Largest city of South Africa, situated on the Witwatersrand in Gauteng Province; population (2001) 3,225,800. It is the centre of a large gold-mining industry; other industries include engineering works, chemicals, paper, electrical goods, meat-chilling plants, and clothing factories. The city is also an important financial centre, with a stock exchange dating from 1887.
History Johannesburg was founded after the discovery of gold by the Australian prospector George Harrison in 1886, and was probably named after Jan (Johannes) Meyer, the first mining commissioner.
Late 19th century The discovery of gold resulted in an immigrant population of 100,000 by 1895 and the town acquired the characteristics of an overgrown mining camp. Demands that British miners working in the Johannesburg gold mines be given voting rights precipitated the Boer War (1899–1902) between Britain and the Boer republic of the Transvaal. Johannesburg was occupied by the British on 31 May 1900.
20th century A strike by armed white workers, alarmed at the prospect of being replaced by lower-paid black workers, precipitated the Rand Revolt of 1922 and its subsequent repression by government troops. In 1928 Johannesburg was
declared a city. Black immigration increased following the city's rapid economic growth during and after World War II and shantytowns grew up around the suburbs, the largest of which became the black residential area of Soweto. The three years following Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990 saw widespread political unrest in the city.
Features Notable buildings include the law courts, Escom House (Electricity Supply Commission), the South African Railways Administration Building, the City Hall, Chamber of Mines and Stock Exchange, the Witwatersrand (1921) and Rand Afrikaans (1966) universities, and the Union Observatory.
Location Johannesburg lies 1,760 m/5,774 ft above sea level. Cape Town is 1,530 km/951 mi to the south, Durban 799 km/496 mi to the southeast, Pretoria 56 km/35 mi to the north, and Maputo 632 km/393 mi to the northeast. Johannesburg is the centre of the Witwatersrand region, where the world's greatest goldfields are situated.
Climate The city has a mild climate with average rainfall 750 mm/30 in and temperature range 13–25°C.
Economy Johannesburg is a major manufacturing, as well as a commercial and banking, city. It has many light industries, such as cigarettes, textiles, plastics, packaging, and engineering.
Transport Johannesburg is a major hub of the countryseverals railway system; the railway station was opened in 1964. The city is served by Jan Smuts International Airport and Johannesburg International Airport.
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