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Gauteng's two major cities are just 50km apart, but could hardly be more different. PRETORIA, or ePitoli as it is known in the townships, has throughout much of its history been the epitome of staid traditionalism, with its graceful government buildings, wide avenues of purple flowering jacarandas, and staunch Boer farming origins. Yet, although South Africa's administrative capital was long regarded as a bastion of Afrikanerdom, with its notorious supreme court and massive prison, things are changing fast. Ever since the nation's re-acceptance into the international arena, Pretoria has become increasingly cosmopolitan, with a substantial diplomatic community living in Arcadia and Hatfield, east of the city centre. Furthermore, most Pretorians are not Afrikaner, but Sotho and Ndebele, and the change of government has brought many more well educated and well paid black people into the ranks of civil servants living in the capital. The city's Afrikaner community is hardly monolithic, either: as well as the stereotypical khaki-shorted rednecks, there are thousands of students, an active art scene and a thriving Afrikaans gay and lesbian community. Pretoria is close enough to Johannesburg's airport to provide a practical alternative base in Gauteng. Known as the Jacaranda City for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees, which line its thoroughfares, Pretoria is a lovely, quiet city. It has a long, involved and fascinating history. Here you will find significant old buildings and fascinating museums. The Transvaal Museum has natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind. Also worth visiting are the Cultural History Museum and Smuts Museum in Irene, outside Pretoria.
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