The name “Gauteng” means “place of gold” in the local seSotho language. It was in this area that gold was first discovered in South Africa, and today Gauteng province is at the centre of the gold mining industry in South Africa, and is also the commercial hub of the country’s economy. It contains the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and many national companies have their headquarters in these cities. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa (Cape Town is the legislative capital, as the latter houses Parliament).
The city of Johannesburg comprises a cosmopolitan mix of up-market luxury and various African influences, from the yesteryear mansions of former “Rand Lords” (gold mining entrepreneurs) to the Afrocentric brew of Hillbrow and related suburbs, while to the south lies the enormous area of Soweto, home to many members of the working class who service the systems of the city. The city of Pretoria houses the Union buildings, a fine example of British Imperial architecture, and the seat of government administration. Attractions in Johannesburg (or “Jozi”) include the Civic Theatre in Braamfontein, the Museum Africa, and the Rand Club, the latter previously graced by various mining magnates. Then there is also Gold Reef City, built on the site of a gold mine. In Pretoria, one finds the State Theatre, which hosts a programme of contemporary music and dance. If you are planning to journey into these cities, as is the case in any city of the world, you are advised to research any excursion properly beforehand, and perhaps also to take a local guide with you, so that you are safe at all times.
Further afield, there are the Sterkfontein caves, in which some of the oldest human remains on record were discovered, namely the Australopithecus africanus specimen, dated at 2,5 million years in age. Then there are also the Lion Park, Snake Park, and the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. There is also the Cullinan Diamond Mine (booking essential). Wherever you go in Gauteng, you are sure to note that it is one of the most populous and economically active regions of South Africa.