The Emfuleni Local Municipality (Emfuleni means “by the river”) is in the Western region of the Sedibeng District Municipality. It is the largest of the three Sedibeng local municipalities in terms of population, but smallest in terms of area. Emfuleni Municipality was previously called Western Vaal. It covers an area of 987.45 km², extending along a 120 kilometres axis from east to west in the southern area of the Gauteng province.
The municipality has access to a well-maintained road network - the N1 national route linking Johannesburg and Bloemfontein - and its strategic location affords it many opportunities for tourism and other forms of economic development. Emfuleni Local Municipality has two main town centres - Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark - within the area and a number of 'townships' namely Sharpeville, Evaton, Sebokeng, Bophelong & Boipatong. The area forms the heartland of what was formerly known as the Vaal Triangle, renowned for its contribution to the iron and steel industry in South Africa. ArcelorMittal (formerly Iscor) and the ancillary industries which developed with it, Rand Water, Vereeniging Refractories, Premier Foods and other industries which contributed to the growth of the Vaal are still considered major industries and contributors to the area.
San rock engravings near the Vaal River verify that the San people originally inhabited the area. History relating to the liberation struggle, particularly the Sharpville massacre, is epitomized by the signing of the Constitution in 1996 in Sharpeville.