Supriya Ghosh (Editor)


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Country  South Africa
District  Mopani
Established  1903
Area code  015
Province  Limpopo
Municipality  Greater Tzaneen
Elevation  900 m (3,000 ft)
Local time  Monday 9:22 PM
Tzaneen wwwbookaplacecozaphotospic1pic16019122521420

Weather  21°C, Wind W at 5 km/h, 75% Humidity

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Tzaneen is a large tropical garden town situated in the Mopani District Municipality of the Limpopo province in South Africa. It is situated in a lush, high rainfall fertile region with tropical and subtropical agriculture taking place in a 20,000 km2 region. About 650,000 people reside within a 30 km radius, with the town itself holding a population of around 30,000. Tzaneen is a proud home to the Tsonga people of BaLoyi and Nkuna tribes, North Sotho tribes of BaLobedu, BaNareng, BaThlabine,BaKgaga, Afrikaner people and a very small minority of English, Portuguese, Scottish, Irish, Jews and German. The Afrikaner people constitute more than 90% of the white population in Tzaneen. The distance from Tzaneen to Johannesburg is approximately 420 km, or 261 miles.


Map of Tzaneen, South Africa

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Origin of name

There are different theories as to where the name Tzaneen comes from, the first theory is that the name Tzaneen is derived from a Sepedi word 'Tsaneng', which means gathering place or 'Tsana' (basket of hills). This theory claim that Makgoba, the leader of a small Tlou tribe, gave the name 'Tsaneng' to the place where the town of Tzaneen is situated today. Since then, this Sepedi word has been used by both the Tsonga and the Pedi people to refer to the name of this place and was popularly used by Afrikaner colonisers as well. A second theory suggest that the name Tzaneen is derived from the Venda word 'Dzanani'. This theory suggests that Venda people once occupied the area and that they named it 'Dzanani'. There are problems with the second theory and it could be argued that this is just a 'theoretical claim' rather than a reality since there is no concrete evidence that Venda people once occupied the area. The Afrikaner people, in honour of the Sepedi word 'Tsaneng', corrupted it into 'Tzaneen'. Nonetheless, the name 'Tzaneen' as given by the Afrikaner people, is so beautiful and the Tlou tribe, under Makgoba, also rightfully named the place 'Tsaneng' because it is today a place where Tsonga, Pedi and Afrikaner people 'gather', thus fulfilling the name.

Geology and geography

Tzaneen is Limpopo's paradise and it has been nicknamed 'Land of Silver Mist' because of the frequent mist that occur on the mountains above it. It is located in lush, tropical surroundings and is home to Limpopo's highest mountain, the Iron Crown Mountain, lying more than 2200 m above sea level. The Iron Crown mountain, also known by its Afrikaans name Wolkberg, supports Limpopo's biodiversity and is home to the largest indigenous forest in the province. Weather can change very fast from clear skies to being misty, with the highest reaches enveloped in clouds. Hence the name of the range, meaning "Cloud Mountain" in Afrikaans. The Wolkberg is rugged, with rocky shoulders and deep humid gorges. There are rare plant and animal species in these areas. Species such as the Wolkberg Zulu (Alaena margaritacea), the Wolkberg widow (Dingana clara) and the Wolkberg sandman (Spialia secessus), have been named after these mountains. The Wolkberg area is one of only two areas in the world where the critically endangered butterfly, Lepidochrysops lotana, are found. The Iron Crown Mountain is a protected area in terms of South African law. The Groot Letaba River, Middle Letaba River and Klein Letaba River all rise up in these mountains.

Name change proposal

The Government of Limpopo Province proposed a name change from 'Tzaneen' to 'Mark Shope' in the early 2000s, but that proposal was met with hostility and strong opposition from the residents of Tzaneen. People of all cultural groups came together to oppose the name change because the people thought that the name 'Tzaneen' has managed to unite all the people of the town, despite their different cultural backgrounds. People argued that there is nothing wrong with the name 'Tzaneen' because it is not the name of a person, but a geographical name and that the name 'Mark Shope' would cause tribalism issues between the Tsonga people and Pedi people, something which would obviously be very undesirable. Since the residents agreed that the name 'Tzaneen' should stay on, the Government of Limpopo stopped the process and respected their wishes.


Tzaneen produces about 40% of South Africa's avocados, 40% of South Africa's mangoes and 20% of South Africa's bananas. Tzaneen also produces 90% of South Africa's tomatoes through the ZZ2, and other, farms making South Africa the world's 40th largest tomato producer. Even though South Africa is ranked 40th in terms of tomato production, the ZZ2 farms themselves are the world's biggest producer of tomatoes. Tzaneen is also the biggest producer of pine plantations in the Limpopo Province, accounting for more than 85% of Limpopo's pine and bluegum production. The majority of Tzaneen's tropical indigenous forest have been destroyed during the last 100-years in order to give way to pine, bluegum and other agricultural plantantions.

The economy of Tzaneen depends largely on farming fruits, vegetables, animals and timber. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Tzaneen, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured its development.

A wide range of fruit are grown in the Tzaneen area, notably mangoes, bananas, oranges, tomatoes and avocados. Pine and eucalyptus plantations are also a common sight in the area around the town, particularly toward Modjadjiskloof, Magoebaskloof and Haenertsburg. The plantations serve a number of sawmills located in the area.


Tzaneen branch is charged with the responsibility of effecting quality education and training for all. It was during this time that the branch had to shape up its direction and co-ordinate all professional developments and support. Policies, systems, and procedures had to be developed. This was not easily achievable due to lack of personnel to effect change. Tzaneen still remains as one of the areas in South Africa with a high rate of tertiary graduates but a low employment rate.


Tzaneen is the founder of Vakhegula old age soccer team in Nkowa-nkowa township. The Vakhegula-vakhegula team played in many international games, including in America and Europe. Soccer and rugby are the main loved sports in Tzaneen. Soccer is widely played in the rural areas and townships.


Tourism is also an important part of the Tzaneen economy, along with agribusiness. Tzaneen offers great country and town accommodation for visitors.

There are many tourist attractions around the small town of Tzaneen, including the beautiful Tzaneen Dam, Magoebaskloof, Haenertsburg and Wolkberg mountains. The town is also situated close to a number of game reserves and the town often serves as a thoroughfare for tourists on their way to other tourist destinations in the province. The well-known Kruger National Park, for instance, is situated approximately 100 km (62 miles) away.

The Vervet Monkey Foundation is located just outside Tzaneen where it cares for over 600 vervet monkeys.


Mostly sunshine, long summer days with pleasant winters. Tzaneen's subtropical conditions provide more suited weather for dense forests (high summer rainfall) than the thorny bushveld above the escarpment and further to the east.

The summer months, September – March, have an average temperature of 28 °C (82 °F) and winter months around 15 °C (59 °F). Rainfall averages from around 800 mm per year in town to over 1500 mm per year in the mountains.

Notable people

  • Tito Mboweni (born 1959), businessman, economist and former central banker
  • Marchant de Lange (born 1990), international cricketer
  • Mahlatse "Chiliboy" Ralepelle (born 1986), rugby player
  • Trevor Nyakane Springbok rugby player from Hoërskool Ben Vorster in Tzaneen
  • References

    Tzaneen Wikipedia