South African Cities


South African Cities

While vast expanses of the South African landscape comprise little more than semi-arid deserts and isolated rural communities, there are a number of major urban centers dotted around the interior of the country and the coastline. Although large rural communities persist in some parts of the country, the majority of South Africans live in the country's various towns and cities.

There are over a dozen urban centers in South Africa, however only nine of these are classified as cities. Of South Africa's nine cities, just four have populations of over a million inhabitants. The largest of the South African cities is Johannesburg with almost 4 million inhabitants while the smallest city, East London, has just under 500,000 inhabitants.

South Africa's three biggest cities are:


Known to locals as 'Joburg' or 'Jozi', Johannesburg is the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa. The city has several unique characteristics, including its elevation (1750 meters above sea levels), abandoned gold mining dumps and the vast numbers of trees planted in the city, which make it the largest urban forest in the world.

While Johannesburg is not a tourist hub, it is recognised for possessing an excellent dry, sunny climate, with the hottest days often ending in thunderstorms. This South African city is expected to become a major hub of activity during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as it will host both the opening match and final of the tournament.


Durban, located on the verdant East coast of South Africa, is Africa's busiest port city. Durban is renowned for its mild, tropical climate, golden beaches and warm ocean. The city is also the home of South Africa's largest Asian population, with South Africans of Indian descent comprising almost 20% of the city's population.

Aside from being a port city, Durban is also a South African tourist hub, with millions of South Africans travelling from the country's land-locked cities to the coast during major holidays every year. Durbanites are renowned for embracing their local sports teams, and the local rugby union team, the Sharks, is one of the best supported sports franchises in South Africa.

Cape Town

Affectionately known as 'the Mother City', Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. Cape Town is famous for its most recognisable landmark, Table Mountain, and is renowned for the natural beauty of the rugged coastline as well as the elegant vineyards that cling to the sides of the coastal mountains.

Cape Town has a mild Mediterranean climate with wet winters and dry, sometimes windy summers. No other South African city rivals Cape Town as a tourist destination, with hundreds of thousands of overseas visitors flocking to the country during the summer months. Capetonians are renowned for their laid-back approach to life, with many embracing the outdoor lifestyle opportunities offered by the natural areas surrounding the city.