Quick Facts: Limpopo
- Capital city of Limpopo, South Africa: Polokwane
- Languages: 52.1% Sesotho, 22.4% Xitsonga, 15.9% Tshivenda
- Population: 5 355 172 (2006)
- Share of South Africa’s population: 11.3%
- Area: 125 755 square kilometres
- Share of total South African area: 10.3%
- Population density: 43 people per square kilometre
- Gross regional product: R81.3-billion (2003)
- Share of total SA GDP: 6.7%
Situated within the huge curve of the Limpopo River, the Limpopo province in South Africa is the country’s northernmost province. It is a region of contrasts, from magnificent bushveld to majestic mountains, primaeval indigenous forests, unspoilt wilderness and patchworks of farmland.
The northern Limpopo province is in the savanna biome, an area of mixed grassland and trees referred to as bushveld. Being a summer-rainfall region ( November – April ), the northern and eastern parts of Limpopo are subtropical with hot and humid summers and mist in the mountains. The winter in this region of South Africa is mild and mostly frost-free.
Rich in natural beauty, culture and wildlife, Limpopo prides itself with a flourishing tourism industry. In addition to the Kruger National Park, there are 54 provincial reserves and several luxury private game reserves located in the Limpopo province of South Africa.
Limpopo is also home to the magnificent Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape which is one of South Africa’s seven World Heritage sites. South Africa's first kingdom, Mapungubwe developed into the subcontinent's largest empire, lasting for 400 years before it was abandoned in the 14th century. The nation’s highly sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt.
Valuable archaeological artefacts have been discovered in the Limpopo province, which lies on the open savannah of the Mapungubwe National Park at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers.
Location of the Limpopo Province in South Africa
Limpopo borders the countries of Botswana to the west, Zimbabwe to the north and Mozambique to the east. In the eastern region lies the northern half of the game rich Kruger National Park where many game lodges await the adventurous traveller. To the south, Mpumalanga and Gauteng border the Limpopo province. Furthermore, it shares borders with the North West Province to its south-western side. Limpopo is a gateway to the rest of Africa, with its shared borders making it favourably situated for economic cooperation with other parts of southern Africa.
Limpopo’s infrastructure and The Maputo Development Corridor
The Maputo Development Corridor has the purpose of combining the province directly with the Port of Maputo in Mozambique, creating development and trade opportunities, particularly in the south-east. Limpopo in South Africa connects to the corridor via the Phalaborwa Spatial Development Initiative, which is a network of rail and road corridors linked to major seaports.
Furthermore, the airports in centres such as Phalaborwa and Musina, as well as the Gateway International Airport in Polokwane add to the province’s easy accessibility. Through the middle of Limpopo runs the Great North Road ( N1 Highway) which is an important route into Africa, crossing into Zimbabwe at the major border post of Beit Bridge.
The main cities and towns in Limpopo, South Africa
The capital of South Africa’s Limpopo Province is Polokwane which used to be called Pietersburg. It is situated in the middle of the province. North of Polokwane one can find Modimolle which is the centre of the local table-grape industry near the beautiful Waterberg mountain range; Machado is located at the foot of the Soutpansberg mountains. Musina is famous for its thick-set baobab trees which can also be found in the Kruger National Park.
Phalaborwa near the Kruger National Park is known for its mining and Thabazimbi, and Tzaneen is producers of tea, forestry products and tropical fruit. Bela-Bela, with its traditional mineral water baths, is situated near the southern border of the Limpopo Province in South Africa.
Size of Limpopo
With a total area of 125 755 square kilometres, the Limpopo province in South Africa is slightly larger than the US state of Pennsylvania. It is the fifth-largest (and fifth-smallest) of South Africa’s nine provinces, covering 10.3% of South Africa's land area with an approximate population of 5.4 million people.
Languages are spoken in the Limpopo Province, South Africa
The primary home language in Limpopo is Sesotho, which is spoken by about half the population living in this area of South Africa, followed by Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Limpopo's rich mineral deposits include platinum group metals, iron ore, chromium high- and middle-grade coking coal, diamonds, antimony, phosphate and copper, as well as mineral reserves like gold, emeralds, scheelite, magnetite, vermiculite, silicon and mica. Base commodities such as black granite, corundum and feldspar are also found in this region of South Africa. Mining contributes to over a fifth of the provincial economy.
The Limpopo province is a developing area, exporting primary products and importing manufactured goods and services. It has a high potential for development, with resources such as tourism, rain-fed agriculture, minerals and abundant labour offering excellent investment opportunities.
Agriculture of the Limpopo Province in South Africa
The bushveld in Limpopo is cattle country, where extensive ranching operations are often supplemented by controlled hunting. About 80% of South Africa's fishing industry is found in the Limpopo province. Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela and Modimolle regions. Modimolle is also known for its table grape crops.
Tropical fruit, such as bananas, litchis, pineapples, mangoes and pawpaws, as well as a variety of nuts, are grown in the Tzaneen and Machado areas. Tzaneen is also at the centre of high tea and coffee plantations. More than 45% of the R 2-billion annual turnover of the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market originates from Limpopo. The province produces about:
- 75% of South Africa's mangoes
- 65% of its papayas
- 36% of its tea
- 25% of its citrus, bananas, and litchis
- 60% of its avocados
- 60% of its tomatoes
- 285 000 tonnes of potatoes
- 70% of its mangoes
- 35% of its oranges
ZZ2 is the largest tomato farm in South Africa. It is situated between Tzaneen and Makhado. Extensive forestry plantations are also found in this area, including hardwood for furniture manufacture. In addition to commercial agriculture, subsistence farming is the mainstay of a large section of the rural population.