JohannesburgJohannesburg is a city in South Africa, where it serves as the provincial capital of Gauteng. With a population of 1.48 million at the 1996 census (or 5 mill. for the greater metropolitan area), it is one of the largest cities in the world that is neither on the coast nor on a major river or waterway. Two other such cities are Mexico City and Phoenix. Johannesburg is located on the Continental Divide of Africa. A drop of rain falling on the crest of Pretoria Avenue in Hillbrow will find itself either flowing east to the Indian Ocean or West to the Atlantic Ocean.
Although it was a prosperous city throughout the 20th century, in the 1990s Johannesburg was affected by urban blight, as millions of poor, mostly black, people who had been kept out artificially by the policy of Apartheid, moved into the city from surrounding black townships such as Soweto. Crime levels soared and non-payment of rent led to apartment buildings being abandoned by landlords, especially in the high-density areas such as Hillbrow. Many leading corporations and institutions, including the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, moved their headquarters to the northern suburb of Sandton. Reviving the city centre is one of the main aims of the municipal government of Johannesburg.
It is not known for certain who the "Johannes" (Afrikaans for "John") was after whom the city was named. Several candidates have been put forward over the years.