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Free State
Foreistata (Sotho)
Vrystaat (Afrikaans)
—  Province of South Africa  —
The Province of the Free State
Motto: Katleho ka kopano (Success through unity)
Map showing the location of the Free State in the central part of South Africa
Location of the Free State in South Africa
Country  South Africa
Orange Free State 17 February 1854
OFS Province 31 May 1910
Free State 27 April 1994
Capital Bloemfontein
Government
 - Type Parliamentary system
 - Premier Ace Magashule (ANC)
Area [1]
 - Total 129,480 km2 (49,992.5 sq mi)
Area rank 3rd in South Africa
Highest elevation [2] 3,291 m (10,797 ft)
Population (2007)[3]
 - Total 2,773,059
 Density 21.4/km2 (55.5/sq mi)
Population rank 8th in South Africa
Population density rank 8th in South Africa
Population groups [4]
 - Black African 87.1%
 - White 9.6%
 - Coloured 3.0%
 - Indian or Asian 0.2%
Languages [5]
 - Sotho 64.4%
 - Afrikaans 11.9%
 - Xhosa 9.1%
 - Tswana 6.8%
 - Zulu 5.1%
Time zone SAST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code ZA-FS
Website www.fs.gov.za

The Free State (Afrikaans: Vrystaat, Sotho: Foreistata; before 1995, the Orange Free State) is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Orange Free State Boer republic. The current borders of the province date from 1994 when the Bantustans were abolished and included into the provinces of South Africa. It is also the only one of the former provinces of South Africa not to undergo border changes, excluding the incorporation of Bantustans.

Contents

History

Geography

The Free State is situated on flat boundless plains in the heart of South Africa. The rich soil and pleasant climate allow a thriving agricultural industry. With more than 30,000 farms, which produce over 70% of the country's grain, it is known locally as South Africa's breadbasket. The province is high-lying, with almost all land being 1,000 metres above sea level. The Free State lies in the heart of the Karoo Sequence of rocks, containing shales, mudstones, sandstones and the Drakensberg Basalt forming the youngest capping rocks. The Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains foothills raise the terrain to over 2000 m in the east. Mineral deposits are plentiful, with gold and diamonds being of particular importance, mostly found in the north and west of the province.

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Fauna and flora

The grassy plains in the south of the reserve provides ideal conditions for large herds of plain game such as black wildebeest and springbok. The ridges, koppies and plains typical of the northern section are home to kudu, red hartebeest, white rhino and buffalo. The African wildcat, black wildebeest, zebra, eland, white rhino and wild dog can be seen at the Soetdoring Nature Reserve near Bloemfontein.

Climate

The Free State experiences a continental climate, characterised by warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Areas in the east experience frequent snowfalls, especially on the higher ranges, whilst the west can be extremely hot in summer. Almost all precipitation falls in the summer months as brief afternoon thunderstorms, with aridity increasing towards the west. Areas in the east around Harrismith, Bethlehem and Ficksburg are well watered. The capital, Bloemfontein, experiences hot, moist summers and cold, dry winters frequented by severe frost.

  • Bloemfontein averages: January maximum: 31°C (min: 15°C), July maximum: 17°C (min: -2°C), annual precipitation: 559 mm
  • Bethlehem averages: 27°C (min: 13°C), July maximum: 16°C (min: -2°C), annual precipitation: 680 mm

Borders

In the southeast, the Free State borders seven districts of Lesotho:

  • Mokhotlong - farthest to the east
  • Butha-Buthe - northwest of Mokhotlong and northeast of Leribe
  • Leribe - southwest of Butha-Buthe and northeast of Berea
  • Berea - southwest of Leribe and north of Maseru
  • Maseru - south of Berea and northeast of Mafeteng
  • Mafeteng - southwest of Maseru and northwest of Mohale's Hoek
  • Mohale's Hoek - southeast of Mafeteng

Domestically, it borders the following provinces:

The Free State borders more districts of Lesotho and more provinces of South Africa than any other province.

Municipalities

The Free State is divided into five district municipalities (districts), subdivided into a total of 20 local municipalities:

Free State districts and local municipalities: Fezile Dabi (pale green), Thabo Mofutsanyane (blue), Motheo (pink), Xhariep (cyan), Lejweleputswa (yellow)

Major towns

Parliament Buildings in Bloemfontein with the statue of Christiaan De Wet

The Free State's major towns include:

See also List of cities and towns in the Free State

Economy

The province is the granary of South Africa, with agriculture central to its economy, while mining on the rich goldfields reef is its largest employer.

Agriculture

Agriculture dominates the Free State landscape, with cultivated land covering 32 000 square kilometres, and natural veld and grazing a further 87 000 square kilometres of the province. It is also South Africa's leader in the production of biofuels, or fuel from agricultural crops, with a number of ethanol plants under construction in the grain-producing western region.

Field crops yield almost two-thirds of the gross agricultural income of the province. Animal products contribute a further 30%, with the balance generated by horticulture. Ninety percent of the country's cherry crop is produced in the Ficksburg district, which is also home to the country's two largest asparagus canning factories. Soya, sorghum, sunflowers and wheat are cultivated in the eastern Free State, where farmers specialise in seed production. About 40% of the country's potato yield comes from the province's high-lying areas.

The main vegetable crop is asparagus, both white and green varieties. Although horticulture is expanding and becoming increasingly export-orientated, most produce leaves the province unprocessed.

The Free State's advantage in floriculture is the opposing seasons of the southern and northern hemispheres. The province exports about 1.2 million tons of cut flowers a year.

Mining

The Free State is also rich in mineral wealth, gold representing 20% of the worlds total gold production. Mining is the province's major employer. The province has 12 gold mines, producing 30% of South Africa's output and making it the fifth-largest producer of gold in the world. The Harmony Gold Refinery and Rand Refinery are the only two gold refineries in South Africa.

Gold mines in the Free State also supply a substantial portion of the total silver produced in the country, while considerable concentrations of uranium occurring in the gold-bearing conglomerates of the goldfields are extracted as a byproduct.

Bituminous coal is also mined, and converted to petrochemicals at Sasolburg. The Free State also produces high-quality diamonds from its kimberlite pipes and fissures, and the country's largest deposit of bentonite is found in the Koppies district.

Industry

Since 1989, the Free State economy has moved from dependence on primary sectors such as mining and agriculture to an economy increasingly oriented towards manufacturing and export. Some 14% of the province's manufacturing is classified as being in high-technology industries - the highest of all provincial economies. The northern Free State's chemicals sector is one of the most important in the southern hemisphere. Petrochemicals company Sasol, based in the town of Sasolburg, is a world leader in the production of fuels, waxes, chemicals and low-cost feedstock from coal.

Tourism

In the northeastern Free State, nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti mountains, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is the province's prime tourist attraction. The park gets its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the spectacular sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag or Sentinel Rock, which keeps vigil over the park. The little town of Clarens close to Golden Gate Highlands National Park has old sandstone buildings, art galleries, and many B&B's, Self catering and Hotel accommodation.

Brandwag (The Sentinel)

The sandstone of this region has been used for the lovely dressed-stone buildings found on the Eastern Highlands, while decoratively painted Sotho houses dot the grasslands. Some of South Africa's most valued San (Bushman) rock art is found in the Free State, particularly in the regions around Clarens, Bethlehem, Ficksburg, Ladybrand and Wepener.

Publications

The information and Tourism publication for Clarens is:CLARENSMAG a locally produced and frequently updated online magazine

Demographics

Population density in the Free State
     <1 /km²      1–3 /km²      3–10 /km²      10–30 /km²      30–100 /km²      100–300 /km²      300–1000 /km²      1000–3000 /km²      >3000 /km²
Dominant home languages in the Free State
     Afrikaans      English      Xhosa      Zulu      Sotho      Tswana      No language dominant

Sesotho is the dominant home language in most of the province. Afrikaans dominates the southwest (where there is a large coloured community) and in many major towns (where there is a large white community) and is widely spoken in Bloemfontein (which encompasses a large white and coloured community). isiZulu is the major language in the far eastern municipality of Phumelela. Setswana is the main language in Tokologo in the northwest, and in and around the city of Thaba Ncha, in the southeast of the province. It is the only province in the country with a Sesotho majority.

Education

Sport

Provincial sport teams

See also

References

  1. ^ Burger, Delien, ed (2009). "The land and its people". South Africa Yearbook 2008/09. Pretoria: Government Communication & Information System. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-621-38412-3. http://www.gcis.gov.za/resource_centre/sa_info/yearbook/2009/chapter1.pdf. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Taking the measure of Namahadi Peak" (PDF). http://vry.mcsa.org.za/Archive/Billis/2003/Half-Billi%202003-2.PDF. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Community Survey 2007: Basic results" (PDF). Statistics South Africa. p. 2. http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/CS2007Basic/CS2007Basic.pdf. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "Statistical release P0301: Community Survey, 2007 (Revised version)" (PDF). Statistics South Africa. p. 25. http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0301/P0301.pdf. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  5. ^ "Table: Census 2001 by province, language, population group and gender.". Census 2001 Interactive Tables. Statistics South Africa. http://www.statssa.gov.za/timeseriesdata/pxweb2006/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=Language%20by%20province&ti=Table%3A+Census+2001+by+province%2C+language%2C+population+group+and++gender%2E&path=../Database/South%20Africa/Population%20Census/Census%202001%20-%20NEW%20Demarcation%20boundaries%20as%20at%209%20December%202005/Provincial%20level%20-%20Persons/&lang=1. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 

External links

Coordinates: 29°00′S 26°00′E / 29°S 26°E / -29; 26


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Large areas of the Free State is dedicated to farming
Large areas of the Free State is dedicated to farming

The Free State Province, [1], in South Africa is situated in the heartland of the Karoo semi-desert.

Free State
Free State
  • Lejweleputswa - Western Free State, also known as the Free State Gold Fields
  • Motheo (Sesotho for Foundation) - In the South East, bordering onto Lesotho
  • Northern Free State - Large portions of this area still show the scars of the Fredefort Dome meteor impact.
  • Thabo Mofutsanyana - Eastern portion of the Free State, bordering onto the Lesotho highlands to the south.
  • Xhariep - The southern grass plains
  • Caledon Nature Reserve, near Caledon
  • Erfenis Dam Nature Reserve, just outside Theunissen
  • Gariep Dam Nature Reserve, at Gariep Dam
  • Kalkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, close to Fauresmith
  • Sandveld Nature Reserve, near Bloemhof
  • Soetdoring Nature Reserve, just outside Bloemfontein
  • Tussen-die-Riviere Game Reserve, outside Bethulie
  • Tweefontein Nature Reserve
  • Willem Pretorius Game Reserve, near Ventersburg
  • Qwa-Qwa Park, near Harrismith
  • Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, near Harrismith

Understand

The former Oranje-Vrystaat (Orange-Freestate) was the heartland of the white Afrikaaner population and therefore most people in this region still speak Afrikaans as their first language. It was one of the first independent states, before joining the South African Union and the people here still live up to the voortrekker traditions of braaing and the Afrikaaner lifestyle. The rich soil and pleasant climate allow a thriving agricultural industry. With more than thirty thousand farms, which produce over 70% of the country's grain, it is known locally as South Africa's breadbasket.

Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa, mainly because the founders of the South African Union wanted to unite all people, including the Afrikaaner population.

The Free-State is an important agricultural area in South Africa with beef, and maize the primary products.

Talk

Afrikaans is still the first language of many, but most will definitely understand and speak English. Be prepared for understanding through the accent [2].

The N5 only serves as a connection between the N1 and the N3.

By plane

Bloemfontein Airport [3] has flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town and some other cities in South Africa. Flights are operated by the South African Airways [4] family.

Get around

Best by car, as there are little means of public transport and great distances between each of the towns and cities.

Stay safe

Always have enough water with you, in case your car has a break down. Tell your last hotel where you are going to and which route you use, especially when going into a less populated and rural area.

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Simple English

The Free State (Afrikaans: Vrystaat, Sotho: Foreistata; before 1995, the Orange Free State) is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. The current borders of the province date from 1994 when the Bantustans were destroyed and were put into the provinces of South Africa. It is also the only one of the older provinces of South Africa not to undergo border changes, not counting the incorporation of Bantustans.



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