Gauteng’s coat of armsGauteng’s coat of arms

Gauteng means 'Place of Gold' in the Sotho languages. It is the smallest province in South Africa, but also the richest and most crowded. Gauteng is part of the old Transvaal. It was first known as the PWV, which stands for Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging. These are the three urban centres that make up the province. Pretoria, South Africa's administrative capital, is in Gauteng, but it is not the capital of the province.


Capital: Johannesburg (often called "Egoli", which means "Place of Gold" in isiZulu.)
Main languages: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu and seSotho
Premier: David Makhura
First premier (1994): Tokyo Sexwale

Gauteng's claim to fame:


Workers in a gold mine. Source: Microsoft Encarta World Atlas 1998 Edition

Gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886. The region became the biggest gold-producer in the world. Find out more about the discovery and mining of gold on the Rand.

Cullinan diamond

In 1905 at Cullinan, a town just outside Pretoria, the huge Cullinan Diamond was found. It is by far the biggest diamond ever discovered. In 1907 the government of the Transvaal Colony (Transvaal was under British control at the time) bought the uncut diamond from the Premier Mine in Cullinan and gave it to King Edward VII for his birthday.

Cullinan I. Weighing 530.2 carats this is still the largest top-quality cut diamond in the world.

From this huge lump of diamond many stones were cut. The biggest, about the size of a hen's egg, is Cullinan I. It is the largest top-quality cut diamond in the whole world. It has been set into the Sovereign's Sceptre. Cullinan II, also huge, has been put into the front of the Imperial Crown, which is put on the head of the new king or queen at the coronation ceremony. These diamonds and many of the more than 90 smaller stones from the Cullinan diamond are part of the Crown Jewels and are kept in the Tower of London.

Freedom struggle

Gauteng was an important centre of the freedom struggle against apartheid. It is here that the Sharpeville massacre; the 1976 Soweto riots; as well as the Rivonia trial, in which many struggle leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were sent to jail for more than 20 years, took place. Today, these and other important events in the struggle against apartheid are shown in the Apartheid museum in Johannesburg.


The entrance to the Apartheid museum in Johannesburg.

Sophiatown was a township in Johannesburg where Black and White people lived together. It had a very exciting culture, and a famous music style called township-jazz, developed there in the 1940s and 50s. But in the 1950s people were forced to move away. This was because the apartheid government did not want Black and White people to live together, and therefore forced Black people to live in townships outside the city. Sophiatown became a suburb where only White people could live, called Triomf (which means triumph, or victory, in Afrikaans). After apartheid was ended, the name was changed back to Sophiatown. Today, tourists visit the township to find out more about the place.

Union buildings

The Union Buildings in Pretoria is the building overlooking Pretoria where the government has some of its administrative offices. President Mbeki has an office in the Union Buildings.

Last updated : 25-Feb-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 31-Mar-2011