The Highveld is a high plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 region of inland South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 which is largely home to the largest metropolitan area in the country, the Gauteng City Region, which accounts for one-third of South Africa's population.

Location and description

The Highveld constitutes parts of the Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga , is a province of South Africa. The name means east or literally "the place where the sun rises" in Swazi, Xhosa, Ndebele and Zulu. Mpumalanga lies in eastern South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. It constitutes 6.5% of South Africa's land area...

, Northern Cape
Northern Cape
The Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, part of an international park shared with Botswana...

, North West
North West (South African province)
North West is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Mafikeng. The province is located to the west of the major population centre of Gauteng.-History:...

, and Limpopo
Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa. The capital is Polokwane, formerly named Pietersburg. The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and initially named Northern Transvaal...

 provinces, and virtually all of Gauteng
Gauteng is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. It was formed from part of the old Transvaal Province after South Africa's first all-race elections on 27 April 1994...

 and the northern Free State
Free State
The Free State is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Orange Free State Boer republic and later Orange Free State Province. The current borders of the province date from 1994 when the Bantustans...

. The Highveld is bordered by the Bushveld
The Bushveld is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa that 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 th Matabeleland North provinces of...

 and the Lowveld in the north, northeast, and northwest, the Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 mountains to the east and southeast, the Kalahari desert in the west, and the Great Karoo to the southwest. The Highveld covers an area of almost 400,000 km², or roughly thirty percent of South Africa's land area.

The Highveld rainy season occurs in summer, with substantial afternoon thunderstorms being typical occurrences in November, December, and January. Frost occurs in winter.

Urban areas and industry

Cities located on the Highveld include Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

, Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

, Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

, Vereeniging, Welkom
Welkom is a city in the Free State province of South Africa, located 160 kilometres northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital. Welkom received municipal status in 1961 and was declared a city in 1968 on the 14th of February...

, Carletonville, and the cities of the West Rand
West Rand
The West Rand is the name of the urban western part of the Witwatersrand that is functionally merged with the Johannesburg conurbation. This area became settled by Europeans after a gold-bearing reef discovered in 1886 and sparked the gold rush that gave rise to the establishment of...

 and East Rand. The diamond-mining city of Kimberley
Kimberley, Northern Cape
Kimberley is a city in South Africa, and the capital of the Northern Cape. It is located near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The town has considerable historical significance due its diamond mining past and siege during the Second Boer War...

 lies on the border of the Highveld and the southeastern Kalahari.

Approximately half the gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 ever produced in the world has been mined on the Highveld since 1880. The largest deposits are located in the Witwatersrand
The Witwatersrand is a low, sedimentary range of hills, at an elevation of 1700–1800 metres above sea-level, which runs in an east-west direction through Gauteng in South Africa. The word in Afrikaans means "the ridge of white waters". Geologically it is complex, but the principal formations...

, which centres on Johannesburg, with smaller deposits in the northern Free State near Welkom and Virginia. The Highveld is also exceedingly rich in vanadium
Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a hard, silvery gray, ductile and malleable transition metal. The formation of an oxide layer stabilizes the metal against oxidation. The element is found only in chemically combined form in nature...

, diamonds, coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

, and manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...


Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 in the Highveld is generally dominated by extensive grain
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

 production and the grazing of beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

 cattle, with more intensive production of maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

, citrus fruits, groundnuts, sunflowers, and vegetables, occurring in irrigated areas and farmland closer to urban areas. The peat base of the grassland acts as a natural filter providing sources of clean water.


Naturally occurring vegetation in the Highveld consists of different types of well-established grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

 depending on the varying amounts of rainfall across the area: subtropical and temperate grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

, with true savannah
Savannah or savanna is a type of grassland.It can also mean:-People:* Savannah King, a Canadian freestyle swimmer* Savannah Outen, a singer who gained popularity on You Tube...

 not dominating the ecosystem until more tropical latitudes. The major grass species are Hyparrhenia hirta
Hyparrhenia hirta
Hyparrhenia hirta is a species of grass known by the common names common thatching grass and Coolatai grass. It is native to much of Africa and Eurasia, and it is known on other continents as an introduced species. In eastern Australia it is a tenacious noxious weed. In South Africa, where it is...

and Sporobolus
Sporobolus is a genus of grasses in the family Poaceae. They are usually called dropseed grasses or sacaton grasses. They are typical prairie and savanna plants, and they occur in other types of open habitat in warmer climates....

and among these are other grasses and herbs. Trees and shrubs never thrived due to the frequent fires that occurred in the dry season and the heavy grazing (once by wild animals and now by livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...



The highveld is home to a number of endangered animals including Straw-coloured Fruit Bat
Straw-coloured Fruit Bat
The Straw-coloured Fruit Bat is the most widely distributed of all the African megabats. It is quite common throughout its area ranging from southwestern Arabian Peninsula, forest and savanna zones of Africa and to the offshore island of Madagascar...

s, Africa's largest snake the African rock python (Python sebae
Python sebae
Python sebae is a large, non-venomous snake of Sub-Saharan Africa. The African rock python is one of seven species in the Python genus. It has two subspecies, one found in Central and Western Africa and the other in Southern Africa....

, Mountain Zebra
Mountain Zebra
The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

s and South Africa's national bird the Blue Crane
Blue Crane
The Blue Crane , also known as the Stanley Crane and the Paradise Crane, is the national bird of South Africa. It is a tall, ground-dwelling bird, but is fairly small by the standards of the crane family. It is 100–120 cm tall and weighs 4.0–6.2 kg...

 (Anthropoides paradiseus). The only endemic bird species is Botha's Lark
Botha's Lark
The Botha's Lark is a species of lark in the Alaudidae family.It is endemic to South Africa.Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland and pastureland.It is threatened by habitat loss....

 (Spizocorys fringillaris) and there are two endemic mammals; Free State Pygmy Mouse
Free State Pygmy Mouse
The Free State Pygmy Mouse or Orange Mouse is a species of rodent in the family Muridae.It is found in Lesotho and South Africa....

 (Mus orangiae) and the Rough-haired Golden Mole
Rough-haired Golden Mole
The Rough-haired Golden Mole is a species of mammal in the Chrysochloridae family. It is endemic to South Africa. Its natural habitats are temperate shrubland, temperate grassland, arable land, pastureland, plantations, rural gardens, and urban areas. It is threatened by habitat loss....

 (Chrysospalax villosa). As well as the python other reptiles include Nile crocodile
Nile crocodile
The Nile crocodile or Common crocodile is an African crocodile which is common in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, South Africa, Malawi, Sudan, Botswana, and Cameroon...

 (Crocodylus niloticus), Nile monitor
Nile monitor
The Nile Monitor, Water Leguaan, or River Leguaan is a large member of the monitor lizard family ....

 (Varanus niloticus) and Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis
Varanus albigularis
The rock monitor , also called the legavaan or white-throated monitor, is a species of monitor lizard found in southern Africa...


Threats and preservation

Like so many areas of traditional grassland all over the world the Highveld is excellent agricultural land and most of the area has been converted for farming. The grassland now remains in its original state in areas of nature reserve, which although a small portion of the Highveld are still the largest areas of remaining grassland in South Africa. The protected areas include Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve
Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve
Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is one of Gauteng’s premier ecotourism destinations. Set just a short distance from Johannesburg, an hour's drive from Johannesburg International Airport and near the historical town of Heidelberg, this reserve boasts a representative sample of the fauna and flora of...

, Verloren Valei
Verloren Valei Nature Reserve
Verloren Valei Nature Reserve is a protected area in Mpumalanga, South Africa....

, Nooitgedacht Dam
Nooitgedacht Dam Nature Reserve
Nooitgedacht Dam Nature Reserve is a park near Carolina in Mpumalanga, South Africa, situated on the Komati River....

, Bronkhortspruitdam, Vaal Dam and Koppies Dam Nature Reserve
Koppies Dam Nature Reserve
Koppies Dam Nature Reserve, is situated on the Highveld of the Free State, province of South Africa. The town of Koppies lies 55 km north of Kroonstad, just off the National road N1 between Kroonstad and Sasolburg. The nature reserve is 16 km east of the town, and is about 3.400 Ha large....

s and Willem Pretorius Game Reserve
Willem Pretorius Game Reserve
Willem Pretorius Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in the Lejweleputswa District Municipality of South Africa, encircling the Allemanskraal Dam of the Sand River. It was opened to the public in 1961 and covers 12,000 hectacres. Among the creatures populating this reserve are white...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.