Centurion is a relatively large municipality in central Gauteng, South Africa. Formerly known as Verwoerdburg, the town serves as a central hub for the region, filling much of the gap between the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Its location at the intersection of several major highways also makes it an important logistical network point for the entire country. A few major military installations are also located in the area.
Centurion is located in an area that is home to some of the earliest records of human life on the planet. Fossils discovered at the nearby Sterkfontein Caves, a World Heritage Site, date back to around three million years ago. Evidence of early African settlements in the Centurion area dating back to 1200 AD has also been found.
In the 19th century, the first European settlers (beginning with the Erasmus family) began cultivating the land in this area. Several key battles of the First Boer War were fought here, while the Irene Concentration Camp (one of the most infamous of the Second Boer War) was located at Doornkloof, one of the early farms in the area. This farm was later owned by Jan Smuts, who died there in 1950.
The town that would become Centurion was originally called Lyttelton. In 1967, it was renamed Verwoerdburg, after former Prime Minister Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd (who was assassinated in the previous year). Due to Verwoerd’s status as a key architect of the apartheid regime, this name became highly politically charged in the 1990s, and, following the end of apartheid, residents chose the politically neutral name of Centurion in 1995 as an alternative.
Centurion is located in central Gauteng between Pretoria and Midrand (Johannesburg), on the intersection of the N1 and N14 highways (with the R21 highway also passing through the area). Since 2000, Centurion has formed a part of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. Notable suburbs include Lyttelton, Clubview, Eldoraigne, Kloofsig, Wierdapark, and Zwartkop (many of which are named after the farms that were originally established in these areas).
Centurion is home to several notable landmarks, many of which are related to the South African military. Both the Waterkloof Air Force Base and Swartkop Air Force Base are located in the area, as well as several South African army installations. The South African Air Force Museum can also be found at the Swartkop Air Force Base. The Irene Concentration Camp Cemetery and Garden of Remembrance are situated in the suburb of the same name. One of the country’s major sports stadiums, SuperSport Park, is also in Centurion.
- Centurion is home to approximately 236,580 people, at a population density of around 600 people per square kilometer.
- The total area covered by Centurion is estimated at 394.88 square kilometers.
- The majority of centurion’s population is white, with the most commonly spoken first language being Afrikaans.
- The average temperature ranges from a summer maximum in the mid-30s to a winter minimum of around 5°C.