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4 essential things to know about Joburg history

By Claire Hu, for CNN
updated 2:30 AM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
Within a few years of the discovery of gold, Joburg had become like an African Las Vegas -- its tents transformed into brick buildings and dusty gathering places into market squares. Within a few years of the discovery of gold, Joburg had become like an African Las Vegas -- its tents transformed into brick buildings and dusty gathering places into market squares.
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Africa's Las Vegas
Mine workers' compound
Alexandra township
Everyone's from out of town
Indian sweets in Fordsburg
Old Sophiatown
Liliesleaf Farm
Melville Koppies
Cradle of humanity
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Modern Johannesburg was born 130 years ago, after gold was discovered
  • It's a city of immigrants -- with an open, friendly atmosphere
  • Earliest inhabitants can be traced back 3 million years

(CNN) -- It's hard to believe Johannesburg didn't exist 130 years ago.

It used to be a dusty, one-horse kind of place where a few farmers eked out a living from the land, although traces of early human habitation go back millions of years.

Modern Johannesburg was born with the discovery of gold.

Almost overnight, it became one of the fastest-growing cities in the world as fortune-seekers rushed in.

The stories that make up the Joburg's past shape its character today, rewarding visitors who venture beyond the sanitized streets of wealthy Sandton to discover the real heartbeat of Egoli, the "City of Gold," as it is also known.