Johannesburg and its history

The area which Johannesburg now lies upon, began life as unassuming farm land known as The Witwatersrand; so called due to the white water springs that crossed the land. Beneath all of that rough earth, unbeknown to anyone, was gold. It wasn’t until an Australian prospector George Harrison came pioneering, that the mineral wealth of the Witwatersrand was discovered. In 1886, after George had sold his gold claim for just £10, Johannesburg was born.

Johannesburg has many districts and suburbs each offering their own unique flavours. The following information may help you decide which areas to visit.

Johannesburg Central

The centre of Johannesburg is dynamic to say the least and houses many attractions. Everything from the Planetarium, the Old Prison Fort to top class shopping.

Parkhurst & Melville

Parkhurst is known as the trendy suburb of Johannesburg and lies just west of the city. It’s awash with trendy coffee shops and restaurants. Melville has a lively nightlife, and is known as the bohemian cultural centre of Johannesburg.

Northern Suburbs

This exclusive area contains some of the most wealthy and developed areas in the city. Hyde Park for instance is at the centre of exclusive shopping and most of the development has been seen around Melrose Arch, one of the most prestigious shopping centres in Guateng.


Sandton, in the Northern Suburbs, is the business and residential hub of Johannesburg and is known as 'the richest square mile' in Africa, making it the financial centre of South Africa.


Due south of Johannesburg is Soweto, a township for black people under the apartheid system. Most of the struggle against apartheid was fought in and from Soweto. Its name was made up from the first two letters of ‘South Western Township’ and is home to over two million people living in everything from stunning mansions to makeshift shacks.

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