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Population: 3.9 million 

Elevation: 190 m / 623 ft 

Average Annual Rainfall: 60 cm / 23.6 in 

Average Annual Snowfall: 46 cm / 18 in 

Average January Temperature: 26°C / 79°F 

Average July Temperature: 17°C / 63°F

Average hours of sunlight a day: 12 h

Amount of trees within city limits: over 10 million

Quick Facts:

Electricity: 220 V, 50 Hz, three round prongs 

Time Zone: GMT +2; South African Standard Time (SAST)

Country Dialing Code: +27 

Area Code: 11

Geography

Johannesburg is located in the eastern plateau area of South Africa known as the Highveld, at an elevation of 1,753 metres (5,751 ft). The former CBD is located on the south side of the prominent ridge called the Witwatersrand (Afrikaans: White Water's Ridge) and the terrain falls to the north and south. By and large the Witwatersrand marks the watershed between the Limpopo and Vaal rivers. The north and west of the city has undulating hills while the eastern parts are flatter.

Johannesburg may not be built on a river or harbour, but its streams are the source of two of southern Africa's mightiest rivers. A number of streams meander through the suburbs of Johannesburg, and form the source of two of southern Africa's primary rivers  the Limpopo and the Orange. Most of the springs from which many of these streams emanate are now covered in concrete and canalised, accounting for the fact that the names of early farms in the area often end with "fontein", meaning "spring" in Afrikaans. Braamfontein, Rietfontein, Zevenfontein, Doornfontein, Zandfontein and Randjesfontein are some examples. When the first white settlers reached the area that is now Johannesburg, they noticed the glistening rocks on the ridges, running with trickles of water, fed by the streams  giving the area its name, the Witwatersrand, "the ridge of white waters". Another explanation is that the whiteness comes from the quartzite rock, which has a particular sheen to it after rain.

Climate

Johannesburg features a Subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). The city enjoys a dry, sunny climate with late afternoon thundershowers in the summer months of October to April. Temperatures in Johannesburg are usually fairly mild due to the city's high altitude, with the average maximum daytime temperature in January of 25.6 °C (78.1 °F), dropping to an average maximum of around 16 °C (61 °F) in June. Winter is the sunniest time of the year, with mild days and cool nights, dropping to 4.1 °C (39.4 °F) in June and July. The temperature occasionally drops to below freezing at night, causing frost. Snow is a rare occurrence, with snowfall having been experienced in May 1956, August 1962, June 1964, September 1981 and August 2006 (light). Snow fell again on 27 June 2007, accumulating up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in the southern suburbs. Regular cold fronts pass over in winter bringing very cold southerly winds but usually clear skies. The annual average rainfall is 713 millimetres (28.1 in), which is mostly concentrated in the summer months. Infrequent showers occur through the course of the winter months.

Despite the relatively dry climate, Johannesburg has over ten million trees, and it is now the biggest man-made forest in the world, followed by Graskop in Mpumalanga which is the second biggest. Many trees were originally planted in the northern areas of the city at the end of the 19th century, to provide wood for the mining industry. The areas were developed by the RandlordHermann Eckstein, a German immigrant, who called the forest estates Sachsenwald. The name was changed to Saxonwold, now the name of a suburb, during World War I. Early (white) residents who moved into the areas Parkhurst, Parktown, Parkview, Westcliff, Saxonwold, Houghton Estate, Illovo, Hyde Park, Dunkeld, Melrose, Inanda, Sandhurst, now collectively referred to as the Northern Suburbs, retained many of the original trees and have even expanded their forests with the encouragement of successive city councils. In recent years however, deforestation has occurred to make way for both residential and commercial redevelopment.

Climate data for Johannesburg

Month

Ja n

Fe b

Ma r

Ap r

Ma y

Ju n

Ju l

Au g

Se p

Oc t

No v

Dec

Year

Record high °C (°F)

35

(95)

34

(93)

32

(90)

29

(84)

26

(79)

23

(73)

24

(75)

26

(79)

31

(88)

32

(90)

33

(91)

32

(90)

35

(95)

Average high °C (°F)

25. 6

(78 .1)

25. 1

(77 .2)

24. 0

(75 .2)

21. 1

(70 .0)

18. 9

(66 .0)

16. 0

(60 .8)

16. 7

(62 .1)

19. 4

(66 .9)

22. 8

(73 .0)

23. 8

(74 .8)

24. 2

(75 .6)

25. 2

(77 .4)

21.9

(71.4)

Average low °C (°F)

14. 7

(58 .5)

14. 1

(57 .4)

13. 1

(55 .6)

10. 3

(50 .5)

7.2

(45.0)

4.1

(39.4)

4.1

(39.4)

6.2

(43.2)

9.3

(48.7)

11. 2

(52 .2)

12. 7

(54 .9)

13. 9

(57 .0)

10.1

(50.2)

Record low °C (°F)

7

(45)

6

(43)

2

(36)

1

(34)

"3

(27)

"8

(18)

"5

(23)

"5

(23)

"3

(27)

0

(32)

2

(36)

4

(39)

"8

(18)

Precipitation mm (inches)

125

(4.92)

90

(3.54)

91

(3.58)

54

(2.13)

13

(0.51)

9

(0.35)

4

(0.16)

6

(0.24)

27

(1.06)

72

(2.83)

117

(4.61)

105

(4.13)

713

(28.07)

Avg. precipitation days

15. 9

11. 2

11. 9

8.6

2.9

2

1

2.1

3.8

9.8

15. 2

14. 9

99.3

Sunshine hours

25 1.1

226

23 8.7

237

27 5.9

267

28 5.2

28 5.2

282

26 9.7

249

26 3.5

3,130.3

Source no. 1: Hong Kong Observatory

Source no. 2: South African Weather Service

Cityscape

Johannesburg is one of the most modern and prosperous cities in South Africa. Due to its many different central districts Johannesburg would fall under the Multiple Nuclei Model in Human Geography terms. It is the hub of South Africa's commercial, financial, industrial, and mining undertakings. Johannesburg is part of a larger urban region. It is closely linked with several other satellite towns. Randburg and Sandton form part of the northern area. The east and west ridges spread out from central Johannesburg. The Central Business District covers an area of 6 square kilometres. It consists of closely packed skyscrapers such as the Carlton CentreMarble TowersTrust Bank BuildingPonte City ApartmentsSouthern Life Centre and 11 Diagonal Street.

Architecture

Johannesburg is home to some of Africa's tallest structures, such as the Sentech TowerHillbrow Tower and the Carlton Centre. The Johannesburg city skyline has most of the tallest buildings on the continent and contains most international organisations such as IBMAbsaBHP BillitonWillis GroupFirst National BankNedbank and Standard Bank. Many of the city's older buildings have been pulled down and more modern ones built in their place. North of the CBD is Hillbrow, the most densely populated residential area in southern Africa. Northwest of the CBD is Braamfontein, a secondary CBD housing many offices and business premises.

Parks and Gardens

Parks and gardens in Johannesburg are maintained by Johannesburg City Parks.City Parks is also responsible for planting the city's many green trees, making Johannesburg one of the greenest cities in the world. It has been estimated that there are six million trees in the city  1.2 million on pavements and sidewalks, and a further 4.8 million in private gardens. City Parks continues to invest in planting trees, particularly those previously disadvantaged areas of Johannesburg which were not positive beneficiaries of apartheid Johannesburg's urban planning.

Johannesburg Botanical Garden, located in the suburb of Emmarentia, is a popular recreational park.

Residential Areas

Johannesburg's residential areas range from luxurious, wooded suburbs, to shanty towns and squatter settlements. Alexandra, a township northeast of the city centre, is home to about 125,000 people. It was established by workers who migrated from rural areas in the late 1930s. Since the 1980s, large numbers of people have moved to Johannesburg in search of work. A lack of housing in the city has forced many to set up squatter settlements on the outskirts of the city. Most of these communities lack electricity and running water, and residents live in makeshift shacks made of scrap metal,board, and other discarded materials. In some settlements, such as Phola Park south of Johannesburg, town planners have attempted to build streets and provide residents with basic needs.

According to the 2001 South African National Census, the population of Johannesburg is 3,225,812 people (though including the East Rand and other suburban areas it's around 7 million), consisting of people who live in 1,006,930 formal households, of which 86% have a flush or chemical toilet, and 91% have refuse removed by the municipality at least once a week. 81% of households have access to running water, and 80% use electricity as the main source of energy. 29% of Johannesburg residents stay in informal dwellings. 66% of households are headed by one person.

Blacks account for 73% of the population, followed by whites at 16%, coloureds at 6% and Asians at 4%. 42% of the population is under the age of 24, while 6% of the population is over 60 years of age. 37% of city residents are unemployed. 91% of the unemployed are black. Women comprise 43% of the working population. 19% of economically active adults work in wholesale and retail sectors, 18% in financial, real estate and business services, 17% in community, social and personal services and 12% are in manufacturing. Only 0.7% work in mining.

32% of Johannesburg residents speak Nguni languages at home, 24% speak Sotho languages, 18% speak English, 7% speak Afrikaans and 6% speak Tshivenda. 29% of adults have graduated from high school. 14% have higher education (University or Technical school). 7% of residents are completely illiterate. 15% have primary education.

34% use public transportation to commute to work or school. 32% walk to work or school. 34% use private transportation to travel to work or school.

53% belong to mainstream Christian churches, 24% are not affiliated with any organised religion, 14% are members of African Independent Churches, 3% are Muslim, 1% are Jewish and 1% are Hindu.

Johannesburg has a large Latter-day Saint (or Mormon) membership, with around 48,112 members, and had the first LDS Temple built in Africa. It was dedicated in 1985 and is located in the historic suburb of Parktown.

Crime

After the Group Areas Act was scrapped in 1991, Johannesburg was affected by urban blight. Thousands of poor, who had been forbidden to live in the city proper, moved into the city from surrounding black townships like Soweto and many immigrants from economically beleaguered and war torn African nations flooded into South Africa. Many buildings were abandoned by landlords, especially in high-density areas, such as Hillbrow. Many corporations and institutions, including the stock exchange, moved their headquarters away from the city centre, to suburbs like Sandton.

Reviving the city centre is one of the main aims of the municipal government of Johannesburg. Drastic measures have been taken to reduce crime in the city. These measures include closed-circuit television on street corners. As of 11 December 2008, every street corner in Johannesburg central is under high-tech CCTV surveillance. The CCTV system, operated by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), is also able to detect stolen or hijacked vehicles by scanning the number plates of every vehicle travelling through the Central business district (CBD), then comparing them to the eNaTIS database. The JMPD claims that the average response time by police for crimes committed in the CBD is 60 seconds.

Crime levels in Johannesburg have dropped as the economy has stabilised and begun to grow. Between 2001 and 2006, R9-Billion (US$1.2 billion) has been invested in the city centre. Further investment of around R10-Billion (US$ 1.5 billion) is expected in the city centre alone by 2010. This excludes development directly associated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In an effort to prepare Johannesburg for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, local government enlisted the help of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help bring down the crime rate, as the opening and closing matches of the tournament were played in the city.

Communications and Media

The city is home to several media groups which own a number of newspaper and magazine titles. The two main print media groups are Independent Newspapers and Naspers (Media24). The electronic media is also headquartered in the greater metropolitan region. Beeld is a leading Afrikaans newspaper for the city and the country, while the City Press is a Sunday newspaper that is the third largest selling newspaper in South Africa. The Sowetan is one of a number of titles catering for the black market although in recent years it competes against newly arrived tabloids. The Mail & Guardian is an investigative liberal newspaper while The Citizen is a tabloid-style paper, and The Star is a local newspaper that mostly covers Gauteng-related issues. The Sunday Times is the most widely read national Sunday newspaper. True Love is the most widely read women's magazine, catering primarily to the up and coming middle class black female market, published by Media 24. The Times is a national newspaper that covers current issues.

Media ownership is relatively complicated with a number of cross shareholdings which have been rationalised in recent years resulting in the movement of some ownership into the hands of black shareholders. This has been accompanied by a growth in black editorship and journalism.

Johannesburg has a number of regional radio stations such as YFM, Metro FM, Phalaphala FM, Talk Radio 702, Highveld Stereo5FM, UJ FM and Kaya FM and Classic FM. The number of radio stations has increased in recent years as the government sold off frequencies to private companies. Johannesburg is also the headquarters of state-owned broadcaster South African Broadcasting Corporation and pay-broadcast network Multichoice which distributes M-Net and DStv a digital satellite service, while eTV also has a presence in the city. The city has two television towers, the Hillbrow Tower and the Sentech Tower.

Johannesburg has 5 Major Cellular Telecommunications operators: VodacomMTNCell CVirgin Mobile and the newly established 8ta mobile network launched in late 2010. Vodacom's Global Headquarters is located in Midrand. It was formed in 1994, just after the South African Elections of 1994.

Johannesburg - Source Wikipedia & Wikitravel

Transport

Johannesburg is a young and sprawling city geared towards private motorists, and lacks a convenient public transportation system. A significant number of the city's residents are dependent on the city's informal minibus taxis.

Johannesburg is served principally by OR Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International Airport and before that was known as Jan Smuts Airport) for both domestic and international flights. Lanseria Airport, located to the north-west of the city and closer to the business hub of Sandton, is used for commercial flights to Cape TownDurbanPort Elizabeth, Botswana, and Sun City. Other airports include Rand Airport and Grand Central Airport. Rand Airport, located in Germiston, is a small airfield used mostly for private aircraft and the home of South African Airways's first Boeing 747 Classic, the Lebombo, which is now an aviation museum. Grand Central is located in Midrand and also caters to small, private aircraft.

Freeways

The fact that Johannesburg is not near a large navigable body of water has meant that ground transportation has been the most important method of transporting people and goods in and out of the city. One of Africa's most famous "beltways" or ring roads/orbital's is the Johannesburg Ring Road. The road is composed of three freeways that converge on the city, forming an 80-kilometre (50 mi) loop around it: the N3 Eastern Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Durban; the N1 Western Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Pretoria and Cape Town; and the N12 Southern Bypass, which links Johannesburg with Witbank and Kimberley. The N3 was built exclusively with asphalt, while the N12 and N1 sections were made with concrete, hence the nickname given to the N1 Western Bypass, "The Concrete Highway". In spite of being up to 12 lanes wide in some areas, the Johannesburg Ring Road is frequently clogged with traffic. The Gillooly's Interchange, built on an old farm and the point at which the N3 Eastern Bypass and the R24 Airport Freeway intersect, is the busiest interchange in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also claimed that the N1 is the busiest road in South Africa.

Johannesburg has the most freeways connected to it. It has the N1N3N12N14N17R21R24 and the R59, all leading to Johannesburg. The M1 and M2 freeways were built to direct traffic towards the city centre. These two freeways are congested due to mass urbanisation.

Taxis

Johannesburg has two kinds of taxis, metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city looking for passengers and instead must be called and ordered to a destination. The Gauteng Provincial Government has launched a new metered taxi programme in an attempt to increase use of metered taxis in the city.

The minibus "taxis" are the de facto standard and essential form of transport for the majority of the population.

Airports

The Metrorail Gauteng commuter rail system connects central Johannesburg to SowetoPretoria, and most of the satellite towns along the Witwatersrand. The railways transport huge numbers of workers everyday. However, the Metrorail infrastructure was built in Johannesburg's infancy and covers only the older areas in the city's south. The northern areas, including the business districts of SandtonMidrand,Randburg, and Rosebank, are served by the rapid rail link Gautrain.

A part of the Gauteng Provincial Government's Blue IQ Project, Gautrain has made provision for a rapid rail link, running north to south, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and west to east between Sandton and the OR Tambo International Airport. Construction of the Gautrain Rapid Rail started in October 2006 and as of August 2011, all stations were running except for Park Station in Johannesburg's CBD. It consists of a number of underground stations, as well as above ground stations. Stations on the North-South line include Johannesburg's Park StationRosebankSandtonMarlboroMidrand and Pretoria. There is also a line from the OR Tambo International Airport travelling to Sandton via Rhodesfield and Marlboro.

The east-west line from the airport to Sandton opened in June 2010 in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while the North-South line opened on 02 August 2011, except for Park Station which will open at a later date.

The rail system was designed to alleviate traffic on the N1 freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, which records vehicle loads of up to 300,000 per day. An extensive bus feeder system has also been implemented, which allows access to the main stations from the outer suburbs. This is the first new railway system that has been laid in South Africa since 1977.

As of mid-2010, a high speed rail link has been proposed between Johannesburg and Durban.

Buses

Johannesburg is served by a bus fleet operated by Metrobus, a corporate unit of the City of Johannesburg. It has a fleet consisting of approximately 550 single and double-decker buses, plying 84 different routes in the city. This total includes 200 modern buses (150 double-deckers and 50 single-deckers), made by Volvo and Marcopolo/Brasa in 2002. Metrobus' fleet carries approximately 20 million passengers per annum. In addition there are a number of private bus operators, though most focus on the inter-city routes, or on bus charters for touring groups. The City's main bus terminus is situated in Gandhi Square, where passengers can also obtain information regarding the Metrobus service from the walk-in customer information desk.

A new bus rapid transit named Rea Vaya has also been implemented. It currently serves to transport people from Johannesburg's southern neighbourhoods into and around the CBD. 

PUTCO also operates bus routes in and around the city.

Trains

Economy

Johannesburg is one of the world's leading financial centres and it is the economic and financial hub of South Africa, producing 16% of South Africa's gross domestic product, and accounts for 40% of Gauteng's economic activity. In a 2007 survey conducted by MasterCard, Johannesburg ranked 47 out of 50 top cities in the world as a worldwide centre of commerce (the only city in Africa).

Mining was the foundation of the Witwatersrand's economy, but its importance is gradually declining due to dwindling reserves and service and manufacturing industries have become more significant to the city's economy. While gold mining no longer takes place within the city limits, most mining companies still have their headquarters in Johannesburg. The city's manufacturing industries extend across a range of areas and there is still a reliance on heavy industries including steel and cement plants. The service and other industries include banking, IT, real estate, transport, broadcast and print media, private health care, transport and a vibrant leisure and consumer retail market. Johannesburg has Africa's largest stock exchange, the JSE although it has moved out of the central business district. Due to its commercial role, the city is the seat of the provincial government and the site of a number of government branch offices, as well as consular offices and other institutions.

There is also a significant informal economy consisting of cash-only street traders and vendors. The level of this economic activity is difficult to track in official statistics and it supports a sector of the population including immigrants who are not in formal employment. This informal industry is arguably the largest in the world, perhaps only second to the informal sector of Beijing.

The Witwatersrand urban complex is a major consumer of water in a dry region. Its continued economic and population growth has depended on schemes to divert water from other regions of South Africa and from the highlands of Lesotho, the biggest of which is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, but additional sources will be needed early in the 21st century.

The container terminal at City Deep is known to be the largest "dry port" in the world, with some 50% of cargo that arrives through the ports of Durban and Cape Town arriving in Johannesburg. The City Deep area has been declared an IDZ (industrial development zone) by the Gauteng government.