2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Africa; Cities

(Sotho) Mangaung
Parliament building in Bloemfontein
Parliament building in Bloemfontein
Nickname(s): The city of roses
Bloemfontein (South Africa)
Country Flag of South Africa South Africa
Province Free State
Officially founded 1846
Elevation 1,395 m (4,577 ft)
 - Total 369,568
Time zone SAST ( UTC+2)

Bloemfontein (pronounced /ˈbluːmfɒnteɪn/, Afrikaans and Dutch for "spring of Bloem (bloom)", "flower spring" or "fountain of flowers" is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa as well as one of the nation's three capitals being the judicial capital. The city's Sesotho name is Mangaung, meaning "place of cheetahs" and became part of the Mangaung Local Municipality in 2000. " Bloemfontein is popularly and poetically known as "the city of roses", owing to the abundance of these flowers and the annual rose festival held there.

Although Bloemfontein has a reputation for its flowers in an otherwise arid region, the city's name is alleged by some to refer to Jan Bloem (1775-1858), a Korana Griqua leader whose people inhabited (and still inhabit) parts of the Free State and Northern Cape.

The city is situated on dry grassland at , at an altitude of 1,395 metres above sea level. The city is home to 369,568 residents, while the Mangaung Local Municipality has a population of 645,455. Bloemfontein is served by Bloemfontein airport.


Though historically a predominantly Afrikaner settlement, Bloemfontein was officially founded in 1846 as a fort by British army major Henry Douglas Warden as a British outpost in the Transoranje region, at that stage occupied by various groups of peoples including Cape Colony Trek Boers, Griqua and Basotho. With colonial policy shifts the region changed into the Orange River Sovereignty (1848-1854) and eventually the Orange Free State Republic (1854-1902). From 1902-1910 it served as the capital of the Orange River Colony and since that time as the provincial capital of the Orange Free State (now Free State). In 1910 it became the Judicial Capital of South Africa.

Founding and early days

Warden originally chose the site largely because of its close proximity to the main route to Winburg, the spacious open country, and the absence of horse sickness.


The old Raadsaal in Bloemfontein, with the statue of Christiaan de Wet
The old Raadsaal in Bloemfontein, with the statue of Christiaan de Wet

As the capital of the Orange Free State Republic the growth and maturing of the Republic resulted in the growth of the town. Numerous public buildings that remain in use to day were constructed. This was largely facilitated by the excellent governance of the Republic (which acquired the term model republic) and the compensation from the British for the loss of the diamond rich Griqualand area.

A railway line was built in 1890 connecting Bloemfontein to Cape Town.

The writer J. R. R. Tolkien was born in the city on January 3, 1892, though his family left South Africa while he was still a child following the death of his father, Arthur Tolkien (1896). He recorded that his earliest memories were of "a hot country".

Second Anglo-Boer War/South African War

In 1899, the city was the site of the Bloemfontein Conference, which failed to prevent the outbreak of the Second Boer War. The conference was a final attempt to avert a war between Britain and the south African Republic. With its failure the stage was set for war, which broke out on 11 October 1899.

The rail line from Cape Town proved to be critical to the British in occupying the city later.

On 13 March 1900, following the Battle of Paardeberg British forces captured the city and built a concentration camp nearby to house Boer women and children. The National Women's Memorial, on the outskirts of the city, pays homage to the 45,000 women and children (including up to 17,000 black people) who died in these camps.

Recent history

Until 1994, the city was the sole judicial capital of South Africa. It remains the seat for the Supreme Court Of Appeal (formerly the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court) and is therefore generally regarded as the judicial capital. It is also an administrative centre with many private hospitals and educational institutions.

Geography and Climate

Bloemfontein is located in central South Africa on the southern edge of the Highveld at an elevation of 1,400 metres (4,600 ft), bordering on the semi-arid region of the Karoo. The area is generally flat with occasional hills (koppies in Afrikaans) and the general vegetation is Highveld grassland. Bloemfontein experiences an oceanic climate with hot summer days (Jan: max:31°C min:15°C; frequent afternoon thunderstorms) and cooler, dry winters, often with frosts (July: max:17°C min:-2°C). Snow is rare but as recently as August 2006 it snowed in the city, with snowfalls occurring again at the airport on July 26th 2007.

+ Climate Table
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Highest recorded temperature ( °C) 39 39 35 33 30 25 24 29 34 35 37 38 39
Highest recorded temperature ( °F) 102 102 95 91 86 77 75 84 93 95 99 100 102
Average daily maximum temperature ( °C) 31 29 27 23 20 17 17 20 24 26 28 30 24
Average daily maximum temperature ( °F) 88 84 81 73 63 63 73 75 79 82 86 75
Average daily minimum temperature ( °C) 15 15 12 8 3 -2 -2 1 5 9 12 14 8
Average daily minimum temperature ( °F) 59 59 54 46 37 28 28 34 41 48 54 57 46
Lowest recorded temperature ( °C) 6 4 1 -3 -9 -9 -10 -10 -7 -3 0 3 -10
Lowest recorded temperature ( °F) 43 39 34 27 16 16 14 14 19 27 32 37 14
Average monthly precipitation ( mm) 83 111 72 56 17 12 8 15 24 43 58 60 559
Average monthly precipitation ( in) 3.3 4.4 2.8 2.2 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.6 0.9 1.7 2.3 2.4 22
Average number of rain days (>= 1 mm) 11 11 11 9 4 3 2 3 4 7 9 10 84
Source: South African Weather Service


Bloemfontein suburbs include Woodland Hills Wildlife Estate, Bayswater, Brandwag, Ehrlichpark, Fauna, Fichardtpark, Fleurdal, Gardeniapark, Generaal De Wet, Hospitaalpark, Kiepersol, Lourierpark, Park West, Pellissier, Uitsig, Universitas, Westdene, Wilgehof and Willows to the south of the city. To the north of Bloemfontein, you will find Langenhovenpark, Arboretum, Bayswater, Dan Pienaar, Helicon Heights, Heuwelsig, Hillsboro, Hillside, Hilton, Naval Hill, Navalsig, Noordhoek, Pentagon Park, Waverley and Heidedal. The prodominantly black suburbs is; Rocklands, Phahameng, Phelindaba, Bloemanda and the most historic Bochabela where the Maphikela House (where the African national Congress - ANC started) is situated at.



The Free State Stadium and the surrounding sports complex is the main sports venue in the city and province. The venue will be the hosting stadium of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa matches played in Bloemfontein. There are several other sports venues however in the city, including facilities belonging to the university, schools and sports clubs.


Free State Stadium
Free State Stadium

Bloemfontein is joint home (together with nearby Botshabelo) to Premier Soccer League team Bloemfontein Celtic. Some of the matches of the Football World Cup 2010 will be played at the Free State Stadium.


Bloemfontein's Free State Stadium is home to two rugby union teams; the Central Cheetahs franchise who compete in the Super 14 and the Free State Cheetahs who play in the domestic Currie Cup. The Free State Cheetahs won the Currie Cup in 2005 against the Blue Bulls, they drew the final with the Blue Bulls in 2006 and retained the Currie Cup title in 2007 by winning the Golden Lions resulting in the Free State Cheetahs to be Currie Cup champions until at least 2008. For more information on Vodacom Free State Cheetahs visit & information on Super 14 Vodacom Cheetahs visit


The Eagles cricket team representing the Free State and Northern Cape in various series is located at OUTsurance Oval, part of the Free State Stadium complex.


One of the most active soaring communities in South Africa and the world is using the New Tempe Airport north of Bloemfontein.

Motor Sports

Bloemfontein has a motocross track run by the Bloemfontein Off Road Club, as well as a go-kart circuit (M&F Raceway), which is run by Bloemfontein Kart Club.


Bloemfontein is the seat of University of the Free State as well as the Central University of Technology

Primary schools include:

  • Grey College Primary School
  • Bloemfontein Primary School
  • Laerskool Universitas (TJOKKIES)
  • Willem Postma Primary School

There are also several high schools (secondary schools) in the city, these include:

  • Grey College Secondary School
  • Bloemfontein High School
  • CVO Skool Dankbaar in Bain's Vlei is a private Calvinist school, affiliated with the BCVO
  • Hoërskool Fichardtpark in Fichhardtpark
  • Technical High School Louis Botha
  • Hoërskool Jim Fouché
  • Hoërskool Sand du Plessis
  • St. Andrew's School
  • St. Michael's School
  • Sentraal High School
  • C&N Sekondêre Meisieskool Oranje


Bloemfontein has an excellent Motocross track run by the Bloemfontein Off Road Club.

There is also a kart circuit (M&F Raceway), which is ruled by Bloemfontein Kart Club.

One can also enjoy a day or a sleep over at the Bloemfontein Zoo. Zoo Snoozes are only one of the activities arranged by Friends of the Bloemfontein Zoo.

Boyden Observatory, a unique astronomy research and educational centre outside the city, offers public open evenings on certain nights during the year, arranged by the Friends of Boyden Observatory. Groups can also visit the observatory for exclusive evenings on appointment.

Atop Naval Hill is the Franklin Game Reserve. It was named after John Franklin, South African Senator, attorney and Mayor of Bloemfontein in the 1930s.

Famous People

  • Zola Budd, international long distance athlete
  • J. R. R. Tolkien CBE was born in Bloemfontein on 3 January 1892. Tolkien is famous for his fantasy epics The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. When aged 3, Tolkien left South Africa for England.
  • Shaun Morgan, musician
  • Hansie Cronje, controversial South African cricket captain
  • Juan Smith, rugby player
  • Os du Randt, rugby player
  • Allan Donald, South African cricketer
  • Ryk Neethling, Olympic gold medalist swimmer
  • Morne van Wyk played for South Africa Proteas Cricket team, currently the captain of Gestetner Diamond Eagles which is local cricket franchise


Bloemfontein has a large and diverse Christian population. The city houses several churches and denominations:

  • It is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of the Free State
  • Afrikaans Baptist Church (Afrikaans: Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerk)
  • Dutch Reformed Church (Afrikaans: Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk)
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bloemfontein is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bloemfontein

Local Governance

Bloemfontein forms part of the Manguang Local Municipality and the Motheo District Municipality

Community Service Organizations

  • Round Table 25 Bloemfontein Round Table is a non-political, non-racial association of young men between the ages of 18 and 40, embracing representatives of nearly every profession and occupation. Its objects are the encouragement of high ethical standards, the promotion of social inter-action and fellowship among young professional and business men and the quickening of individual interest in everything affecting the public welfare.
  • Round Table 158 Bloemfontein The first Round Table was formed in Norwich, England in 1927. The founder, Louis Marchesi, was a young member of Norwich Rotary Club who felt a need existed for a club where the young business men of the town could gather on a regular basis. At their meetings they could exchange ideas, learn from the experiences of their colleagues and play a collective part in the civic life of Norwich. From a very early stage it was agreed that Round Table would be a non-religious, non-political club and this has continued to this day.
  • Child Welfare Bloemfontein Child Welfare Bloemfontein & Childline Free State is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 1914 by a group of volunteers who identified a need for welfare services among the community. In 2004, Child Welfare Bloemfontein celebrated its 90th birthday. Over the past 90 years, many community programmes have been successfully implemented.
  • Arrive Alive South Africa Official Road Safety Website Our vision was " To develop an effective road safety information portal that will enhance awareness of road safety and save lives", the web site is currently owned by Adv. Johan Jonck & was developed by a local Bloemfontein web site company & this partnership achieved massive milestones has now been endorsed by the RTMC & Department of Roads South Africa as the only Official Road Safety web site for South Africa.
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