situating the Gauteng City-Region

This State of the City-Region Review focuses on the region of towns and cities in and around Gauteng, the smallest, most densely populated and most economically important of South Africa’s nine provinces.

Gauteng is situated in the central north-east of South Africa. The province covers an area of 18179 km2 and is home to over 11 million people. This population is spatially organised in a sprawling region of geographically distinct cities and towns. In this polycentric region the most recognisable cities are Johannesburg and Pretoria, but there are also a number of other significant urban centres. Many of the centres are inside the provincial boundary. Others are outside the administrative space of the Gauteng province but nevertheless closely connected to it in a way that makes up a functionally integrated city-region. The first map below, where each dot represents 1000 people recorded in South Africa’s 2001 census, shows how this extended Gauteng City-Region contains some 13 million people within 175 km of central Johannesburg – over a quarter of South Africa’s total population.   

The discovery of gold in the late 1800s kickstarted the rapid growth of the region. Today it is South Africa’s most significant economic space, and by many estimates the largest urban economy on the continent. It plays a vital hub function. Road networks (map 2 below), railways, electricty transmission and distribution lines (map 3 below), and a host of other infrastructural networks, all converge on and radiate out from this key urban region.

population within 175 km radius of the centre of Johannesburg  
national network of main roads  
electricity transmission lines and main distribution lines   

an overview of Gauteng in Indicators

This State of the Gauteng City-Region Review assembles a wide range of data and information on the state of play in the region’s economy, governance arrangements, environment, living circumstances, quality of life, culture, and so on. The table below gives a quick, overview impression on some aspects examined in more detail in the thematic sections. This overview list of indicators gives values for the province of Gauteng, not the wider region of towns and cities spanning across the provincial borders. This is because a lot of official and privately provided data are collected in a way that is stratified to provinces, and does not dissagregate to smaller geographic scales. 


seeing the wider Gauteng City-Region

The data assembled in the table above is for the province of Gauteng. However it must be understood that the provincial boundary does not contain the full extent of the region of cities and towns making up this pivotal space in South Africa. Because of the limitations in the way data are collected, the thematic sections of this review often refer only to the Gauteng province, but it is vital not to lose sight of the wider region spanning across and beyond the administrative boundaries.  

The Gauteng city-region (GCR) is not ‘real’, in that it does not have official borders, or officials, or a budget...But it is real when looked at socially, economically, environmentally and through other lenses. Just take a look...

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