Geography and climate
Limpopo province, South Africa
Limpopo: quick facts
The land and its peopleWith a total area of 125 755 square kilometres, Limpopo is slightly larger than the US state of Pennsylvania. It's the fifth-largest of the country's nine provinces, taking up 10.3% of South Africa's land area and with a population of 5.4-million people. The principal home language is Sesotho, spoken by more than half the population, followed by Xitsonga and Tshivenda. Limpopo is in the savanna biome, an area of mixed grassland and trees generally known as bushveld. A summer-rainfall region, the northern and eastern areas are subtropical with hot and humid summers and mist in the mountains. Winter is mild and mostly frost-free. Rich in natural beauty, culture and wildlife, Limpopo has a thriving tourism industry. In addition to the Kruger National Park, there are 54 provincial reserves and several luxury private game reserves. It's also home to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, one of the country's eight World Heritage sites. South Africa's first kingdom, Mapungubwe developed into the subcontinent's largest realm, lasting for 400 years before it was abandoned in the 14th century. Its highly sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt. Valuable archaeological artefacts have been discovered in the area, which lies on the open savannah of the Mapungubwe National Park at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers.
IndustryLimpopo's rich mineral deposits include platinum group metals, iron ore, chromium high- and middle-grade coking coal, diamonds, antimony, phosphate and copper, as well as mineral reserves such as gold, emeralds, scheelite, magnetite, vermiculite, silicon and mica. Base commodities such as black granite, corundum and feldspar are also found. Mining contributes to more than a fifth of the provincial economy. The province is a typical developing area, exporting primary products and importing manufactured goods and services. It has a high potential for development, with resources such as tourism, rain-fed agriculture, minerals and abundant labour offering excellent investment opportunities.
AgricultureThe bushveld is cattle country, where extensive ranching operations are often supplemented by controlled hunting. About 80% of South Africa's hunting industry is found in Limpopo. Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela and Modimolle areas. Modimolle is also known for its table-grape crops. Tropical fruit, such as bananas, litchis, pineapples, mangoes and pawpaws, as well as a variety of nuts, are grown in the Tzaneen and Makhado areas. Tzaneen is also at the centre of extensive tea and coffee plantations. Limpopo, known as the "garden of South Africa" produces about the majority of South Africa's mangoes, papayas, avocados and tomatoes. As well as thousands of tons of potatoes, the province also produces tea, citrus, bananas, and litchis in abundance. Extensive forestry plantations are also found in the region, including hardwood for furniture manufacture. In addition to commercial agriculture, subsistence farming is the mainstay of a large section of the rural population. SAinfo reporter, incorporating material from the South African Yearbook Reviewed: 19 November 2012
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
South Africa's provinces
Did you know?
Kruger National Park The Kruger National Park is one of the oldest and largest wildlife preserves in the world, first proposed as necessary to protect the animals of the Lowveld by the then President of the Transvaal Boer republic, Paul Kruger, in 1898. It was officially declared a park under the National Parks Act in 1926, with the first motorists entering the reserve in 1927 for a fee of £1. The Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. There are almost 254 known cultural heritage sites in the park, including nearly 130 recorded rock art sites.