25 Interesting Facts About Johannesburg

Wanna visit Johannesburg? This is one of the most interesting cities in South Africa, but it isn’t safe, unfortunately… Constantly increasing crime rate, street gangs, tense criminal situation – that’s the face of modern Johannesburg. You really need to follow the security rules strictly if you’re going to go there.

Amazing facts about Johannesburg

  • Despite the fact that Johannesburg is not the capital of South Africa, it is the largest city in the country. It is home to about 5.6 million people, which is 50% more than the population of Los Angeles.
  • Johannesburg is included in the list of the most dangerous cities year by year along with Cape town, one of the three capitals of South Africa.
  • The locals don’t have the concept of “walking outside” at all. It is impossible to walk here because of the off-scale crime rate. Any transfers are possible only by private car, or at least by taxi.
  • There are a huge number of gold and diamond mines in the vicinity of Johannesburg. South Africa is generally rich in such minerals.
  • Despite such an unfavorable criminal situation and social tensions, partly caused by the times of apartheid, the locals are very friendly in general. Those of them that aren’t associated with the criminal world, of course.
Facts about Johannesburg
This skyscraper was abandoned for years and served as a haven for local gangs. However, the police have cleared it of gangsters.
  • Primitive people lived there more than 10,000 years ago. Archaeologists managed to find a lot of stone tools that have been well preserved to this day.
  • Taxis in Johannesburg should be called in advance, via the app, or by phone call. Catching a car on the street isn’t worth it, there is a non-zero chance to catch a “shared taxi”, and in this case the risk of robbery is high.
  • In 2010, this city hosted some of the FIFA World Cup matches.
  • All neighborhoods here are divided into “good” and “bad” ones. It’s safe in the daytime in good neighborhoods, more or less, but bad ones are unsafe 24/7.
  • The Central part is quieter and more prosperous than the suburbs in most cities of the world, but in Johannesburg, the situation is the opposite. Most parts of the local center really dangerous, the abandoned skyscrapers here are inhabited either by local gangs or just the homeless people.

  • Fences, windows, and balconies in Johannesburg are always protected by bars and barbed wire, as well as electrified wires. Both methods are used simultaneously usually since some of the robbers are “technically advanced”.
  • Grilles are usually installed not only on the first floors of apartment buildings here but generally on all of them.
  • Tourists can get dizzy here. Johannesburg lies at an altitude of more than 5,500 feet (1,700 meters) above sea level, and the atmospheric pressure here is lower than most of us are used to.
  • The satellite city of Johannesburg, Soweto, has long been de facto one of its districts. This place serves as the main shelter for refugees and seasonal workers, and it’s notorious even among the locals.
  • Once Hillbrow district of Johannesburg was built up with prestigious skyscrapers. It was abandoned after the economic collapse of South Africa at the end of the XX century, and turned into a dangerous slum like Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, pretty quickly. It’s still unsafe there.
Johannesburg city
Soweto, a satellite city of Johannesburg. That’s one of the most dangerous areas in South Africa.
  • Johannesburg is usually cool in winter, there are even frosts from time to time. The record frost ever recorded here was 19,4 °F (-7 C°).
  • The unemployment rate here fluctuates from year to year, but in general, it remains incredibly high, up to 35-37%. This is one of the reasons why the crime rate is so high here.
  • Johannesburg has almost twice as many sunny days each year as New York City does.
  • According to the latest census, only one-third of the local population speaks English as their first language. There are a lot of immigrants from neighboring countries, even less prosperous than South Africa.
  • Carlton Centre, the highest building in the whole of Africa, is located here in Johannesburg. That’s a 50-story skyscraper with a height of 731 feet (223 meters). It had been generally the highest building in the Southern hemisphere at the time of construction.

Johannesburg facts
A typical house in a good neighborhood of Johannesburg
  • About 7% of local residents are still illiterate. They are mostly immigrants and slum dwellers.
  • Johannesburg accounts for 16% of the total GDP of the Republic of South Africa.
  • The local districts of Berea and Hillbrow were repeatedly included in the lists of the most criminal areas in all megacities of the world. Their closest counterpart is the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or the slums of Bogota.
  • The ancestors of modern people evolved here millions of years ago. The giant complex “Cradle of Humankind”, covering as much as 183 sq miles (474 sq km), is located just 15 miles (25 km) from Johannesburg. You can see caves where primitive hominids lived there, as well as other interesting stuff.
  • The action sci-fi movie “District 9” directed by Neill Blomkamp was set in the slums of Johannesburg. The conflict between people and aliens is an allusion to the tension left in the local society since the time of apartheid.

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