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Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Provincemarker, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Townmarker, the legislative capital, and Bloemfonteinmarker, the judicial capital.

Pretoria is contained in the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipalitymarker as one of several constituent former administrations (among which also Centurionmarker and Soshanguvemarker), and therefore sometimes incorrectly referred to as Tshwane — this contentious issue is still being decided as of 2009.

The city's original name was Pretoria Philadelphia (‘Pretoria of brotherly love’). It gave its name to the Pax Praetoriana, referring to the country's relative stability.


The Southern Transvaal Ndebele occupied the river valley, which was to become the location of the city of Pretoria, by around 1600.

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.

Statue of Andries Wilhelmus Jacobus Pretorius (November 27, 1798 – 23 July 1853) in Pretoria
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 Battle of Blood Rivermarker. Andries Pretorius also negotiated the Sand River Convention (1852), in which Britain acknowledged the independence of the Transvaalmarker. It became the capital of the South African Republic (ZAR) on 1 May 1860.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.

Boer Wars

During the First Boer War, the city was besieged by Republican forces in December 1880 and March 1881. The peace treaty which ended the war was signed in Pretoria on 3 August 1881 at the Pretoria Convention.

The Second Boer War (1899 to 1902) resulted in the end of the Republic of Transvaal and start of Britishmarker hegemony in South Africa. During the war, Winston Churchill was imprisoned in the Staats Model School in Pretoria but escaped to Mozambiquemarker. The city surrendered to British forces under Frederick Roberts on 5 June 1900 and the conflict was ended in Pretoria with the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902.

A number of forts were built for the defence of the city just prior to the Second Boer War, though some are today in ruins, a number of them have been preserved as national monuments.

Union of South Africa

The Boer Republics of the ZAR and the Orange Free Statemarker 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, with Cape Town the legislative capital. Between 1860 and 1994, the city was also the capital of the province of Transvaalmarker, superseding Potchefstroommarker in that role.

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

Post Apartheid

After the creation of new municipal structures across South Africa in 2000, the name Tshwane was adopted for the Metropolitan Municipality that includes Pretoria and surrounding towns.

Pretoria previously had a rather sinister image as "the capital of Apartheid South Africa". However, Pretoria's political reputation was changed with the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the country's first non-apartheid President at the Union Buildingsmarker close to Pretoria CBD. Controversy of the name still continues as a significant group of inhabitants of the city feel that the name should change to that of the municipality "Tshwane", vs. another fairly large group having no issue with the current name, though this matter is still being challenged in the High Court of Pretoria, and via community meetings around the city. For now the name "Pretoria" for the city itself remains.

In 1994 Peter Holmes Maluleka was elected as transitional mayor of Pretoria, until the first democratic election held later that year, making him the first black mayor of this capital of South Africa.Maluleka later became the chairman of the Greater Pretoria Metropolitan City Council (later Tshwane Metro Council), then was elected Speaker of the Tshwane Metro Council and in 2004 was chosen to be a member of the South African Parliament for the Soshanguve constituency.

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Satellite image of Pretoria.
Pretoria is situated approximately 50 km (30 miles) north of Johannesburgmarker in the north-east of South Africa, in a transitional belt between the plateau of the Highveldmarker to the south and the lower-lying Bushveld to the north. It lies at an altitude of about 1,350 m (4,500 ft) above sea level, in a warm, sheltered, fertile valley, surrounded by the hills of the Magaliesberg range.


The city has a dry subtropical climate with long, hot summers and short cool winters. The average annual temperature is 18.7OC (65.7OF). This is rather high considering its relatively high altitude of about 1350 metres and is due mainly to its sheltered valley position, which acts as a heat trap and cuts it off from cool southerly and south-easterly air masses for much of the year.Rain falls mainly in the summer months, with drought conditions prevailing over the winter months, when frosts may be sharp. Snowfall is an extremely rare event, occurring once or twice in a century.


Pretoria CBD, April 2006, from Lukasrand (Muckleneuk Hill), to the SE of the CBD.
The Central Business District (CBD) of Pretoria has been the traditional centre of government and commerce, although today many corporate offices, small businesses, shops and government departments are situated in the sprawling suburbs of the city rather than the CBD.


Language Population %
Pedi 500 732 27.14%
Afrikaans 422,866 21.29%
Tswana 339,719 17.11%
Tsonga 198,441 9.99%
Zulu 151,200 7.61%
English 129,923 6.54%
Ndebele 98,077 4.94%
Sotho 78,435 3.95%
Swati 37,963 1.91%
Xhosa 37,957 1.91%
Venda 35,242 1.77%
Other 16 425 0.83%

The city has a population of approximately one million. The main languages spoken in Pretoria are Pedi, Afrikaans, Tswana, Tsonga, Zulu and English. Ndebele and Sotho are also widely spoken. The whole Tshwane Metropolitan Municipalitymarker had a population of 1,985,997 at the 2001 census.



Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa
Pretoria has over the years had very diverse cultural influences and this is reflected in the architectural styles that can be found in the city. It ranges from British Colonial Architecture to Art Deco with a good mix of uniquely South African style mixed in.

Some of the notable structures in Pretoria include the Union Buildingsmarker, Voortrekker Monumentmarker, the main campus of the University of South Africamarker, Mahlamba Ndlopfu (the President's House), Reserve Bank of South Africa (Office Tower) and the Telkom Lukas Rand Transmission Tower. Other known structures and buildings include the Loftus Versveld Stadium, The South African State Theatre, University of Pretoriamarker, and Head Quarters of the Department of International Relations and Co-Operation (modern architecture).

Parks and gardens

National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria
Pretoria is home to the National Zoological Gardens of South Africamarker as well as the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, one of the National Botanical Gardens in South Africa. There are also a number of smaller parks and gardens located throughout the city, including the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary.



Transnet operates commuter and main line trains from Pretoria Station. Extensive changes are in progress at this station as work in being done to accommodate the new Gautrain station below the lines and platforms of the existing station.

Pretoria Station is a departure point for the Blue Train.

Rovos Rail , a luxury mainline train safari service operated from the colonial-style railway station at Capital Park.

The South African Friends of the Rail have recently moved their vintage train trip operations from the Capital Park station to the Hercules station.



The N1 is the major freeway that runs through Pretoria. The N1 Eastern Bypass bisects the large expanse of the eastern suburbs, routing traffic from Johannesburgmarker to Polokwanemarker and the north of the country. The N4 Platinum Highway forms the Northern Bypass and routes traffic from Witbankmarker to Rustenburgmarker. The N4 runs east-west through South Africa, connecting Maputomarker to Gaboronemarker. Other major freeways include the N14 which links Pretoria with Johannesburg's West Rand, and the R21 which links the city with OR Tambo International Airportmarker.


Pretoria is served by the OR Tambo International Airportmarker, situated to the north-east of Johannesburg and some 55 km (34 mi) from Pretoria city centre. Wonderboom Airportmarker in the suburb of Wonderboom in the north of Pretoria services light commercial and private aircraft. There are two military air bases to the south of the city (Swartkop and Waterkloof).

Society and culture


Since Pretoria forms part the Tshwanemarker Metropolitan Municipality, most radio, television and paper media is the same as what can be found in the rest of the metro area.



A number of popular South African bands and musicians are originally from Pretoria. These include Zebra & Giraffe, Desmond and the Tutus,Seetherpopular mostwako rapper JR and DJ Mujava who was raised in the town of Attridgeville.

The song Marching to Pretoria refers to this city.


One of the most popular sports in Pretoria is rugby union. Loftus Versfeldmarker is home to the Blue Bulls who compete in the domestic Currie Cup, the Bulls who compete in the international Super 14 competition and to soccer side Mamelodi Sundowns . Pretoria also hosted matches during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Loftus Versfeld will be used for matches of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.There are two soccer teams in the city campaigning in the Premier Soccer League. They are Sundowns and Supersport United. Supersport United are the reigning PSL Champions. Cricket is also popular.


Commerce and Industry

As the national administrative (executive) capital of South Africa, Pretoria is the seat of government and houses the headquarters of the main government departments and ministries. As the de facto capital city, it also hosts the foreign embassies and diplomatic missions. The city is a major commercial centre and an important industrial centre. Its main industries are iron and steel works, copper casting, and the manufacture of automobiles, railway carriages and heavy machinery.


Tertiary education

University of Pretoria's Old Arts Building

Pretoria is one of South Africa's leading academic cities, and it is home to the largest residential university in the country (the University of Pretoriamarker), the Tshwane University of Technology and the largest distance education university (the University of South Africamarker, more commonly known by its acronym, UNISA). The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Researchmarker (CSIR) is also located in this city.

Secondary education

Change of name

On 26 May 2005 the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC), which is linked to the Directorate of Heritage in the Department of Arts and Culture, approved changing the name of Pretoria to Tshwanemarker, which is already the name of the Metropolitan Municipality in which Pretoria, and a number of surrounding towns are located. Although the name change was approved by the SAGNC, it has not yet been approved by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan. The matter is currently under consideration while he has requested further research on the matter. Should the Minister approve the name change, the name will be published in the Government Gazette, giving the public opportunity to comment on the matter. The Minister can then refer the public response back to the SAGNC, before presenting his recommendation before parliament, who will vote on the change. Various public interest groups have warned that the name change will be challenged in court, should the minister approve the renaming. The long process involved made it unlikely the name would change anytime soon, if ever, even assuming the Minister had approved the change in early 2006.

The Tshwane Metro Council has advertised Tshwane as "Africa's leading capital city" since the name change was approved by the SAGNC in 2005. This has led to further controversy, however, as the name of the city had not yet been changed officially, and the council was, at best, acting prematurely. Following a complaint lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), it was ruled that such advertisements are deliberately misleading and should be withdrawn from all media. Despite the rulings of the ASA, Tshwane Metro Council failed to discontinue their "City of Tshwane" advertisements. As a result, the ASA requested that Tshwane Metro pay for advertisements in which it admits that it has misled the public. Refusing to abide by the ASA's request, the Metro Council was banned consequently from placing any advertisements in the South African media that refer to Tshwane as the capital. ASA may still place additional sanctions on the Metro Council that would prevent it from placing any advertisements in the South African media, including council notices and employment vacancies.

After the ruling, the Metro Council continued to place Tshwane advertisements, but placed them on council-owned advertising boards and busstops throughout the municipal area. In August 2007, an internal memo was leaked to the media in which the Tshwane mayor sought advice from the premier of Gauteng on whether the municipality could be called the "City of Tshwane" instead of just "Tshwane". This could increase confusion about the distinction between the city of Pretoria and the municipality of Tshwane.

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Pretoria is twinned with:

Shopping Malls

  • Atterbury Boulevard
  • Atterbury Value Mart
  • Brooklyn Mall*
  • Brooklyn Designer Square
  • Centurion Mall (upon Hennops River)*
  • Hatfield Plaza*
  • Irene Village Mall*
  • Kolonnade Centre*
  • Mall @ Reds*
  • Menlyn Retail Park Menlyn Parkmarker*
  • Parkview Centre
  • Sammy Marks Shopping Centre
  • Sancardia Shopping Centre
  • Sterland Mall*
  • The Grove Shopping Centre*
  • Woodlands Boulevardmarker*

Please note: The malls with and asterix are malls with at least a 4-screen cinema complex. Menlyn Retail Park is currently the only shopping mall with an "Imax Theatre" and Kolonnade Centre is the only mall with a public ice-skating ring, in the city.

Places of interest

Nature Reserves

See also


  2. GHCN climate data, 30 year climate average 1979-2008, Goddard Institute of Space Studies
  3. Rovos Rail website
  4. Pretoria name change is approved, BBC
  5. SABC pulls 'Tshwane city' ads, News24
  6. SA capital advert row sparks ad-alert threat, IOL
  7. Media can't place Tshwane ads, FIN24
  8. Down with Pretoria signs!: South Africa: Politics: News24

External links

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