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North West Tourism Information

Quick Facts: North West

  • Capital of the North West Province: Mafikeng
  • Major city in the North West: Potchefstroom
  • Languages spoken: 65.4% Setswana, 7.5% Afrikaans, 5.8% isiXhosa
  • Population: 3 364 754 (2006)
  • Share of South Africa’s population: 7.1%
  • Area: 106 512 square kilometres
  • Share of total South African area: 8.7%
  • Population density: 32 people per square kilometre
  • Gross regional product: R 81.4-billion (2003)
  • Share of total South Africa's GDP: 6.3%

Introducing North West

The North West Province is situated in the north of South Africa on the Botswana border, fringed by the Kalahari desert in the west, the Gauteng province (Johannesburg, Pretoria) to the east, and the Free State to the south. The North West Province of South Africa is also referred to as the Platinum Province for the wealth of the metal it has underground.

The city of Mafikeng, which was previously named Mafeking, is the capital of South Africa’s North West Province.  Mafikeng is best known for the famous siege during the Anglo-Boer War, which ended in a decisive victory for the British and made a hero of Robert Baden-Powell.

The city of Mafikeng is situated near the Botswana border and forms a single urban area with its neighbouring town, Mmabatho. Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp are the biggest cities in the North West province; other main towns in this South African province are Brits and Rustenburg.  The North West province was created in 1994 by the merger of Bophuthatswana, one of the apartheid-era bantustans or "homelands", and the western part of province of Transvaal.

The landscape found in this region of South Africa is largely flat characterized by areas of scattered trees and grassland. The Magaliesberg mountain range in the northeast extends about 130 kilometres from Pretoria to Rustenburg, while the Vaal River forms the province's southern border.Being a summer-rainfall region (November to April), temperatures in the North West province of South Africa range from up to 31° C in the summer to as little as 3° during the winter months.

Most economic activity of the North West Province, South Africa, is concentrated in the southern region between Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp, as well as Rustenburg and the eastern region, where more than 83.3% of the province's economic activity takes place.

Tourist attractions in the North West Province, South Africa

The North West in South Africa is home to several interesting tourist attractions, including the famous Sun City Resort with its 4 hotels and the Casino & Entertainment Centre.  The hotels found at the Sun City Resort are the Cabanas Hotel, the Sun City Hotel, the Cascades Hotel and the Palace of the Lost City. 

Two popular golf courses are accessible to guests staying at the Sun City resort, which are the Gary Player Country Club and the Lost City Golf Course.  Sun City is one of the world's biggest entertainment centres, with a casino, two 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, which include the luxurious and opulent Palace of the Lost City.

The malaria free, ‘Big Five’ Pilanesberg National Park, the Madikwe Game Reserve and the Rustenburg Nature Reserve are home to many of Africa’s wildlife.  Portions of two of South Africa's seven Unesco World Heritage sites fall within the borders of the North West province: the Vredefort Dome, which is the world's largest visible meteor-impact crater, and the Taung hominid fossil site, which has been incorporated into South Africa's Cradle of Humankind.

The size of the North West Province, South Africa

With a total area of 106 512 square kilometres, South Africa’s North West province is slightly smaller than the US state of Pennsylvania. It is South Africa’s fourth-smallest province, taking up 8.7% of South Africa's land area and has an approximate population of 3.4-million people.

Languages spoken in the North West, South Africa

Approximately two-thirds of the people living in the North West province of South Africa speak Setswana, the language of neighbouring Botswana, with the rest speaking Afrikaans and isiXhosa. Only about 35% of the population here is urbanised.

Mining in South Africa’s North West

Mining contributes 23.3% to the North West economy, and makes up 22.5% of the South African mining industry as a whole. Ninety-four percent of South Africa’s platinum is found in the Rustenburg and Brits regions, which produce more platinum than any other single area in the world. It is also here where a quarter of South Africa's gold, as well as granite, marble, fluorspar and diamonds are produced.  The employment along the Platinum Corridor, which stretches from Pretoria to eastern Botswana, makes up over a third of total employment in the North West province.

North West’s Agriculture

The North West of South Africa is sometimes referred to as the country’s Texas being home to some of the largest cattle herds in the world found at Stellaland near Vryburg.  The Marico region is also cattle country, while the areas around Rustenburg and Brits are fertile, mixed-crop farming land.  The province is an important food basket in South Africa.  Maize and sunflowers are the most important crops and the North West is the major producer of white maize in the country.

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