The discovery of gold in 1886 changed the area now called Greater Johannesburg from grassy savannah planes into a thriving mining town where people flocked to find gold. The town was named by two men, with the first name 'Johannes' in common, the second syllable, burgh, is the Afrikaans / Dutch / English word for village or 'town'.
In order to meet the demand for labour, Miners were housed in hostels and shanty homes. These shanty dwellings were unsafe and workers and families were forcibly moved into government developed townships to townships like Soweto separate from Whites under apartheid legislation.
Post 1994 (the first free election for all citizens in South Africa) the city of Johannesburg or 'Egoli' meaning "the Place of Gold" has changed dramatically from those early mining days into a sophisticated cosmopolitan place, the powerhouse of Southern Africa where big business, company head offices, mining houses and the Johannesburg Stock exchange is located. Another change from grasslands and dusty mine dumps is the transition into a natural man made forest in the leafy surburbia, housing estates and golf villages in the metro areas of Johannesburg, Sandton and Randburg. Johannesburg has flourished in the last 12 years economically. This has attracted new arrivals daily for people seeking to make their fortune from all over Africa. To meet the need of the increased population and development, Johannesburg is busy building housing, and infrastructure like the rapid road and rail transport network called Gautrain.
The main religion is Christianity but there are sizeable Jewish, Hindu and Muslim communities.
South Africans have been referred to as the 'Rainbow Nation', a title which reflects the country's cultural diversity. Blacks, whites, coloureds and Indians. There are 11 officially recognised languages, most of which are indigenous to South Africa. English is spoken everywhere you go. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. All our road signs and official forms are in English and at any hotel, Bed and Breakfast or Guest House the service staff will speak English. Other official languages are Afrikaans, Ndebele, Sepedi, Xhosa, Venda, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Zulu, Swazi and Tsonga. South Africans generally speak British as opposed to American English, but the local variety has been influenced by Afrikaans and some colloquialisms which will require translation.
South Africa's time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, seven hours from Eastern Standard Time and 10 hours from Pacific Standard Time.
220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles per second. Three pronged plugs are universal, so take an adapter. Most hotel rooms have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers and small appliances.
As a visitor to South Africa, you can claim a VAT refund. Only original Tax Invoices will be considered for refunds.
Tipping is common practice in South Africa for a range of services. In restaurants the accepted standard is around 10% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included (often in the case of a large party). Barmen are tipped a similar percentage. Hotel and Guest House staff are tipped in accordance with the length of your stay and service rendered.
Petrol stations are manned by attendants who will expect a tip of two or three rand for filling up with petrol, checking oil, water and tyre pressure and cleaning windscreens. Hotel porters should be tipped two to five rand. It is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers, tour guides and even hairdressers.
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A comprehensive accommodation website listing 30 guesthouses, B&B’s, self-catering apartments and cottages as well as boutique hotels and lodges.
Centrally located in and around the suburbs of Rosebank, Johannesburg and ideal for both business and leisure travellers.