By extension, the veld can be compared to 'the boondocks' or those places 'beyond the black stump' in Australia. There is a sense in which it refers in essence to unimproved land (and is therefore not the equivalent of the English "paddock") but in other senses the veld can include areas used both for pastoral activities and the planting of crops. The word is less appropriate for land that is heavily forested, mountainous, or urban. (On the other hand, a carefully-husbanded sports field on which the game of Rugby is played in the middle of cities such as Cape Town or Johannesburg is referred to as a "rugbyveld"). Whereas mountainous peaks and forests are not really welcome on the veld, bushes are acceptable. The area then becomes "bosveld." There are minor examples of bosveld here and there but the term is used mainly to describe Die Bosveld ("The Bushveld"), which is both a loose botanical classification and a specific geographical part of what used to be know as The Transvaal (see, for example, Jock of the Bushveld).
The word "veld" also carries military connotations. The word "field" in English has a strong association with "war," as evidenced by the expression "the first foe in the field" and the lines of the ballad 'Lord Marlborough' (see John Churchill): "You generals all and champions bold, that takes delight in field, that knocks down churches and castle walls but now to death must yield". The same relationship is paralleled in Afrikaans. Just as the English Army has its Field Marshalls, the Boer armies had their Veldkornets and Veldkommandos.Highveld, starting east of the Johannesburg centre. These higher, cooler areas (generally more than 5000 ft [1524m] above sea level) are characterised by flat or gently undulating terrain, grasslands and a modified tropical or subtropical climate. In some areas there is a distinct escarpment bordering the plateau, while in others the boundary is not obvious.
Some surrounding, lower areas are known as Lowveld and are generally hotter and less intensely cultivated. Before the middle of the 20th century, much of the Lowveld was home to the tsetse fly, which transmits sleeping sickness. These areas used to be known as "fever country" and were avoided by mounted travellers, owing to the susceptibility of horses to a form of the disease. Malaria was in the past also a major problem in the hotter parts of the Lowveld.