North West lies in the north of South Africa on the Botswana border, fringed by the Kalahari Desert in the west, Gauteng province to the east and the Free State to the south. It covers an area of 104 882km² and has a population of 3 748 436. Much of the province consists of flat areas of scattered trees and grassland. The Vaal River flows along the southern border of the province.
Mahikeng (previously Mafikeng) is the capital. The city lies near the Botswana border and forms a single urban area with its neighbouring town, Mmabatho. Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp are the biggest cities in the province. Other main towns are Brits, Rustenburg, Klerksdorp and Lichtenburg.