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Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and lies about 50 km north of Johannesburg. The population, just over half a million, consists mainly of government officials and associated support staff, and the pace of life is much slower than in the hectic Johannesburg. Pretoria lies at 1367 m above sea level, 400 m lower than Johannesburg. It is surrounded the mountains of the Magalieburg. The climate is subtropical with hot, wet summers and relatively mild, dry winters.
The Ndebele are thought to have been the first people to settle in the lovely Apies river valley, 350 years ago. In 1837 the Voortrekkers settled there. In 1853 Marthinus Wessel Pretorius established the town and named it after his father Andries Pretorius, the Boer hero at the battle of Blood River against the Zulus in 1860. The site was eventually chosen on 16th November 1855 as the central seat of government for the groups of Voortrekkers that were spread all over Transvaal (better known as the " Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek").
Pretoria was the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek until 1910 when South Africa became the Union of South Africa (a British colony). Until 1961 Pretoria was the administrative capital of South Africa. On 31 May 1961 it became the capital of the Republic of South Africa.
The best time for a visit is spring, when in October more than 70,000 Jacaranda trees are in bloom, and the trees’ sweet-smelling purple blossoms blanket the city. The Jacaranda trees were imported from South America about 100 years ago and gave the town its nickname: "Jacaranda City."
Today Pretoria is still the seat of the South African government and this is reflected by the many museums and government offices in and around the city, none more striking and contrasting than the Union Buildings from the 1800s and the 37-story black glass tower of the Reserve Bank from the 1980s.