Gauteng is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. The name in Sotho-Tswana languages means ‘place of gold’.
Situated on the Highveld, Gauteng is the smallest province by land area in South Africa. Although Gauteng accounts for only 1.5% of the country’s land area, it is home to more than a quarter of its population (26%).Highly urbanised, the province contains the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, which is also one of the largest cities in the world. Gauteng is the wealthiest province in South Africa and is considered as the financial hub of not only South Africa but the entire African continent, mostly concentrated in Johannesburg. It also contains the administrative capital, Pretoria, and other large areas such as Midrand, Vanderbijlpark, Ekurhuleni and the affluent Sandton. Gauteng is the most populous province in South Africa with a population of approximately 16.1 million people according to mid year 2022 estimates.
Gauteng was formed from part of the old Transvaal Province after South Africa’s first multiracial elections on 27 April 1994. It was initially named Pretoria–Witwatersrand–Vereeniging (PWV) and was renamed “Gauteng” on the 28th of June 1995, together with two other provinces.The term “PWV” describing the region existed long before the establishment of the province, with the “V” sometimes standing for “Vaal Triangle” rather than Vereeniging.
At the Sterkfontein caves, some of the oldest fossils of hominids have been discovered, such as Mrs. Ples and Little Foot.
Gauteng’s history has only been properly documented since the 19th century and as a result, not much information regarding its history predating the 19th century is available.The recorded history of the area that is now Gauteng can be traced back to the early 19th century when settlers originating from the Cape Colony defeated chief Mzilikazi and started establishing villages in the area.
The city of Pretoria was founded in 1855 as capital of the South African Republic (ZAR – Dutch: Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek). After the discovery of gold in 1886, the region became the single largest gold producer in the world and the city of Johannesburg was founded.The older city Pretoria was not subject to the same attention and development.Pretoria grew at a slower rate and was highly regarded due to its role in the Second Boer War. The Cullinan Diamond which is the largest diamond ever mined was mined near Pretoria in a nearby town called Cullinan in the year 1905.
Many crucial events happened in present-day Gauteng with regards to the anti-apartheid struggle, such as the Freedom Charter of 1955, Women’s March of 1956, Sharpeville massacre of 1960, the Rivonia Trial of 1963 and 1964, the little Rivonia Trial of 1964, the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and Sharpeville Six of 1984.]Today, the Apartheid Museum stands testament to these struggles in Johannesburg.