World Cup city profile: Polokwane

Polokwane, located about 300 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg, will host four first-round matches at the World Cup, including France vs. Mexico on June 17.

The northernmost host city during the World Cup, Polokwane, meaning place of safety, is located in the Limpopo province of South Africa, about 300 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg.

Surrounded by wildlife reserves, Polokwane promotes itself as a centre for ecotourism. The city's picturesque setting, which consists of a sea of greenery surrounded by mountains, does well to back that up.

Population: 508,000

Altitude: 1,310 metres

Sightseeing: To get up close and personal with African wildlife, take a trip by vehicle or foot through the Polokwane Game Reserve. Be sure to go to Polokwane Museum to see artifacts from the Stone and Iron ages. Another major tourist attraction is the history-laden Makapan's Cave, located in nearby Mokopane, which has played a crucial role in helping understand human development.

Here's an interesting fact: One of Polokwane's distinguishing features is its upside down trees called baobabs, which are the largest trees in the country, reaching up to 30 metres in height.

Local soccer clubs: Black Leopards, Dynamos, Winners Park (1st Division).

World Cup climate: Tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 20 C during the day to 4 C at night.

World Cup stadium: A brand new venue, Peter Mokaba Stadium, is named after one of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. The stadium seats slightly more than 45,000 spectators, and its radical design is inspired by the iconic baobab tree. It's about five kilometres from the city centre, and is built beside the old Peter Mokaba Stadium, which only held 18,000.

2010 World Cup matches: Algeria vs. Slovenia on June 13; France vs. Mexico on June 17; Greece vs. Argentina on June 22; and Paraguay vs. New Zealand on June 24.