Johannesburg (jōhănˈĭsbörgˌ, yōhäˈnəsbörkhˌ) [key], city, now part and seat of City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality, Gauteng prov., NE South Africa, on the southern slopes of the Witwatersrand at an altitude of 5,750 ft (1,753 m). The capital of Gauteng, Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, the center of its important gold-mining industry, its manufacturing and commercial center, and the hub of its transportation network. Gold mining is the sprawling city's chief industry. Manufactures include cut diamonds, industrial chemicals, plastics, cement, electrical, electronic, and mining equipment, paper and paper products, glass, food products, and beer. South Africa's main stock exchange (founded 1887) is in the city.
Johannesburg was founded as a mining settlement in 1886, when gold was found on the Witwatersrand; by 1900 the city had a population of c.100,000. In accordance with apartheid law, racial groups were once restricted to separate residential areas; most blacks still live in Soweto. Formerly a group of townships southwest of the city, Soweto became an independent city in 1983; it is also now in the City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality.
The Univ. of Johannesburg and the Univ. of the Witwatersrand are in Johannesburg, as is South Africa's Constitutional Court and the African Union's Pan-African Parliament. The city is also home to several museums, an art gallery, a planetarium, a zoo, a bird sanctuary, and numerous parks. Jan Smuts House is in the city. Nearby is Kyalami Circuit, where international motor races are held.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.