Even though Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province, it is the most highly populated province in South Africa. This highly urbanised province is also home to Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, and Pretoria, its administrative capital. The history of the area which makes up the Gauteng province can be traced back to the early 1800’s when settlers from the Cape Colony started establishing villages in this area. In 1886 gold was discovered in the area and the region became the largest producer of gold in the world.
The Vaal River forms the southern border of the Gauteng province, separating it from the Free State province. Mpumalanga lies to the east of Gauteng, with Limpopo bordering on the north and the North West province on the west. Most of Gauteng is situated on South Africa’s Highveld region, which is a high-altitude grassland. The area between Johannesburg and Pretoria consists of undulating hills and low parallel ridges. Due to a lower altitude, the northern parts of Gauteng are more subtropical with a mostly dry savanna habitat.
Gauteng is seen as the economic hub of South Africa. It contributes heavily to a variety of sectors such as telecommunications, financial, transport, technology and manufacturing. It is also home to a large number of overseas companies using it as a commercial base and gateway to Africa. The largest stock exchange in Africa, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is situated in Gauteng. Despite being the smallest of the South African provinces, Gauteng is responsible for a third of South Africa’s gross domestic product.
The climate of Gauteng is mostly influenced by altitude. Despite being at a subtropical latitude, the climate is comparatively cooler due to its high altitude. Most rainfall occurs in the summer as brief afternoon thunderstorms. The winters are crisp and dry with frost occurring in the southern areas of Gauteng.
Gauteng’s favourable weather conditions make it an ideal hub for sports and other outdoor activities. The Vaal River in Gauteng offers various water sports such as motor boating, jet skiing and water skiing. Adventure sports such as skydiving, hang-gliding and paragliding are also popular activities in Gauteng. Other attractions in Gauteng include Gold Reef City, the Johannesburg Zoo and the Pretoria Zoo. The province has four botanical gardens, namely the Pretoria, Johannesburg, Walter Sisulu and Manie van der Schijff botanical gardens. Gauteng is also home to events and expo venues such as the Coca-Cola Dome and the Gallagher Convention Centre.