NELSPRUIT, MBOMBELA HISTORY
There is a wide variety of B&B accommodation, self-catering accommodation, hotel accommodation, lodge accommodation, private game farms and guesthouse style accommodation. Of course, Kruger Park is close at hand to Nelspruit, and ther are many tour guides who offer trips to the Kruger National Park and day or overnight trips along the Panorama Route.
Nelspruit was named after the owners of the original farm - the three brothers Nel. It began with the construction of a station up the Crocodile river valley, built on their farm. Nelspruit was established as a railhead of the first section of construction on the railway from Mozambique to Pretoria. A time lapse in the Railway construction contract allowed the rail company to raise finance for continued construction of the railway, and during this time Nelspruit became the focal point of the Lowveld - goods still had to be transported to the interior by oxwagon from Nelspruit.
Hugh Lanion Hall (1858-1940) arrived in the area in 1890 and established one of the greatest citrus and subtropical fruit estates in the country, which today is know by the name of Hall and Sons Limited.
Though the line was in commission by 1st January 1895 it was not formally opened until 27 June, when the Volksraad adjourned for the officicial opening and proclaimed 8,9, and 10 July as public holidays in Pretoria. Every burgher was eligible for a free ticket to and from Lourenco Marques (Maputo).
The penetration of the Lowveld by settlement was for many years stifled by two natural barriers - Malaria, transmitted to man by the Anopheles Mosquito, and Nagana, transmitted to cattle, horses and dogs by the Tsetse-fly., Only once the two had been defeated was it possible for large-scale immigration into the area. In 1896 the rinderpest swept through the country killing almost all the cattle. However this would turn out to be a blessing in disguise in that it also rid the country of the tsetse-fly. The link between the disappearance of the rinderpest and the fly is not known. It was only after the the Anglo-Boer War, when cattle first re-entered the Lowveld, that the disappearance of the fly was discovered. The theory by Sir Patrick Mansonand others, and the proof by Major Roland Ross of the link between Malarial Fever and mosquitos allowed researchers to develop ways to combat Malaraia.
In the 1930's the Government of the day decided that the time had come to fight an all-out battle against Malaria.The results of this all-out attack on the disease were little short of miraculous and when, at a later date, D.D.T became available, the victory was won. In the comparatively short space of 8 years Malaria cases admitted to hospitals dropped from some 2000 per annum to 200. Effective control of this deadly disease helped the community in this valley to surge ahead and Nelspruit grew to be one of the largest producers of tobacco, litchis , mangoes , avocados etc.
Mpumalanga means 'Place where the sun rises', and is bordered by Mozambique and Swaziland in the east, and Gauteng in the west. It is situated mainly on the high plateau grasslands of the Middleveld, which roll eastwards for hundreds of kilometres. In the north-east it rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense and breathtaking escarpment. In places this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld. Mpumalanga is located on the South of Northern Province, East of Gauteng, North West of KwaZulu Natal, West of Swaziland and Mozambique.
Mpumalanga falls mainly within the Grassland Biome. The Escarprnent and the Lowveld form a transitional zone between this grassland area and the Savannah Biome. Long sweeps of undulating grasslands abruptly change to the thickly forested ravines and thun- dering waterfalls of the escarpment, only to change again to present the subtropical wildlife splendour of the Lowveld. The escarpment and the Lowveld have always been popular tourist attractions. Now that new borders have been drawn for this province, only the southern, albeit most popular, part of the Kruger National Park is within this province. The Kruger National Park will, however, remain an untouched unit, a province for wildlife on its own.
The area is crisscrossed by a network of excellent roads and railway connections, making it highly accessible to the tourist. Because of its popularity as a tourist heartland, Mpumalanga is also well served by a number of small airports.
Nelspruit is the legislative capital of the province. This town is the administrative and business centre of the Lowveld and provides a perfect base from which to explore the province. Witbank is the centre of the local coal-mining industry; Standerton, in the south, is renowned for its large dairy industry; Piet Retief in the south-east is a production area for tropical fruit and sugar; while a large sugar industry is also found at Malelane in the east. Ermelo is the district in South Africa which produces the most wool; Barberton is one of the oldest gold-mining towns in South Africa; and Sabie is situated in the forestry heartland of the country. The green gold of Sabie and Graskop provides a large part of the country's total requirement for forestry products.
These forestry plantations are also an ideal backdrop for ecotourism opportunities, with a variety of popular hiking trails, myriad water-falls, patches of indigenous forest and a variety of nature reserves. The biggest of these is the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, where God's Window provides unforgettable vistas of the Lowveld. An oasis is provided by the mineral springs at Badplaas. Chrissiesmeer is the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa. It is famous for its large variety of aquatic birds, especially flamingos. The Sudwala Caves, deep in the dolomite rocks of the surrounding mountains, is a worth- while tourist stop. This evergreen comer of the country has enormous tourism potential.
Even though it is one of the smaller provinces (some 79 490 km2 in surface area, which is 6.5 percent of the country's earth surface.), Mpumalanga has a population of about 2.6 million people. Extreme levels of poverty are evident. The province has the second lowest literacy rate in the country, while the population growth rate is higher than the national average. The main languages spoken are SiSwati, iSiZulu and iSiNdebele. A large proportion of the population of Mpumalanga has limited participation in economic activity. A low productive capacity prevents the disadvantaged communities from improving their lot. During the last decade, growth in employment opportunities has been negative. Mpumalanga attracts sizeable corn- muter and migrant labour flows from across its borders, including refugees from neighbouring Mozambique.
Mpumalanga's population can be broken down as follows;
The Lowveld area is rich in the history of pioneers and explorers. Gold-rush towns such as Pilgrim's Rest, Graskop, Kaapsche Hoop and Barberton, give tourists the feel of days gone by. Pilgrim's Rest is a museum town, while Barberton boasts the first stock exchange established in the country. Botshabelo Mission Station near Middelburg is a romantic reminder of the days when European missionaries came to Africa to spread Christianity. Ermelo has attractions ranging from the corbelled huts of the extinct Leghoya/Tlokoa peoples, to well-preserved San paintings.
A visit to Mpumalanga is not complete without testing the trout streams around Belfast, Dullstroom, Machadodorp and Lydenburg; experiencing a trip on the Rovos Rail steam train, walking the Fanie Botha Hiking Trail, the very first established in the National Hiking Way System of South Africa; driving up Long Tom Pass to reach the highest point in Mpumalanga; and visiting Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park, one of several overnight stays available in the park. Many upmarket, private game lodges cater to the tourist's every need.
The Economy of the Province
Gross Geographic Product:
Main Economic Activities
Mining : 80 percent of South Africa's coal
Agriculture and Forestry : South Africa's major production region
Beautiful vegetation biomes, viz. Indigenous forests, grassland and savanna. The Drakensburg mountain range. The Kruger National Park. Pilgrims Rest and Graskop's natural features like Gods Window, Mac Mac Waterfalls, Blyde River Canyons and the Three Rondavels. The historically significant Sudwala Caves. Songimvelo Game Reserve hiding between the Gold mountains of Barberton (the mothercity of gold) and the forests bordering Swaziland
Road Infrastructure: The Maputo Development Corridor - Backbone of the Provincial infrastructure and gateway for Foreign Direct Investment and regional economic cooperation. Africa's first International Toll Road
The Maputo Development Corridor Spatial Development Initiative
A Spatial Development Initiative focuses on the N4 route stretching from Witbank in South Africa to Recano Garcia in Mocambique. The Corridor programme is more than just the construction of the road but includes the following key anchor infrastructural projects as well: the railway line, telecommunication, dredging the habour and upgrading port facilities.
The corridor is developed according to the Public-Private Sector Partnership (PPP) policy and has seen the concession of the N4 road to TRAC on a Build Operate, Maintain and Transfer (BOMT) arrangement for 30 years. A total of five toll plazas have been erected along the length of the road, two in Mocambique and three in South Africa.
The SDI/ Corridor objectives are mainly fivefold
Corridor's Major Users
Agriculture and Forestry:
Sugar Company TSB, Citrus Producing HL Hall and Sons and Dick and Hall Products, Outspan - the Pretoria-based citrus export marketing company. Mondi and Sappi Forests (paper, pulp and wood products)
TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY:
The Songimvelo Circle
The Trout Triangle
The Kruger National Park
Gates to the Park include Phafuri in the North to Malelane and Crocodile Bridge in the South. Other gates are Numbi, Orpen, Skukuza. It also boasts of the following camps:
Private Camps (exclusive and privately owned)
Peace Park for Africa (Removal of the border between the KNP and the Mozambican park.
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