Free State province of South Africa. According to the Mid-year population estimates, 2017, there were over 2,8 million people in the Free State on about 129 825 km2 of land. The main languages spoken are Sesotho, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.
The Free State has wide horizons and blue skies, farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns. It 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.
The Free State sprawls over high plains and stretching along the Maluti Mountains bordering Lesotho. Near the sandstone cliffs and Basotho Cultural Village of Golden Gate Highlands National Park is Clarens, a town distinguished by its art galleries. The Anglo-Boer War Museum in South Africa’s judicial capital of Bloemfontein traces the Free State’s history as a Boer republic.
Mangaung, comprising Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu, has an established institutional, educational and administrative infrastructure. With Bloemfontein being South Africa’s judicial capital, the province houses the Supreme Court of Appeal. Important towns include Welkom, Sasolburg, Odendaalsrus, Kroonstad, Parys, Phuthaditjhaba, Bethlehem and the charming village of Clarens situated in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains.
Some of South Africa’s most valued San rock art can be found in the Free State. Other tourist attractions include the Golden Gate National Park, the annual air show in Bethlehem, the Cherry Festival in Ficksburg and the Fauresmith International Endurance Ride equestrian event. The annual Mangaung African Cultural Festival, known as Macufe, is hosted in partnership with the Tourism Authority and the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State. The Vredefort Dome, 10 km in diameter, is South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site.
Municipal Regions of the Free state
The Fezile Dabi District is an important agricultural production area, mainly maize. The Vaal Dam is the main source of water and offers a wide variety of leisure facilities. Other attractions include the Vredefort Dome, which is the third largest meteorite site in the world, and San paintings. Sasolburg is the location of the country’s largest chemical and synthetic fuel plant.
The Lejweleputswa District boasts goldfields and it is a major agricultural area. The district forms part of the larger Witwatersrand basin. The first gold was discovered in the early 1940s. Bothaville is one of the important maize centres in the country. The annual National Maize Production Organisation festival attracts more than 70 000 visitors and is the second largest private show in the world.
The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality contains the largest population and comprises mainly of open grassland, with mountains in the most eastern region. The main urban centre is Bloemfontein. The city is the trade and administrative hub of the Free State and boasts the provincial government and the seat of the Appeal Court of South Africa. It also has a rich history, which includes the establishment of the African National Congress in 1912 and the National Party in 1914.
The Thabo Mofutsanyana District borders Lesotho to the east and has beautiful hills and fruit farms. The district is one of the most important tourism destinations due to spectacular scenic beauty of the Drakensberg and Maluti mountain ranges. Other attractions include the Golden Gate Highland Park, the annual cherry festival at Ficksburg, a Basotho cultural village in Maluti-a-Phofung, and Khoisan rock paintings.
The Xhariep District is located in the south-west of the province and is a semi-arid area with extensive farming, mainly sheep. The district comprises open grasslands with small wide dispersed towns. The Xhariep Dam is one of the tourists’ attractions. It offers a variety of leisure facilities.
Although the Free State is the third-largest province in South Africa, it has the second-smallest population and the second-lowest population density. The economy is dominated by agriculture, mining and manufacturing. Known as the ‘bread basket’ of South Africa, about 90% of the province is under cultivation for crop production. It produces approximately 34% of the total maize production of South Africa, 37% of wheat, 53% of sorghum, 33% of potatoes, 18% of red meat, 30% of groundnuts and 15% of wool. The province is the world’s fifth-largest gold producer, with mining the major employer. It is a leader in the chemicals industry, being home to the giant synthetic-fuels company, Sasol.
The Vredefort Dome, 10km in diameter, about 100km south-west of Johannesburg, is South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site.
The Free State is divided into one metropolitan municipality (Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality) and four district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 18 local municipalities.
Free State Agriculture
Agriculture dominates the Free State landscape, with cultivated land covering 32 000 km2 and natural veld and grazing 87 000 km2 of the province. 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.
Free State Mining
The National Development Plan has intensified the mining potential that still exists in the goldfields region of Matjhabeng in the Lejweleputswa District as a job intervention zone. The De Bron-Merriespruit Gold Project and the Bloemhoek Gold Project are included as potential development projects in the scope of work of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.
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. Gold mines in the Free State also supply a substantial portion of the total silver produced in the country. Uranium occurring in the gold-bearing conglomerates of the goldfields is extracted as a by-product. The Free State’s gold reef of more than 400 km stretches across the province from Gauteng. South Africa’s largest goldmining complex is Free State Consolidated Goldfields, with an area of 330 km2.
Bituminous coal is mined and converted to petrochemicals at Sasolburg.
The province 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.
Free State Manufacturing and industry
The Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone is the Free State’s share of the logistics and industrial corridor. The Vehicle Distribution Centre was established in partnership with the German Bremen Logistics Group, which committed R60 million towards this project. The Harrismith Food Processing Park forms part of the broader development initiative. The green economic solar zone in the Xhariep district was expected to result in the establishment of the Xhariep Solar Park, harnessing the solar radiation in the southern part of the Free State.
The Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme forms part of Eskom’s capital expansion programme. This energy infrastructure project is located on the border of the Phumelela and Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipalities in the Free State and eMnambithi Local Municipality and the uThukela District Municipality in KwaZuluNatal.
Sasol South Africa, the largest producer of synthetic fuels on the sub-continent, remains a key role-player in the Free State economy. Its investment in its Sasolburg operations is evident from the Wax Expansion project, the Ethylene Purification Unit 5, the Gas Engine Power Plant and Clean Fuels 2. The Omnia Nitric Acid complex, located within the Sasol Industrial Complex, includes a nitric acid plant, an ammonium nitrate plant, a porous ammonium nitrate plant, a fleet of 145 specialised ammonia rail tankers and other ancillary facilities.
Free State Tourism Routes
The Cheetah Route takes you through the Mangaung District – the cultural and political heart of the Free State. Abundant historical, cultural and natural attractions make the region a top business and recreational destination.
Towns on the Cheetah Route are:
Following the Free State’s southern border with Lesotho, the Eagle route runs from Ficksburg to Harrismith through some of the most picturesque landscape in the country. Activity highlights include cherry picking, seeing dinosaur fossils and rock paintings, arts & craft shopping, skiing in the winter slopes, horse riding and 4X4 trips.
The towns to explore on the Eagle route are:
The Springbok Route, which connects the Free State with the Northern Cape, winds through the scenic farmlands and nature reserves of the Xhariep District. A wealth of cultural and historical attractions en route include battle sites, San rock engravings, game farms and diamond mines.
The towns along the Springbok route are:
- Gariep Dam
The Flamingo Route runs through the Lejweleputswa District, an important agricultural and gold-producing area. This combination makes for a variety of leisure activities – exploring a local gold mine, game viewing and visiting key historical sites. And for lovers of the fast lane, the Free State’s own Phakisa Freeway Race Track is a must-see.
The route includes the following towns:
If you want a taste of everything that is typically “Free State”, the Lion Route has it – from culture to nature to history.
The towns along the Lion Route are:
Tourism in The Free State
BASOTHO CULTURAL VILLAGE
• Is a cultural jewel of the Free State.
• Located about 14 km’s from the Golden Gate Hotel.
• The rest camp has two and four sleeper self–catering rondavels with stunning views of the mountains.
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park and approximately 80 provincial, municipal and privately owned nature parks, nature reserves, game reserves, game farms, etc.
Hunting is a popular tourist attraction at farms such as Driehoek, Excelsior, Hanover, Hartenbos and Holfontein near Bultfontein. Other hunting areas with packaged tours are located at Hertzogville, Wesselsbron, areas around Thaba ’Nchu, Frankfort, Heilbron, etc
The Free State National Botanical Garden in Bloemfontein spans over 70 ha and is home to approximately 400 species of plants mainly from the Free State, Northern Cape and Lesotho. Furthermore, approximately 124 species of birds and 54 species of reptiles inhabit the garden.
Dramatic mountainscapes, huge bodies of water that lend themselves to recreation, spectacular national parks, World Heritage Sites, and wide open spaces — the Free State has all of this, and then some.
As South Africa’s most centrally located province, the Free State is easy to get to and it has shown a growing ability and desire to host big events.
Opportunities for growth
The current state and shape of Free State’s economy clearly presents huge opportunities for investors in the manufacturing sector. The Free State Development Corporation (FDC) is actively searching for investors, and giving them a helping hand, as in the construction of factories in the Harrismith and Botshabelo areas. The opening of a Makro store in Bloemfontein, and extensions being carried out on other retail malls, indicate that a recovery in the provincial economy is under way.
Massive investments by companies in the oil and gas and petrochemical sector in Sasolburg have also boosted the economy. In agriprocessing, a number of opportunities exist in the province. Some products that are being explored are cherries, asparagus, vegetables, wholesale meat, leather and increased seed production in the province’s eastern reaches. Tourism is another sector that is being targeted as the province seeks to diversify its economy away from an over-dependence on agriculture and mining.
“City of Roses”
With its King’s Park Rose Garden containing more than 4 000 rose bushes, the Free State’s major city, Bloemfontein, has rightfully earned the nickname “City of Roses”. The city also hosts an annual rose festival.
The town of Bothaville hosts one of the largest agricultural festivals in the world, NAMPO, every year during May. Attendance of the 2011 festival set a new record of 73 552 people over the four-day period. The town is also the head office of Maize South Africa.
The longest bridge in South Africa is the D.H Steyn bridge at 2 993 meter on the outskirts of the town Bethulie in the Xhariep district.
Centre point of SA
Emmaus, the centre point of South Africa, is located 20 km from the town of Petrusburg in the Xhariep district.
The annual Cherry Festival held in Ficksburg (Setsoto Local Municipality) is the oldest crop festival in South Africa. A little known fact is that all of South Africa’s glazed cherries are produced in Ficksburg. The 45th anniversary of this festival will be celebrated in 2012.
Commercial Plane Crash
Spitzkop, a koppie near Memel, was the site of South Africa’s first commercial plane crash. On 15 May 1948 a Skyliner (a version of the well known DC3) belonging to Mercury Airways, crashed into Spitzkop, killing all 13 people on board. The crash was, at the time, regarded as South Africa’s biggest air disaster.
The largest dam in South Africa is the Gariep Dam in the Xhariep district.
The world’s oldest dinosaur eggs, 200 million-year-old prosauropod dinosaur embryos, were found in the Golden Gate National Park in the Thabo Mofutsanyane district in 1978.
Oilseeds – Groundnuts
Groundnuts are grown mainly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. The normal planting time for groundnuts is mid October to mid-November.
Sunflower seed is produced in the Free State, North West, the Mpumalanga Highveld and in Limpopo. During the 2016 production season, the bulk of the crop was produced in the Free State (55,7%), North West (34.1%) and Limpopo (9,1%).
Fauresmith is the only town in South Africa, and one of only three in the world, where the railway line runs down the centre of the main road.
The largest grain silo’s in the world is found at Wesselsbron.
Founded in 1870, Jagersfontein (Xhariep district) is the world’s oldest diamond mining town and the first place where diamonds were discovered in its mother stone or blue ground, or as it’s now known, Kimberlite. Of the ten biggest diamonds ever found, two came from the Jagersfontein mine.
Highest town above sea level
Petrus Steyn is the Free State town highest above sea level at 1702 meters.
The largest indoor arena in the southern hemisphere is in Parys. The Parys Indoor Arena is a first in South Africa and includes a sand warm-up arena in the Shute and a grass arena for flat work and lunging. The SA Boerboel championships, horse shows and cattle shows are regularly hosted at the arena. There are approximately 460 indoor stables, private boxes for spectators and it has its own restaurant and bar.
Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area
The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area is a trans-boundary initiative in Lesotho and South Africa. It includes a conservation area and World Heritage Site, which was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in December 2000. The conserved areas include the Ukhahlamba World Heritage Site, Golden Gate National Park, QwaQwa National Park, Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, and conserved areas within Lesotho.
Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality
The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is a metropolitan municipality which governs Bloemfontein and surrounding towns in the Free State province of South Africa. Mangaung is a Sesotho name meaning “place of Cheetahs”.
Free State, the birthplace of the ANC
On 8 January 2012, Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the ANC, celebrated 100 years of existence. This was a historic achievement, not only for the movement, but also for South Africa, the continent and the world. Thousands of ordinary South Africans, political and religious leaders attended the centenary celebrations which were held in Mangaung, Free State, the birthplace of the ANC.
ANC early years
In its early years, the ANC was concerned mainly with constitutional protest. Worker militancy emerged in the wake of the First World War and continued through the 1920s. It included strikes and an anti-pass campaign, given impetus by women, particularly in the Free State, resisting the extension of the pass laws to them.
The Free State province produced 48,0% (17 000 t) of the 2015/16 commercial crop. The leading dry bean producer in South Africa.
Olive Tree Forest
The largest wild olive tree forest in South Africa is located at 20 km outside Parys near Venterskroon
The 1914 Rebellion started in Memel three and a half years after the establishment of the Union of South Africa. In 1914, when war broke out between Britain and Germany, the South African government’s announcement that also was going to invade German South West Africa (today’s Namibia), fighting broke out between former Generals of the Anglo-Boer War and government forces.
The Maloti Route is the longest signed tourism route in South Africa. It starts in Harrismith and proceeds through the Free State to the Orange River after which it crosses the Eastern Cape to the N2 on the Wild Coast. It also includes Lesotho from the north to the south. In the Free State it passes through Ladybrand, Hobhouse, Wepener, Vanstadensrus and Zastron on the R26 Route.
The Vredefort Structurein the Vredefort/Parys area has been declared South Africa’s 7th International World Heritage Site and is recognized worldwide as the oldest and biggest meteorite impact site.
Central University of Technology, Free State
Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology
The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology is comprised of six departments, namely the Department of Built Environment, Department of Civil Engineering, Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Department of Information Technology. READ MORE »
Faculty of Management Sciences
It is the Faculty’s objective to prepare graduates for professional business and public management practice. As a result of adopting a unique approach to business and public management training, the employment rate of our graduates is high. READ MORE »
Faculty of Humanities
Orientation 2018 Join us at orientation, get to know your faculty on 25 January 2018 at 09h00. Venue: Auditorium E003, Ground Floor, Kopanong building Download full Orientation guide 2018 (PDF) READ MORE »
Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences
The Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences consists of four departments, namely the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Clinical Sciences, the Department of Health Sciences, and the Department of Life Sciences. READ MORE »
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University of the Free State
Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences Home
What is Economic and Management Sciences?
The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences is a dynamic and innovative faculty that effectively meets the demands and challenges of the fast-changing economic and management environment. As a result of this, both our undergraduate and postgraduate students have access to unparalleled opportunities for training, research, and community service, and in particular the additional opportunity to gain international exposure by means of various exchange agreements.
Faculty of Education
The Faculty of Education is located on all three UFS campuses, namely Bloemfontein, South, and Qwaqwa.
The University of the Free State’s Faculty of Education educates teachers in several disciplines. Our one role is to prepare pre-service teachers for their work in schools, ensuring that they have a strong disciplinary base for their professional work
A second major role is the teaching of in-service teachers. This work is informed by and closely related to our research and community outreach. We bring to our work a keen interest in the local context, as the opportunity for exploring issues that are universal in education. We work closely with schools and other sites of education and attempt to keep theory and practice in dialogue with each other.
The faculty offers a wide range of undergraduate degrees and diplomas as well as postgraduate certificates, honours, master’s and doctoral programmes. We place a high value on students as central to our work.
Faculty of Health Sciences
The Faculty of Health Sciences renders a quality healthcare service to the diverse health care needs in South Africa, taking into consideration the four pillars of:
- teaching and learning
- community service
- service delivery
Focus of teaching and training
Participation in various professional and national organizations as well as the faculty’s contribution to research has shifted the focus of teaching and training from a purely professional base to a combined effort between:
- profession and
Faculty of the Humanities
The primary purpose of a Humanities education is to give you access to critical thinking skills, appreciation of literature, understanding of cultures, the uses of power, the mysteries of the mind, the organisation of societies, the complexities of leadership, the art of communication, and the challenge of change. All of these skills will support you in your future careers. A qualification in the Humanities is therefore well respected all over the world, and people with this type of qualification form the backbone of society.
Faculty of Law
Within the broader context of the vision as an excellent, equitable, and innovative university, the faculty strives to:
- be constantly recognised nationally and internationally for the quality of its activities and for the achievements of its students and staff;
- continuously maintain and expand a national and regional perspective in order to maintain its operations;
- contribute to the reconstruction and development of the entire community within its own context.
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Maps of our campuses
Bloemfontein Campus: +27 51 401 9111
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Free State Population.
- Sesotho 71,9%
- Afrikaans 10,9%
- IsiXhosa 5,7%
Population: 2 834 714
Percentage share of the total South African population: 5,1%
Area: 129 825 km2
Source: Stats SA’s Mid-year population estimates 2017 and Community Survey 2016