Somerset East is a town located at the foot of the Bosberg. Bosberg region bounded by Swaershoek in the north and Somerset East in the south. Encountered in 1711 as Boschberg, the name is derived from that of the mountains. Afrikaans for ‘bush mountain’, after the vegetation on the slopes. Somerset East is 185 km’s north of Port Elizabeth. It was founded in 1825 and named after Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767-1831), Governor of the Cape Colony from 1814 to 1826 and owner of Somerset Farm on which it was laid out. Municipal status was attained in February 1837.

Visit the Baviaans rivier River in the Somerset district. The name is Dutch for ‘baboons river’, translated from the Khoekhoen Gomee. Bosberge Mountains near Somerset East, so named because they are covered with trees and shrubs. Formerly known as Boesmansberg or Bosjesmans Berg. ‘Bush mountains’; the name is Afrikaans.

Cookhouse is 25 km east of Somerset East, on the west bank of the Great Fish River, which formed the eastern boundary of the Cape Colony until 1819. The Little Fish River rises in the Tandjiesberg 48 km’s southeast of Cradock and joins the Great Fish 56 km’s from Somerset East.

The town of Pearston is some 50 km,s north-west of Somerset East. Somerset East (Afrikaans: Somerset-Oos) is a town located on the Blue Crane Route Eastern Cape. The Blue Crane Route follows the national road R63 from Pearston, via Somerset East, to Cookhouse.

Somerset East is now primarily a farming area for items such as wool and mohair. Ostrich farming is also common.

Somerset East is part of the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality which is a Category B municipality situated within the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape Province. It is bordered by the Chris Hani District in the north, Sundays River Valley in the south, Amathole District and Makana in the east, and Dr Beyers Naudé in the west. It is the second-largest municipality of seven in the district, accounting for 19% of the geographical area, and is an an administrative area. The municipality is named after the South African national bird, the blue crane.

Area: 11 068km²

Cities/Towns: Cookhouse, Pearston, Petersburg, Somerset East.

Blue Crane Route Local Municipal area has a number of strategic environment advantages. It contains 97% of natural land covers, is centrally located between three national parks, contains biodiversity of regional and national significance, can boast incredible scenic beauty, and local conditions present a number of opportunities for renewable energy generation on a large scale. However the area faces a number of issues such as higher densities of population primarily concentrated in the three urban centres.

The low agricultural productivity and carrying capacity of much of the land in the municipality, combined with limited access to water for irrigation, has restricted development of the agricultural economy. The remoteness of the urban centres limits growth of business, services and sectors.

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 13,619
Young (0-14) 28,6%
Working Age (15-64) 62,4%
Elderly (65+) 8,9%
Dependency ratio 60,2
Sex ratio 90,5
Population density 191 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 9,2%
Higher education aged 20+ 8,2%
Matric aged 20+ 27,5%
Number of households 3,758
Average household size 3,5
Female headed households 46,1%
Formal dwellings 95,5%
Housing owned/paying off 60,6%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 96,2%
Weekly refuse removal 97,7%
Piped water inside dwelling 56,7%
Electricity for lighting 92%


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