South Africa Regional Structure

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The following is a proposed category mapping of the regional structure for South Africa. The intent is to clearly outline the second and third tiers to accommodate the placement of ‘landing’ categories for districts, cities, towns and settlements where South Africans were born, lived and died.


Place Categories

The Union of South Africa was established in 1910 by combining four British colonies: the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal Colony and the Orange River Colony. These colonies became the four original provinces of the Union: Cape Province, Transvaal Province, Natal Province and Orange Free State Province. On 27 April 1994, all of these provinces were dissolved, and nine new provinces were established.[1] Considering the recent nature of this change and the availability of genealogical data, all 13 provincial categories from 1910 to current would be listed under the tier 1 category, South Africa, Places.

  • Category:South Africa
    • Category:South Africa, Places

South African Provincial Categories

South African province categories are structured with province name, followed by the country name (i.e. [[Category:<name> Province, South Africa]]). There are 13 Provinces from 1910:

  • Category:South Africa
    • Category:South Africa, Places
      • Category:Cape Province, South Africa
      • Category:Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
      • Category:Free State Province, South Africa
      • Category:Gauteng Province, South Africa
      • Category:KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
      • Category:Limpopo Province, South Africa
      • Category:Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
      • Category:Natal Province, South Africa
      • Category:North West Province, South Africa
      • Category:Northern Cape Province, South Africa
      • Category:Orange Free State Province, South Africa
      • Category:Transvaal Province, South Africa
      • Category:Western Cape Province, South Africa

Districts, Municipalities, and Settlements

There are two types of municipality at the district level. Most of the country is covered by the 44 district municipalities, which are divided into local municipalities and share responsibilities with them.[2] District and local municipalities should be named in the format [[Category:<''Municipality''>, <''Province''>]]. This naming format applies equally to places using various designations such as city, town, settlement, homeland (bantustans)[3] or village.

  • Category:South Africa
    • Category:South Africa, Places
      • Category:Gauteng Province, South Africa
        • Category:Johannesburg, Gauteng Province
        • Category:West Rand, Gauteng Province
        • Category:Sedibeng, Gauteng Province
      • Category:Western Cape Province, South Africa
        • Category:Garden Route, Western Cape Province
        • Category:Central Karoo, Western Cape Province
        • Category:Cape Town, Western Cape Province

While South Africa also has eight metropolitan municipalities,[4] this level of categorization will not be used since they only exist to manage a single city entity and the category would only add an extra level of categorization with only one possible sub-category. For instance, we would not create an extra category just for Johannesburg to be listed under the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.

Historical Place Categories

South Africa came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the British Colonies (Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, and the Orange River Colony) and the Transvaal region of the South African Republic. To align with the historical aspects of South Africa, these historical places would be added under the tier 1 category, South Africa, Historic Places.

  • Category:South Africa
    • Category:South Africa, Historic Places

Historical Districts, Municipalities, and Settlements

District and local municipalities should be named in the format [[Category:<Municipality>, <Historical Place>]]. This naming format applies equally to places using various designations such as city, town, settlement, or village.

  • Category:South Africa
    • Category:South Africa, Historic Places
      • Category:South African Republic
      • Category:Transvaal Colony
        • Category:Johannesburg, Transvaal Colony
        • Category:Vereeniging, Transvaal Colony
      • Category:Union of South Africa

Visual Overview

South Africa Regional Structure: Proposed


  1. Wikipedia: Provinces of South Africa
  2. Wikipedia: Districts of South Africa
  3. Wikipedia: Bantustans in South Africa
  4. Wikipedia: South African Metropolitan Municipalities

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Comments: 2

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Hi Dirk e.a., vir histories, wat van ons identifiseer die vyf hoofareas, Kaap, Transvaal, Vrystaat, Natal en Suidwes en noem dit areas. Daarna dorps areas hetsy dit landros distrikte of naaste dorp is. en dan plekke, wat insluit dorpe en ander plekname. Plekke soos bv Amandelboom wat Williston geword het, kan net die koppel-kategorie boksie kry.
posted by Louis Heyman
Too complicated, and clearly invented by people intimately familiar with US states, which have had their boundaries and names unchanged over centuries. One size does not fit all here.

The map of the Cape Colony as recently as 1850 shows names that are hardly recognizable to people familiar with names in the period 1910-1994.

Post-1994 names of towns as well as districts are still changing. They serve no useful purpose from a genealogical point of view.

The challenge for genealogists is to identify a place name from one period with that for another. Lumping names from different eras in one list will certainly add to the confusion.

Actually province names are not highly useful and should be omitted from Places. With very few exceptions, towns and cities had unique names. The custom was, and still is, not to use district names except when the village in question was quite obscure.

We did not refer to Johannesburg before 1994 as Johannesburg, Transvaal, and we do not refer to it as Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, now. A world city does not deserve that.

The major cities should be place names in their own right. Cape Town, South Africa. Kimberley, South Africa. After that, the place names should be districts as they were in 1910-1994. In many cases those names were valid before as well as after that period.

posted by Dirk Laurie