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cheetahwitkop

Free State: quick facts
Capital: Bloemfontein
Languages: 64.2% Sesotho, 12.7% Afrikaans, 7.5% isiXhosa
Population: 2 745 590 (Census 2011)
Share of SA population: 5.3%
Area: 129 825 square kilometres
Share of total SA area: 10.6%

 

The Free State a province of wide horizons and blue skies, farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns lies in the heart of South Africa, with the mountain Kingdom of 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 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 “koppies”. The Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains foothills raise the terrain to over 6 600 ft. in the east. The rich soil and pleasant climate allow for a thriving agricultural industry. With more than 30,00 farms, which produce over 70% of the country's grain, it is known locally as South Africa's breadbasket.

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 importance, mostly found in the north and west of the province.

The Northern and Eastern regions of the Free State are bordered in the East by the majestic Drakensberg Mountains and the Lesotho border, and in the North by the Vaal River. In the far east of the region on the Lesotho border and nestled in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains is the 11600 hectare Golden Gate Highlands National Park. While some national parks are noted for their wildlife, the Golden Gate is one of those noted for its natural beauty, and takes its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the majestic sandstone cliffs of the park.

Just to the North of the Golden Gate is the small town of Bethlehem, whose biblical name means "house of bread", an appropriate name for the town that is at the heart of the country's wheat growing region. In fact, the whole of the Northern and Eastern Freestate is a most important agricultural area, producing a great percentage of South Africa's maize and wheat.

Fauna and flora

The flats in the province provides ideal conditions for large herds of plain game such as black wildebeest, blesbok and springbok. The ridges, koppies and plains typically are home to kudu, red hartebeest, southern white rhinoceros and buffalo. The African wildcat, black wildebeest, zebra, eland, white rhinoceros and wild dog can be seen at the Soetdoring Nature Reserve near Bloemfontein.

Climate

The Free State experiences a continental climate, characterized 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 Bethlehem and Ficksburg are well watered. Bethlehem averages: 27 °C (min: 13 °C), July maximum: 16 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 680 mm

 

 

 Freestate Map

 

 

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