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Vanderbijlpark is a large city located in the Gauteng province of South Africa.
In addition to being a major population center for the region, the city is also a key industrial location, with over sixty percent of the local population being employed in factories in the region. It is also home to the Vanderbijlpark Steel, previously part of the Iron and Steel Corporation (ISCOR, and now part of the international company Mittal. Vanderbijlpark is named after Hendrik van der Bijl, a noted electrical engineer and industrialist who was instrumental in the town’s early planning and development.
The history of Vanderbijlpark dates back to the early twentieth century. During this time, Dr HJ van der Bijl was a young electrical engineer working in the United States of America. Due to his high level of intelligence and keen organisational ability, he quickly rose to professional prominence, and was well regarded among his peers. Then, in 1920, van der Bijl was recalled to South Africa by Jan Smuts, the Prime Minister at the time. Smuts gave him the task of advising the government on the planning and rollout of additional industrial infrastructure – a key part of the country’s ongoing development, and one for which bright minds like van der Bijl’s were much needed.
Van der Bijl oversaw the construction of the Iron and Steel Corporation’s first plant in Pretoria, which was completed with great success. With the greatly increased demand for these materials in the aftermath of the Second World War, the South African government decided to invest in a new steel works and accompanying model town to increase production. Van der Bijl was once again put in charge of both the plant’s and the town’s design and construction.
The steel works became operational in 1947, and the town was proclaimed soon thereafter in 1949, becoming a municipality in 1952. Such was the respect for van der Bijl’s involvement in the project that the decision was made to name the town after him. Despite the trend of name changes that ensued after the dissolution of the apartheid government, the city of Vanderbijlpark has retained his name to this day.
Vanderbijlpark is located in the far south of the Gauteng province, within the Vaal Triangle, which encompasses the neighbouring towns of Vereeniging and Sasolburg and is known as a major industrial region of South Africa. The city forms a part of the district municipality of Sedibeng and the local municipality of Emfuleni, and is situated along the Vaal River.
The landmarks to be found in Vanderbijlpark are mainly industrial in nature. The most prominent factory in the area is of course the ArcelorMittal steel mill. The Vaal Triangle campus of the North-West University can also be found in the city.
Vanderbijlpark is home to approximately 95,840 people, at a population density of around 540 per square kilometer.
The majority of the population is White, with Afrikaans being the most commonly spoken first language in the city.