|NORTH WEST PROVINCE AT GLANCE|
The North West Province of South Africa is bounded on the north by Botswana, on the south by the provinces of Free State and the Northern Cape, and on the northeast and east by the Limpopo Province and Gauteng. Covering 118,797 sq km (45,869 sq miles), the North West Province was created in 1994 by the merger of Bophuthatswana, one of the former bantustans (or black homelands), and the western part of Transvaal, one of the four former South African provinces.
Much of the province consists of flat areas of scattered trees and grassland. The Magaliesberg mountain range in the northeast extends about 130 km (about 80 miles) from Pretoria to Rustenburg. The Vaal River flows along the southern border of the province. Temperatures range from 17° to 31° C (62° to 88° F) in the summer and from 3° to 21° C (37° to 70° F) in the winter. Annual rainfall totals about 360 mm (about 14 in), with almost all of it falling during the summer months, between October and April.
In 1994 the population of the North West Province was estimated to be 3 669 349 (out of a total of an estimated 44 819 778 people living in South Africa); 65% of the people in the North West Provice live in the rural areas. The majority of the province's residents are the Tswana people who speak Setswana. Smaller groups include Afrikaans, Sotho, and Xhosa speaking people. English is spoken primarily as a second language. Most of the population belong to Christian denominations. (Figures according to Census 2001 released in July 2003).
During 2003, as part of the Year of Further Education and Training project, three mega institutions, Taletso, ORBIT and Vuselela, were established to provide technical and vocational training to the youth. These institutions have been incorporated into many of the former education and technical colleges and manpower centres.
Mafikeng, formerly Mafeking, serves as the provincial capital. Other significant towns include Brits, Klerksdorp, Lichtenburg, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg and Sun City. The province has two universities: the University of North West, which was formerly called the University of Bophuthatswana (founded in 1979), in Mmabatho; and Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (founded in 1869; became a constituent college of the University of South Africa in 1921 and an independent university in 1951).
Important historical sites in the province include Mafikeng, the traditional capital of the Barolong people, where a British garrison was placed under siege by Afrikaners during the Boer War (1899-1902); Lotlamoreng Cultural Village near Mafikeng, which re-creates a traditional African village; and Boekenhoutfontein, the farm of Paul Kruger, who was the last president of the South African Republic (a state created by Afrikaners in what is now north-eastern South Africa), from 1883 to 1902. The province has several national parks. The largest, Pilanesberg Game Reserve, is located in the crater of an extinct volcano.
The mainstay of the economy of North West Province is mining, which generates more than half of the province's gross domestic product and provides jobs for a quarter of its workforce. Mining contributes 23,3% to the North West 's economy, and makes up 22,5% of the South African mining industry as a whole. The chief minerals are gold, mined at Orkney and Klerksdorp; uranium, mined at Klerksdorp; platinum, mined at Rustenburg and Brits; and diamonds, mined at Lichtenburg, Christiana, and Bloemhof. The Rustenburg and Brits districts produce 94% of the country's platinum, which is more than any other single area in the world. North West also produces a quarter of South Africa's gold, as well as granite, marble, fluorspar and diamonds.The northern and western parts of the province have many sheep farms and cattle and game ranches.
The eastern and southern parts are crop-growing regions that produce maize (corn), sunflowers, tobacco, cotton, and citrus fruits. Some of the largest cattle herds in the world are found at Stellaland near Vryburg, which explains why this area is often referred to as the "Texas of South Africa". Marico is also cattle country.
Whatever your preference, there is bound to be an adventure to keep you happy. The North West is outdoors country, with a glorious climate and challenging adventure venues. Enjoy a wrap-around panorama and the magic of lazily drifting with the wind. Relish fascinating and magnificent sights over the beautiful Magalies River Valley, Hartbeespoort Dam, Magaliesberg Mountain Range, Pilanesberg National Park.
North West Province's most famous attraction is the Sun City complex, which lies next to the Pilanesburg National Park. Sun City is one of the world's biggest entertainment centres, with a casino, an 18-hole golf course, theatres and concert halls, beaches and a wave pool at the Valley of the Waves, a meticulously reconstructed tropical rainforest, and a number of world-class hotels that include the remarkable Palace of the Lost City.