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Free State (formerly Orange Free State) Province in e central South Africa; the capital is Bloemfontein. The region consists principally of fertile high plains, with the Drakensberg Range as part of its e border with Lesotho. The River Orange forms its s border with Northern Cape. Boers began to settle in large numbers after the Great Trek (1836). In 1848, the British annexed the region as the Orange River Sovereignty and, in 1854, it achieved independence as Orange Free State. After its involvement in the South African Wars (1899–1902), it was again annexed by Britain. Regaining independence in 1907, the Orange Free State joined the Union of South Africa in 1910. The economy is dominated by agriculture and gold. Pop. (2000 est.) 2,817,076.
Orange Free State
Orange Free State. Former British colony in South Africa. Founded as a republic by Boers (Afrikaners) fleeing British rule in Cape Colony in the mid-19th cent., the Orange Free State retained its independent status until 1900 because of the absence of any resources which might attract the cupidity of foreigners and because its government pursued a policy of friendship with its neighbours. When the Transvaal declared war on Britain in 1899, the Free State's leaders felt bound by treaty to assist. The Boers were defeated and the country became the Orange River Colony in 1900. It was incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910.
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