Introduction to Johannesburg

Situated in the small but wealthy Gauteng province in the country's interior, Johannesburg is South Africa's largest city and the centre of commerce in sub-Saharan Africa. Once the epitome of the gritty city, Johannesburg was on the map and in the public consciousness for all the wrong reasons. After the collapse of the apartheid regime in the 1990s, the Johannesburg of the news headlines was characterised by the stark divide between the have and have nots, general lawlessness and spiralling violent crime.

While elements of this reputation were true, being aware and responsible won't lessen your travel experience to this exciting city. In the lead-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, many measures were put in place to reduce the crime rate, which has also stabilised as the economy has grown.

Johannesburg is also one of the world's largest cities by area and home to Africa's tallest structures; Sentech Tower, Hillbrow Tower and the Carlton Centre. Known as 'Jozi', 'Egoli' (City of Gold) or 'Jo'burg', the sprawling city is the seat of the Constitutional Court, and includes the township of Soweto and surrounds where half the city's residents live. Some 4.5 million people live in the city and that number swells to over 10 million if you count greater Johannesburg. What may also surprise first-time visitors to Johannesburg is the verdant nature of the city with around 6 million trees in the CBD alone.

Jo'burg really is the contradictory nature of South Africa brought to life: rich, poor, trendsetting and historic all at once. While there is still a visible chasm between affluent and poor residents, after the uncertainty of the past 20 years it's what Johannesburg is doing with its future that buoys it with hope and confidence.

For more things to do in Johannesburg, check out our things to do page and start planning your Johannesburg holiday.

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