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South African Municipalities
The Eastern Cape is located on the east coast of South Africa between the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. Inland, it borders the Northern Cape and Free State provinces, as well as Lesotho. The region boasts remarkable natural diversity, ranging from the semi-arid Great Karoo to the forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley, the fertile Langkloof, and the mountainous southern Drakensberg region. The Eastern Cape’s main feature is its spectacular coastline bordering the Indian Ocean.
It covers an area of 168 966km² and has a population of 6 996 976. It is the second-largest province in South Africa by surface area and has the third-largest population. The capital is Bhisho. Other major cities and towns include Port Elizabeth, East London, Grahamstown, Mthatha (previously Umtata), Graaf Reinet, Cradock and Port St Johns.
The Eastern Cape is one of South Africa’s poorest provinces incorporating large areas of South Africa’s former homelands. The Eastern Cape has excellent agricultural and forestry potential. The fertile Langkloof Valley in the south-west has enormous deciduous fruit orchards, while the Karoo interior is an important sheep-farming area. The Alexandria-Grahamstown area produces pineapples, chicory and dairy products, while coffee and tea are cultivated at Magwa. People in the former Transkei region are dependent on the farming of cattle, maize and sorghum.
The metropolitan economies of Port Elizabeth and East London are based primarily on manufacturing, the most important industry being motor manufacturing. The province is the hub of South Africa’s automotive industry.
The Eastern Cape is divided into two metropolitan municipalities (Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality) and six district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 31 local municipalities.
List of Eastern Cape Municipalities
- Alfred Nzo District
- Amathole District
- Chris Hani District
- Joe Gqabi District
- OR Tambo District
- Sarah Baartman District
The Free State is located in the geographical centre of South Africa, bordered by the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, as well as Lesotho. The Free State is a rural province of farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns.
Although the Free State is the third-largest province in South Africa, it has the second-smallest population and the second-lowest population density. It covers an area of 129 825km² and has a population of 2 834 714 – 5.1% of the national population. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is South Africa’s judicial capital. Other important towns include Welkom, Kroonstad, Sasolburg and Bethlehem.
The economy is dominated by agriculture, mining and manufacturing. Known as the ‘bread basket’ of South Africa, about 90% of the province is under cultivation for crop production. It produces approximately 34% of the total maize production of South Africa, 37% of wheat, 53% of sorghum, 33% of potatoes, 18% of red meat, 30% of groundnuts and 15% of wool. The province is the world’s fifth-largest gold producer, with mining the major employer. It is a leader in the chemicals industry, being home to the giant synthetic-fuels company, Sasol.
The Vredefort Dome, 10km in diameter, about 100km south-west of Johannesburg, is South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site.
The Free State is divided into one metropolitan municipality (Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality) and four district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 18 local municipalities.
List of Free State Municipalities
- Fezile Dabi District
- Lejweleputswa District
- Thabo Mofutsanyana District
- Xhariep District
Gauteng is the smallest of South Africa’s provinces, covering an area of 18 178km² or approximately 1.4% of the total surface area of South Africa. It is bordered by the Free State, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. While being the smallest province, it is also the most populous, being home to 13 399 725 people – 24.1% of the national population. Gauteng lies on the highest part of the interior plateau on the rolling plains of South Africa’s Highveld.
Its capital is Johannesburg and it also contains the city of Pretoria, as well as the East Rand, West Rand and Vaal areas.
Gauteng continues to serve as the economic engine room of the country and the subcontinent, responsible for over 34.8% of the country’s GDP. Gauteng is the powerhouse of South Africa and the heart of its commercial business and industrial sectors. The most important sectors contributing to GDP are finance, real estate and business services; manufacturing; and general government services. Gauteng is also the financial services capital of Africa. More than 70 foreign banks have their head offices here, as do at least the same number of South African banks, stockbrokers and insurance giants.
The major gold and diamond mining houses all have their headquarters in Johannesburg, the biggest being Anglo American and De Beers. Gold mining constitutes 80% of Gauteng’s mineral production output.
Gauteng is divided into three metropolitan municipalities, the City of Ekurhuleni, City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipalities, as well as two district municipalities, which are further subdivided into six local municipalities.
KwaZulu-Natal is located in the south-east of South Africa bordering the Indian Ocean. It also borders on the Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga provinces, as well as Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. The ‘Garden Province’ of South Africa stretches from the lush subtropical east coast washed by the warm Indian Ocean, to the sweeping savanna in the east and the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range in the west.
It covers an area of 94 361km², the third-smallest in the country, and has a population of 11 065 240, making it the second most populous province in South Africa. The capital is Pietermaritzburg. The largest city is Durban. Other major cities and towns include Richards Bay, Port Shepstone, Newcastle, Estcourt, Ladysmith and Richmond.
The province’s manufacturing sector is the largest in terms of contribution to GDP. Richards Bay is the centre of operations for South Africa’s aluminium industry. The Richards Bay Coal Terminal is instrumental in securing the country’s position as the second-largest exporter of steam coal in the world. The province has undergone rapid industrialisation owing to its abundant water supply and labour resources.
Agriculture is also central to the economy. The sugar cane plantations along the coastal belt are the mainstay of KwaZulu-Natal’s agriculture. The coastal belt is also a large producer of subtropical fruit, while the farmers inland concentrate on vegetable, dairy and stock farming. Another source of income is forestry in the areas around Vryheid, Eshowe, Richmond, Harding and Ngome.
KwaZulu-Natal is divided into one metropolitan municipality (eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality) and 10 district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 43 local municipalities.
List of KwaZulu-Natal Municipalities
- Amajuba District
- Harry Gwala District
- iLembe District
- King Cetshwayo District
- Ugu District
- uMgungundlovu District
- uMkhanyakude District
- uMzinyathi District
- uThukela District
- Zululand District
Limpopo, South Africa’s northernmost province, borders onto Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana. It also borders the Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West provinces. Named after the Limpopo River, which flows along its northern border, it is a region of contrasts, from true Bushveld country to majestic mountains, primeval indigenous forests, unspoiled wilderness and patchworks of farmland. In the eastern region lies the northern half of the magnificent Kruger National Park.
Limpopo ranks fifth in South Africa in both surface area and population, covering an area of 125 754km² and being home to a population of 5 779 090. The capital is Polokwane (previously Pietersburg). Other major cities and towns include Bela-Bela (Warmbad), Lephalale (Ellisras), Makhado (Louis Trichardt), Musina (Messina), Thabazimbi and Tzaneen.
Mining is the primary driver of economic activity. Limpopo is rich in mineral deposits, including platinum-group metals, iron ore, chromium, high and middle-grade coking coal, diamonds, antimony, phosphate and copper, as well as mineral reserves such as gold, emeralds, scheelite, magnetite, vermiculite, silicon and mica. The province is a typical developing area, exporting primary products and importing manufactured goods and services.
The climatic conditions in the province allow for double harvesting seasons, which results in it being the largest producer of various crops in the agricultural market. Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela–Modimolle area. Bananas, litchis, pineapples, mangoes and pawpaws, as well as a variety of nuts, are grown in the Tzaneen and Makhado areas. Extensive tea and coffee plantations create many employment opportunities in the Tzaneen area. The Bushveld is cattle country, where controlled hunting is often combined with ranching.
Limpopo is divided into five district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 22 local municipalities.
List of Limpopo Municipalities
- Capricorn District
- Mopani District
- Sekhukhune District
- Vhembe District
- Waterberg District
Mpumalanga, the second-smallest province in South Africa after Gauteng, is located in the north-eastern part of the country, bordering Swaziland and Mozambique to the east. It also borders Limpopo, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal within South Africa. It covers an area of 76 495km² and has a population of 4 335 964, making it the sixth most populous in the country. It is situated mainly on the high plateau grasslands of the Middleveld, which roll eastwards for hundreds of kilometres. In the north-east, it rises towards mountain peaks and terminates in an immense escarpment. In some places, this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld.
Mbombela (previously Nelspruit) is the capital of the province and the administrative and business centre of the Lowveld. Other major cities and towns include eMalahleni (previously Witbank), Standerton, eMkhondo (previously Piet Retief), Malalane, Ermelo, Barberton and Sabie.
The best-performing sectors in the province include mining, manufacturing and services. Tourism and agro-processing are potential growth sectors. Agriculture in Mpumalanga is characterised by a combination of commercialised farming, subsistence and livestock farming, and emerging crop farming. Crops such as subtropical fruits, nuts, citrus, cotton, tobacco, wheat, vegetables, potatoes, sunflowers and maize are produced in the region.
Mpumalanga is rich in coal reserves and home to South Africa’s major coal-fired power stations. eMalahleni is the biggest coal producer in Africa and is also the site of the country’s second oil-from-coal plant after Sasolburg. Most of the manufacturing production in Mpumalanga occurs in the southern Highveld region. In the Lowveld sub-region, industries are concentrated around the manufacturing of products from agricultural and raw forestry material.
Mpumalanga is divided into three district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 17 local municipalities.
List of Mpumalanga Municipalities
- Ehlanzeni District
- Gert Sibande District
- Nkangala District
The vast and arid Northern Cape is the largest province in South Africa, taking up nearly a third of the country’s land area. It covers an area of 372 889km² and has a population of 1 193 780, the least populous of South Africa’s provinces. It is bordered by Namibia and Botswana to the north, and also by the North West, Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the province’s western boundary.
The capital city is Kimberley. Other important towns are Upington, centre of the karakul sheep and dried-fruit industries, and the most northerly winemaking region of South Africa; Springbok, in the heart of the Namaqualand spring-flower country; Kuruman and De Aar, the second most important junction of South Africa’s railway network. Sutherland is host to the southern hemisphere’s largest astronomical observatory, the multinational sponsored Southern African Large Telescope.
The Northern Cape is rich in minerals. Alluvial diamonds are extracted from the beaches and the sea between Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth. The Sishen Mine near Kathu is the biggest source of iron ore in South Africa, while the copper mine at Okiep is one of the oldest mines in the country. Copper is also mined at Springbok and Aggeneys. The province is rich in asbestos, manganese, fluorspar, semi-precious stones and marble.
The province has fertile agricultural land in the Orange River Valley, especially at Upington, Kakamas and Keimoes, where grapes and fruit are cultivated intensively. The interior Karoo relies on sheep farming, while the karakul-pelt industry is one of the most important in the Gordonia district of Upington. Wheat, fruit, peanuts, maize and cotton are produced at the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme near Warrenton.
The Northern Cape is divided into five district municipalities and further subdivided into 26 local municipalities.
List of Northern Cape Municipalities
- Frances Baard District
- John Taolo Gaetsewe District
- Namakwa District
- Pixley Ka Seme District
- ZF Mgcawu District
North West lies in the north of South Africa on the Botswana border, fringed by the Kalahari Desert in the west, Gauteng province to the east and the Free State to the south. It covers an area of 104 882km² and has a population of 3 748 436. Much of the province consists of flat areas of scattered trees and grassland. The Vaal River flows along the southern border of the province.
Mahikeng (previously Mafikeng) is the capital. The city lies near the Botswana border and forms a single urban area with its neighbouring town, Mmabatho. Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp are the biggest cities in the province. Other main towns are Brits, Rustenburg, Klerksdorp and Lichtenburg.
Most economic activity is concentrated in the southern region between Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp, as well as Rustenburg and the eastern region. Mining is the major contributor to the North West economy and represents almost a quarter of South Africa’s mining industry as a whole. The Rustenburg and Brits districts produce more platinum than any other single area in the world. North West also produces a quarter of South Africa’s gold, as well as granite, marble, fluorspar and diamonds. North West has a number of major tourist attractions, including the internationally famous Sun City, the Pilanesberg National Park, the Madikwe Game Reserve and the Rustenburg Nature Reserve.
North West is well known for cattle farming, while the areas around Rustenburg and Brits are fertile, mixed-crop farming land. Maize and sunflowers are the most important crops, and the province is the major producer of white maize in the country.
North West is divided into four district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 18 local municipalities.
List of North West Municipalities
- Bojanala Platinum District
- Dr Kenneth Kaunda District
- Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District
- Ngaka Modiri Molema District
The Western Cape is located on the southern tip of the African continent between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It is bordered by the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. The Western Cape’s natural beauty makes the province one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions. The region is topographically and climatically diverse. It has a temperate southern coastline fringed with mountains. To the north it stretches deep into the Karoo plateau, while the west coast is extremely dry.
It covers an area of 129 462km² and has a population of 6 279 730. It is the fourth-largest province in South Africa by surface area and also ranks fourth in population. The capital is Cape Town. Other major cities and towns include George, Knysna, Paarl, Swellendam, Oudtshoorn, Stellenbosch, Worcester, Mossel Bay and Strand.
The Western Cape is rich in agriculture and fisheries. The climate of the peninsula and the mountainous region beyond it is ideal for grape cultivation, with a number of vineyards producing excellent wines. Other fruit and vegetables are also grown here, and wheat is an important crop to the north and east of Cape Town. Fishing is the most important industry along the west coast and sheep farming is the mainstay of the Karoo. The province has a well-established industrial and business base, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Sectors such as finance, real estate, ICT, retail and tourism have shown substantial growth, and are the main contributors to the regional economy. Many of South Africa’s major insurance companies and banks are based in the Western Cape. The majority of the country’s petroleum companies and the largest segment of the printing and publishing industry are located in Cape Town.
The Western Cape is divided into one metropolitan municipality (City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality) and five district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 24 local municipalities.
List of Western Cape Municipalities
- Cape Winelands District
- Central Karoo District
- Eden District
- Overberg District
- West Coast District