Limpopo

Limpopo Landscape Image source

The Limpopo River forms the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Limpopo Province covers the area that lies northernmost in South Africa, just South of Zimbabwe. It was first called the Northern Province, but this was changed in 2002. The Limpopo Province was part of the old Transvaal and includes many old homelands like Venda, Gazankulu and Lebowa.

Capital: Polokwane (before 2002, its name was Pietersburg)

Main languages: Sesotho sa Leboa, Shangaan

Premier: Cassel Mathle

First premier (1994): Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Limpopo's claim to fame:

Mapungubwe

The golden rhino from Mapungubwe.

Mapungubwe was a kingdom in northern South Africa a thousand years ago. The people of Mapungubwe mined gold and traded with other parts of the world, even China. They left many objects that show how they lived and how rich they were, like this golden rhino that was made from pure gold.

Mapungubwe is a World Heritage Site, which means that it is a very important place in the history of the world, not only South Africa, and it must be protected so that people can see it and know what it was for many years to come. Mapungubwe is also the name of one of South Africa’s highest orders of merit, a very special prize for people who served South Africa.

Makapansgat

Another important archaeological site in Limpopo is Makapansgat near Mokopane (the old Potgietersrus). People lived there about 1,5 million to 100 000 years ago, and left objects and fossils. It was also the place where a battle between Boers and the Kgotla was fought in 1854. The Boers won, and they named a town nearby after their hero of the battle, Piet Potgieter. The town was Potgietersrus, but in 2002 the name was changed to Mokopane. Chief Mokopane was the chief of the Kgotla who lost against the Boers.

Baobab trees

A baobab tree in the Limpopo Province

Baobab trees are very large African trees. They are sometimes described as ‘upside-down’, because of the short branches that look like the roots of a tree. Baobabs grow very slowly, but they can live for thousands of years. Old and large Baobabs have hollow trunks, and animals and even people can stay in a Baobab trunk. Some of the Baobabs in the Limpopo Province are possibly even more than 3000 years old, and the biggest Baobab in the world can be found in Limpopo. One of the orders of merit of South Africa is called the Order of the Baobab.

Previously called the Northern Province, Limpopo is a land of beautiful and contrasting landscapes, which is typical of Africa. Hence it has become a favourite destination for leisure and adventure travellers worldwide.
Come to a region of infinite scenic beauty with a great diversity of both natural and man-made attractions, rich cultural heritage and an abundance of wildlife and nature-based tourism opportunities.
It is one of the best protected areas on the African continent, included in this area is the famous Kruger National Park! Through these nature reserves, we seek to preserve our natural heritage for future generations and for sharing with the international community. There isspectacular mountain scenery, which beckons hikers, climbers and bikers, while mystic cultural destinations intrigue both local and international tourists. The game viewing is absolutely fantastic and possibly the best in the country and the preferred Eco-tourism destination in Southern Africa.
Limpopo Province is located in the far Northern part of South Africa and shares borders with three neighboring countries: Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. For this reason, the Province is also known as the gateway to other African countries. The Province also shares provincial borders with Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces.
Limpopo landscape and vegetation varies from one area to the other. The vegetation ranges from Tropical Forests, Bush and Shrubs to semi-desert areas with small trees and bushes. The landscape also ranges from mountainous to flat land.
Limpopo is divided into five regions, strategically located according to the cultural inhabitants. Capricorn is the central region predominantly occupied by the Bapedi People. Waterberg is the largest region in the province with the majority of people being the Batswana people. The Vhembe region in the far north is dominated by Vhavenda and Vatsonga people. The Mopani region towards the Kruger National Park is dominated by Vatsonga, whereas the Sekhukhuni region is dominated by Bapedi and Ndebele people.
Limpopo is the only Province in South Africa with more than two cultural groups staying together in their original habitat in harmony. Other ethnic groups include the English and Afrikaner people. English is regarded as a business language but other native languages of the province include Tshivenda, Sepedi, Xitsonga, Setswana, Isindebele and Afrikaans.
Limpopo has a predominant Christian religious society. However there are other traditional religions such as Islam and Hinduism.
Most of the businesses operate normally from 09:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m and also accept credit cards (e.g. Visa). National Banks are also available and they offer services of international standards, e.g. FNB, Standard Bank, Nedbank, African Bank and ABSA. 
Limpopo's land area takes 123.910 km2 with a population of 5.3 million. Polokwane International Airport is the main airport along with other local airports, such as Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit and Kruger National Park Airport in Phalaborwa. 
The Province has a network of tarred roads which cover the entire area, including the tarred road inside the Kruger National Park.
Internet operates in all areas and there are internet cafés available in major towns around the province. The value added tax is charged at 15%. Visitors may claim VAT refunds at major border posts and at international airports on departure from South Africa.
Google map: 

Last updated : 15-Mar-2018

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