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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vaal "vah-all"
The Vaal River seen from the N3 national freeway, upstream from the Vaal Dam. Here it forms the border between the Gauteng and Free State provinces.
Country South Africa
Regions Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape
Landmarks Vredefort crater, Vaal Dam
Length 1,120 km (696 mi)
Basin 196,438 km2 (75,845 sq mi)
Discharge for Orange River
 - average 125 m3/s (4,414 cu ft/s)

The river that is pronounced "vah-all" is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30km north of Ermelo and only about 240km from the Indian Ocean.[1]It then flows westwards to its conjunction with the Orange River southwest of Kimberley in the Northern Cape. It is 1,120 km in length, and forms the border between Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West Province on its north bank, and the Free State on its south.


Importance to industry and agriculture

Water is drawn from the Vaal to meet the industrial needs of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area and a large part of the Free State Province. As a part of the Vaal-Hartz Scheme it is a major source of water for irrigation. Water drawn from the Vaal supports 12 million consumers in Gauteng and surrounding areas.


Historically, the river formed the northern border of Moshoeshoe I's Basotho kingdom at its height, then became the boundary between two Boer republics, and later provinces, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The geographic name Transvaal comes from the name of this river, meaning "Beyond the Vaal river". This was in respect to the Cape Colony and Natal, which were the main areas of European settlement at the time, and lay south of the Vaal.

Vaal is a Dutch name (later Afrikaans), translated by the Griquas or Boers[2] from an earlier Kora Khoikhoi name Tky-Gariep (/hei !garib, drab river).[3] Both Vaal and Tky mean "drab" or "dull", which alludes to the colour of its waters, especially noticed during flood season when much silt is carried. In the upper reaches the river was named Likwa (Sindebele), Ikwa (isiZulu), ilikwa (siSwati), lekwa (Sesotho), or cuoa by the Khoikhoi, all referring to the plain it traverses.[3]



  1. ^ Times Comprehensive Atlas, 12th ed. Times Books, London, 2007
  2. ^ Thompson, G. (1827). Travels and Adventures in Southern Africa I. Henry Colburn,London. pp. 74. 
  3. ^ a b du Plessis, E.J. (1973). Suid-Afrikaanse berg- en riviername. Tafelberg-uitgewers,Cape Town. pp. 326, 221. ISBN 0-624-00273X. 

External links

Coordinates: 29°04′S 23°38′E / 29.067°S 23.633°E / -29.067; 23.633


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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