INTRODUCTION TO THE FREE STATE
The Free State is located in the geographical centre of South Africa, bordered by the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, as well as Lesotho. The Free State is a rural province of farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns.
Although the Free State is the third-largest province in South Africa, it has the second-smallest population and the second-lowest population density. It covers an area of 129 825 km² and has a population of over two million people – 5.3% of the national population. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is South Africa’s judicial capital. Other important towns include Welkom, Kroonstad, Sasolburg and Bethlehem.
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, 10 km in diameter, about 100 km 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 19 local municipalities.
Nelson Mandela – inspirational & amazing – Source: http://www.EmilysQuotes.Com
FREE STATE MUNICIPAL AREAS
Mangaung Metropolitan: Mangaung is situated in the central interior of South Africa. The Free State is bordered by the Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces, as well as by the neighbouring country of Lesotho. Mangaung, meaning ‘Place of the Cheetahs’, accentuates the vibrant, dynamic and energetic character of the tourism industry in the ‘At the Heart of it All’.
The economy is strongly driven by the government sector, which has seen the fastest growth in the last five years as a result of increased government programmes in livelihoods improvement interventions. The finance sector is the second-fastest growing sector due to very active estate and construction activities.
Small businesses have a major role to play in the South African, and especially the Mangaung economy in terms of employment creation, income generation and output growth. It is estimated that more than 12 million people in South Africa are actively involved in the SMME sector, which accounts for approximately 60% of all employment in the economy and 40% of output.
In an area such as Mangaung, with its relatively high levels of unemployment and poverty, it can be expected that the SMME sector plays an even more important role in job creation and poverty alleviation. The informal economy makes an important contribution to the economic and social life of Mangaung. Due to the decline in formal employment and consequent increase in unemployment, many people seek alternative means of earning an income.
Cities/Towns: Bloemfontein • Botshabelo • Mangaung • Thaba Nchu
Fezile Dabi District: The District was formerly known as the Northern Free State District Municipality. It is estimated that this area’s population represents approximately 17% of the total population of the Free State. The extent of this district makes up about 27% of the total area of the Free State province. The main attraction site, the Vredefort Dome, being the third-largest meteorite site in the world, is located within the district.
Cities/Towns: Cornelia • Deneysville • Edenville • Frankfort • Heilbron • Koppies • Kragbron • Kroonstad • Oranjeville • Parys • Renovaal • Sasolburg • Steynsrus • Tweeling • Vierfontein • Viljoenskroon • Villiers • Vredefort
Lejweleputswa District: The District is situated in the north-western part of the Free State province and borders the North West province to the north, Fezile Dabi and Thabo Mofutsanyana to the north-east and east respectively, Mangaung and Xhariep to the south, and the Northern Cape Province to the west. It is accessible from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Klerksdorp and Kimberley along the N1, one of the country’s main national roads.
The district has the second-largest area in the province with 24.3% of the area of the Free State.
Cities/Towns: Allanridge • Boshof • Bothaville • Brandfort Bultfontein • Dealesville • Hennenman • Hertzogville • Hoopstad • Odendaalsrus • Soutpan • Theunissen • Ventersburg • Verkeerdevlei • Virginia • Welkom • Wesselsbron • Winburg
Thabo Mofutsanyana District: The District is located in the eastern Free State province, and borders on Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal. It is named after Edwin Thabo Mofutsanyana, a stalwart of the communist party.
The N3 and N5 National Roads pass through the district, and the famous Golden Gate is found in the area on the slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains. Despite all the socio-economic challenges facing this district, the area has huge potential for tourism development because of its scenic beauty and its rich cultural heritage.
Cities/Towns: Arlington • Bethlehem • Clarens • Clocolan • Excelsior • Ficksburg • Fouriesburg • Golden Gate Highlands National Park • Harrismith • Hobhouse • Kestell • Ladybrand • Lindley • Marquard • Memel • Paul Roux • Petrus Steyn • Phuthaditjhaba • Reitz • Rosendal • Senekal • Thaba Patchoa • Tweespruit • Vrede • Warden
Orange River & Gariep Dam
Source: www.dwaf.org.za – Department of Water Affairs & Forestry
Xhariep District: The District is situated in the southern part of the Free State. Its administrative headquarters are in Trompsburg, which lies 125 km south of Bloemfontein.
The towns in this district boast abundant natural resources such as water and agricultural land. The largest dam in South Africa is situated at the southern tip of the district. Three national roads (N1 – Gauteng to Cape Town, N6 – Eastern Cape to Bloemfontein and N8 – Bloemfontein to Kimberley) pass through this area.
Cities/Towns: Bethulie • Dewetsdorp • Edenburg • Fauresmith • Gariep Dam • Jacobsdal • Jagersfontein • Koffiefontein • Luckhoff • Oppermansgronde • Petrusburg • Philippolis • Reddersburg • Rouxville • Smithfield • Springfontein • Trompsburg • Van Stadensrus • Waterkloof • Wepener • Zastron
Source: Information extracted from http://www.localgovernment.co.za