Bloemfontein (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.
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.
Although modern day Bloemfontein has a reputation for its flowers in an otherwise arid region, the origin of the city's name is unclear. Popular legends include an ox named "Bloem" owned by one of the pioneer farmers that was taken by a lion near a fountain on his property, while another story names Jan Bloem (1775-1858), a Korana Griqua leader who inhabited the area. Finally, some people prefer a simple derivation of the Afrikaans words for "fountain of flowers" or "flower spring".
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.
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.
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 3 January 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".
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 26,370 women and children as well as 1,421 old men (including up to 17,000 black people) who died in these camps in various parts of the country.
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.
Bloemfontein is located in central South Africa on the southern edge of the Highveld at an elevation of , 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 a continental 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 26 July 2007.
|+ Climate Table|
|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 are; Rocklands, Phahameng, Phelindaba, Bloemanda and the most historic Bochabela where the Maphikela House (where the African national Congress - ANC started) is situated at.
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.
Primary schools include:
There are also several high schools (secondary schools) in the city, these include:
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.
Francois Steyn,rugby union/rugby player