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Tzaneen is located in South Africa
 Tzaneen shown within South Africa
Coordinates: 23°50′S 30°10′E / 23.833°S 30.167°E / -23.833; 30.167Coordinates: 23°50′S 30°10′E / 23.833°S 30.167°E / -23.833; 30.167
Country South Africa
Province Limpopo
District Mopani
Municipality Greater Tzaneen
Established 1903
 • Councillor (ANC)
 • Total 22.16 km2 (8.56 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 14,571
 • Density 660/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 45.0%
 • Coloured 1.1%
 • Indian/Asian 7.0%
 • White 46.1%
 • Other 0.9%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Afrikaans 41.5%
 • Northern Sotho 18.1%
 • Tsonga 13.5%
 • English 13.3%
 • Other 13.5%
Postal code (street) 0850
PO box 0850
Area code 015

Tzaneen is a large 'tropical garden town' situated in the Mopani District Municipality of the Limpopo province in South Africa. It is Limpopo's second biggest town after Polokwane. It is situated in a lush, high rainfall fertile region with tropical and subtropical agriculture taking place in a 20,000 km² region. Tzaneen produces about 40% of South Africa's avocados, 40% of South Africa's mangoes, 20% of South Africa's Bananas and 90% of South Africa's Tomatoes through its ZZ2 farms and that makes South Africa the World's 40th tomato producer. Even though South Africa is ranked 40th in terms of Tomato production, the ZZ2 Farms themselves are the World's biggest producer of Tomatoes. Tzaneen is also the biggest producer of Pine plantations in the Limpopo Province, accounting for more than 85% of Limpopo's pine and Bluegum production. The whole town is covered in Bluegum and Pine plantations, majority of Tzaneen's tropical indigenous forest have been destroyed during the last 100-years in order to give way to Pine plantantions. About 650 000 people reside within a 30 km radius, with the town itself holding a population of around 30,000. Tzaneen is a proud home to the Tsonga people, Pedi people and the Afrikaner people. Tzaneen includes Haenertsburg, Modjadjiskloof, Magoebaskloof, Letsitele valley and Mooketsi Valley.

Geology and Geography[edit]

Tzaneen is Limpopo's paradise, it has been nicknamed 'Land of silver Mist' because of the frequent mist that occur on the mountains above it. It is located in a lush, tropical surroundings and it is home to the Limpopo's tallest Mountain, the Iron Crown Mountain. The Iron Crown Mountain, measuring more than 2200 m above sea level, is on top of the Limpopo Province and is a prominant landmark. The Iron Crown Mountain, also known by its Afrikaans name, Wolkberg, support limpopo's biodiversity and is home to the largest indeginous forest in the Province. Weather can change very fast from clear skies to becoming misty, with the highest reaches enveloped in clouds. Hence the name of the range, meaning "Cloud Mountain" in Afrikaans. The Wolkberg is rugged, with rocky shoulders and deep humid gorges. There are rare plant and animal species in these areas. Species such as the Wolkberg Zulu (Alaena margaritacea), the Wolkberg Widow (Dingana clara) and the Wolkberg Sandman (Spialia secessus), have been named after these mountains. Some species like the Critically Endangered butterfly Lepidochrysops lotana are only known from the Wolkberg area.[4] The Iron Crown Mountain is a protected area in terms of South African Law. The Groot Letaba River, Middle Letaba River and Klein Letaba River all rises up in these mountains.

Origin of the Name[edit]

There are different theories as to where the name Tzaneen comes from, the first theory is that the name Tzaneen is derived from a Sepedi word 'Tsaneng', which means gathering place or 'Tsana' (basket of hills). This theory claim that Makgoba, the leader of a small Tlou tribe, gave the name 'Tsaneng' to the place where the town of Tzaneen is situated today. Since then, this Sepedi word has been used by both the Tsonga and the Pedi to refer to the name of this place and was popularly used by Afrikaner colonisers as well. A second theory suggest that the name Tzaneen is derived from the Venda word 'Dzanani', this theory suggest that Venda people once occupied the area and that they named it Dzanani. There are problems with the second theory, it could be argued that this is just a 'Theoretical Claim' rather than a reality since there is no concrete evidence that Venda people once occupied the area. Therefore, the Sepedi word Tsaneng, given by the Tlou tribe, under Makgoba, is more accurate and correct one, even the Afrikaner people, when they colonised and founded the town of Tzaneen, Simply named the new town 'Tzaneen' in honour of the popular old Sepedi name 'Tsaneng'. The Afrikaner people therefore corrupted the Sepedi word Tsaneng into Tzaneen. Nonetheless, the name 'Tzaneen', as given by the Afrikaner people, is such a beautiful name and the Tlou tribe, under Makgoba righfully named the place 'Tsaneng' because it is a place today where the Tsonga people, the Pedi people and the Afrikaner people 'gather', thus fulfilling the name Tzaneen.

Name Change proposal[edit]

The Government of Limpopo Province proposed name change from Tzaneen to Mark Shope in early 2000's, but that proposal was met with hostility and strong opposition from the residents of Tzaneen. Both Black and White people came together to oppose name change because the people think that the name Tzaneen has managed to unite all the people of Tzaneen, both black and white. People argued that there is nothing wrong with the name Tzaneen because it is not a name of a person, is it a geographical name and that the name Mark Shope is going to cause Tribalism between the Tsonga people and Pedi people, something which is undesirable and very toxic for a democratic South Africa. The Afrikaner people, the Tsonga people and the Pedi people, who are the main residents of the town, argued that the name Tzaneen should stay on to avoid Tribalism and racial tension. Since the Tsonga, the Pedi and the Afrikaner people agree that the name Tzaneen should stay on, the Government of Limpopo has stopped the process and has accepted that democracy means that the people must have a say, the people of Tzaneen have spoken and the Government respect their wishes. Tzaneen remain Tzaneen and is indeed a 'gathering place' where people of difference race group and cultures stay together peacefully in a democratic South Africa.

Villages of Tzaneen[edit]

The distance from Tzaneen to Johannesburg is approximately 420 km, or 261 miles.

Villages and townships around Tzaneen==

  • Modjadji village
  • Mogapeng
  • Ga-Masoma
  • Hwetji
  • Makhubidung
  • Rita
  • Tickyline
  • Sunnyside
  • Pharare
  • Lephepane
  • Sunkwane
  • Burgersdorp
  • Nwamitwa village
  • Petanenge village
  • Mariveni village
  • Zangoma village
  • Shilubana village
  • Mafarani village
  • Nkowa-Nkowa township
  • Lenyenye township
  • Mohlatlareng village
  • Sharpville
  • Motjeteni


Tzaneen depend on farming different types of fruits and vegetables, in the cultivation of animals, plants and other life forms for food, fiber, medicinals and other products used to sustain and enhance human life. Agriculture is the key development in the rise in Tzaneen, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilization.

A wide range of tropical fruits are grown in the Tzaneen area, notably mangoes, bananas, oranges and avocados. Pine and Eucalyptus plantations are also a common sight in the area around the town, particularly toward Magoebaskloof and Haenertsburg. The plantations serve a number of sawmills located in the area.


Tzaneen branch is charged with the responsibility of effecting quality education and training for all. It was during this time that the branch had to shape up its direction and co-ordinate all professional developments and support. Policies, systems, and procedures had to be developed. This was not easily achievable due to lack of personnel to effect change. Tzaneen still remains as one of the areas in South Africa with a high rate of tertiary graduates but a low employment rate.


Tzaneen is the founder of Vakhegula old age soccer team in Nkowa-nkowa township. The Vakhegula-vakhegula team played in many international games, including in America and Europe. Soccer and rugby are the main loved sports in Tzaneen. Soccer is widely played in the rural areas and townships.


Tourism is one of the three pillars of the Tzaneen economy along with agribusiness. Tzaneen offers great country and town accommodation for visitors.

There are many tourist attractions to the small town of Tzaneen, including the beautiful Tzaneen Dam, Magoebaskloof, Haenertsburg, and the Pekoe View Tea Estate. The town is also situated close to a number of game reserves and the town often serves as a thoroughfare for tourists on their way to other tourist destinations in the province. The well-known Kruger National Park, for instance, is situated approximately 100 km (62 miles) away.

The Vervet monkey foundation is located just outside Tzaneen where it cares for over 600 vervet monkeys.


Mostly sunshine, long summer days with pleasant winters. Tzaneen's subtropical conditions provide more suited weather for dense forests (high summer rainfall) than the thorny bushveld above the escarpment.

The summer months September – March have an average temperature of 28°C (82°F) and winter months around 15°C (59°F).

Notable people[edit]


External links[edit]