The Free State (Afrikaans: Vrystaat; Sotho: Freistata; Xhosa: iFreyistata; Tswana: Foreistata; Zulu: iFuleyisitata; before 1995, the Orange Free State) is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa’s judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Boer republic called the Orange Free State and later Orange Free State Province.
- Area: 129,825 km2
- Population Est: 2,932,441
- Density: 21/km2
- Sotho (64.2%)
- Afrikaans (12.7%)
- Xhosa (7.5%)
- Tswana (5.2%)
- Zulu (4,4%)
- English (2.9%)
- Capital: Bloemfontein
The Free State experiences a continental climate, characterised by warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Areas in the east experience frequent snowfalls, especially on the higher ranges, whilst the west can be extremely hot in summer.
Almost all precipitation falls in the summer months as brief afternoon thunderstorms, with aridity increasing towards the west. Areas in the east around Harrismith, Bethlehem and Ficksburg are well watered. The capital, Bloemfontein, experiences hot, moist summers and cold, dry winters frequented by severe frost.
- Bloemfontein averages: January maximum: 31 °C (min: 15 °C), July maximum: 17 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 559 mm
- Bethlehem averages: January maximum: 27 °C (min: 13 °C), July maximum: 16 °C (min: -2 °C), annual precipitation: 680 mm