Free State

The Free State lies in the heart of South Africa, with the 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 capital, Bloemfontein, has a well-established institutional, educational and administrative infrastructure, and houses the Supreme Court of Appeal. The province has a well-known university and many other training institutions.

Important towns include Welkom, the heart of the goldfields and one of the few completely pre-planned cities in the world; Odendaalsrus, another gold-mining town; Sasolburg, which owes its existence to the petrol-from-coal installation established there; Kroonstad, an important agricultural, administrative and educational centre; Parys on the banks of the Vaal River; Phuthaditjhaba, well known for the beautiful handcrafted items produced by the local people; and Bethlehem, gateway to the Eastern Highlands of the Free State.

The road network density of the province is the third-highest in the country. The big national road, which is the artery between Gauteng and the Western and Eastern Cape, passes through the middle of the Free State.