Johannesburg informally known as Jozi or Jo'burg, is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. Johannesburg is located on the eastern plateau area of South Africa known as the Highveld, at an elevation of 1,753 metres. The city enjoys a sunny climate, with the summer months (October to April) characterised by hot days followed by afternoon thundershowers and cool evenings, and the winter months (May to September) by dry, sunny days followed by cold nights. The city’s profusion of trees – approximately 6 million, make it the largest, man-made forest in the world. Johannesburg is home to some 4.4 million (4,434,827) people, the majority of whom are aged between 19 and 39.
Johannesburg has become an internationally renowned and vibrant metropolis, with over 4 million inhabitants. It is the most powerful commercial centre on the African continent. Johannesburg generates 16 percent of South Africa's GDP and employs 12 percent of the national workforce. Its infrastructure matches leading first world cities, yet the cost of living is far lower. The city is recognized as the financial capital of South Africa and is home to 74 percent of Corporate Headquarters. The economy of Johannesburg today reflects successive waves of development and decline, which have seen the city move away from mining and industry towards an economy fundamentally based on services and trade, along with high-value manufacturing in line with global trends.
Johannesburg's suburbs are the product of urban sprawl and are regionalised into north, south, east and west. Greater Johannesburg consists of more than five hundred suburbs in an area covering more than 520 square kilometres. Johannesburg is a cultural hub in South Africa and has a wide variety of cultural venues, making it a prominent area for many creative and cultural industries.
The expansion of high-technology and distribution focused industrial activities and the decentralisation of many office-using activities from city centres as well as a robust development cycle over the late 1990s and early 2000s have been major drivers in this regard. There is an entrenched split between the active property markets in the north, and the less active property markets in the south of the metropolitan area. These developments have stimulated worsening traffic congestion and inadequate road infrastructure in the premier nodes, especially along east-west linkages.
A major characteristic of the Johannesburg property market is the remaining division between the wealthy and active northern nodes, and the under-developed and less commercially active southern nodes. It is important to recognise that nodes and regions within Johannesburg are different markets that cater to different needs and different sectors and provide unique functions. Nodes themselves are rapidly changing and this has a marked impact on property.
The excitement surrounding new residential developments in the region has been one of the major forces impacting on the retail property supply chain. Non-residential supply is increasing with strong supply trends emerging from industrial and retail space.