The province of the Free State is situated at the centre of South Africa, and contains a varied geographical profile. Bordering Lesotho in the east, the province goes from rocky grasslands in the west to sandstone hillocks in its east section. Economic activity in the province is largely agricultural.
The name “Free State” was formerly “Orange Free State”, named after the Prince of Orange, and alluding to the fact that, at the time, more than a century ago, it was an independent republic. However, on achieving democracy in 1994 the South African government decided to change the name to simply “Free State”. One should not therefore assume that the name has any significance in terms of the province being independent politically, which it is not, and has not been for a century.
The capital city of Bloemfontein contains some interesting museums, and an art gallery, but it is nowhere near as important as the other urban centres in South Africa. Besides Bloemfontein, other attractions in the province include the Gariep Dam, which includes a massive hydroelectric system, and the Golden Gate National Park.