Gauteng – “Place of Gold”, the financial and economic powerhouse of South Africa, owes its Sotho name to its rich gold deposits. In size, it may be the smallest of South Africa’s provinces but, measured in terms of economic activity, industrial development and mineral resources, Gauteng is at the top of the list. This counts for its attraction as a tourist destination as well.
If you are wondering what Gauteng can offer the national and international tourist, it can be summed up in six key tourism experiences: shopping; dining and entertainment; business facilities and infrastructure; outdoor and nature-based activities; sports and events, and arts and culture. This may seem like a tall order for any tourism destination to fill, but, yes, Gauteng offers you all this and more. A wondrous variety of attractions and activities await you within this relatively small (approximately 19 000 square km) region.
The Gauteng of today is a source of gold in more ways than one. Years of suffering and struggling to achieve liberation, justice and equality for all South Africans, have forged a people whose value is more than the most precious metal. This is a people who have come through the fire, stronger and more determined than ever to mould a society which embodies the qualities they fought so hard for. The spirit of the province is one of survival, determination and ultimately, cooperation. The people of Gauteng have come together to celebrate the contrasts and similarities that characterise them as individuals and forged the South African nation. The story of the democratic South Africa was written on the streets of places such as Soweto where young and old stood up to be heard and would not let their voices be stilled.
Gauteng’s cities, such as Johannesburg, Pretoria and Soweto, with their sophisticated infrastructure, business facilities and entertainment opportunities, are places where one need never be at a loss for something to do. The people who populate the cities and towns add their unique Gauteng charm to the mix. The indomitable spirit of the province is one of optimism and opportunity. In Gauteng, everyone can find their niche. This is also the place where physical monuments remind us of how our Constitution, regarded as one of the finest in the world, came into being. The tempo of Gauteng is fast and lively, stimulated by the activity and growth that have always been part of the province’s heritage.
Most of Gauteng is basically an integrated industrial complex that includes every economic sub-sector. The discovery of gold only marked the beginning of frantic economic activity in the area. The mining and industrial sectors grew from the vast coal and iron deposits and, as people streamed towards these areas, the economy grew rapidly. Today, most of the towns and cities in the province have expanded into spread-out metropolitan areas. This makes the province an ideal destination, for business travellers and tourists alike, especially for those who do not like to travel great distances.
Having heard of all the industrial activity, people may be surprised to learn that another major source of income is the agricultural sector. Agricultural produce includes dairy products, vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs and flowers, maize, groundnuts, cotton and sorghum.
The need to relax and get away from the fast pace of city life has also not been neglected and the outdoor and nature-based activities promised by Gauteng can certainly be delivered upon. Pockets of land that retain their natural beauty have been left untouched and are thoroughly enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Just past the angular skyline of the cities lie vast stretches of grassland savannah, large wetlands areas, man-made lakes, bird sanctuaries and game and nature reserves, home to a rich variety of animals, birds and plants.
Seasons in Gauteng are blessed by the comfortable climate that characterises high-lying savannah areas. In wintertime, Gauteng experiences chilly mornings and evenings but the afternoons are comfortably warm and sunny. Frost occurs regularly in winter but snowfalls are very rare. A good gauge of the average temperatures in the province is Johannesburg, which has an average winter temperature of between 4 and 24 degrees Celsius, (40 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and Pretoria, which is normally about 2 degrees warmer.
In summer, large dark clouds roll over the horizon, bringing with them rain and highveld thunderstorms. Plants, people and animals are revitalised as the province turns green with new life. Hail is common during these summer thunderstorms. The average summer temperatures range between 13 and 26 degrees Celsius (55 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit). Autumn covers the province in a blanket of warm golden-coloured leaves with comfortable temperatures to match.