Geography and climate
Mpumalanga province, South Africa
Mpumalanga: quick facts
The land and its peopleWith a total area of 76 495 square kilometres, Mpumalanga is slightly larger than the Czech Republic. It's second-smallest province after Gauteng, taking up 6.3% of South Africa's land area and with a population of just over 4-million people. About a third of the people speak siSwati, the language of neighbouring Swaziland, with isiZulu, Xistonga and isiNdebele commonly heard. Mpumalanga falls mainly within the grassland biome. The escarpment and the Lowveld form a transitional zone between this grassland area and the savanna biome. Long sweeps of undulating grasslands change abruptly into thickly forested ravines and thundering waterfalls of the escarpment, only to change again into the subtropical wildlife splendour of the Lowveld. The province is a summer-rainfall area, with occasional winter snow on high ground in the escarpment. The escarpment area sometimes experiences snow on high ground. Thick mist is common during the hot and humid summers. Sabie and Graskop provide a large part of the country's total requirement for forestry products. These forestry plantations are an ideal backdrop for ecotourism opportunities, with a variety of popular hiking trails, a myriad waterfalls, patches of indigenous forest and many nature reserves. Lake Chrissie is the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa and is famous for its variety of aquatic birds, particularly flamingos.
IndustryMpumalanga is rich in coal reserves, and home to South Africa's major coal-fired power stations – three of which are the biggest in the southern hemisphere. eMalahleni, the biggest coal producer in Africa, is the site of the country's two oil-from-coal plants. Mpumalanga produces about 80% of the country's coal and remains the largest production region for forestry and agriculture. One of the country's largest paper mills is situated at Ngodwana, close to its timber source. Middelburg produces steel and vanadium. The best-performing sectors in the province include mining, manufacturing and services. Tourism and agriprocessing are potential growth sectors.
AgricultureAn abundance of citrus and many other subtropical fruit – mangoes, avocados, litchis, bananas, pawpaws, granadillas and guavas – as well as nuts and a variety of vegetables are produced in Mpumalanga. Mbombela is the second-largest citrus-producing area in South Africa and is responsible for one third of the country's export in oranges. Groblersdal is an important irrigation area, yielding crops such as citrus, cotton, tobacco, wheat and vegetables. Carolina-Bethal-Ermelo is mainly a sheep-farming area, but potatoes, sunflowers, maize and peanuts are also produced in the region. SAinfo reporter, incorporating material from the South African Yearbook Reviewed: 19 November 2012
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South Africa's provinces
Did you know?
First signs of life Mountains in the Barberton area of Mpumalanga have yielded minute fossils thought to be among the first signs of life on earth, dated to about 3 300-million years ago.