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Information on Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

Conference Venues South Africa brings you information on Bloemfontein in the Free State,  South Africa including information on Facilities, Climate, Founding, History Suburbs, Town Planning and Geography.

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Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State in South Africa and also the judicial capital, and one of the three national capitals together with Pretoria and Cape Town. Bloemfontein is widely and poetically known as the city of roses. The city's Sesotho name is Mangaung, meaning place of cheetahs. Bloemfontein has been included in the Mangaung Local Municipality since 2000

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Bloemfontein is situated on the southern edge of the Highveld at an elevation of 1,400 metres, bordering on the semiarid region of the Karoo and is generally flat with occasional hills. The vegetation is mostly Highveld grassland. Bloemfontein experiences a semiarid climate, with hot summer days ; frequent afternoon thunderstorms and cooler, dry winters, often with frosts.

Bloemfontein offers many institutions of learning. Classes are taught in different schools in different languages with some schools even teaching all classes in two languages. Generally Afrikaans, English or Sesotho.

Visitors have the unique opportunity to interact with Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and other rescued animals at the Cheetah Experience in the suburb of Bainsvlei, only 5mins from the centre of Bloemfontein. Coming face to face with these creatures outside of a zoo environment is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.

You can also enjoy a day or two  at the Bloemfontein Zoo. Zoo Snoozes are only one of the activities arranged by Friends of the Bloemfontein Zoo.

Franklin Game Reserve, atop NavalHill, was named after John Franklin, South African Senator, attorney and Mayor of Bloemfontein in the 1930s

History of Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein is a historically predominantly Afrikaner settlement, although it was officially founded as a fort by British army major Henry Douglas Warden as a British outpost in 1846. At that point, it was occupied by various groups of peoples including Cape Colony Trek Boers, Basotho and Griqua.

Although modern day Bloemfontein has a reputation for its flowers, the origin of the city's name is uncertain. Popular legends include Jan Blom (1775–1858), a Korana KhoiKhoi leader who inhabited the area, while another story tells of an ox named Bloem, owned by one of the first pioneer farmers that was taken by a lion near a fountain on his property. Bloemfontein literally means fountain of flowers.

The area changed to the Orange River Sovereignty from 1848 to 1854 and eventually in 1854-1902 to the Orange Free State Republic. From 1902 to 1910, it served as the capital of the Orange River Colony. It became the Judicial capital of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

Founding and early days

Warden originally chose this site largely because of its proximity to the main route to Winburg, the absence of horse sickness and the vast open country. Bloemfontein was originally the farm of Johannes Nicolaas Brits, owner and first inhabitant of Bloemfontein who sold the farm to Maj Warden.


Numerous public buildings that remain in use today were constructed. Largely due to the excellent governance of the Republic, and the compensation from the British for the loss of the diamond rich Griqualand area.  In 1890, a railway line was built to connect Bloemfontein to Cape Town.

South African War and Second Anglo-Boer War

In 1899, the city was the site of the Bloemfontein Conference. The conference was a final attempt to avert a war between Britain and the South African Republic. With its failure, the stage was set for war.

The rail line from Cape Town provided a centrally located railway station, and proved critical to the British in occupying the city later.

On 13 March 1900, following the Battle of Paardeberg, British forces captured the city and built a concentration camp near to house Boer women and children. The National Women's Memorial, on the outskirts of the city, pays homage to the 26,370 women and children as well as 1,421 old men (including 14,154 black people, though some sources feel that the records are unsatisfactory and that this number could be as high as 20,000) who died in these camps in various parts of the country.

Recent history

Until 1994, the city was the sole judicial capital of South Africa. It remains the seat for the Supreme Court Of Appeal (formerly the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court) and is widely regarded as the judicial capital. It is also an administrative centre with many private hospitals and educational institutions.

Towns and Suburbs of the Free State province of South Africa

Bethlehem, Bloemfontein, Brandwag, Clarens, Dan Pienaar, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Gariep Dam, Harrismith, Kroonstad, Ladybrand, Langenhovenpark, Parys, Rayton, Sasolburg, Senekal, Smithfield, Thaba Nchu, Vredefort, Welkom, Wepener


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