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Johannesburg is not the capital of South-Africa, as many people think (that is the more northerly city of Pretoria). It is, however, the country's biggest city, and it is considered the richest city on the African continent. The wealth is distributed unevenly, which is why Johannesburg has the highest crime rate in South-Africa. The city is very big and cherishes its green image, especially the suburbs on the north side are full of trees.
Johannesburg has about 7 million inhabitants, not including the 'unofficial residents'.
Johannesburg is located in the north-east of South-Africa, on the so-called Witwatersrand, a mountain ridge. The city is situated at an altitude of 1,753 meters, which makes its climate relatively cool. The northern and western suburbs are hilly, the eastern part of the city is flat.
The city has become big because of the gold and diamond industry. That also explains its location: the region is rich in precious metals. The 'gold rush' has provided the foundation for what the city is today: the economic and financial center of South-Africa. The mining industry is still important, but there are also other flourishing sectors (like steel and cement).
Johannesburg is not known as a tourist attraction as such, but more as a transport hub, for instance to Kruger National Park. The city tries to attract more tourists, for example with museums about the history of South-Africa, like the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum. The former black 'townships' of Alexandra and Soweto also attract visitors. Soweto houses the Nelson Mandela Museum.
Johannesburg International Airport is the busiest airport on the African continent, and it is located at 25 kilometers to the east of the city center. There are connections to all major cities in the world. In 2010, there will be a rail connection between the airport and the city center.
Lanseria Airport is used for flights to Cape Town, Botswanand Sun City. Tow smaller airports - Rand Airport and Grand Central Airport - are used by private aircraft.
The city has a network of metro and railway lines, although that network has not been able to match the city's expansion. In the next few years, the network will be expanded, and it should be ready for the World Football Championships in 2010.
Metrobus operates 84 bus lines in Johannesburg. There is also a special tourist bus with an open roof, the so-called 'City Slicker'. In addition to these official bus lines, there are also many private persons cruising the city with mini vans, which are sometimes overcrowded.
Johannesburg has a big circular road, which consists of three motorways: the easterly N3 leads to Durban (on the coast), the westerly N1 connects to Pretoria and Cape Town, and the N2 is located south of the city. In some places, this circular road has 12 lanes, but sometimes that still cannot prevent gridlock from occurring during morning and evening rush hour.
Although Johannesburg's crime rate is steadily declining, 'car jacking' does still occur. To avoid this, you should always drive with your windows closed and your doors locked. Never leave your car unattended. There are various ways to park your car in a secure place, for instance supervised by a 'car guard'. The official ones can be recognized by their red or yellow reflecting jackets. They are registered and are supervised by the council.
Being the business center of South-Africa, Johannesburg offers plenty of hotels. But because the city is the economic, cultural and social center, hotels are often fully booked, so it is best to book in advance if you want to be certain you have a room.
For more information about Johannesburg, we recommend Google, and the following sources: