Although it may be South Africa’s largest city and serve as the seat for South Africa’s supreme constitutional court, Johannesburg is not the country’s capital.
Instead, a triad of South African cities share capital city roles: Pretoria (administrative and executive), Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial).
South Africa was among the world’s 40 top exporters in 2016, shipping US$74.1 billion worth of goods around the globe. Highest-value South African exports are platinum, automobiles, coal, iron, processed petroleum, gold, diamonds, chromium, manganese, citrus fruit and wine according to the International Trade Centre.
Capital Facts for South Africa’s Three Cities: Quick Reference
Capital landmarks: Voortrekker Monument (Pretoria), Houses of Parliament (Cape Town) and the Supreme Court buildings (Bloemfontein)
Below, you will find 10 of the most famous people born in one of South Africa’s three capital cities:
- Lize-Mari Retief, Olympic swimmer (born Nov. 30, 1986)
- Brendan Peyper, singer-songwriter (born Aug. 7, 1996)
- Michael Mol, physician & executive TV producer (born Aug. 16, 1971)
- Jonathan Shapiro, cartoonist (born Oct. 27, 1958)
- Gérard Rudolf, actor & poet (born Apr. 20, 1966)
- AB de Villiers, celebrated cricket player (born Feb. 17, 1984)
- Kotaro Matsushima, international rugby union player (born Feb. 26, 1993)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, fantasy novelist (born Jan. 3, 1892)
- J. M. Coetzee, author & literary critic (born Feb. 9, 1940)
- Elon Musk, Entrepreneur, engineer & inventor (born Jun. 28, 1971)
Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches of published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.
Demonym for a resident of Pretoria/Cape Town/Bloemfontein: Pretorian/Capetonian/Bloemer
Population: 3,030,000 (Pretoria metropolitan area)
Density: 6,400 people per square mile (2,500 per square kilometer)
Population: 3,865,000 (Cape Town metropolitan area)
Density: 12,300 people per square mile (4,700 per square kilometer)
Population: 747,431 (Bloemfontein)
Density: 310 people per square mile (120 per square kilometer)
Population: 54,300,704 (South Africa)
Density: 116 people per square mile (45 per square kilometer)
GDP: US$49.9 billion in 2014 (Pretoria)
GDP per person: $17,206
GDP: US$58.9 billion in 2014 (Cape Town)
GDP per person: $15,918
Note: The above GDP metrics are on a Purchasing Power Parity basis and are in U.S. dollars.
Official currency used in Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein: South African rand
Brookings Institution, Global Metro Monitor Report (includes GDP data). Accessed on November 21, 2016
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Africa: South Africa. Accessed on January 31, 2017
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Field Listing: Major Urban Areas. Accessed on November 21, 2016
CityMetric, Where are largest cities in the world? 2015 edition. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Demographia, World Urban Area, 12th Annual Edition. Accessed on November 21, 2016
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on January 31, 2017
Pretoria’s Official Government Website, City of Tshwane (municipality including Pretoria, Centurion, Winterveld and Temba). Accessed on November 21, 2016
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 2016 Cities of Opportunity Report. Accessed on January 31, 2017
Cape Town’s Official Government Website, City of Cape Town. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Bloemfontein Supreme Court Website, Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Wikimedia Commons, City Flags. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Note: Some city flags were unavailable. If so, attribution belongs to Wikimedia Commons for pertinent country flags.
Wikipedia, List of countries with multiple capitals. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Wikipedia, Bloemfontein. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Wikipedia, Cape Town. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Wikipedia, Pretoria. Accessed on November 21, 2016
Wikipedia, South Africa. Accessed on January 31, 2017
Pretoria has a population of 3 million residents spread out over 475 square miles (1,230 square kilometers). While Cape Town is home to 3.9 million people, South Africa’s legislative capital occupies a smaller area of 315 square miles (816 square kilometers) compared to Pretoria.
Bloemfontein scores much lower in terms of its demographics, with 747,431 residents living within a vast metropolitan area of 6,284 square miles (2,426 square kilometers).
At the country level, South Africa’s land territory covers 468,909 square miles (1,214,470 square kilometers). The national population count was 54.3 million inhabitants as of July 2016.
Population density is highest in Cape Town’s metropolitan area with an average 12,300 Capetonians per square mile (4,700 per square kilometer).
Compare those metrics with South Africa’s administrative and executive capital Pretoria, where there are 6,400 Pretorians per square mile (2,500 per square kilometer).
South Africa’s judicial capital Bloemfontein’s population density is just 310 Bloemers (pronounced bloomers) per square mile (120 per square kilometer).
For South Africa overall, national population density drops to an average 116 residents per square mile (45 per square kilometer).
South Africans celebrate Freedom Day as a public holiday each April 27.