Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa. It is named after the Limpopo River, (Lebepe River) which forms the province's western and northern borders. The name "Limpopo" has its etymological origin in the Sepedi language, meaning "strong gushing waterfalls".[4] The capital is Polokwane, a Sepedi word meaning "place of safety" (formerly Pietersburg).

The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and was initially named Northern Transvaal. The following year, it was renamed Northern Province, which remained the name until 2003, when it was formally changed to Limpopo after deliberation by the provincial government and amendment of the South African Constitution. An alternate name considered for the province was Mapungubwe.

The Northern Sotho language is the most spoken language in the province, being both the home and second language of more than 65% of the black language population. According to the 2011 census it was the first language of 5,174,795 people in South Africa, principally in the provinces of Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. The Northern Sotho (Bapedi) people traditionally inhabit large tracts of land mass estimated to be covering over 70% of the entire land in the province. The VhaTsonga make up 17.0% of the population while their neighbors the VhaVenda make up 16.7%. The Northern Ndebele and Khilobedu languages are in an unwritten form and efforts have been made to resuscitate the languages. Traditional leaders and chiefs still form a strong backbone of the province’s political landscape. Established in terms of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders Act, Act 5 of 2005, the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders’s main function is to advise government and the legislature on matters related to custom, tradition and culture including developmental initiatives that have an impact on rural communities. On 18th August 2017 Kgoshi Malesela Dikgale was re-elected as the Chairperson of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders.

The Zion Christian Church (or ZCC) is the largest African initiated church operating across Southern Africa. The church's headquarters are at Zion City Moria in Limpopo Province, South Africa (Northern Transvaal). The church was founded by Engenas Lekganyane in 1910 in his home village of Thabakgone, near Polokwane (Pietersburg).

According to the 1996 South African Census, the church numbered 3.87 million members. By the 2001 South African Census, its membership had increased to 4.97 million members. The final number of ZCC members is most likely between 8 and 10 million, in total, according to figures provided by Neal Collins from The New Age and Alex Matlala from The Citizen, two South African newspapers.

Bopedi (in Northern Sotho)
Coat of arms of Limpopo Bopedi (in Northern Sotho)

Coat of arms
Peace, Unity and Prosperity
Location of Limpopo in South Africa
Location of Limpopo in South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
Established27 April 1994
 • TypeParliamentary system
 • PremierStanley Mathabatha (ANC)
 • LegislatureLimpopo Provincial Legislature
 • Total125,754 km2 (48,554 sq mi)
Area rank5th in South Africa
Highest elevation
2,126 m (6,975 ft)
 • Total5,404,868
 • Estimate 
 • Rank5th in South Africa
 • Density43/km2 (110/sq mi)
 • Density rank5th in South Africa
Population groups
 • Black96.7%
 • White2.6%
 • Indian or Asian0.3%
 • Coloured0.3%
 • Northern Sotho52.9%
 • Tsonga17.0%
 • Venda16.7%
 • Afrikaans2.6%
 • Tswana2.0%
 • Southern Ndebele2.0%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
ISO 3166 codeZA-LP
HDI (2017)0.680[3]
medium · 6th


Limpopo Province shares international borders with districts and provinces of three countries: Botswana's Central and Kgatleng districts to the west and northwest respectively, Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces to the north and northeast respectively, and Mozambique's Gaza Province to the east.[5] Limpopo is the link between South Africa and countries further afield in sub-Saharan Africa. On its southern edge, from east to west, it shares borders with the South African provinces of 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.

Limpopo contains much of the Waterberg Biosphere, a massif of approximately 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) which is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.[6]

Limpopo Mountain Sundown
Sundown over one of the mountain ranges found in Limpopo.

Law and government

The current Premier of Limpopo Province is Stanley Mathabatha, representing the African National Congress.


Map of Limpopo with districts labelled (2011)
Limpopo districts and local municipalities

Limpopo Province is divided into five district municipalities. The district municipalities are in turn divided into 25 local municipalities:

District municipalities


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 residents, especially in rural areas.[7]


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 grapes. 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, and a major forestry industry.


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

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 has the largest platinum deposit in South Africa. The Waterberg Coalfield, the eastern extension of Botswana's Mmamabula coalfields, is estimated to contain 40% of South Africa's coal reserves.[8]


Near Modjadjiskloof, at Sunland Baobab farms, there is a large Baobab tree which has been fashioned into a rather spacious pub.[9]

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.[10]

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

Transportation and communications

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, South Africa’s busiest, is served directly by the province, as are the ports of Richards Bay and Maputo. 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 coordinate all professional development and support. Policies, systems, and procedures had to be developed.

Educational institutions



Limpopo 2011 population density map
Population density in Limpopo
Limpopo 2001 dominant language map
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 total number of white South Africans in the country. It also has the highest Black percentage out of all the provinces.

The Northern Sotho people (of which the Bapedi are a part) make up the largest percentage of the black population, being 52% of the province. The Tsonga people comprise about 24.0% 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. The Venda make up about 16.7%. Afrikaners make up the majority of Limpopo's white population, about 95,000 people; English-speaking whites number just over 20,000. Vhembe district has the smallest share of white people in Limpopo, about 5,000 total, while the Waterberg district has the largest share of whites, with more than 60,000 whites residing there. Coloureds and Asians/Indians make up a very small percentage of the province's total population.


At 18.5% (2007), Limpopo has a fairly high incidence of HIV compared to other South African provinces. Cases rose from 14.5% to 21.5% between 2001 and 2005, with a slight fall between 2005 and 2007.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Census 2011: Census in brief (PDF). Pretoria: Statistics South Africa. 2012. ISBN 9780621413885. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 May 2015.
  2. ^ Mid-year population estimates, 2018 (PDF) (Report). Statistics South Africa. 31 July 2018. p. 3. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Limpopo Province - An Overview". Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Minister Dlamini to conduct two day Ministerial visit in Vhembe". Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  6. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Mark L. Cooke and Helen Murray, The Waterberg Biosphere, Lumina Technologies, 22 May 2006. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 March 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ [1] Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Mmamabula Coalfield". February 2012. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  9. ^ "The Big Baobab Limpopo South Africa | The Largest Baobab in the World". 24 March 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ "HIV and AIDS in South Africa". 21 July 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2017.

External links

Coordinates: 24°S 29°E / 24°S 29°E


Bela-Bela (Tswana: The pot that boils) is a town in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Deriving its name from the geothermic hot springs around which the town was built, it was called Warmbaths, until 2002.The town is situated in the Waterberg District of the Limpopo Province. It lies off the N1 road between Pretoria and Polokwane (Pietersburg). Its hot springs produce 22,000 litres per hour at 52 °C (126 °F).

Black Leopards F.C.

Black Leopards is a South African football club based in Thohoyandou, Vhembe Region, Limpopo that plays in the Premier Soccer League.


The Bushveld is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa named after the term veld. It encompasses most of Limpopo Province and a small part of the North West Province of South Africa, the Central and North-East Districts of Botswana and the Matabeleland South and part of the Matabeleland North provinces of Zimbabwe. Kruger National Park in South Africa has a number of 'Bushveld' camps.


The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Zulu: uKhahlamba, Sotho: Maluti) is the name given to the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation in this region – 2,000 to 3,482 metres (6,562 to 11,424 feet). It is located in South Africa and Lesotho.

The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the Eastern Cape Province in the South, then successively forms, in order from south to north, the border between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape and the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal Province. Thereafter it forms the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, and next as the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Province. It winds north, through Mpumalanga, where it includes features such as the Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels and God's Window. It moves north again to Hoedspruit in South eastern Limpopo where it is known as 'Klein Drankensberg' by the Afrikaner, from Hoedspruit it moves west to Tzaneen also in Limpopo Province, where it is known as the Wolkberg Mountains and Iron Crown Mountain, at 2,200 m (7,200 ft) above sea level, the Wolkberg being the highest mountain range in Limpopo. It veers west again and at Mokopane it is known as the Strydpoort Mountains.

Josefa, Limpopo

Josefa is a village in Limpopo province, it falls under Mhinga Tribal Authority.

Kingdom of Mapungubwe

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe (or Maphungubgwe) (c.1075–1220) was a pre-colonial state in Southern Africa located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, south of Great Zimbabwe. The name is derived from either TjiKalanga and Tshivenda. The name means "Hill of Jackals". The kingdom was the first stage in a development that would culminate in the creation of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century, and with gold trading links to Rhapta and Kilwa Kisiwani on the African east coast. The Kingdom of Mapungubwe lasted about 80 years, and at its height its population was about 5000 people. The Mapungubwe Collection is a museum collection of artifacts found at the archaeological site and is housed in the Mapungubwe Museum in Pretoria.

This archaeological site can be attributed to the BuKalanga Kingdom, which comprises the Bakalanga people from northeast Botswana, the Kalanga from Western Zimbabwe, the Nambya on the Zambezi Valley, and the Vha Venda in the northeast of South Africa. They were the first Bantu to cross the Limpopo River to the south, and established their kingdom where the Shashe and Limpopo conjoined (Sha-limpo).

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa's first national park in 1926.

To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the "Biosphere").The park has nine main gates allowing entrance to the different camps.

Limpopo (cricket team)

Limpopo cricket team, also called the Limpopo Impalas are a former first-class cricket team from Limpopo, the northernmost province of South Africa. They played their home games at Modjadjiskloof Oval, Duiwelskloof.

When Cricket South Africa decided to expand the Provincial Three-Day Challenge in 2006, Limpopo were one of five provincial teams (along with Kei, KwaZulu-Natal Inland, Mpumalanga and South Western Districts) elevated to first-class status.

Limpopo Blue Bulls

Limpopo Blue Bulls (known as the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls for sponsorship reasons) are a South African rugby union team that are a sub-union of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union and are therefore represented by the Blue Bulls in the annual Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup tournaments. They play out of Polokwane at the Peter Mokaba Stadium and draw players from the entire Limpopo province in South Africa. Between 2013 and 2015, the Limpopo Blue Bulls played as a separate team in the Vodacom Cup competition. Despite their first team not participating in first class rugby since 2015, they still have youth teams that participate in competitions such as the Under-21 and Under-19 Provincial Championships and in the Craven Week and Grant Khomo Week tournaments.

Limpopo Provincial Legislature

The Limpopo Provincial Legislature, previously known as the Northern Transvaal Provincial Legislature and Northern Province Provincial Legislature, is the primary legislative body of the South African province of Limpopo.

It is unicameral in its composition, and elects the premier and the provincial cabinet from among the members of the leading party or coalition in the parliament.

The First legislature was inaugurated in May 1994 as the Northern Transvaal Provincial Legislature. It was renamed in 1995 to the Northern Province Provincial Legislature. The name was officially changed to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature in 2003.

The Sixth Legislature was elected on 8 May 2019 in South Africa's 2019 general election. A majority of the members belong to the African National Congress.

Limpopo River

The Limpopo River rises in South Africa, and flows generally eastwards through Mozambique to the Indian Ocean. The term Limpopo is derived from Rivombo (Livombo/Lebombo), a group of Tsonga settlers led by Hosi Rivombo who settled in the mountainous vicinity and named the area after their leader. The river is approximately 1,750 kilometres (1,087 mi) long, with a drainage basin 415,000 square kilometres (160,200 sq mi) in size. The mean discharge measured over a year is 170 m3/s (6,200 cu ft/s) at its mouth. The Limpopo is the second largest river in Africa that drains to the Indian Ocean, after the Zambezi River.The first European to sight the river was Vasco da Gama, who anchored off its mouth in 1498 and named it Espiritu Santo River. Its lower course was explored by St Vincent Whitshed Erskine in 1868–69, and Captain J F Elton travelled down its middle course in 1870.

The drainage area of Limpopo River has decreased over geological time. Up to Late Pliocene or Pleistocene times the upper course of Zambezi River drained into the Limpopo River. The change of the drainage divide is the result of epeirogenic movement that uplifted the surface north of present-day Limpopo River diverting waters into Zambezi River.

List of municipalities in South Africa

This is a list of municipalities of South Africa. The largest metropolitan areas are governed by metropolitan municipalities, while the rest of the country is divided into district municipalities, each of which consists of several local municipalities. Since the boundary reform at the time of the municipal election of 3 August 2016 there are eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and 205 local municipalities.

List of rivers of South Africa

This is a list of rivers in South Africa.

It is quite common to find the Afrikaans word -rivier as part of the name. Another common suffix is "-kamma", from the Khoisan term for "river"

(often tautologically the English term "river" is added to the name). The Zulu word amanzi (water) also forms part of some river names.

The Afrikaans term spruit (compare spring) often labels small rivers.


Musina (formerly Messina) is the northernmost town in the Limpopo province of South Africa. It is located near the confluence of the Limpopo River with the Sand River and the border to Zimbabwe. It has a population of between 20,000 and 40,000. Iron ore, coal, magnetite, graphite, asbestos, diamonds, semi-precious stones and copper are mined in the region.

Politics of Limpopo

As a province of South Africa, Limpopo province is governed through a parliamentary system of government.


Polokwane (UK: , meaning "Place of Safety" in Northern Sotho), also known by its former name, Pietersburg, is the capital of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. It is South Africa's largest urban centre north of Gauteng. It was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

University of Limpopo

This article is about the institution formerly known as the University of the North. For the institution with the same name in Colombia, see Universidad del Norte, Colombia.

The University of Limpopo is a university in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. It was formed on 1 January 2005, by the merger of the University of the North and the Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA). These previous institutions formed the Turfloop and MEDUNSA campuses of the university, respectively. In 2015 the MEDUNSA campus split and became the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.

Province of Limpopo
Cities and
major towns


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