The city of Pretoria, 48 km (30 mi) north of Johannesburg, lies within the Tshwane metropolitan area, which was formed in 2000 when Pretoria and its surrounding areas—Centurion, the townships of Atteridgeville, Mamelodi, and Shoshanguve, and neighboring areas—merged under a single municipal authority. The country's administrative capital and home to many senior politicians and diplomats, Pretoria is a pleasant city, with historic buildings and a city center that is easily explored on foot.
Founded in 1855, the city was named after Afrikaner leader Andries Pretorius, one of the Voortrekkers (pronounced fooer-treka) who moved from the Cape to escape British rule. In 1860 it became the capital of the independent Transvaal Voortrekker Republic. After the South African War of 1899-1902 (the Second Anglo-Boer War), the city became the capital of the then British colony, and in 1910 it was named the administrative capital of the Union of South Africa. In 1948, when the National Party came to power, Pretoria became the seat of the apartheid government. In 1964 the Rivonia Treason Trial (named for the Johannesburg suburb where 19 ANC leaders were arrested in 1963) was held here, and Nelson Mandela and seven of his colleagues were sentenced to life in prison.
In 2008 the Tshwane Metropolitan Council (Tshwane is a reference to the indigenous people who lived in the area before the Afrikaners arrived) announced its intention to change street names throughout the metropolitan area to reflect the country's cultural diversity, but this process has not yet begun.
Pretoria at a Glance
- Church Square
- City Hall
- Freedom Park
- J. G. Strijdom Square
- Kruger Museum
- Melrose House
- National Cultural History Museum