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Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and is situated in the Province of Gauteng.

It is a very pleasant and cosmopolitan city, situated in the transitional area between the Highveld and the Bushveld. As a result of its location, Pretoria has a particularly abundant variety of birdlife.

Pretoria is situated approximately 50 km north of Johannesburg. It lies in a warm, well sheltered, fertile valley, surrounded by the hills of the Magaliesberg range. Since 2000 it has been incorporated into the metropolitan area of Tshwane.

The city has a population of approximately 1.3 million (2 million if the whole of the Tshwane metropolitan area is taken into account).

The main languages spoken in Pretoria include Afrikaans, Tswana, English and Ndebele among others.

Nguni-speaking settlers, who later became known as the Ndebele (derived from the Sotho word for 'refugees'), were probably the first people to recognise the suitability of the river valley which was to become the location of the future city of Pretoria for settlement. They named the river after one of their chiefs, Tshwane (from the Ndebele word for 'little ape'), which became translated in Afrikaans to 'Apies'.

During the difaqane in Natal, another band of refugees arrived in this area under the leadership of Mzilikazi. However, they were forced to abandon their villages in their flight from a regiment of Zulu raiders in 1832.

Pretoria itself was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius. The elder Pretorius had become a national hero of the Voortrekkers after his victory over the Zulus in the famous Battle of Blood River. It became the capital of the South African Republic (ZAR) soon afterwards.

The founding of Pretoria as the capital of the South African Republic can be seen as marking the end of the Boers' settlement movements of the Great Trek.

During the First Boer War, the city was besieged by Republican forces in December 1880 and March 1881.

The Second Boer War (1899 to 1902) resulted in the end of the South African Republic and start of British hegemony in South Africa. The Boer Republics of the ZAR and the Orange Free State were united with the Cape Colony and Natal Colony in 1910 to become the Union of South Africa. Pretoria then became the administrative capital of the whole of South Africa.

On 14 October 1931, Pretoria achieved official city status. When South Africa became a republic in 1961, Pretoria became its administrative capital.

Cultural and Academic
Pretoria can be considered the academic capital of South Africa, as it is home to both the largest residential university in the country (the University of Pretoria) as well as the largest distance education university (the University of South Africa, more commonly known by its initials, UNISA). The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is also located in this city.

Places of interest

  • The National Zoological Gardens (the National Zoo of South Africa).
  • Kruger House (Residence of the president of the ZAR, Paul Kruger).
  • Melrose House.
  • Church Square.
  • Union Buildings.
  • Voortrekker Monument.
  • Marabastad.
  • Transvaal Museum.
  • African Window.
  • Mamelodi
  • Atteridgeville
  • Eersterus
  • Laudium
  • Menlyn Park Shopping Centre

Interesting facts

  • Pretoria's main street, Church Street, is the longest urban street in South Africa.
  • Many of the city's streets are lined with Jacaranda trees that blossom mauve (purplish blue) in spring, giving rise to the city's nickname "Jacaranda City".
  • The Cullinan Diamond (the largest gem diamond ever found) was discovered near Pretoria at the Premier Mine on January 26, 1905.