Johannesburg is the capital of the province of Gauteng and the biggest city in South Africa. It covers an area of six hundred and thirty-five square miles and has a population of almost four million people. Though the city isn’t officially the capital of South Africa, it is home to the highest court in the country-the Constitutional Court. The city has a large gold and diamond trade, due to the surrounding area being rich in these particular minerals. Though the area on which Johannesburg is situated has been the home to many tribes for centuries, the city was only founded in the nineteenth century. In 1886, gold was discovered in Johannesburg, an event which caused a great immigration of people into the city. It is believed that two officials of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republijk, Johannes Meyer and Johannes Rissik, combined their common first names with the African word for fortified city, ‘burg’ to come up with the name for the city.
The city was first controlled from the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republijk, who kept a tight reign on the area in order to control the resources in the area. Tensions continued to escalate between the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republijk and the foreign immigrants into the city, which resulted in the South African War. The British government used guerilla tactics on the residents and removed thousands of Africans into concentration camps. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republijk was annexed by the British Empire. The South African War left much of the country in ruins and left a good majority of the population poor, destitute and homeless. This paved the way of the exploitation of the population through labor and left the control of mining rights in the hands of foreigners. The Land Alienation Acts of 1910, caused many rural blacks to enter the mining hubs in search of employment.
Today, Johannesburg has become one of the leading financial centers in the world. It is also the financial and economic hub of South Africa and produce sixteen percent of the countries Gross Domestic Product. While mining activities used to be the primary economic activity of the city, its importance has gradually declined over the past few years. The service and manufacturing industries have begun to fill this void. These industries include steel, concrete production, banking, real estate, transportation and a consumer retail market. Tourism is also on the rise in the city, though its not traditionally a tourist destination. But, since the city is a transit hub for South Africa, many visitors pass through it.
The Johannesburg Art Gallery is a popular tourist attraction in the city. This gallery is situated in Joubert Park and was designed by Edward Lutyens in 1910. It has fifteen exhibition galleries and sculpture gardens. The work contained in this art gallery includes seventeenth century Dutch paintings, eighteenth century European art, nineteenth century South African works of art and a collection of twentieth century contemporary art. Artists represented in this collection include works by Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Sydney Kumalo, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Maud Sumner, Batisse, Gerard Sekoto, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Claude Monet, Ezrom Legae, Alexis Preller and Pierneef.
Another popular attraction in the city is the Johannesburg Botanical Garden. This garden is located in a suburb of Johannesburg called Emmarentia and was founded in 1968. It covers an area of one hundred and twenty-five acres and one of its prominent features is its rose garden which contains over ten thousand roses. Other key features of the gardens include a Shakespeare Garden, Herb Garden, Bird Island, Succulent Garden, Cycad Garden, Floreum, Environmental Education Center, Herbarium, Wetlands , Dog walking section, Picnic area, Nursery and a restaurant. The Johannesburg Zoo is a zoo that was established in the city in 1904. It was originally owned by the city , but has since been given to a nonprofit organization. It is dedicated to the housing, husbandry and medical care of wild animals. Their are over three thousand different animal species taken from over three hundred and sixty-five species located here. The zoo covers an area of fifty-four hectares.
An important attraction just outside the city is the Cradle of Humankind. The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1999. It covers an area of one hundred and eighty-three square miles and contains a complex of limestone caves. Important discoveries have been made at these caves, including the discovery of a two million year old fossil, Australopithecus Africanus. In 1935, Robert Broom found the first ape fossils and worked extensively on the site. Key features of the Cradle of Humankind include Haasgat, Wonder Cave, Cooper’s Cave, Plovers Lake, Bolt’s Farm, Swartkrans, Minaars Cave, Kromdraai, Sterkfontein, Gondolin, Motsetsi and Drimolen.
Other attractions in the city of Johannesburg include 7th Street, Bunny Park, Carlton Center, Constitution Hill, Delta Park, Gold Reef City, Emmarentia Dam, Huddle Park, Johannesburg Civic Theatre, Johannesburg Planetarium, Johannesburg Fort, Lesedi Cultural Village, Market Theatre, Lion Park, Melville Koppies, Zoo Lake, Oriental Plaza, Parkhurst, Nelson Mandela Square, Montecasino, Northcliff Hill, SAB World of Beer, Sterkfontein, South African Lipizzaners and the Mandela Museum. The city is also home to a number of popular restaurants and hotels. Restaurants in Johannesburg include the Koi Restaurant, Lien Wah Rosebank Hotel, Bull Run, Yamato Japanese Restaurant, Giles Restaurant, Wombles Steakhouse and La Cucina Di Curo. Hotels in the city include Lien Wah Rosebank Hotel, The Michelangelo Hotel, Palazzo hotel, African Pride Melrose Arch, Protea Hotel Wanderers, Hilton Sandton and the Protea Hotel Balalaika Sandton.