Forming a part of the metropolitan area of Johannesburg, Sandton is one of the most affluent and developed areas in the whole of South Africa. The area was previously a municipality in its own right, but was later incorporated as part of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
The area’s name is derived from a combination of two of its most prominent suburbs, Sandown and Bryanston. Today, Sandton is one of the main commercial hubs of Johannesburg, as well as the country as a whole, and is sometimes referred to as ‘Africa’s richest square mile’.
Historically, Sandton is the ancestral home of the Sotho-Tswana people (among other indigenous groups), who inhabited the region prior to the arrival of European settlers. The first Europeans to arrive in the area were the Esterhuysens of Zandfontein, who were among the original Voortrekkers who moved north into the country’s interior.
It was in the Sandton region that the richest gold deposits in southern Africa (and potentially the entire world) were first discovered, leading to a serious gold rush and the influx of immigrants from all over the world that came with it. The most successful of these prospectors set up their homes and lives in what would become the Sandton region, forming the foundations of the area’s rich economy. During this period, the area became known as Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.
Sandton became an independent town in the early 1960s, when it was largely a farming and smallholding community. Sandton City, the large commercial district built in the 1970s, transformed the area into a booming commercial hub, which it remains today. Sandton was reincorporated as part of Johannesburg following the end of the apartheid regime.
Sandton is located in the Gauteng province, and covers a medium-sized area of northern Johannesburg. As such, the area is considered both officially and geographically to be a part of the city itself.
A number of prominent landmarks can be found in Sandton. By far the most prominent is of course Sandton City, with its many skyscrapers, retail outlets, upmarket restaurants, and other attractions. Nelson Mandela Square, located in the heart of Sandton, is home to a six-meter tall, 2.5 ton bronze statue of the man himself, celebrating the founding father of the nation and providing a national landmark in the same spirit (if somewhat smaller) as the Statue of Liberty in New York. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the main hub of the Gautrain metrorail system are also located in Sandton.
- Sandton is home to roughly 222,415 people, at a population density of around 1500 per square kilometer.
- The majority of residents are white, with English being the most predominantly spoken first language.
- Sandton provides the second-highest GDP of any region in South Africa (exceeded only by the Johannesburg Inner City district).
- Sandton covers a total area of 143.54km square kilometers.
- More than 50% of Sandton’s total area is taken up by the commercial sector.