Free State

Free State

Free State, formerly Orange Free State, province (1995 est. pop. 2,782,000), 49,866 sq mi (129,153 sq km), E central South Africa. It was renamed Free State shortly after the 1994 constitution went into effect. Bloemfontein is the capital and largest city; other important cities include Bethlehem and Kroonstad. The province is chiefly a plateau, rising gradually from c.4,000 ft (1,220 m) in the west to c.6,000 ft (1,830 m) in the east; there are higher elevations in the Drakensberg Range in the southeast. The economy is mainly agricultural; corn, sorghum, potatoes, wheat, sheep, and cattle are raised. Gold mining is also important, and uranium oxide, diamonds, and coal are mined. Synthetic rubber, fertilizers, plastics, textiles, and processed foods are manufactured, and oil is refined from coal. Bloemfontein is the province's road and rail hub. The Univ. of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein is the chief institution of higher education.

In the early 19th cent. the Orange Free State was inhabited mainly by the Bantu-speaking Tswana people. Afrikaner farmers (Boers) entered the territory from the 1820s; after 1835 their immigration accelerated (see Trek, Great). In 1848 the British, who then held Cape Colony and Natal, annexed the region as the Orange River Sovereignty. After conflicts with the Boers and failure to establish an orderly administration, Britain, by the Bloemfontein Convention (1854), granted the territory independence as the Orange Free State. With the increased tension following the raid into the Transvaal (1895-96), led by L. S. Jameson, the Free State was drawn into the conflict between Britons and Boers that resulted in the South African War (1899-1902). The British again annexed the Free State, as the Orange River Colony, in 1900. In 1907 the colony was granted self-government, and in 1910 it became a founding province of the Union (now Republic) of South Africa.

Former province, central South Africa. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the area was the home of Bantu-speaking peoples. Afrikaners came in large part during the Great Trek of the 1830s. Britain administered the territory from 1848 to 1854; then the independent Orange Free State was established. British rule was reimposed following the South African War in 1902, though self-government was later restored. In 1910 it became the Orange Free State province of the Union of South Africa (from 1961 the Republic of South Africa). After the South African elections of 1994, it became the province of Free State. Blacks make up about 80percnt of the population; most of the whites speak Afrikaans. The province's capital is Bloemfontein.

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or United Kingdom or Great Britain

Island country, western Europe, North Atlantic Ocean. It comprises Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland. Area: 93,788 sq mi (242,910 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 60,020,000. Capital: London. The population is composed of English (major ethnic group), Scots, Irish, and Welsh and immigrants and their descendants from India, the West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Africa. Languages: English (official); also Welsh, Scottish Gaelic. Religions: Christianity (Protestant [Church of England—established; Church of Scotland—national], Roman Catholic, other Christians); also Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism. Currency: pound sterling. The country has hill, lowland, upland, highland, and mountain regions. Tin and iron ore deposits, once central to the economy, have become exhausted or uneconomical, and the coal industry, long a staple of the economy, began a steady decline in the 1950s that worsened with pit closures in the 1980s. Offshore petroleum and natural gas reserves are significant. Chief crops are barley, wheat, sugar beets, and potatoes. Major manufactures include motor vehicles, aerospace equipment, electronic data-processing and telecommunication equipment, and petrochemicals. Fishing and publishing also are important economic activities. The U.K. is a constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses; its chief of state is the sovereign, and the head of government is the prime minister.

The early pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain (see Stonehenge) were Celtic-speaking peoples, including the Brythonic people of Wales, the Picts of Scotland, and the Britons of Britain. Celts also settled in Ireland circa 500 BC. Julius Caesar invaded and took control of the area in 55–54 BC. The Roman province of Britannia endured until the 5th century AD and included present-day England and Wales. Germanic tribes, including Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain in the 5th century. The invasions had little effect on the Celtic peoples of Wales and Scotland. Christianity began to flourish in the 6th century. During the 8th and 9th centuries, Vikings, particularly Danes, raided the coasts of Britain. In the late 9th century Alfred the Great repelled a Danish invasion, which helped bring about the unification of England under Athelstan. The Scots attained dominance in Scotland, which was finally unified under Malcolm II (1005–34). William of Normandy (see William I) took England in 1066. The Norman kings established a strong central government and feudal state. The French language of the Norman rulers eventually merged with the Anglo-Saxon of the common people to form the English language. From the 11th century, Scotland came under the influence of the English throne. Henry II conquered Ireland in the late 12th century. His sons Richard I and John had conflicts with the clergy and nobles, and eventually John was forced to grant the nobles concessions in the Magna Carta (1215). The concept of community of the realm developed during the 13th century, providing the foundation for parliamentary government. During the reign of Edward I (1272–1307), statute law developed to supplement English common law, and the first Parliament was convened. In 1314 Robert the Bruce (see Robert I) won independence for Scotland. The house of Tudor became the ruling family of England following the Wars of the Roses (1455–85). Henry VIII (1509–47) established the Church of England and incorporated Wales as part of England.

The reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) began a period of colonial expansion; in 1588 British forces defeated the “invincible” Spanish Armada. In 1603 James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I, and established a personal union of the two kingdoms. The English Civil Wars erupted in 1642 between Royalists and Parliamentarians, ending in the execution of Charles I (1649). After 11 years of Puritan rule under Oliver Cromwell and his son (1649–60), the monarchy was restored with Charles II. In 1689, following the Glorious Revolution, Parliament proclaimed the joint sovereigns William III and Mary II, who accepted the British Bill of Rights. In 1707 England and Scotland assented to the Act of Union, forming the kingdom of Great Britain. The Hanoverians ascended the English throne in 1714, when George Louis, elector of Hanover, became George I of Great Britain. During the reign of George III, Great Britain's North American colonies won independence (1783). This was followed by a period of war (1789–1815) with Revolutionary France and later with the empire of Napoleon. In 1801 legislation united Great Britain with Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, and it remained the world's foremost economic power until the late 19th century. During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), Britain's colonial expansion reached its zenith, though the older dominions, including Canada and Australia, were granted independence (1867 and 1901, respectively).

The U.K. entered World War I allied with France and Russia in 1914. Following the war, revolutionary disorder erupted in Ireland, and in 1921 the Irish Free State (see Ireland) was granted dominion status. Six counties of Ulster, however, remained in the U.K. as Northern Ireland. The U.K. entered World War II in 1939. Following the war, the Irish Free State became the Irish republic and left the Commonwealth. India also gained independence from the U.K. Throughout the postwar period and into the 1970s, the U.K. continued to grant independence to its overseas colonies and dependencies. With UN forces, it participated in the Korean War (1950–53). In 1956 it intervened militarily in Egypt during the Suez Crisis. It joined the European Economic Community, a forerunner of the European Union, in 1973. In 1982 it defeated Argentina in the Falkland Islands War. As a result of continuing social strife in Northern Ireland, it joined with Ireland in several peace initiatives, which eventually resulted in an agreement to establish an assembly in Northern Ireland. In 1997 referenda approved in Scotland and Wales devolved power to both countries, though both remained part of the U.K. In 1991 the U.K. joined an international coalition to reverse Iraq's conquest of Kuwait (see Persian Gulf War). In 2003 the U.K. and the U.S. attacked Iraq and overthrew the government of Ssubdotaddām Hsubdotussein (see Iraq War). Terrorist bombings in London in July 2005 killed more than 50 people.

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Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland. Area: 5,461 sq mi (14,144 sq km). Population (2001): 1,685,267. Capital: Belfast. It is bounded by the republic of Ireland, the Irish Sea, the North Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean. Northern Ireland is often referred to as the province of Ulster. The people are descended from indigenous Irish and immigrants from England and Scotland. Language: English (official). Religions: Protestantism (the majority) and Roman Catholicism (a minority). Currency: pound sterling. Northern Ireland's industries include engineering, shipbuilding (which has been in severe decline), automobile manufacturing, textiles, food and beverage processing, and clothing. The service industry employs about three-fourths of the workforce, and manufacturing employs less than one-fifth of workers. Agriculture is important, with most farm income derived from livestock. Northern Ireland shares most of its history with the republic of Ireland, though Protestant English and Scots immigrating in the 16th–17th centuries tended to settle in Ulster. In 1801 the Act of Union created the United Kingdom, which united Great Britain and Ireland. In response to mounting Irish sentiment in favour of Home Rule, the Government of Ireland Act was adopted in 1920, providing for two partially self-governing units in Ireland: the northern six counties constituting Northern Ireland and the southern counties now making up the republic of Ireland. In 1968 civil rights protests by Roman Catholics sparked violent conflicts with Protestants and led to the occupation of the province by British troops in the early 1970s. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) mounted a prolonged campaign of violence in an effort to force the withdrawal of British troops as a prelude to Northern Ireland's unification with Ireland. In 1972 Northern Ireland's constitution and parliament were suspended, bringing the province under direct rule by the British. Violence continued for three decades before dropping off in the mid-1990s. In 1998 talks between the British government and the IRA resulted in a peace agreement that provided for extensive Home Rule in the province. In 1999 power was devolved to an elected assembly, though the body was hampered by factional disagreements. Sporadic sectarian strife continued in the early 21st century, as the IRA gradually carried out decommissioning (disarming).

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formerly Neu-Mecklenburg

Island and province (pop., 2000: 118,350), Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. The island has an area of 3,340 sq mi (8,651 sq km) and is about 220 mi (350 km) long. The terrain is largely mountainous. The province includes many nearby smaller islands. It was discovered by Dutch navigators in 1616 but was little known before 1884, when it became part of a German protectorate. After World War I it was mandated to Australia. The island was occupied by the Japanese in World War II. When Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975, it became part of that country. Most of the inhabitants live in the north. Copra production dominates commercial development.

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Country, western Europe, occupying the greater part of the island of Ireland west of Great Britain. Area: 27,133 sq mi (70,273 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 4,096,000. Capital: Dublin. The northeastern portion of the island is occupied by Northern Ireland. Although Ireland has been invaded and colonized by Celts, Norsemen, Normans, English, and Scots, ethnic distinctions are nonexistent. Languages: Irish, English (both official). Religion: Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic; also Protestant). Currency: euro. Ireland's topography consists largely of broad lowlands drained by rivers that include the Shannon; its coasts are fringed with mountains. Nearly three-fifths of the population is urban; agriculture employs only a small percentage of the workforce. High technology, tourism, and other service industries are pivotal to the Irish economy, while mining, manufacturing, and construction also remain important. Ireland is a republic with two legislative houses; its chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Human settlement in Ireland began circa 6000 BC, and Celtic migration dates from circa 300 BC. St. Patrick is credited with having Christianized the country in the 5th century. Norse domination began in 795 and ended in 1014, when the Norse were defeated by Brian Boru. Gaelic Ireland's independence ended in 1175 when Roderic O'Connor, Ireland's high king, accepted English King Henry II as his overlord. Beginning in the 16th century, Irish Catholic landowners fled religious persecution by the English and were replaced by English and Scottish Protestant migrants. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established in 1801. The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s led as many as 1.5 million people to emigrate, and the British government's grudging and ineffective relief measures built momentum for Irish Home Rule. The Easter Rising (1916) was followed by virtual civil war (1919–21), during which the Irish Republican Army used guerrilla tactics to force the British government to negotiate. The Catholic majority in southern Ireland favoured complete independence, and the Protestant majority in the north preferred continued union with Britain. Southern Ireland was granted dominion status and became the Irish Free State in 1921, and in 1937 it adopted the name Éire (Ireland) and became a sovereign independent country. It remained neutral during World War II. Britain recognized the status of Ireland in 1949 but declared that cession of the northern six counties (Northern Ireland) could not occur without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community (later the European Community); it is now a member of the European Union. The last decades of the 20th century were dominated by sectarian hostilities between the island's Catholics and Protestants over the status of Northern Ireland. The Irish government played a pivotal role in negotiating and winning public support for the Belfast Agreement (1998), which gave the country a consultative role in the affairs of Northern Ireland and modified Ireland's constitution to remove its claim to the territory of the entire island.

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