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Definition: Bloemfontein from Philip's Encyclopedia

City and judicial capital of South Africa, capital of Free State. Dutch farmers settled here in the early 19th century. It contains the oldest Dutch Reformed church in South Africa. The modern city is an important educational centre. Industries: furniture, glassware. Pop. (2002) 371,200.


Summary Article: Bloemfontein
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Capital of the Free State (formerly Orange Free State) and judicial capital of the Republic of South Africa; population (2001) 645,400. Founded in 1846 and declared a municipality in 1880, the city produces canned fruit, glassware, furniture, plastics, and railway engineering. The economic growth of the city was stimulated from the mid-20th century by the development of the Free State goldfields (160 km/100 mi to the northeast), as well as by the Orange River project which is a major source both of hydroelectricity and of water for irrigation and domestic supply. The city's climate makes it a popular health resort.

Location Bloemfontein is situated on a plateau 1,405 m/4,610 ft above sea level on the River Modder. Connected by rail and road with Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Johannesburg, the city is a major agricultural centre, railway junction, and tourist stopover point.

Features Among its public buildings are the Raadzaal, formerly the meeting place of the Orange Free State Raad, now the seat of the provincial council, an Anglican cathedral, a large Dutch Reformed church, the National Museum, and the National Afrikaans Literary Museum. It is also the site of the University of the Orange Free State (1855) and Vista University (1982). It was chosen as the seat of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1910. Owing to the exceptionally clear atmosphere Harvard and Michigan universities built their observatories at Bloemfontein. The ongoing Orange River irrigation project is accelerating considerably the growth of Bloemfontein (and the Free State as a whole).

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