Background and History of the Free State Province in South Africa

Orange Free State 17 February 1854
OFS Province 31 May 1910
Free State 27 April 1994
Bloemfontein
Xhariep
Motheo
Lejweleputswa
Thabo Mofutsanyana
Fezile Dabi
• Total 129,825 km2 (50,126 sq mi)
Area rank 3rd in South Africa
• Total 2,745,590
• Estimate (2015) 2,817,900
• Rank 8th in South Africa
• Density 21/km2 (55/sq mi)
• Density rank 8th in South Africa
The Free State experiences a continental climate, characterised by warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Areas in the east experience frequent snowfalls, especially on the higher ranges, whilst the west can be extremely hot in summer. Almost all precipitation falls in the summer months as brief afternoon thunderstorms, with aridity increasing towards the west. Areas in the east around Harrismith, Bethlehem and Ficksburg are well watered. The capital, Bloemfontein, experiences hot, moist summers and cold, dry winters frequented by severe frost.

Bloemfontein averages: January maximum: 31 °C (min: 15 °C), July maximum: 17 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 559 mm
Bethlehem averages: 27 °C (min: 13 °C), July maximum: 16 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 680 mm
The Free State is situated on a succession of flat grassy plains sprinkled with pastureland, resting on a general elevation of 3,800 feet only broken by the occasional hill or kopje. The rich soil and pleasant climate allow for a thriving agricultural industry. With more than 30,000 farms, which produce over 70% of the country's grain, it is known locally as South Africa's breadbasket.

The province is high-lying, with almost all land being 1,000 metres above sea level. The Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains foothills raise the terrain to over 2,000 m in the east. The Free State lies in the heart of the Karoo Sequence of rocks, containing shales, mudstones, sandstones and the Drakensberg Basalt forming the youngest capping rocks. Mineral deposits are plentiful, with gold and diamonds being of particular importance, mostly found in the north and west of the province.
The Free State is characterised by wide open spaces and flat land interspersed by majestic mountains. The farming areas are fertile with areas rich in mineral deposits. The Free State is a region wedged between the magnificent Orange and Vaal Rivers with Lesotho as its border nestling in the hollow beneath impressive mountains.

The Orange River forms the southern boundary of the Free State and includes the Gariep and Vanderkloof Dams, which are the largest dams in the country. Many of the towns display a mix of culture clearly evident in the street names, public buildings, monuments and museums. Some of South Africa’s most valued San rock art is found in the regions in the Free State.

There are many little quaint and interesting tourist based towns scattered across the Free State including; Clarens, Parys, Dewetsdorp, Koffiefontein, Ventersburg to name but a few.


The Free State is characterised by wide open spaces and flat land interspersed by majestic mountains. The farming areas are fertile with areas rich in mineral deposits. The Free State is a region wedged between the magnificent Orange and Vaal Rivers with Lesotho as its border nestling in the hollow beneath impressive mountains.

The Orange River forms the southern boundary of the Free State and includes the Gariep and Vanderkloof Dams, which are the largest dams in the country. Many of the towns display a mix of culture clearly evident in the street names, public buildings, monuments and museums. Some of South Africa’s most valued San rock art is found in the regions in the Free State.

There are many little quaint and interesting tourist based towns scattered across the Free State including; Clarens, Parys, Dewetsdorp, Koffiefontein, Ventersburg to name but a few.

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