Johannesburg, South Africa, Africa

Founded: 1886;
Incorporated: 1928
Location: On the Highveld in the South African interior
Time Zone: 2 PM in South Africa = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: 70% black; 25% white; 5% Indian or mixed race
Elevation: 5,700 to 5,930 feet (1,740 to 1,810 meters)
Latitude and Longitude: 26°10′S, 28°2′E
Climate: Temperate, with mild summers and winters
Annual Mean Temperature: 15.5 °C (59.9°F); January 24°C (75°F); July 13°C (55°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: N.A.
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall): 700 mm (28 in)
Government: Municipal and local councils
Weights and Measures: Metric system
Monetary Units: The rand
Telephone Area Codes: 11 (Johannesburg); 27 (South Africa)


The Johannesburg area has a well-developed highway system that carries thousands of commuters between the city and its suburbs every day. The major north-south route, N1, becomes M1 when it reaches the metropolitan area, while N1 becomes part of an urban highway (the Eastern and Western Bypass) ringing the city. Also leading north out of the city, R28 joins N1 leading to Pretoria and beyond. A number of highways radiate outward from Johannesburg to the east, south, and west, including N12 and N17 (east), N3, R26, N1 and R29 (both leading to Soweto from the south), and N14 to the west.

Bus and Railroad Service

Inter-city bus service is provided by Greyhound, Intercape, and Translux, all of which arrive at and depart from the Rotunda, which also serves as the city's rail terminal.


Direct flights to cities in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Western Hemisphere, as well as service to destinations throughout southern Africa are available at Johannesburg (formerly Jan Smuts) International Airport, South Africa's largest international airport. It is located around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) east of the city. International air traffic to Johannesburg has increased greatly since the lifting of foreign embargoes against South Africa in early 1990s, and major renovations of the airport are underway.

Johannesburg Population Profile

Population: 2,412,000
Area: 1,100 sq km (424.7 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 70% black; 25% white; 5% Indian or mixed race
World population rank1: 126
Percentage of national population2: 5.2%
Average yearly growth rate: 2.1%
Nicknames: Jo'burg; Jozi; eGoli (City of Gold); Africa's Manhattan


  1. The Johannesburg metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of South Africa's total population living in the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

Greater Johannesburg consists of over 500 suburbs fanning out, mostly northward, from the central city over an area more than 518 square kilometers (200 square miles).

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Double-decker buses are operated by the municipal transportation system, with most routes originating from the main bus terminal in Venderbijl Square. Buses run within the city and between the city and suburbs but usually not from one suburb to another. Since it is intended primarily for commuters, bus service is provided mostly during the work week, with few routes and infrequent runs offered during the weekend. Many blacks use minibuses, called "kombi-taxes," operated by privately owned black companies.


Bus and minibus tours of Johannesburg, Soweto, Gold Reef City, and area parks are available. There are also tours of the Parktown mansions. Specialty tours include balloon tours over the Magaliesberg Mountains and informative tours of Johannesburg mines.

19. Tourism

As elsewhere in South Africa, Johannesburg has seen a dramatic rise in tourism since the end of apartheid, with the greatest number of tourists coming from Great Britain. With the variety of cultural and recreational attractions in the city and its environs, tourism is expected to play an important role in its economic future.

22. For Further Study


Mail & Guardian home page. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

TimeOut Johannesburg. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Tourism Board website. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Virtual Africa. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Government Offices

Most government offices are located in the capital city of Pretoria.

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Johannesburg Metropolitan Tourism Association 011–337–6650

South African Tourist Corporation (main office)
442 Rigel Ave. South
Erasmusrand 0181
Pretoria, South Africa


Business Day
4 Beirman Place
P.O. Box 1138

The Sowetan
61 Commando Rd.
Industria West
P.O. Box 6663

The Star
47 Sauer St.
P.O. Box 1014

Weekly Mail and Guardian
139 Smit St.
P.O. Box 32362


Chipkin, Clive M. Johannesburg Style: Architecture & Society, 1880s–1960s. Johannesburg: Thorold's Africana Books, 1993.

Kallaway, Peter, and Patrick Pearson. Johannesburg : Images and Continuities: A History of Working Class Life through Pictures, 1885–1935. Braamfontein, South Africa: Ravan Press, 1986.

McCrea, Barbara, Tony Pinchuck, and Greg Mthembu-Salter. South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland. Rough Guides. London: Penguin, 1997.

Paton, Alan . Cry, the Beloved Country. New York: Scribner's, 1948.

Schadeberg, Jurgen. Sof'town Blues : Images from the Black ′50s. Hurlyvale, South Africa: African Book Centre, 1994.

Sepamla, Sydney Sipho. A Ride on the Whirlwind: A Novel. New York: Readers International, 1984.

Themba, Can. The Will to Die. Ed. Donald Stuart and Roy Holland. London: Heinemann, 1972.

Thompson, Leonard Monteath. A History of South Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.


Johannesburg [videorecording]. Super cities. Johannesburg. San Ramon, California: International Video Network, 1995. 1 videocassette (30 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in.