Orange Free State

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Related to Orange Free State: Cape Colony, Cape Province, Orange Free State Province

Orange Free State,

former province, South Africa: see Free StateFree State,
formerly Orange Free State, province (2011 pop. 2,745,590), 50,126 sq mi (129,825 sq km), E central South Africa. It was renamed Free State shortly after the 1994 post-apartheid constitution went into effect.
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Orange Free State


a province of the Republic of South Africa. Area, 129,200 sq km. Population, 1,651,600 (1970 estimate), including 1,320,000 Bantu, 295,000 persons of European descent, and 36,000 mulattoes. The African population is concentrated in reservations (the so-called bantustans), which occupy less than 1 percent of the province’s land area. Nonwhites are subjected to racial discrimination. Bloemfontein is the provincial capital.

The Orange Free State is situated on an interior plateau 1,200 to 1,800 m high, which rises in the east to 2,300 m in the Drakensberg Mountains. The climate is subtropical, continental, and arid. From east to west the annual precipitation diminishes from 900 to 250 mm. There is a large river, the Orange, with its tributaries the Vaal and the Caledon. A dam, reservoir, and hydroelectric power plant were built in 1972 on the Orange River at Norvalspont. The plateau supports primarily a steppe and shrub vegetation, growing on fertile cinnamon-colored and gray soils; the southwest is shrub semidesert.

More than 60 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, of which animal husbandry is the most important branch. Livestock, which numbered about 9 million sheep, 2 million head of cattle, and more than 200,000 horses in 1968, is concentrated primarily on large stock farms. The main crops are maize and wheat. Grown chiefly in the northwest, maize from the Orange Free State supplies more than one-third of the total harvested in the Republic of South Africa. Wheat from the Caledon River valley amounts to more than one-fourth of the national output.

The goldfields at Odendaalsrus, Allanridge, and Welkom, which were developed after World War II, account for more than one-third of the republic’s gold output. A valuable byproduct is the uranium that is extracted from the gold tailings and ores. Diamonds are mined at Koffiefontein and Jagersfontein, and low-grade coal, extracted south of Vereeniging, is processed into synthetic fuel at Sasolburg.

The Orange Free State has the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and its machine-building enterprises handle rolling-stock repairs, motor-vehicle assembly, and cable manufacturing. Light industry includes the production of leather and footwear, textiles, and clothing. There is also a food-processing industry. Bloemfontein and Welkom are the main industrial centers. Out of a total of 2,700 km of railroads, 500 km were electric-powered as of 1968.


The Orange Free State was originally inhabited by Basuto tribes. The Afrikaners (Boers), who first arrived in the 1830’s, brutally exploited the indigenous population. In March 1854 the Boers created the republic of the Orange Free State, with citizenship restricted to persons of European origin. During the Boer War (1899–1902) the Orange Free State was allied with the Transvaal against Great Britain. As a result of the war, the Orange Free State was annexed by the British, who administered it as the Orange River Colony. In 1907 the colony was granted self-government. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 (Republic of South Africa since 1961), the Orange Free State joined as one of the union’s four provinces.

Orange Free State

a former province of central South Africa, between the Orange and Vaal rivers: settled by Boers in 1836 after the Great Trek; annexed by Britain in 1848; became a province of South Africa in 1910; replaced in 1994 by the new province of Free State; economy based on agriculture and mineral resources (esp gold and uranium). Capital: Bloemfontein
References in periodicals archive ?
93] Impoverished rural Afrikaners abandoned the western Transvaal and northern Orange Free State for cities and towns of the Witwatersrand in the tens of thousands.
In February the first Australian contingents marched north in Roberts' invasion of the Orange Free State or helped Ralph Clements contain a Boer invasion of the Colesberg district.
Prior to the 1994 elections, South Africa was divided into four provinces -- the Cape, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Natal -- their boundaries established more than a century earlier when the Cape and Natal were British territories and the Transvaal and Orange Free State were Boer Republics.
The iron carbide plant would be sited near steel maker Iscor's Sishen iron ore mine and would involve the laying of a gas pipeline from Sasol's plants in the Orange Free State or from the Kudu gas fields off the Namibian coast.
asked Will of Ian McGeechan, forgetting or oblivious to the fact that the Lions' coach had mis- sed the match against Orange Free State, staying behind for a break in Durban.
In South Africa, he was responsible for the introduction of mechanized mining systems to the gold mines of Anglo-American Corporation in the Orange Free State.
Though John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, South Africa, Tolkein's mother and her two young sons John and Hilary moved into 5 Gracewell, now 264 Wake Green Road, in 1896.
Heriot's squeezed into the final with a shock 20-19 win against the South African favourites from Orange Free State University.
The plan involved Llanelli, Cardiff, Bridgend and Pontypridd playing in a knock-out event with Western Province, Orange Free State, Northern Bulls and Eastern Province.
The Rugby Challenge Cup would see Orange Free State, Northern Bulls, Eastern Province and Western Province compete against Cardiff, Bridgend, Pontypridd and Llanelli during the break for the autumn internationals.
I was once offered a three-year contract for the side then known as Orange Free State but declined, a decision regretted to this day.
We'll be meeting up with Andy Moles who's now with Orange Free State and has been looking after that end of the tour for us," he said.