In 1999 the South African government passed the Municipal Structures Act which established the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Council and merged the East Rand towns of Alberton, Germiston, Brakpan, Benoni, Kempton Park, Springs, and Nigel under a common municipal authority. The new demarcation created a unified administrative structure for this region of approximately 2.5 million people living east of Johannesburg. It gave formal expression to long-standing processes of socioeconomic development that have defined the East Rand as a highly specific geographical entity. Between the 1950s and the 1970s the East Rand mapped itself on to South Africa's economic terrain as its industrial “workshop”, as manufacturing replaced mining as the major contributor to GDP. The administrative unification of the East Rand has taken place, however, at a moment when established patterns of economic and social integration based on manufacturing are undermined by the impact of restructuring encouraged by domestic and global forces.