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Ending The Ambiguity: What Is The Capital Of South Africa?

Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria Or Any Other South African (Capital) City… What Is It Exactly?

What is the capital of South Africa? A frequently asked question that few people answer correctly. Most people mention Johannesburg as the capital of South Africa, only to question whether it wasn’t Cape Town after all. Or Pretoria? Or really Johannesburg…? provides clarity once and for all to the question: what is the capital of South Africa?

First of all: it is not entirely surprising that there is a lack of clarity about which city exactly is the South African capital. The answer to the question is complicated because South Africa has not one, but three capitals: Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein. Why South Africa has three capitals? This is because South Africa’s polity is based on the Trias Politica– the doctrine of the three powers – of the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu. It means that the legislative, administrative and judicial powers are distributed across the country.

A piece of South African history precedes this. In this context, it begins in 1910, when the Union of South Africa is proclaimed, consisting of four provinces: the British Cape Province and Natal, and the Dutch Orange Free State and Transvaal Province. Due to disagreements between the British and the Dutch about what exactly should be the capital of this new Union, they decide to designate three capitals of the South African Union: Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein and officially control the Union among the three cities. to divide. The division is established by law.

Even when the Union was officially proclaimed the Republic of South Africa in 1961, the three-capital system remained intact and has remained so to this day. With a small side note: the ANC has been calling for some time that it would like to end the division and designate Pretoria as the universal capital of South Africa. For the time being, the three powers are divided over the following South African capitals.

1. Pretoria: Administrative Power Of South Africa

The city of Pretoria acts as the administrative (executive)capital of South Africa. The Union Buildings in Pretoria is where the administrative power – the President of South Africa and the Vice-President – ​​resides and is also the headquarters for (many) ministries and foreign embassies. Pretoria is also where the President of South Africa receives domestic and foreign guests.

More about Pretoria

Pretoria is a city located in Gauteng Province and part of Tshwane Municipality. Confusion about the name Pretoria is common as the name was supposed to change from Pretoria to Tshwane in early 2014, but that has not happened to date (May 2014). The city is also called Jacaranda City in addition to Pretoria and Tshwane. The city owes this latter nickname to the thousands of jacaranda trees that adorn the city’s streets. According to the latest Census count (2011), Pretoria has almost 750,000 inhabitants.

2. Cape Town: South Africa’s legislature

Cape Town, the second largest city in South Africa after Johannesburg, is the legislativecapital of South Africa. This means that the national parliament is located in Cape Town – in the so-called Tuynhuys on the Company’s Garden. The South African national parliament consists of the National Assembly (NA), comparable to the House of Representatives in the Netherlands, and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), which can be compared to the Dutch Senate.

More about Cape Town

Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape Province and is called Cape Town in English while the Xhosa name for the city is iKapa. Because of its somewhat ‘laidback’ character, the city is sometimes jokingly referred to as ‘Sleeping Town’. Cape Town is also affectionately known as Mother City. Cape Town has the most inhabitants after Johannesburg: according to the last census (2011), the city has more than 3.7 million people, spread over Greater Cape Town.

3. Bloemfontein: Judiciary of South Africa

The third capital of South Africa is Bloemfontein; the capital of the Free State Province. This is where South Africa’s judiciary is located. Here you will find the South Africa Supreme Court.

More about Bloemfontein

With more than 250 thousand inhabitants (source: Census 2011), Bloemfontein has the smallest population of the three capitals of South Africa. The city is the capital of the Free State province, and is nicknamed The City of Roses. The city owes this nickname to the abundance of roses and the Rose Festival of the same name that is held annually. In the Sotho language, the city is called Mangaung, literally meaning ‘home of cheetahs’.

In short: no, Johannesburg is not the capital of South Africa!

Contrary to popular belief, Johannesburg is not the capital – not even ‘one of the’ – of South Africa. Although Johannesburg is by far the largest city in the country in terms of population and it is also the economic trading center, the city has no official status. However, this does not mean that Johannesburg is not a special city with many sights, according to our Top 10 must-see & do in Johannesburg.

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