Capital city: Bloemfontein
Population: 2,9 million
Surface area: 130 000 square km
Situated at the centre of South Africa, the province of the Free State has a varied landscape, going from rock-strewn grassland in its western extremity to sandstone hills to the east.
The city of Bloemfontein (“Flower Fountain”) is host to some fine museums, such as the National Museum and the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, as well as the National Women’s Memorial and War Museum, which is dedicated to the story of British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.
South of Bloemfontein lies the Gariep Dam, an immense dam measuring roughly 375 square km (145 square miles), which is used for irrigation purposes and the generation of hydroelectric power. To the east of the city, one approaches the national border with Lesotho, and on the way to Lesotho one passes Thaba Nchu, which is where the independent Basotho tribe used to be based. Further east one finds the town of Ladybrand, on the key route into Lesotho. To the north of the city of Bloemfontein is Ficksburg, which hosts a cherry celebration every year in the spring, and also a settlement called Rustler’s Valley, which has a music festival every autumn. Travelling north-east one finds the Golden Gate National Park, at the foot of the Drakensberg mountains.