In case you did not know, Port Elizabeth (now renamed to Gqeberha) is situated in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The city was one of the host cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The newly built Nelson Mandela Stadium is the venue that will be used for games in the tournament.
Here are 10 facts that you might not have known about Port Elizabeth:
1. The Port Elizabeth area was first visited by the Portuguese in 1482. For 100 years it remained in the hands of the Portuguese as a vital port for outbound ships on the Cape route to India.
2. Today +/- 1.2 million people live in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipal area. It’s actually South Africa’s second largest city – with regards to its area at least. If you go by the population count, it’s the 5th largest city in the country.
3. The city was founded in 1820 by Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin. 4,000 British settlers settled in the area. He named the town after his deceased wife Elizabeth.
4. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was formed in 2005 by the amalgamation of the University of Port Elizabeth, Vista University and the Port Elizabeth Technikon. It’s the largest university in the Eastern Cape, with around 24,000 students in seven faculties spread over eight campuses.
5. The Campanile (bell tower) in the city was built in 1923 to commemorate the arrival of the 1820 Settlers and offers a great viewpoint over the city.
6. Port Elizabeth has 67 art pieces celebrating the public life of Nelson Mandela. You can find this collection on Route 67. The collection exhibits visual arts, urban design and heritage.
The terraced cottages on Donkin street have large silver pipes that catch the famous winds of Port Elizabeth and make music.
7. The city is nicknamed “P.E.” by South Africans and is also known as “the Friendly City”, “The Windy City” and “The 10 minute City”.
8. The city has 40 km of unspoiled coastline (consisting mostly of beaches).
9. The oldest bowling green in South Africa is in Port Elizabeth. It’s also home to South Africa’s oldest cricket club.
10. The area in and around the city has more indigenous plants than the whole of the British Isles. You can easily explore the plants, mammals, birds and insects of this area in one of the many nature and game reserves nearby.
The most famous of them is the Addo Elephant National Park. It’s a malaria free reserve where you can spot elephants, rhinos, lions and other animals. The reserve reaches as far as the coast so you can also spot whales in season and dolphins.
11. In 2019, the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee recommended that Port Elizabeth be renamed “Gqeberha”, which is the Xhosa name for the Baakens River that flows through the city, originally from Southern Khoe language, perhaps the word “!Gaibexa”. The city’s name change was officially gazetted on 23 February 2021.
Well, there you have it, 10 facts you might not have known about Port Elizabeth. If I’ve left something out, feel free to comment below.
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