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Limpopo arms.svg
Peace, Unity and Prosperity
Limpopo in South Africa.svg
Location of Limpopo in South Africa
Coordinates: 24°S29°E / 24°S 29°E / -24; 29
Country South Africa
Established27 April 1994
Capital Polokwane
Lebowakgomo (legislative)
  Type Parliamentary system
   Premier Stanley Mathabatha (ANC)
  Legislature Limpopo Provincial Legislature
[1] :9
  Total125,754 km2 (48,554 sq mi)
  Rank 5th in South Africa
Highest elevation
2,126 m (6,975 ft)
 (2022) [2]
  Rank 5th in South Africa
  Density43/km2 (110/sq mi)
   Rank 5th in South Africa
Population groups
   Black 96.5%
   White 2.5%
   Indian or Asian 0.5%
   Coloured 0.3%
[1] :25
   Pedi 52.9%
   Tsonga 24.0%
   Venda 16.7%
   Afrikaans 2.6%
   Tswana 2.0%
   Southern Ndebele 2.0%
Time zone UTC+2 (SAST)
ISO 3166 code ZA-LP
HDI (2019)0.710 [3]
high · 3rd of 9
GDP US$31.3 billion [4]

Limpopo ( /lɪmˈpp/ ) is the northernmost province of South Africa. It is named after the Limpopo River, which forms the province's western and northern borders. [5] The capital and largest city in the province is Polokwane, while the provincial legislature is situated in Lebowakgomo.


The province is made up of three former homelands of Lebowa, Gazankulu and Venda and part of the former Transvaal province. The Limpopo province was established as one of nine provinces after the 1994 South African general election. The province's name was first "Northern Transvaal", later changed to "Northern Province" on 28 June 1995, with two other provinces. The name was later changed again in 2002 to the Limpopo Province. Limpopo is made up of three main ethnic groups: the Pedi, the Tsonga and the Venda.

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' main function is to advise the government and the legislature on matters related to custom, tradition, and culture, including developmental initiatives that affect rural communities. On 18 August 2017, Kgosi Malesela Dikgale was re-elected as the Chairperson of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders. [6]


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

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. [7] 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 metropolis on the continent. The province is central to 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. [8]

Law and government

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


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


Man and his donkeys collecting wood in a rural area Toka Hlongwane (11).jpg
Man and his donkeys collecting wood in a rural area

Limpopo has a total population of 6.015 Million with 1.641million Households., [9] The province has a high Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.710, which is the third highest in South Africa.


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 in Limpopo.

Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela and Modimolle areas. Modimolle is also known for its table grapes. An embryotic wine industry is growing in Limpopo. [10] 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. Most of the farmers and households lack a water supply. Therefore, they drill their boreholes on their premises. [11]


Most Limpopo residents live in rural areas; this has led to a new phenomenon of rural development, where the residents have invested in building lavish homes on their tribal land. Limpopo rural houses have been profiled by TV channels, lifestyle vloggers, social media influencers, and Africa's biggest facts brand, Africa Facts Zone. According to [9] 96.2% of Limpopo live in formal housing, above the national average of 84.0%. This makes Limpopo the province with the highest percentage of people living in formal housing in 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. Ajoite in quartz - Messina mine, Limpopo Province, South Africa.jpg
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.[ citation needed ] The Waterberg Coalfield, the eastern extension of Botswana's Mmamabula coalfields, is estimated to contain 40% of South Africa's coal reserves. [12]


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. [13]

While Limpopo is one of South Africa's poorest provinces, it is rich in wildlife, which gives it an advantage in attracting tourists. Both the private and public sectors are investing in tourism development. [14]

Near Modjadjiskloof, at Sunland Baobab farms, there is a large Baobab tree which has been fashioned into a relatively spacious pub. [15]

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.[ citation needed ] The port of Durban, South Africa's busiest, is served directly [ clarification needed ] by the province, as are the ports of Richards Bay and Maputo. Polokwane International Airport is situated just north of Polokwane. Limpopo province contains approximately 56 airports and airstrips. [16]


The Department of Education is responsible for 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.[ citation needed ]

Educational institutions

As of December 2020, 12.9% of the Limpopo population had attained some post-school qualifications. [9] The following higher education institutions are found in Limpopo:



Population density in Limpopo
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.mw-parser-output .plainlist ol,.mw-parser-output .plainlist ul{line-height:inherit;list-style:none;margin:0;padding:0}.mw-parser-output .plainlist ol li,.mw-parser-output .plainlist ul li{margin-bottom:0}
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< 1 /km2
1-3 /km2
3-10 /km2
10-30 /km2
30-100 /km2
100-300 /km2
300-1000 /km2
1000-3000 /km2
> 3000 /km2 Limpopo population density map.svg
Population density in Limpopo
  •   < 1 /km²
  •   1–3 /km²
  •   3–10 /km²
  •   10–30 /km²
  •   30–100 /km²
  •   100–300 /km²
  •   300–1000 /km²
  •   1000–3000 /km²
  •   > 3000 /km²
Dominant home languages in Limpopo
No language dominant Limpopo dominant language map.svg
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. However, there are several localities with a White majority, notably Hoedspruit and Modimolle. It also has the highest Black percentage out of all the provinces.

The Northern Sotho people comprise the largest percentage of the population, 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. In contrast, the Waterberg district has the largest share of Whites, with more than 60,000 Whites residing there. Coloureds and Asians/Indians make up a tiny percentage of the province's total population.


At 18.5% (2007), Limpopo has a relatively 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. [24] However, as at 2019, the Limpopo province HIV stats sat at (13.2%) which is one of the lowest in comparison with other provinces in South Africa. [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

Polokwane, also known as Pietersburg, is a city and 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vaalwater</span> Place in Limpopo, South Africa

Vaalwater is a small town situated on the Mokolo River in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thohoyandou</span> Town in Limpopo, South Africa

Thohoyandou is a town in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. It is the administrative centre of Vhembe District Municipality and Thulamela Local Municipality. It is also known for being the former capital of the bantustan of Venda.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tzaneen</span> Town in Limpopo, South Africa

Tzaneen is a large tropical garden town situated in the Mopani District Municipality of the Limpopo province in South Africa. It is situated in a high rainfall fertile region with tropical and subtropical agriculture taking place in a 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi) region. It is Limpopo's second largest town after Polokwane.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bushveld</span> Sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa

The Bushveld is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa. The ecoregion straddles the Tropic of Capricorn and constitutes the southern part of the Zambezian region. It encompasses most of Limpopo and a small part of North West in South Africa, the Central and North-East Districts of Botswana and the Matabeleland South and part of Matabeleland North provinces of Zimbabwe. The Kruger National Park has a number of 'Bushveld' camps, but these are strictly speaking in the lowveld, as these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Although their limits are somewhat blurred, lowveld is generally restricted to the more easterly parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">R71 (South Africa)</span>

The R71 is a provincial route in Limpopo, South Africa that connects Polokwane with the Kruger National Park via Tzaneen and Phalaborwa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">R81 (South Africa)</span> South African provincial route

The R81 is a provincial route in Limpopo, South Africa that connects Polokwane with the R524 at Nyavani via Giyani.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gazankulu</span> Apartheid-era Tsonga bantustan in South Africa (c. 1973–1994)

Gazankulu was a bantustan in South Africa, intended by the apartheid government to be a semi-independent homeland for the Tsonga people. It was located in both the Northern Transvaal, now Limpopo province and Eastern Transvaal, now Mpumalanga province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giyani</span> Town in Limpopo, South Africa

Giyani is a town situated in the north-eastern part of Limpopo Province, South Africa. It is the administrative capital of the Mopani District Municipality and a former capital of the defunct Gazankulu Bantustan. The town of Giyani has seven sections: Section A, Section D1, Section D2, Section E, Section F, Kremetart, and Giyani CBD. Risinga View and Church View are new residential areas in Giyani,but they fall under the local traditional leaders. The Giyani CBD is nicknamed Benstore, and this name is commonly used by residents of the region. Giyani is surrounded by a number of villages with rich Tsonga cultural activities, administered by the Greater Giyani Local Municipality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vhembe District Municipality</span> District municipality in Limpopo, South Africa

The Vhembe District Municipality is one of the 5 districts of the Limpopo province of South Africa. It is the northernmost district of the country and shares its northern border with the Beitbridge District in Zimbabwe and on the east with the Gaza Province in Mozambique. Vhembe consists of all the territories that were part of the former Venda Bantustan; however, two large densely populated districts of the former Tsonga homeland of Gazankulu, in particular, Hlanganani and Malamulele, were also incorporated into the municipality, hence the ethnic diversity of the district. The seat is Thohoyandou, the capital of the former Venda Bantustan. According to the 2011 census, the majority of the municipality's 800,000 inhabitants spoke TshiVenda as their mother language, while 400,000 spoke Xitsonga as their home language. However, the Tsonga people form the majority south of the Levubu River, while the Venda are the minority south of Levubu at 15%. The Sepedi speakers number 27,000. The district code is DC34.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mopani District Municipality</span> District municipality in Limpopo, South Africa

The Mopani District Municipality is one of the 5 districts of the Limpopo province of South Africa. The seat of the district is Giyani. According to the 2016 Community Survey, it had a population of 1,159,185. The district code is DC33. After the 12th amendment to the Constitution of South Africa, parts of the Bohlabela District Municipality were incorporated into Mopani.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sekhukhune District Municipality</span> District municipality in Limpopo, South Africa

The Sekhukhune District Municipality is one of the 5 districts of the Limpopo province of South Africa. The seat is Groblersdal. As of 2011, the majority of its 1,076,840 inhabitants spoke Sepedi. The district code is DC47.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Capricorn District Municipality</span> District municipality in Limpopo, South Africa

The Capricorn District Municipality is one of the 5 districts of the Limpopo province of South Africa. The district is named after the Tropic of Capricorn which runs through it. The capital is Polokwane. As of 2011, the vast majority of its 1,261,463 residents spoke Northern Sotho as their home language. The district code is DC35.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waterberg District Municipality</span> District Municipality in Limpopo, South Africa

The Waterberg District Municipality is one of the 5 districts of the Limpopo province of South Africa. The seat is Modimolle. As of 2016, the majority of its 745,758 residents spoke Sepedi, also known as Northern Sotho. The district code is DC36.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist</span>

The Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist is a diocese in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, in the geographical area of the Limpopo province in the north of South Africa.

Malamulele can refer to the town of Malamulele or the area of Malamulele. Both the town and area are in the Limpopo province of South Africa and predominantly occupied by Tsonga people. Malamulele town has one provincial road and one regional road; the R81 to Giyani and the R524 to Thohoyandou respectively. Malamulele is flanked by two rivers, Levubu River (Rivhubye) to the west and Letaba River to the east, meanwhile the Shingwedzi River runs from Malamulele West to Malamulele East, joining the Olifants in Mozambique on its way to the Indian Ocean. Malamulele is the seat of the Collins Chabane Local Municipality.

Mankweng, also called Turfloop, is a township in Capricorn District Municipality in the Limpopo province of South Africa, and home to the University of Limpopo. It is a university township. Mankweng or Turfloop is also the de facto name for the neighbourhoods surrounding the township and the university, though relatively small to the likes of Grahamstown. It is located about 27 km east of Polokwane on the R71 road to Moria and Tzaneen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Désirée van der Walt</span> South African politician

Désirée van der Walt is a South African politician who has been a Member of the National Assembly of South Africa since August 2023, previously serving in the Assembly between 2004 and 2010 and again from 2014 to 2023. She was a member of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature from 2010 to 2014 and again in 2023. Van der Walt is a member of the Democratic Alliance.

The Exxaro Solar Power Station, also Lephalale Solar Power Station, is a planned 80 MW (110,000 hp) solar power plant in South Africa. The solar farm is under development by Cennergi, a subsidiary of Exxaro Resources Limited, a South African multinational mining group, active in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. The energy generated here will be sold to Exxaro Coal Plc, for use in their coal mine at Grootegeluk, under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA), between the two Exxaro subsidiaries. The expected benefits to the group include (a) reduction of the group's carbon footprint (b) financial savings on energy acquisition and utilization and (c) to provide green, secure and sustainable electricity for mine operations at Grootegeluk Coal Mine.

Chritian Nkakareng Rakgoale is a South African politician. As of June 2022, she has been the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure in the Limpopo provincial government. She previously served as the MEC for Social Development from May 2019 to June 2022. Rakgoale was elected to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature in May 2019. Before that, she served as the Executive Mayor of the Mopani District Municipality. Rakgoale is a member of the African National Congress.


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