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A snapshot of South Africa’s nine provinces

Key facts about South Africa's nine provincial economies, with resource links to explore the business and investment environment of each region in more depth.

Eastern Cape

  • Capital: Bhisho
  • Main towns: Port Elizabeth, East London, Uitenhage, Graaff-Reinet, Mthatha, Grahamstown (Makhanda)
  • Population: 6 916 200 (2015)
  • Area: 168 966 km² (13.8% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Automotive, agriculture, agri-processing, forestry, finance, retail, tourism, renewable energy.
  • Infrastructure: Coega Industrial Development Zone, East London Industrial Development Zone, ports of East London, Port Elizabeth and Ngqura, airports at Port Elizabeth and East London.
  • Notable tourism assets: Addo Elephant National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park, Wild Coast, Jeffreys Bay, National Arts Festival.
  • Provincial government
  • Eastern Cape Development
Investigate: The guide to business and investment in the Eastern Cape Province (e-book):

The lit entrance to the Golden Gate National Park near the Lesotho border and Clarens in the Eastern Free State, South Africa. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)

Free State

  • Capital: Bloemfontein
  • Main towns: Welkom, Sasolburg, Parys, Kroonstad
  • Population: 2 817 900 (2015)
  • Area: 129 825 km² (10.6% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Sefora Hixsonia Ntombela (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Agriculture, agri-processing, chemical manufacturing, mining, transport and logistics.
  • Infrastructure: Maluti-A-Phofung Special Economic Zone, Bram Fischer International Airport, University of the Free State, Central University of Technology, N8 Corridor.
  • Notable tourism assets: Vaal River, Gariep Dam, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Cherry Festival, Mangaung African Cultural Festival (Macufe).
  • Provincial government
  • Free State Development
Delve deeper: The guide to business and investment in the Free State Province (e-book):

Investment opportunities in the Free State here >>

Johannesburg cityscape, taken at sunset, showing Hillbrow residential centre with the prominent Ponte flats and the communications tower. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)


  • Capital: Johannesburg
  • Main towns: Tshwane (including Pretoria), Ekurhuleni, Vanderbijlpark, Roodepoort
  • Population: 13 200 300 (2015)
  • Area: 18 178 km² (1.5% of South Africa)
  • Premier: David Makhura (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Financial and banking, manufacturing, trade, creative industries, media.
  • Infrastructure: OR Tambo International Airport, Gautrain, major universities and research institutions, large convention centres, FNB Stadium (Soccer City).
  • Notable tourism assets: Cradle of Humankind, Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Magaliesberg, Soweto tours, Dinokeng.
  • Provincial government
  • Gauteng Growth and Development
Research: The guide to business and investment in Gauteng Province (e-book):

Cathedral Peak, Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)


  • Capital: Pietermaritzburg
  • Main towns: Durban, Newcastle, Ballito, Port Shepstone, Empangeni, Ulundi
  • Population: 10 919 100 (2015)
  • Area: 125 755 km² (7.7% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Sihle Zikalala (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Chemicals, dissolving pulp manufacture, sugar, forestry, automotive, textiles and footwear, mining, oil and gas, logistics.
  • Infrastructure: King Shaka International Airport, Dube TradePort, Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, ports of Richards Bay and Durban, Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre Complex.
  • Notable tourism assets: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, the Drakensberg mountains, iSimangilso Wetlands Park, Durban beaches, South Coast, Zulu cultural heritage, historical battlefields.
  • Provincial government
  • Trade and Investment
Explore: The guide to business and investment in KwaZulu-Natal Province (e-book):

Investment opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal here >>

Baobab tree sunrise in Kruger National park, South Africa. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)


  • Capital: Polokwane
  • Main towns: Musina, Ba-Phalabora, Bela-Bela, Steelpoort, Tzaneen, Thohoyandou
  • Population: 5 726 800 (2015)
  • Area: 125 755 km² (10.2% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Chupu Stanley Mathabatha (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Mining, agriculture, tourism, logistics.
  • Infrastructure: Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, N1 highway and rail network, new Medupi power station.
  • Notable tourism assets: Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe Heritage Site, Makapans Valley, Marula Festival, Waterberg Biosphere.
  • Provincial government
  • Limpopo Economic Development
Learn more: The guide to business and investment in Limpopo Province (e-book):

Wide view looking down on Mac Mac Falls and its deep canyon in Mpumalanga, South Africa. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)


  • Capital: Mbombela
  • Main towns: Emalahleni, Middelburg, Sabie, Lydenburg
  • Population: 4 283 900 (2015)
  • Area: 76 495 km² (6.3% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Agriculture, forestry, mining, steel manufacturing, petrochemicals, pulp and paper, power generation, tourism.
  • Infrastructure: Nkomazi Special Economic Zone, Mbombela International Fresh Produce Market, Maputo Development Corridor, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
  • Notable tourism assets: Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
  • Provincial government
  • Mpumalanga Economic Growth
Examine: The guide to business and investment in Mpumalanga Province (e-book):

An indigenous quiver tree captured at dusk near Klein Pella in the Gordonia district on the South African and Namibian border. (Credit: iStock by Getyy Images)

Northern Cape

  • Capital: Kimberley
  • Main towns: Douglas, Upington, De Aar, Port Nolloth, Colesberg
  • Population: 1 185 600 (2015)
  • Area: 372 889km² (30.5% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Dr Zamani Saul (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Agriculture, mining, renewable energy, astronomy.
  • Infrastructure: Upington Special Economic Zone, Sol Plaatje University, Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme.
  • Notable tourism assets: Six national parks including the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Orange River, spring flower displays, diamond routes.
  • Provincial government
  • Department of Economic Development and Tourism:
Look into: The guide to business and investment in Northern Cape Province (e-book):

Investment opportunities in the Northern Cape here >>

Hartbeespoort Dam, situated in the North West Province of South Africa. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)

North West

  • Capital: Mahikeng
  • Main towns: Klerksdorp, Rustenburg, Brits, Potchefstroom
  • Population: 3 707 000 (2015)
  • Area: 104 882 km² (8.6% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Professor Tebogo Job Mokgoro (ANC)
  • Key sectors: Mining, agriculture, agri-processing, automotive components.
  • Infrastructure: Hartbeespoort Dam, Pelindaba nuclear research unit, North West University, Bakwena Platinum Highway.
  • Notable tourism assets: Sun City, Mmbatho Palms Hotel Casino Convention Resort, Pilanesberg National Park, 18 luxury lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve.
  • Provincial government
  • North West Development
Consider: The guide to business and investment in North West Province (e-book):

Aerial of Bakoven and Beta Beach, Camps Bay, with the famous Table Mountain and Twelve Apostles in back, Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: iStock by Getty Images)

Western Cape

  • Capital: Cape Town
  • Main towns: Stellenbosch, George, Plettenberg Bay, Beaufort West, Oudtshoorn, Worcester, Malmesbury
  • Population: 6 200 100 (2015)
  • Area: 129 462 km² (10.6% of South Africa)
  • Premier: Alan Winde (DA)
  • Key sectors: Agriculture, agri-processing, wine and grapes, financial services, manufacturing, tourism, oil and gas, boatbuilding.
  • Infrastructure: Ports of Cape Town, Saldanha and Mossel Bay, Mossgas oil-to-gas refinery, Cape Town International Airport, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Koeberg nuclear power station.
  • Notable tourism assets: Table Mountain, Garden Route National Park, Karoo National Park, West Coast National Park, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Point, V&A Waterfront, Plettenberg Bay, Route 62, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Provincial government
  • Wesgro:
Check out: The guide to business and investment in Western Cape Province (e-book):

Investment opportunities in the Western Cape here >>

Sectoral strengths of South African provinces

A wide variety of investment opportunities are available:
Source: Industrial Development Corporation (IDC); The Case for Investing in South Africa, Executive Summary (South African Investment Conference, 2018).*

To get a holistic view of the South African economy and unique insight into the business and investment environment of the region, use the 2020 edition South African Business journal as your guide. View the e-book:

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