Interesting facts about Pretoria


Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa.

It is situated in the northeast of South Africa, in a transitional belt between the plateau of the Highveld to the south and the lower-lying Bushveld to the north.

As of July 2020, the population of Pretoria is over 2.5 million people. It is the 4th most populus city in South Africa (after Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban).

The city covers a total area of 687 square kilometers (265 square miles).

The average altitude is 1,339 metres (4,393 feet) above sea level.


Pretoria was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius and chose a spot on the banks of the Apies rivier (Afrikaans for “Monkeys river”) to be the new capital of the South African Republic.

It became the capital of the South African Republic in 1860.

The founding of Pretoria as the capital of the South African Republic can be seen as marking the end of the Boers’ settlement movements of the Great Trek.

During the First Boer War, the city was besieged by Republican forces in December 1880 and March 1881.

first boer war

The Second Boer War (1899 – 1902) resulted in the end of the Transvaal Republic and start of British hegemony in South Africa. During this war, Winston Churchill was imprisoned there (1899) until his escape.

When South Africa became a republic in 1961, Pretoria remained its administrative capital.

Church Square originally Market Square, is the square at the historic centre of the city of Pretoria. The founder of Pretoria, Marthinus Pretorius, determined that the square be used as a market place and church yard. It was subsequently named for the church buildings that stood at the centre of the square from 1856 to 1905. The square’s most prominent feature, since June 1954, is however the statue of the late Boer leader and president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger, at its centre. Statues of four anonymous Boer citizen-soldiers surround that of Kruger on a lower level of the plinth.

Church Square

The Voortrekker Monument is located just south of Pretoria. This massive granite structure is prominently located on a hilltop, and was raised to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854. On 8 July 2011 the Voortrekker Monument, designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk, was declared a National Heritage Site by the South African Heritage Resource Agency.

voortrekker monument

The Union Buildings form the official seat of the South African Government and also house the offices of the President of South Africa. Though not in the centre of Pretoria, the Union Buildings occupy the highest point of Pretoria, and constitute a South African national heritage site. It has become a landmark of Pretoria and South Africa in general, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of democracy.

union buildings

Nelson Mandela is a bronze sculpture on the Union Buildings grounds, of former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. The statue was unveiled on the Day of Reconciliation (16 December 2013), bringing the official mourning period of ten days to a close, after Mandela had died on 5 December.

nelson mandela

The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, formerly the Transvaal Museum, is a natural history museum situated in Pretoria. The museum was established in 1895 by the former South African Republic, also known as the Transvaal. The museum curates large collections of Plio-Pleistocene fossils, including hominids from Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Kromdraai in the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Cradle of Humankind.

ditsong national museum of natural history

The National Zoological Garden of South Africa also informally known as The Pretoria Zoo, is an 80-hectare (200-acre) zoo located in Pretoria. It is the national zoo of South Africa, and was founded by J. W. B. Gunning in 1899. Pretoria Zoo is one of the eight largest zoos in the world and one of the most highly rated.

pretoria zoo

The Pretoria National Botanical Garden is one of South Africa’s nine National Botanical Gardens. The garden is wedged between Pretoria Road and Cussonia Avenue in Brummeria, in eastern Pretoria, Gauteng, and flanks a central rocky ridge that runs from east to west. The 76 hectares (188 acers) garden was established in 1946, and of late hosts the headquarters of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

pretoria national botanical garden

The Rietvlei Nature Reserve is located in Pretoria and is about 4,000 hectares in size. The reserve carries around 1600 individual mammals. There are an estimated 404 species of birds that make use of the reserve.

rietvlei nature reserve

The Groenkloof Nature Reserve, located adjacent to the Fountains Valley at the southern entrance to Pretoria, was the first game sanctuary in Africa. The reserve of 600 ha is managed by the Department of Nature Conservation.

groenkloof nature reserve

Within South Africa, Pretoria is sometimes called the “Jacaranda City” due to the thousands of jacaranda trees planted in its streets, parks and gardens.

The main languages spoken in Pretoria are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Xitsonga, Afrikaans and English.

The city of Pretoria has the largest white population in Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the most popular sports in Pretoria is rugby union.

Pretoria was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.