9 Surprising Facts You May Not Know About Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa

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City Deep Inland Terminal, Johannesburg

It is Africa‘s largest inland dry port opened by the South African Railways Services (SARS) in Johannesburg in 1977. Since the city is not accessible by sea nor a navigable river, all cargoes and petroleum products are connected through the seaports in Durban and Cape Town, this said railway system links import, export and domestic traffic to the City Deep Terminal.

While South Africa has 6 inland terminals, the City Deep is the only inland terminal that also functions as a dry port. It is where clearance of goods takes place. Situated south of Johannesburg‘s business district, City Deep handles around 300 trucks and offloads of up to 10 trains a day.

An Overview on Johannesburg:

Once it was just a bushveld with rocky outcrops and a matrix of streams where hunters lived, then later occupied by the Tswana people during the Iron Age. Boer (Dutch and Huguenot population) farmhouses have eventually replaced the Tswana community until the 1860s. In 1886, an Australian prospector named George Harrison discovered gold at a local farm which attracted thousands of settlers to flock into the area.

Almost overnight, due to its gold and diamonds, from a dusty, one-horse kind of a settlement, it became one of the fastest growing metropolis in the world as fortune seekers came to stay. As it grew, the mine owners became very powerful which offended the locals. In 1895, a resident named Leander Johnson attempted a coup against the mine owners but failed and this triggered the Second Boer War between the British and the Orange Free State.

The British marched into Johannesburg in the 1900s and the mines assumed their operations again favoring more on the conditions of the owners. Tensions broke again forcing the black residents out of the city and into the South Western Township (Soweto) then protests turned into riots and violence. After the 1948 election, apertheid (segregation) was enforced.

In 1976, police fired at protesting Soweto students that prompted revolts not only in Johannesburg but in whole South Africa as well and lasted until 1994. That year, apertheid has ended and Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress was elected President of the new South Africa.

Map showing the location of Johannesburg, South Africa.

I signed off from the IVS Leopard Sun at Johannesburg on January 2014 after my 8-month contract with this crude carrier. While this city is not the capital of South Africa, however it is the largest city in the country. But more than just a “concrete jungle”, Johannesburg is the most visited city in the African continent and the birthplace of many international celebrities. Now let’s take a look at 9 surprising facts you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa.

1. It has been rebuilt 4 times in just a matter of a century.

A surprising fact you many not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa that for a period of one century, this city has been rebuilt 4 times. Well yes indeed, from a camp (of miners) to a shanty town (Boer settlers) to a place of Edwardian brick buildings (the British) and finally to an ultra-modern city of skycrapers…all that in the 20th century.

2. Sometimes it is dubbed as “the city of gold”.

This city was formed by the gold rush in October 4, 1886, a surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa. And 40% of the world’s gold is found in the region, specifically at Witwatersrand Basin in Johannesburg.

3. It has one of the world’s largest hospital.

The Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in the world, catering to around 3.5 million people in the metropolis. A surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa. Located in Soweto, it has over 32,000 beds, 6,760 staffs and its facilities are housed in 429 buildings.

4. Vilakazi Street in Soweto boasts of having 2 of Nobel Peace Prize residents.

South Africa takes pride of having 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners and they hail from Johannesburg specifically at Vilakazi Street in Soweto district. A surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa that former President Nelson Mandela and former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu have lived on this street.

5. The O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is Africa’s biggest.

Arrival hall of O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

One of the perks of being a sailor is that you have the chance to catch your plane in some of the biggest airports in the world. From John F. Kennedy International Airport New York then at London’s Heathtrow to Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok and now here in O.R. Tambo International Airport on my way home to Manila, that summer morning of January 2014. Named after former President of the African National Congress (ANC) Oliver Reginald Tambo, this airport is the biggest and busiest in the whole African continent, a surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa.

6. Residents of Johannesburg don’t actually call their city that way.

Actually most residents of the city call their home Jo’burg, eGoli (which means gold), J’burg or sometimes Jozi. And they will be delighted if you too will call their city with those nicknames. A surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa.

7. Gold Reef City is an amusement park dedicated to the gold industry of Johannesburg.

Located at an old mining area is Gold Reef City, an amusement park dedicated to gold mining in Witwatersrand Basin. A surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa, in this theme park you will have the chance to see a gold-containing ore vein and how it is poured into barrels.

The process of gold refining shown at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.

A gold inglot or bar.

8. Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a cave in Johannesburg that contains the oldest number of humanoid fossils.

About an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is one of the most productive and important paleo-anthropological sites in the world. This means that the area has produced a large number of human ancestor fossils ever found on earth that dates back to 3-5 million years. A surprising fact you may not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa.

A mysterious underground lake found inside Sterkfontein Cave of the Cradle of Humankind.

9. Some international famous people have Johannesburg roots.

A surprising fact you may not not know about Charlize Theron’s Johannesburg, South Africa is that some of the famous international celebrities were actually born from eGoli. Well of course, Charlize Theron, model, film producer and Academy Award winner was born on J’burg in 1975 and she calls herself a “South African-American”. Sasha Peiterse who plays Allison Di Laurentis in the Pretty Little Liars was born in Jozi in 1996 but moved to L.A. with her family in 2001; Dean Geyer, Season 4 Australian Idol 3rd placer and now Glee star was also born in Jo’burg but moved to Oz with his parents when he was 15.

And so were former Presidents F.W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Trevor Noah, actor; Wiz Luther King, Jr.,Instagram sensation; and Gary Player, a golfer.

Trevor Noah, actor

Sasha Pieterse of Pretty Little Liars

Dean Geyer, 3rd placer Australian Idol Season 4 and Glee star.

Emerging from a “dark past” to become one of the multi-culturally diverse cities in the world, Johannesburg has no shortage of surprises to travelers from all walks of life around the world. Get ready for an adventure of your own soon.

Charlize Theron‘s outreach program in her beloved South Africa.

Reference: Wikipedia