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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