Map of the Limpopo
You can download the full fact sheet in pdf format. Download it!
Almost four percent of the Limpopo river basin consists of built-up hard surfaces. There are substantial urban areas including 10 large cities in the basin. The entire Mid-Rand area between Pretoria and Johannesburg is within the basin.
In Botswana, the Limpopo catchment supports the capital city, Gaborone and other urban centres such as Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe. In the rest of the country settlements tend to be scattered and are determined largely by availability of water and opportunities for extensive livestock farming.
In South Africa, human settlements are concentrated in cities and around service centres. The provinces of Gauteng, Mpumulanga, North-West and Limpopo (Northern) are all in the basin. Pretoria, Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg) and parts of Johannesburg are some of the basin’s largest urban settlements. In the basin are also smaller towns such as Witbank and Thohoyandu.
The Mozambican and Zimbabwean portions of the basin, are predominantly rural, and settlements tend to be scattered. In Zimbabwe, the major urban centres in the basin are Beitbridge and Gwanda. However, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city is located at the divide with the Zambezi basin.
Large portions of the basin in Mozambique remain unsettled following years of civil conflict, and Xai-Xai is the only urban centre in the basin. The area north of Massingir Dam is sparsely populated with very limited activity, while the south of the Massingir dam is characterized by growing economic activity, and accounts for over 90 percent of the population in the area.
Settlement patterns in the basin are determined by a number of factors. Among the most prominent factors are land tenure, poverty and the use of the environment to address poverty.