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Johannesburg, also sometimes referred to as “Egoli”, (Zulu for “Place of Gold”) is perched on the 80 km long ridge called the Witwatersrand. It is a cosmopolitan city, home to all the diverse groupings that constitute the South African people. It is also the largest city in South Africa, the third largest in Africa, the fourth-fastest growing city in the world and the financial nerve centre of South Africa.
Mine dumps and skyscrapers etch the horizon, depicting its growth from a humble gold mining camp to the bustling cosmopolitan city it is today. The mine dumps are at present being reworked, using modern techniques to retrieve the trace minerals that were not extracted during earlier mining operations.
Johannesburg is named after the two people who were mainly responsible for its establishment. Johannes Joubert, who was Head of the Mines Department, was sent to investigate the gold resources of the area and Johannes Rissik was the surveyor-general who was responsible for choosing the site on which the mining town would be built. “Burg” is an Afrikaans word that means “town”. If South Africa is a “World in One Country”, then Johannesburg is a “Country in One City”. Nowhere else have the people been able to come together and form such an interactive culture, combining traits from each group and creating their own identity. The streets are alive with the call of fruit sellers and street vendors and the city presents an exciting blend of ethnic and Western art and cultural activities in the many theatres and open-air arenas.
Crime has unfortunately become a cross that the city has to bear, but projects are in progress to solve this problem. The inner city is one of the main problem areas and visitors are advised to adhere to basic safety precautions when they enter this area.
Johannesburg has the world’s third largest number of art deco buildings (after New York and Miami) and has launched a concerted effort to preserve this heritage. The “Ou Kaaphuis” (Old Cape House) in Pretoria Avenue, a “little Cape away from the Cape” is furnished with authentic antique furniture relevant to the Cape Dutch period. Near the corner of Market and Nugget Street lies a beautiful 71-year old Indian mosque. The mosque is a refreshing alternative to modern architectural styles.
A night out on the town in Johannesburg presents many opportunities. Some of the possibilities include excellent jazz music, night clubbing, gambling, music concerts or a visit to one of the many theatres. There are 15 theatres and many more nightclubs and music spots in Johannesburg. The easiest way to find up-to-date entertainment information is to look in the local press.