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JJohannesburg, the metropolis with the country’s tallest skyscrapers, was once just veld (bush), dotted with rocky outcrops, scrubby bush and a network of streams. Today it is a cosmopolitan city of more than four million people, one of the few of its size in the world that is not located on a river or at the sea. It is located in Gauteng, the smallest of the country’s nine provinces, which contributes around 40% to South Africa’s GDP.
Johannesburg has seen waves of different peoples occupying the area that is now the city: Stone Age ancestors dating back 500 000 years; Bushmen from 1 000 years ago; 500-year-old Iron Age furnaces belonging to Tswana people, and Boer farmhouses dating from the 1860s. But the city really started in 1886 when gold was discovered by Australian gold prospector George Harrison.
Soon tents and wagons appeared, to be replaced by wood and iron structures, and again replaced by brick buildings. A town was demarcated, and a large, bustling market square. Buildings got taller and taller, and today the city boasts one of the tallest buildings in Africa - the 50-storey Carlton Centre, built in 1973.