Industrial port in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, about 710 km/440 mi east of Cape Town, on Algoa Bay; population (2001) 1,005,800. Local industries include motor assembly plants, shoemaking, foundries, sawmills, flour mills, canning factories, engineering, food processing, and the production of soap, tyres, furniture, chemicals, safety glass, electrical goods, cable, steel, textiles, plastics, and paints. The port also exports manganese ore and has large pre-cooling plants for fruit.
Fort Frederick, a former British fort, dates from 1799. The Addo Elephant National Park is nearby. The University of Port Elizabeth (1964) is the only dual-language university in South Africa.
Early history The town of Port Elizabeth dates from the arrival of British settlers in 1820, but a military station was established on the site at the end of the 18th century. Fort Frederick, which overlooks the city, was built in 1799 and named after the Duke of York; it is believed to be the oldest building of British construction in Africa south of the Equator.
In 1820, 5,000 British settlers landed in Algoa Bay, whose sandy shores and bleak hillocks were at that time only relieved by a few huts clustering round the blockhouse of Fort Frederick. The town was laid out by the acting governor of the Cape, Sir Rufane Donkin, and a stone pyramid, seen on the hill near the lighthouse, was erected by him in memory of his wife, Lady Elizabeth. The town was connected by rail to Kimberley in 1853.