The glittering city of Johannesburg, famed for its gold and diamond trade and its magnificent sunsets, is South Africa’s economic and financial hub and one of the world’s leading financial centres. The city is also the seat of South Africa’s (post-apartheid) Constitutional Court.
Beneath the increasingly polished veneer of modern-day Jo’burg, lies the original boomtown, as gritty and gutsy as it was in yesteryear. Following the abolition of apartheid and the Group Areas Act (dictating where racial groups could reside), Johannesburg’s city centre became heavily over-populated and prone to spiralling crime rates.
In recent decades, measures have been taken to restore order and crime rates have fallen significantly. Nevertheless, most expats are still inclined to head for the wealthier districts of Sandton, Randburg, Fourways and Midrand areas.
Not only is Johannesburg an increasingly safe city to live in, it is also one of the greenest; with roughly 6 million trees in the city, Johannesburg boasts the largest “manmade” forest on the planet. To get the lay of the land, head for Africa’s tallest building. Located in the CBD, The Carlton Centre’s observation deck on the 50th floor offers sweeping vistas of the city, including the city’s notorious Soweto (South Western Township). To get a real flavour of the city, arm yourself with some Zulu phrases and indulge in the local fare: miele pap and stew.
Johannesburg’s mild climate, breathtakingly beautiful countryside, its post-rainy season flowers that bloom into a riot of colour, the local wines and fantastic local restaurants, make it a city that is easy to call your own.
What is special or unique about your city?
Johannesburg is a mix of cultures, resulting in a wide range of cuisines, cultural activities and traditions. The gold rush of 1886 and subsequent development of the gold trade has left its scars on the city, the numerous mine dumps in the southern areas bearing witness to this. Visit Gold Reef City and experience a day in the life of a gold miner.
Johannesburg is the capital of the province of Gauteng, the most populous and wealthy province of South Africa and the home of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
The vastness of the Greater Johannesburg metropolitan area, the great diversity of people and cultures, and the abundance of trees is impressive.
Are these impressions likely to change?
The longer you stay in Johannesburg, the more you become attached to its diversity, people and many attractions - it’s the pulse of Africa!
What is the local language?
Although there are 11 officially recognised languages in South Africa, English is the official language.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
It is advisable to have at least a working knowledge of English.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Have respect for all other cultures and traditions, along with patience and tolerance for people whose home language is not English.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
November to April is mostly warm to hot, with afternoon and evening thunderstorms that can cause a moderate drop in temperature. May to October tend toward sunny, warm days, but cold to very cold early mornings and evenings, with early morning frost a common occurrence. Layered dressing is advisable.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
The inhabitants of Johannesburg love their city, love their sport, love meeting friends for a “braai” (barbeque) and love all the entertainment that Johannesburg provides. Newcomers to the city will learn to love all this too.