Johannesburg, located in Transvaal, is the capital of South Africa and started its humble beginnings in 1886 when an Australian prospector, George Harrison, discovered gold in the Witwatersrand. It didn’t take long before word got around that gold was to be found in the Witwatersrand and gold hunters from all over the world made the trek to the small settlement. Africans joined the various projects to work as permanent or temporary laborers.
The government established a city at the gold digging site and within three years it was the largest settlement in South Africa. Mining companies were formed and huge fortunes were made leading to tension between the British gold barons and the Dutch government. This tension ultimately led to the Anglo Boer War of 1890. At the end, both Transvaal and the Orange Free State were under British regime.
Business was booming and by the start of the 20th century Johannesburg had reached a population of 100,000. The British government started relocation Africans to the outskirts of the city, laying the foundation of what would later be known as apartheid.
The living conditions of the Africans were well below standard, leading to a strike of some 70,000 workers in 1920, known as the Rand Revolt. The strike left 200 people dead.
Johannesburg continued to grow during the 1930s and 1940s as manufacturing plants joined the ongoing gold rush, bringing yet more Africans to the city while Caucasian workers were serving in the military during World War II.
During the war, years the black population in Johannesburg doubled and saw the birth of the Black Nationalist movement. When in 1950 the conservative National Party was elected they clashed with the Black Nationalist movement and banned all black opposition.
In 1976, South African police opened fire on a black student protest in Soweto, a massive black township. The shooting was the start of a black uprising that spread to dozens of other cities in South Africa. Unrest continued in the 1980s with a massive violence eruption in 1984.
In 1990, President Frederik Willem de Klerk started negotiations to end apartheid and in 1994, elections were held and won by the African National Congress (ANC). With an African government in power, apartheid was officially dead and Africans moved into former white districts.
Today, Johannesburg counts a population of close to 4 million people. The city, and especially the areas of Hillbrow and Berea, are considered extremely dangerous.
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