Gauteng is the smallest province in South Africa, with only 1.4% of the land area. Despite its size, Gauteng is highly urbanised and home to 8.8 million people, almost 20% of the total South African population. Gauteng province is also the fastest growing province, experiencing a population growth of over 20%. Thus, Gauteng is likely to soon have the highest population of any province in South Afica. The main languages in Gauteng are Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, SiSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Gauteng has been the economic hub of South Africa since the discovery of gold in Johannesburg in 1886. In fact, the name 'Gauteng' is Sesotho for "place of gold", referring to the province's thriving gold industry. Today Gauteng also contributes heavily in the financial, manufacturing, transport, technology and telecommunications sectors, amongst others. It also plays host to a large number of overseas companies requiring a commercial base in and gateway to Africa.
Gauteng is the only landlocked province of South Africa without a foreign border. It borders on North West province to the west, Limpopo to the north and Mpumalanga to the east and its southern border is the Vaal River separating it from the Free State. This is the heart of the Highveld, a high-altitude grassland. Between Johannesburg and Pretoria there are low parallel ridges and undulating hills, some part of the Magaliesberg Mountains and the Witwatersrand.
The climate here is mostly influenced by altitude. Even though the province is on a subtropical latitude, the climate is comparatively cooler, especially in Johannesburg. Most precipitation occurs as brief afternoon thunderstorms, however relative humidity seldom becomes uncomfortable. Winters are crisp and dry with frost occurring often in the southern areas. Snow is very rare, but has occurred on some occasions in the Johannesburg metropolitan area. The north of the province is more subtropical, due to its lower altitude and is mostly dry savannah habitat.