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For more information, visit: http://www.southafrica.info/about/geography/free-state.htm#.U-U5IvmSySo
The Free State is located in the centre of the Country with Lesotho being wedged into the south-eastern curve of the province. Before democracy in 1994, the province was known as the Orange Free State. The Province is defined by an expanse of grassland and crop fields while there are stunning sandstone mountains in the north-east.
The Provincial Capital City is Bloemfontein. There is an established institutional, educational and administrative infrastructure within the province.
Other important towns within the Free State are Welkom which is one of the world few completely pre-planned cities due to being the heart of the goldfields. Sasolberg which received its name from the petrochemical company Sasol, Kroonstad which is an agricultural, administrative and educational centre. There is then also Phuthaditjhaba, which is a large settlement known for its beautiful traditional handcrafted items.
The Free State has been moving more away from mining and primary agriculture as its main economy drivers and more towards manufacturing and export.
The chemical sector which is located in the north of the province is one of the Southern hemisphere most important. The petrochemicals company, Sasol, is a world leader in the production of chemicals, fuel and waxes. Despite this, mining is still the provinces main employer due to a 400km long gold reef which stretches across the Free State and Gauteng. South Africa is the world's largest producer of gold, of which the Free State is the home to the country's largest gold-mining complex. There are 12 gold mines in the province producing 30% of South Africa's total output. Silver and uranium are also mined in the goldmines but are more by-products of the gold mining process.
LAND AND WILDLIFE
The Free State is the third largest province taking up a total of 129 825 square kilometres.
Agriculture is one of the Free States dominating industries with 32 000 square kilometres of cultivated land, 87 000 square kilmetres of natural veld and grazing which makes us 119 000 square kilometres of the provinces total 129 825. Soya, sorghum, sunflowers, wheat, cherries, asparagus and potatoes are a few of the provinces products. Flowers are a large export from the province due to the opposing seasons between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It exports in excess of 1.2 million tons of flowers a year.
2 billion years ago, a 10km wide meteor collided with the Earth forming a range of hills called the Vredefort Dome and is 1 of South Africa's 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are a number of national parks in the province, including The Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which received its name due to the sandstone cliffs which are transformed into spectacular golden walls when cast over by the sun.