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This article is about the province in South Africa. For other uses, see Limpopo (disambiguation).
"Northern Transvaal" redirects here. For the rugby union team, see Blue Bulls.
Province of South Africa
Flag of Limpopo
Coat of arms of Limpopo
Coat of arms
Motto: Peace, Unity and Prosperity
Map showing the location of Limpopo in the northern part of South Africa
Location of Limpopo in South Africa
Country South Africa
Established 27 April 1994
Capital Polokwane
 • Type Parliamentary system
 • Premier Stanley Mathabatha (ANC)
 • Total 125,754 km2 (48,554 sq mi)
Area rank 5th in South Africa
Highest elevation 2,126 m (6,975 ft)
Population (2011)[1]:18[2]
 • Total 5,404,868
 • Estimate (2015) 5,726,800
 • Rank 5th in South Africa
 • Density 43/km2 (110/sq mi)
 • Density rank 5th in South Africa
Population groups[1]:21
 • Black African 96.7%
 • White 2.6%
 • Indian or Asian 0.3%
 • Coloured 0.3%
 • Northern Sotho 52.9%
 • Tsonga 17.0%
 • Venda 16.7%
 • Afrikaans 2.6%
Time zone SAST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code ZA-LP

Limpopo /lɪmˈpɔpɔ/ is the northernmost province of South Africa. It is named after the Limpopo River that flows on the western and northern borders of the province, the name "Limpopo" has its etymological origin from the Sepedi word diphororo tša meetse - meaning strong gushing waterfalls.[citation needed] (The Sepedi language or Northern Sotho language is spoken by a third of the people in the province.) The capital is Polokwane, formerly named Pietersburg.

The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and initially named Northern Transvaal. The following year, it was renamed Northern Province, which remained the name until 2003, when the name of the province was formally changed to the name of its most important river–on the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana–after deliberation by the provincial government and amendment of the Constitution. A notable consideration for the name was Mapungubwe, the area where the most ancient gold-using civilisation of the province was discovered a few years earlier.

Limpopo is the South African province with the highest level of poverty, with 78.9% of the population living below the national poverty line.[3] In 2011, 74.4% of local dwellings were located in a tribal or traditional area, compared to a national average of 27.1%.[4]

Law and government[edit]

Main article: Politics of Limpopo

The current premier of Limpopo province is Stanley Mathabatha, representing the African National Congress.


Limpopo Province shares international borders with districts and provinces of three countries: Botswana's Central and Kgatleng districts to the west and north-west respectively, Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces to the north and northeast respectively, and Mozambique's Gaza Province to the east.[5] The province is the link between South Africa and countries further afield in sub-Saharan Africa. On its southern flank from east to west, the province shares borders with Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and North West. Its border with Gauteng includes that province's Johannesburg-Pretoria axis, the most industrialised metropole on the continent. The province is at the centre of regional, national, and international developing markets.

The province contains much of the Waterberg Biosphere, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve. The Waterberg Biosphere, a massif of approximately 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi), is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The massif was shaped by hundreds of millions of years of riverine erosion to yield diverse bluff and butte landforms.[6] The Waterberg ecosystem can be characterised as a dry deciduous forest or Bushveld. Within the Waterberg, archaeological finds date to the Stone Age. Nearby are early evolutionary finds related to the origin of humans.


Limpopo Province is divided into five municipal districts, subdivided in 24 local municipalities:


Population density in Limpopo
Dominant home languages in Limpopo

The population of Limpopo consists of several ethnic groups distinguished by culture, language and race. 97.3% of the population is Black, 2.4% is White, 0.2% is Coloured, and 0.1% is Indian/Asian. The province has the smallest percentage and second smallest by number of white South Africans in the country. It also has the highest Black percentage out of all the provinces.

The Northern Sotho (of which the Bapedi are part of) make up the largest percentage of the Black population, being 52% of the province. The Tsonga people comprise about 17.0% of the province, the Tsonga also comprise about 11.5% of Mpumalanga province since the southern part of their homeland, Gazankulu, was cut off from Limpopo and allocated to Mpumalanga, while the Venda make up about 16.7%. Afrikaners makes up the majority of whites in Limpopo, about 95 000. English-speaking whites are just over 20 000. Vhembe district has the smallest share of white people in Limpopo, about 5 000 whites reside in the Vhembe district, while the Waterberg district has the largest share of whites, more than 60 000 whites reside there. Coloureds and Asians/Indians make up a very small number.

HIV / Aids[edit]

At 18.5% (2007), Limpopo has a fairly high rate of HIV compared to other South African provinces. Cases rose from 14.5% to 21.5% between 2001 and 2005, with a slight fall in cases between 2005 and 2007.[7]


The province is a typical developing area, exporting primary products and importing manufactured goods and services. It is also one of the poorest regions of South Africa with a big gap between poor and rich residence, especially in rural areas.[8] However, the Limpopo has shown great improvements in the economy and standard of living. A recent border shift with the Limpopo's wealthier neighbour, Mpumalanga, was effected to try and bring some wealth into the province.


The bushveld is beef cattle country, where extensive ranching operations are often supplemented by controlled hunting. About 80% of South Africa's game hunting industry is found in Limpopo.

Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela and Modimolle areas. Modimolle is also known for its table-grape crops.

Tropical fruit – such as bananas, litchis, pineapples, mangoes and pawpaws – as well as a variety of nuts, are grown in the Tzaneen and Louis Trichardt areas. Tzaneen is also at the centre of extensive citrus, tea and coffee plantations, as well as forestry.


Ajoite in quartz, from the Messina mine, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Scale at bottom is one inch, with a rule at one cm.[citation needed]

Limpopo's rich mineral deposits include the platinum group metals, iron ore, chromium high- and middle-grade coking coal, diamonds, antimony, phosphate, and copper—as well as mineral reserves like gold, emeralds, scheelite, magnetite, vermiculite, silicon, and mica. Commodities such as black granite, corundum, and feldspar are also found. Mining contributes to over a fifth of the provincial economy, Limpopo have the largest platinum deposit in South Africa.[citation needed] The Waterberg Coalfield, the eastern extension of Botswana's Mmamabula coalfields, is estimated to contain 40% of South Africa's coal reserves.[9]


Tourism is one of the three pillars of the Limpopo economy along with mining and agribusiness,.[10] In 2008, the Province accounted for 5% of all foreign tourist bed nights in South Africa, numbers which are showing strong annual growth. The R 93 million Provincial tourism budget for 2010/11 represents 11% of Limpopo's total budget.[10][11]

Near Modjadjiskloof, at Sunland Baobab farms, there is a large Baobab tree which has been fashioned into a rather spacious pub.[12]

Tourism Development[edit]

The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism has targeted the province as a preferred eco-tourism destination. Its Environment and Tourism Programme encompasses tourism, protected areas and community environment development to achieve sustainable economic growth[11]

Whilst Limpopo is one of South Africa's poorest provinces, it is rich in wildlife which gives it an edge in attracting tourism. Both the private and public sectors are investing in tourism development.

Infrastructure and communications[edit]

The province has excellent road, rail, and air links. The N1 route from Johannesburg, which extends the length of the province, is the busiest overland route in Africa in terms of cross-border trade in raw materials and beneficiated goods. The port of Durban, Africa’s busiest, is served directly by the province, as are the ports of Richards Bay and Maputo. The Polokwane International Airport is situated just north of Polokwane.


The Department of Education is charged with the responsibility of effecting quality education and training for all. The Department has to co-ordinate all professional development and support. Policies, systems, and procedures had to be developed.

Educational institutions[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Census 2011: Census in brief (PDF). Pretoria: Statistics South Africa. 2012. ISBN 9780621413885. 
  2. ^ Mid-year population estimates, 2015 (PDF) (Report). Statistics South Africa. 31 July 2015. p. 3. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Living condition". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Community profiles > Census 2011 > Dwellings > Geo type". Statistics South Africa SuperWEB. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "". 
  6. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Mark L. Cooke and Helen Murray, The Waterberg Biosphere, Lumina Technologies, 22 May 2006. [1]
  7. ^ -HIV rates in South Africa
  8. ^
  9. ^ CIC Energy (February 2012). "Mmamabula Coalfield". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  10. ^ a b Budget speech of Limpopo Department of Economic Development and Environment and Tourism 12 March 2010, retrieved 9 July 2010
  11. ^ a b DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT & TOURISM Budget Speech 2009/2010, retrieved 9 July 2010
  12. ^ "The Big Baobab Limpopo South Africa | The Largest Baobab in the World". 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2014-08-02. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°S 29°E / 24°S 29°E / -24; 29