Free State

Overview

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The Free State, a province of wide horizons and blue skies, farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns, lies in the heart of South Africa, with Lesotho nestling in the hollow of its bean-like shape. Between the Vaal River in the north and the Orange River in the south, this immense rolling prairie stretches as far as the eye can see.

According to the Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2011, there were over 2,7 million people in the Free State on about 129 480 km2 of land. The main languages spoken are Sesotho, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

In May 2011, Manguang, comprising Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu, became South Africa’s newest metropolitan authority. It has an established institutional, educational and administrative infrastructure, and houses the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Important towns include Welkom, the heart of the goldfields and one of the few completely preplanned cities in the world; Odendaalsrus, another gold-mining town; Sasolburg, which owes its existence to the petrol-from-coal installation established there; Kroonstad, an important agricultural, administrative and educational centre; Parys, on the banks of the Vaal River; Phuthaditjhaba, well known for the beautiful handcrafted items produced by the local people; and Bethlehem, gateway to the Eastern Highlands of the Free State.

The N1, which is the artery between Gauteng and the Western and Eastern Cape, passes through the middle of the Free State.

Some of South Africa’s most valued San rock art can be found in the Free State. Other key tourism attractions include the annual air show in Bethlehem, the Cherry Festival in Ficksburg, the Phakisa-Nascar event in Welkom, and the Fauresmith International Endurance Ride equestrian event.

The annual Mangaung African Cultural Festival, popularly called Macufe, is hosted in partnership with the Free State Tourism Authority and the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State.

The Vredefort Dome, 10 km in diameter, about 100 km south-west of Johannesburg, was voted South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site in 2005.

Statistics

 

Capital Bloemfontein
Principal languages Sesotho 64,2%
Afrikaans 12,2%
isiXhosa 7,5%
Population 2 753 200
Share of total population 5,2%
Area (km2) 129 825
Percentage of total area 10,6%

Info Box

Info
The Free State, a mainly rural province, is well-known for its rolling landscapes, friendly people and warm traditional hospitality. The province lies in the heart of South Africa, with Lesotho nestling in its bean-like shape.

 

Geography

History

City’s and Towns

Fauna and Flora

Tourist Attractions

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