The Johannesburg name comes from gold mine explorers: Christian Johannes, Joubert Rissik and Johann Rissik.

The importance of gold for the entire region is also highlighted in the name of the province whose capital is Johannesburg, Gauteng, which in the Sotho language means „golden place”.

The city is an oasis of prosperity on the map of South Africa, even though it has very dangerous districts.


Those who fought against apartheid or who accidentally broken the rules of racial segregation were often sent to the Old Fort in Johannesburg, a fortress built at the end of the nineteenth century to defend against the British. At the beginning of the sec. XX, the fortress was turned into jail.

Among the prisoners were Nelson Mandela, but also thousands of political activists, usually black. During a prison tour, which is now a commemorative venue, visitors listen to stories written by former detainees about the inhumane conditions in which they were held.

The former prison building contrasts with the modern Constitutional Court building, whose glass walls are meant to symbolize the transparency and fairness of justice.


  • The name Afrikaans – Johannesburg
  • Country – Republic of South Africa
  • Provincia – Gauteng
  • Surface – 1,645 sq. Km
  • Population – 3.607.000 inhabitants
  • Founded – 1886


With a height of 269 meters, the Hillbrow Tower, built in 1971, is one of the symbols of Johannesburg. Another impressive building is the Carlton Center skyscraper, in the heart of the city.

The largest building in Africa (223 m) shelters commercial centers, offices and an observation platform with stunning views of the metropolis.

Did you know?
South Africa is facing an AIDS epidemic, and one in nine South Africans is HIV-positive. Johannesburg is the commercial center of pseudo-drugs that pretend to prevent or treat the disease.

People „treat” themselves with herbal and garlic preparations instead of using antiretroviral therapy.


One of the oldest gold mines in the region is Gold Reef City, active between 1897 and 1977. After the mine closure, it was reopened for visitors. Here, tourists are driven to a depth of 226 m, where they can walk along old mine wells.

The mine has 57 levels, the deepest being 3,500 m below ground. Initially, the mine was not electrified. During the 12-hour work shifts, with the temperature oscillating between approx. 30 and 50 degrees Celsius, the miners used candles, increasing the danger of methane explosions.

Did you know?
Inside me were members of several different tribes. In 1910, in order to communicate, the miners invented a language called fanagalo, with a vocabulary of about. 2,500 words taken from English and local dialects.


Johannesburg is surrounded by numerous cities and towns. Together they make up an agglomeration with over 7 million inhabitants. One of the localities is Soweto, which was founded in 1904 as a mining village. Now it is inhabited mostly by blacks.

This is Nelson Mandela’s former home, and the house of Desmond Tutu, the South African color bishop who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his fight against apartheid.

In 1976, a protest was held in Soweto of black students who demanded education in their mother tongue.

The protest was blatantly shaken by the police.


Some of the oldest human remains were discovered by archaeologists in 1936 in the Sterkfontein Valley near Johannesburg. In the caves in the area, which belong to UNESCO World Heritage, there were found in 1999 stone tools, skulls and bones of one of the ancestors of mankind, Australopithecus africanus, who lived 2,6 to 3,3 million years ago.

The males of the species were up to 138 cm tall and weighing approx. 40 kg; The females were 115 cm tall and weighed 10 kg less.


Europeans who have stability in South Africa have not mingled with native peoples. In the 1930s a proposal came out that „white”, „black” and „colored” (Asian) people live separately.

This socio-political doctrine, developed at Stellenbosch University, was announced in 1948 as apartheid, which in Afrikaans means „separation.” In 1948-1994, apartheid was implemented by South African authorities, which constituted discrimination against „blacks” and „colored”.

Negro organizations, such as the African National Congress, opposed the policy of South Africa. Its leader since 1950, Nelson Mandela, was jailed between 1962-1990 for his opposition to the apartheid regime.

The history and manifestations of racial segregation in South Africa are presented in the Museum of Apartheid in Johannesburg, which displays films, photographs and documents.


  • The African Museum, which presents the history of South Africa, especially the city of Johannesburg and its region. One of the many exhibitions is dedicated to gold and its importance for city development. Mahatma Gandhi and his visit to South Africa are also presented.
  • May May, Johannesburg’s oldest market, where you can find ingredients and objects used in traditional folk medicine. Customers can also buy leather, jewelery and various items whose purpose can only be assumed.
  • The Old Fort, the Museum of Apartheid and Soweto, including the house of Nelson Mandela, testimony to the recent history of Johannesburg, showing evidence of the consequences of racial prejudice and intolerance.
  • Gold Reef City, which shows how gold is being extracted during the development of Johannesburg.


  • 1867 – The discovery of diamonds in Witwatersrand
  • 1886 – Gold is discovered near Johannesburg
  • 1900 – Johannesburg under British leadership
  • 1911 – racial segregation begins
  • 1948 – Formalism of apartheid
  • 1966 – The UN proclaims apartheid the crime against humanity
  • 1976 – Soweto stands against apartheid
  • 1990 – apartheid is abolished
  • 1993 – Nelson Mandela and Frederik Wilhelm de Klerk receive the Nobel Peace Prize for the abolition of apartheid
  • 1994 – the first democratic elections in South Africa
  • 2010 – FIFA World Cup.