Johannesburg, also known as Jozi, is the largest city in South Africa. It is the provincial capital of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in the country. The city is one of the 50 largest urban areas by population in the world, and is the world’s largest city not situated on a river, lake or coastline. It was established and named in 1886 after the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. The name is attributed to one or all of three men involved in the establishment of the city. By 1896, the population had risen to 100,000.
Although Johannesburg is not one of South Africa’s three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court, which has the final word on interpretation of South Africa’s constitution as well as issues connected with constitutional matters. The city is also a gold and diamond trading centre, due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills. It is regarded as the economic powerhouse of the African continent.
The Cradle of Humankind – a Unesco World Heritage Site – is 31 miles (50km) north-west of the city. The Sterkfontein fossil site is famous for being the world’s richest hominid site and produced the first adult Australopithecus africanus and the first near-complete skeleton of an early Australopithecine. Other attractions in the area include the Lesedi Cultural Village, the town of Magaliesburg and the Hartbeespoort Dam. The Origins Centre Museum in Johannesburg tells the story of the origins of humankind in Africa and houses an extensive collection of rock art.
Johannesburg offers a variety of options for wildlife viewing. Johannesburg Zoo is one of the largest in South Africa; the Lion and Safari Park, near Lanseria, is home to more than 80 lions and various other game; and the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, a 1500ha reserve, is a 40-minute drive from the city centre. The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre in the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains runs a successful breeding programme for cheetahs, wild dog and other endangered species. Similarly, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, situated in the Cradle of Humankind on 1200ha of the typical high veld of Gauteng, runs a breeding programme for endangered species including Bengal tigers, Siberian tigers and the extremely rare white lion.
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