2010 Host Stadium Links -
The action at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa will take place in nine host cities that together reflect the rich cultural, political and geographical tapestry of the Rainbow Nation.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa's largest city and business capital was founded in the late 1800s on a plateau 1,753 metres above sea level at the site of a gold rush.
A large portion of the world's gold still comes from the mines that ring the city but Johannesburg is also surprisingly green, thanks to the around 10 million trees in public areas and private gardens.
The opening and closing games in the World Cup will take place in the 94,000-seat Soccer City stadium in the famous Soweto township which is undergoing a 1.5-billion-rand (225-million-dollar) upgrade for the tournament.
Other, earlier round games will take place in Ellis Park stadium, home ground of the Kaizer Chiefs, in the inner city.
Read More about Johannesburg HERE.
TSHWANE/PRETORIA, the administrative capital with a population of around 2.2 million, has many fine museums, old buildings and monuments, including the stately Union Buildings, the former seat of the apartheid regime.
Located about 50 kilometres north of Johannesburg Pretoria will host first and second round matches at its Loftus Versfeld stadium.
Union Buildings, where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated the first president of a democratic non-racial South Africa, afford fine views over the Jacaranda City, so called because of the trees that carpet its wide avenues in purple blossoms at the end of every spring.
CAPE TOWN, nicknamed the Mother City, is South Africa's oldest and most spectacular in terms of setting, with Table Mountain at its back and white sandy beaches splayed at its feet. The fine wines produced in surrounding areas and the busy arts scene in this city of 1.3 million cement its appeal with tourists.
Table Mountain is visible from the new 68,000-seat stadium under construction at Green Point on the outskirts of the city, which will host several matches, including a semi-final.
Cape Town's more-Europe-than Africa feel is drawn partly from the weather. Located just within Atlantic waters, conditions in winter can be damp and windy making a rain jacket a must for World Cup visitors.
DURBAN - A major port of around 3 million inhabitants on the Indian Ocean Durban is famed for its rich mix of Zulu, English and Indian culture.
The line of high-rise hotels and apartment blocks along Durban's Golden Mile give it a slightly worn appearance but its palm-tree-lined beaches, excellent Indian cuisine and year-round balmy weather make this city and its environs a favourite with South Africans.
Because of the large numbers of sharks in these waters Durban has developed into a pre-eminent centre of shark science with the Natal Sharks Board offering tourists the chance to view a shark dissection.
(Swimmers are protected by shark nets).
Durban is getting a new airport and a 86,000-seat stadium, the Moses Mabhida Stadium that will get semi-final action, for the World Cup.
Durban is also hosting the World Cup preliminary draw on November 25.
NELSON MANDELA BAY/PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa's fifth largest city, population 1 million, is located in Eastern Cape province, a region that has produced a clutch of anti-apartheid icons including Nelson Mandela and deceased black consciousness activist Steve Biko.
With its 40 kilometres of sandy beaches Port Elizabeth is South Africa's water sports capital. It is also a jump-off point for exploring the province, including the traditional Xhosa villages of the Umtata region, where Mandela was born.
Port Elizabeth is getting its first dedicated football stadium for 2010 -the 50,000-seat Nelson Mandela Bay stadium
RUSTENBURG - Rustenburg, capital of North-West Province with a population of around 0.5 million people is one of Africa's fastest growing cities, owing mainly to its abundant reserves of the precious metal platinum.
Situated about 160 kilometres from Johannesburg will host World Cup games in the 40,000-seater Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Tourist attractions in the area include Sun City Resort - known as Sin City during apartheid when Western artists vowed in song not to play there - and Pilanesberg National Park at the foot of the Magaliesberg mountains.
MANGAUNG/BLOEMFONTEIN - Bloemfontein is the nation's judicial capital situated about 400 kilometres south-west of Johannesburg in Free State province.
Bloemfontein acts as a hub for traffic between the economic heartland of Gauteng and the south-west. Its 850,000 residents are reputed for their hospitality. Matches will be held at Free State Stadium, which is being upgraded to fit 40,000 spectators.
NELSPRUIT - Nelspruit, capital of Mpumalanga province, about 350 kilometres east of Johannesburg, is a jump-off point for a host of major tourist attractions.
It is last major town before the Kruger National Park, South Africa's top tourist destination, where visitors flock to spot the Big Five game (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard).
Nelspruit is also close to the breathtaking Blyde River Canyon, the world's third-largest canyon, as well as to Mozambique, renowned for its colonial cities and thousands of kilometres of secluded beaches.
For the World Cup Nelspruit is getting a new stadium - Mbombela Stadium.
POLOKWANE - Polokwane is situated about half-way between Johannesburg and the Zimbabwe border on the Great North Road (the N1) in Limpopo province.
Limpopo, South Africa's poorest province, is renowned for its private savannah game parks, giant baobab trees and rich cultural heritage Mapungubwe National Park. a World Heritage Site, marks the site of a highly-developed South African kingdom that existed 1,000 years ago and traded gold and ivory as faraway as China.
Polokwane, the provincial capital, is a small city of 0.5 million inhabitants. World Cup matches will be held at Peter Mokaba Stadium, named after the deceased former ANC Youth League leader member.
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