Pretoria, the executive capital of South Africa, forms part of the City of Tshwane metropolitan municipality. It was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a voortrekker leader, who named it after his father, Andries Pretorius.
The elder Pretorius had become a Voortreker hero after his victory over the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River. He also negotiated the Sand River Convention (1852), in which Britain acknowledged the independence of the Transvaal. Pretoria became the capital of the South African Republic (ZAR) on 1 May 1860.
Geography & Climate
Pretoria is situated approximately 50km north of Johannesburg in a transitional belt between the plateau of the Highveld to the south and the lower-lying Bushveld to the north. It lies at an altitude of about 1,350 m (4,500 ft) above sea level in a warm, sheltered, fertile valley, surrounded by the hills of the Magaliesberg range.
The city has a moderately dry subtropical climate, specifically a humid subtropical climate, with long hot and rainy summers and short cool and dry winters. The average annual temperature is 18.7 °C (65.7 °F). This is rather high considering its relatively high altitude of about 1350 metres and is due mainly to its sheltered valley position, which acts as a heat trap and cuts it off from cool southerly and south-easterly air masses for much of the year. Rain falls mainly in the summer months, with drought conditions prevailing over the winter months, when frosts may be sharp. Snowfall is an extremely rare event, occurring once or twice in a century.
Depending on the definition of the city limits, the population ranges from 600,000 to 1.2 million. The main languages spoken in the Tshwane municipality are Pedi, Afrikaans, Tswana, Tsonga, Zulu and English. Ndebele and Sotho are also widely spoken. The whole Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality had a population of 1,985,997 at the 2001 census. The city of Pretoria has the largest white population of anywhere on the African continent. Since its founding it has been a major Afrikaner population centre, and currently there are roughly 400,000 Afrikaners living in or around the city.
Even since the end of Apartheid, Pretoria itself still has a white majority, albeit an ever increasing black middle-class. However in the townships of Soshanguve and Atteridgeville blacks make up close to all of the population. The largest white ethnic group are the Afrikaners and the largest black ethnic group are the Northern Sothos.
If one considers the lower estimate for the population of Pretoria, this includes largely former-white designated areas and there is therefore a white majority. However if one includes the geographically separate townships, this increases Pretoria's population beyond a million and makes whites a minority.
Pretoria's Indians mostly live in the Indian township of Laudium and surrounding areas, or in white suburbs.
Places of interest
- Pretoria National Botanical Garden
- The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
- Church Square
- Union Buildings
- Marabastad -- (also called Asiatic Bazaar or Location) is a business area near the city centre
- Menlyn Park -- Pretoria's largest shopping centre
- Voortrekker Monument
- Pretoria Forts -- four forts built by the government of the South African Republic (ZAR) just before the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War. They are Fort Schanskop, Fort Wonderboompoort, Fort Klapperkop and Fort Daspoortrand.
- Kruger House -- Residence of the president of the ZAR, Paul Kruger.
- Mapungubwe Museum -- at the University of Pretoria houses the national treasures of Mapungubwe, South Africa, a 13th century Iron Age site in the Limpopo Valley and a World Heritage Site. Gold ornaments, ivory, bone, ceramic-ware, clay figurines, trade beads, iron and copper artifacts are on permanent public display.
- Melrose House -- The Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the Anglo-Boer War was signed here in 1902.
- Van Wouw Museum
- Voortrekker Monument -- a massive granite structure, completed in 1949 to honour the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854, was designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk who had the idea to design a "monument that would stand a thousand years to describe the history and the meaning of the Great Trek to its descendants."
- Freedom Park
- Transvaal Museum
- African Window