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“A bright desolate, dreary space of open veld, over which the bleak winds of the winter-time had a passage unhindered and unchecked by the presence of any human habitation save a few farmhouses.” This is how Hengry Longland described the Witwatersrand before gold was discovered in 1886.

Since then, the Province has grown into the most densely populated and urbanized in the country, although comprising of only 1.4% of land area.

Gauteng, the ‘Jacaranda City’ (Pretoria), the ‘City of Gold’, (Johannesburg/Egoli/Jozi) and the ‘Township life and vibe’ have been the inspiration for many a song, good and bad, humorous and sad.

Geographically it was previously part of the old Transvaal province and known as the Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (shortened as PWV). In December 1994, it was renamed to Gauteng.

The name Gauteng is the Sesotho word meaning ‘Place of Gold’.  This is the historical Sesotho name for Johannesburg and its surrounding areas that refers to the flourishing gold industry in the province. The Sesotho word ‘gauta’ is derived from the Afrikaans word goud (‘gold’). The suffix, ‘-ng’ means ‘place of …’.

Gauteng is surrounded by four other provinces, Limpopo, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga. Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border.

The discovery of gold (1886) was not the only contributor to the economy of this region. Vast coal and iron deposits were also discovered, boosting the mining and industrial sectors. The Premier mine at Cullinan also produced the largest diamond (3106 carats) in the world, adding to the many claims to fame of the province.

The ‘spirit of gold’ refers to the struggle for liberation, justice and equality for all South Africans. It is symbolic of the pain and suffering of people being shaped and formed through the fire, emerging stronger and more determined. Their story is told at many places in Gauteng, such as Soweto, Alexandra, Constitutional Hill, the Apartheids Museum and Freedom Park. The latter is unique in that it celebrates all South Africans struggle for freedom, including the Anglo-Zulu War, the War of Independence, the Great South African War and the two World Wars.

Gauteng also bears evidence of human origins at the ‘Cradle of Humankind’, a World Heritage Site and home to the renowned Mrs. Ples (Australopithecus Africanus).

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