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Johannesburg (in spoken language also referred to as Jo'burg, Egoli or Jozi ) is a city in South Africa.


It has an estimated population of 7 million persons. It is widely regarded as the wealthiest city in Africa and thus is at the center of financial and economic trends in Africa. Yet its riches are not evenly divided upon its people and the city is an interesting contrast between the First World and Third World. The contrast between rich and poor has led to one of the highest crime rates in the world. The haves tend to live in houses with a high level of security by western standards, whilst the have nots live in shacks or cheap housing. The traveller should not avoid Johannesburg because of its crime, since it is possible to have a safe and enjoyable stay if precautions are taken. Many South Africans elect to live here over other, safer parts of the country. Throughout the city, mine dumps are a reminder of the city's legacy of gold mining.

There are many things that are unique to Johannesburg. It features a distinct street entrepreneurship, and motorists are able to buy almost anything from vendors selling goods at traffic lights. This includes food, umbrellas, soccer balls, cellular phone accessories and many other goods. Barber shops consisting of nothing but a chair and an enthusiastic barber can be found on the sides of roads, although they tend to specialise in African rather than Caucasoid hair.

Oprah herself has said that Johannesburg is the world's largest man-made urban forest. The city is certainly one of the greenest in the world, considering that the natural land scape is savannah. (Mostly Brazilian Jakaranda trees, which have a blue flower in spring. By the time they start flowering, it is too late to start studying for your exams...)

Get in

By car

A high number of highways from everywhere in South Africa go to Johannesburg, like the N1 from Cape Town and Bloemfontein or the N3 from Durban making it an easy to reach destination. Highways are:

By plane

Johannesburg International Airport

Johannesburg International Airport (JIA) is the major airport of South Africa and has flights to many destinations on all continents.

Domestic destinations within South Africa include:

and many other local destinations. Flights from most of the important cities in Africa and worldwide take place.

Some of the local airlines are South African Airways, British Airways (Comair), Nationwide and low-cost carriers 1Time and South African Airways operates a worldwide network from JIA.


Other airports, such as Lanseria Airport or Rand Airport are preferred by charter operators and small airlines. There are regular flights from Lanseria to Cape Town.

See also Discount airlines in Africa and Air travel in South Africa.

By train and bus

Trains and buses arrive at the central train station downtown. Whilst the station is quite safe, the traveller is warned not to go wandering around the city centre with loads of luggage.

Get around

Public transport in Johannesburg is a tough one. Minibus taxis may be used with caution. Buses are available but routes and times are somewhat limited by western standards.

Extreme and sometimes warlike competition has resulted in the minibus taxis being cheap and fast. Faster than you'd dare drive yourself!


Soweto is an increasingly popular destination for travellers from around the world. The apartheid museum is a worth while stop for any traveller wanting to learn more about the heinous crimes committed against the black majority in South Africa's past.

In 2004 the Constitutional Court was opened in the former infamous prison called The Fort. The city centre used to be notorious for violence, but surveillance has improved, so now one can enjoy the buildings of the gold rush era and the sights from the Carlton Tower.

The Market Theatre precinct, Museum of Africa and Newtown (refurbished with the opening of the Nelson Mandela Bridge) are fascinating. Stroll around in daytime, preferably in a small group, and see both Indian and African traditions alive and well.


  • Walk and climb through the Sterkfontein Caves (2 km walk). A tourguide will lead you through this extensive cave system where many early hominids and advanced ape fossils were discovered. You can also visit the museum to learn more about the evolution of man. There is also a restourant and shop. To get there, drive West along the N14 and look for the Cradle of Humankind signs.
  • Gold Reef City is an amusement park with a casino. The visitor can also learn about gold mining and go into a mine here. Unfortunately Gold Reef isn't a theme-park of international standards so if you are expecting "Disney Land Africa" give it a miss.
  • Visit the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in the west. It's a nesting spot for the endangered Black Eagle.
  • Visit Hartbeespoort Dam. See Pretoria for more information.


Craftsmen and women from all over Africa sell their goods at the Rosebank flea market on Sundays and in a bazaar type shop in the Rosebank mall on week days.


The area of Melrose Arch houses many upmarket restaurants and nightclubs, including Moyo (an African-themed restaurant), Kilimanjaro (one of Johannesburg's top nightclubs) and several other casual eating establishments.


Nightlife in Johannesburg is limited. Good pubs and clubs are available in the Melville student district, Newtown cultural precinct. Posh and upmarket clubbing happens in the Rivonia area. Rivonia also contains Liliesleaf Farm, where Mandela and top ANC leaders once plotted to overthrow the apartheid government.

One of the City's main venues for night time entertainment is Carfax, in the suburb of Newtown - which is being developed as the city's cultural precinct.


The Backpacker's Ritz in Johannesburg has excellent views of the city, reasonable prices and an extremely helpful travel desk with information about all aspects of travel in South Africa. However, Johannesburg also caters for the traveller looking for a luxurious stay, with five-star hotels such as the Sandton Sun, the Michaelangelo and the Westcliff. Many cosy Bed and Breakfasts are also scattered in the city's lush suburbs, and cater for a traveller on any budget.

External links

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