate. The city enjoys a dry, sunny climate with late afternoon thundershowers in the summer months of October to April. Temperatures in Johannesburg are usually fairly mild due to the city's high altitude, with the average maximum daytime temperature in January of 25.6°C (78.1°F), dropping to an average maximum of around 16°C (61°F) in June. Winter is the sunniest time of the year, with mild days and cool nights, dropping to 4.1°C (39.4°F) in June and July. The temperature occasionally drops to below freezing at night, causing frost. Snow is a rare occurrence. 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.

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.

Demographics
According to the 2011 Census, the population of Johannesburg was 4,434,827 people (although with the East Rand and other suburban areas it's around 7 million).  It has one of the highest population growths in SA (click here) which explains why the municipal authority struggles to keep pace.  The amalgamation of several towns into Metropolitan Johannesburg was not accompanied with clear branding, and Johannesburg can be very confusing to visitors.

Some 29% of Johannesburg residents stay in informal dwellings and 66% of households are headed by one person.

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