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Port Elizabeth

For other places with the same name, see Port Elizabeth (disambiguation).

Port Elizabeth
Die Baai Invalid language code.
iBhayi Invalid language code.
City Hall, Market Square, Port Elizabeth
City Hall, Market Square, Port Elizabeth
6px Port Elizabeth shown within South Africa

Coordinates: 33°57′29″S 25°36′00″E / 33.95806°S 25.60000°E / -33.95806; 25.60000Coordinates: 33°57′29″S 25°36′00″E / 33.95806°S 25.60000°E / -33.95806; 25.60000{{#coordinates:33|57|29|S|25|36|00|E|type:city_region:ZA |primary |name=

Country South Africa
Province Eastern Cape
Municipality [[Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.Nelson Mandela Bay]]
Established 1820
 • City 251.03 km2 (96.92 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,959 km2 (756 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • City 312,392
 • Density 1,200/km2 (3,200/sq mi)
 • Metro[1] 1,152,915
 • Metro density 590/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 30.6%
 • Coloured 27.0%
 • Indian/Asian 3.2%
 • White 37.8%
 • Other 1.4%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Afrikaans 40.2%
 • English 33.2%
 • Xhosa 22.2%
 • Other 4.3%
Postal code (street) 6001
PO box 6000
Area code 041

Port Elizabeth or The Bay[2] (Zulu: Bhayi; Xhosa: iBhayi; Afrikaans: Die Baai) is one of the largest cities in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province, Script error: No such module "convert". east of Cape Town. The city, often shortened to PE and nicknamed "The Friendly City" or "The Windy City", stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in South Africa.

Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers as a way of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa. It now forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality which has a population of over 1.3 million.


The area around what is now called Algoa Bay was first settled by hunting and gathering people ancestral to the San at least 100,000 years ago. Around 2,000 years ago, they were gradually displaced or assimilated by agriculturalist populations ancestral to the Xhosa, who migrated into the region from the north.

The first Europeans to have visited the area were Portuguese explorers Bartholomew Dias, who landed on St Croix Island in Algoa Bay in 1488,[3] and Vasco da Gama who noted the nearby Bird Island in 1497. For centuries, the area was simply marked on navigation charts as "a landing place with fresh water".[4]

One of the Portuguese's main goals in the Indian Ocean was to take over the lucrative trade of Arab and Afro-Arabian merchants who plied routes between the East African coast and India. As they took over that trade they established trading with their colony in India, Goa. The name Algoa meant "to Goa," just as the port further north in present day Mozambique, Delagoa meant "from Goa." Algoa reflected that it was the port from which ships left for Goa during the season when the winds were favourable, while Delagoa was the port in Africa at which they arrived from Goa in the season when the winds for the return trip were favourable.

The area was part of the Cape Colony, which had a turbulent history between its founding by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 and the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

In 1799, during the first British occupation of the Colony during the Napoleonic Wars, a stone Fort was built, named Fort Frederick after the Duke of York. This fort, built to protect against a possible landing of French troops, overlooked the site of what later became Port Elizabeth and is now a monument.[4]

In 1804 the town of Uitenhage was founded[5] along the Swartkops River, a short distance inland from its estuary at Algoa Bay. Uitenhage formed part of the district of Graaff-Reinet at that time. The city of Uitenhage was incorporated in the new Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality together with Port Elizabeth and the town of Despatch in 2001.

From 1814 to 1821 the Strandfontein farm, which later became the Summerstrand beach suburb of Port Elizabeth, was in possession of Piet Retief, who later became a Voortrekker leader and was killed in 1837 by Zulu king Dingane during negotiations about land. An estimated 500 men, woman and children of his party were massacred. After Retief the Strandfontein farm was owned by Frederik Korsten after whom another suburb of Port Elizabeth is named today.

In 1820 a party of 4,000 British settlers arrived by sea, encouraged by the government of the Cape Colony as a settlement would strengthen the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa people. At this time the seaport town was founded by Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin, the Acting Governor of the Cape Colony, who named it after his late wife, Elizabeth.[citation needed] Diplomat Edmund Roberts visited Port Elizabeth in the early 1830s. He noted that Port Elizabeth in the 1820s had "contained four houses, and now it has upward of one hundred houses, and its residents are rated at above twelve hundred persons."[6]

The Apostolic Vicariate of Cape of Good Hope, Eastern District, was established in the city in 1847, and in 1861 the Port Elizabeth was granted the status of autonomous municipality. The town expanded, building a diverse community comprising European, Cape Malay and other immigrants, and particularly rapidly so after 1873 when the railway to Kimberley was built. Prime Minister John Molteno had formed the Cape Government Railways in 1872, and the massive expansion of the Cape Colony's railway network over the following years saw the harbour of Port Elizabeth servicing a large area of the Cape's hinterland.[7][8]

During the Second Boer War, the port was an important transit point for soldiers, horses and materials headed to the front by railway. While the city itself did not see any conflict, many refugees from the war moved into the city. These included Boer women and children interned by the British in a concentration camp. Following that war, the Horse Memorial was erected to honour the tens of thousands of horses and mules that died during the conflict.

Apartheid era

Under apartheid, forced relocation of the non-white population under the Group Areas Act began in 1962, causing various townships to be built. The whole of the South End district, being a prime real estate location, was forcibly depopulated and flattened in 1965; relocations continued until 1975.[4] In 1977 Steve Biko, the black anti-apartheid activist, was interrogated and tortured by the security police in PE, before being transported to Pretoria where he died.[9] Other notable deaths in the city during this time included the Cradock Four, and George Botha, a high school teacher.

Post apartheid

Since the multiracial elections of 1994, Port Elizabeth has faced the same problems as the rest of South Africa, more especially lack of foreign and government investment, HIV/AIDS and a general increase in crime. With the establishment of the Coega Industrial Development Zone (CIDZ) foreign direct and also national level investment has improved substantially in the region of Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth. The IDZ, under the stewardship of the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), since inception has managed to attract to its investment account in excess R140-billion into the Economy of the Eastern Cape and has enabled the creation of over 45 000 jobs. This is significant for the sustainability of the IDZ, Nelson Mandela Bay and the economy of the Eastern Cape. The CDC consistently continues to demonstrate its capability as the leading catalyst for socio-economic growth in the Eastern Cape, with a view to becoming so for South Africa.

In 2001, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality was formed as an administrative area covering Port Elizabeth, the neighbouring towns of Uitenhage and Despatch and the surrounding agricultural areas. The name was chosen to honour former President Nelson Mandela. The combined metropolitan area had a population estimated at around 1.3 million in 2006.

2010 FIFA World Cup

The Port Elizabeth harbour, waterfront and city centre were upgraded for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but do not rival the popular Cape Town waterfront. The city was one of the venues for World Cup games, and many more visitors are expected now that the tournament is long finished. To this end, there are calls for Port Elizabeth Airport to be upgraded, to ease the journey time and effort for tourists.[citation needed]

Geography and climate

Port Elizabeth
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: SAWS[10]

"The Windy City" has a subtropical climate with light rain throughout the year. Under the Köppen climate classification, Port Elizabeth has an oceanic climate (Cfb ). The area lies between the winter rainfall, Mediterranean climate zones of the Western Cape and the summer rainfall regions of eastern South Africa. Winters are cool but mild and summers are warm but considerably less humid and hot than more northerly parts of South Africa's east coast.[11] The climate is very even throughout the year with extreme heat or moderate cold rare.

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This page is a soft redirect. Climate data for Port Elizabeth (1961−1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

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This page is a soft redirect.Source #2: South African Weather Service[10]


File:Nelson Mandela Bay population density map.svg
Population density in the Nelson Mandela Metro
File:Nelson Mandela Bay dominant language map.svg
Geographical distribution of home languages in the Nelson Mandela Metro

In 2001:[13]

  • Area: Script error: No such module "convert".
  • Population: 237,503: Script error: No such module "convert".
  • Households: 70,606: Script error: No such module "convert".
Gender Population %
Female 122,253 51.47
Male 115,247 48.53
Race Population %
Black 32,618 13.73
White 123,722 52.09
Coloured 71,912 30.28
Asian 9,248 3.89
First language Population %
IsiZulu 580 0.24
IsiXhosa 27,312 11.5
Afrikaans 112,798 47.49
Sepedi 90 0.04
Setswana 411 0.17
English 94,068 39.61
Sesotho 494 0.21
Xitsonga 107 0.05
SiSwati 75 0.03
Tshivenda 114 0.05
IsiNdebele 297 0.13
Other 1,152 0.49
Historical population


Trade and industry

Historically, the majority of trade in the region came through Port Elizabeth. In the 1830s, at least five ships regularly transported goods to Europe.[6] It became a free port in 1832.[15] In 1833, about 50 vessels had moved through the port. In 1828, 55,201 pounds of goods were imported through the port, increasing the following year to 12,845 pounds. Port Elizabeth exported 41,290 pounds in 1828, with a large increase to 86,931 goods exported in 1829. Exports included wine, brandy, vinegar, ivory, hides and skins, leather, tallow, butter, soap, wool, ostrich feathers, salted beef, wheat, candles, aloe, barley, and more.[6]

Home of South Africa's motor vehicle industry, Port Elizabeth boasts most vehicle assembly plants, General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Continental Tyres and many more automotive companies. Most other industries in the NMMM are geared towards the motor vehicle industry, providing parts such as wiring harnesses, catalytic converters, batteries and tyres to the vehicle manufacturers.

Port Elizabeth is also a major seaport, with the most significant ore loading facilities in the southern hemisphere. As part of the ongoing development, a new Industrial Development Zone with expanded port facilities is being built at Coega.


File:The Donkin Reserve, Port Elizabeth.jpg
The Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth, taken in September 2014. It portrays both the older and parts of the newer sections of the monument.

Located at the end of the picturesque Garden Route along the Cape coast, the city is one of South Africa's major destinations for tourists, many of whom come simply to enjoy the many fine beaches in and near the city.

The area surrounding the CBD has a number of historic attractions, many of which are linked by the Donkin Heritage Trail. These include the Campanile (bell tower), built in 1923 to commemorate the arrival of the 1820 Settlers and offering a great viewpoint over the city; the city hall (1862); the Donkin Reserve park and monument; and the old stone Fort Frederick itself (1799). The CBD also boasts the towering Eastern Cape post office headquarters.

Other attractions include the gardens at St George's Park, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum (formerly known as the King George VI Art Gallery), the museum and oceanography room at Humewood, and the new Boardwalk waterfront complex.

The wider area surrounding PE also features a number of game viewing opportunities, including the famous Addo Elephant Park, Script error: No such module "convert". to the north near the Zuurberg mountain range and National Park.

Port Elizabeth is known commonly as the watersports capital of South Africa and home of Ironman Africa. Algoa bay is home to scuba diving, game fishing charters, surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding to name but a few. There are many cruises offered from the harbour from sunset cruises to view dolphins to whale watching tours.

Port Elizabeth is also a great destination for whale watching with humpback whales sighted between June and August, and again between November and January, Southern right whales sighted between July and November, and Bryde's whales sighted all year round. Boat-based whale watching trips are run out of the Port Elizabeth harbour where guests are allowed close encounters with these majestic creatures, among other marine animals.


The city has a wealth of fine sporting facilities, catering for cricket, rugby union, association football, field hockey and many other sports. Its coastal location also makes it a base for many watersports.

Port Elizabeth is the location of the St George's Park cricket ground, which holds test cricket matches. St George's Park is also the oldest cricket ground in South Africa, and was the venue for the first Test match played outside of Australia or England, between South Africa and England on the 12 and 13 March 1889. The Warriors, a top Cricket Team in South Africa, is based in Port Elizabeth.

The headquarters of the controversial Southern Spears rugby franchise was in Port Elizabeth. The long-standing Eastern Province Rugby Union, now commonly known as the Eastern Province Kings, would form the basis of the Spears franchise together with East London's Border Bulldogs. The remnants of the Spears were later reconstituted into the Southern Kings, also based in Port Elizabeth, which will join Super Rugby in 2013. The union, although still headquartered at EPRU Stadium, now play their home matches at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In December 2011, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium became the new home of the South Africa Sevens, the country's leg of the annual IRB Sevens World Series in rugby sevens. The event had previously been held in three other cities, most recently in George in the Western Cape from 2002 to 2010,

The city's main football club is Bay Stars F.C. They currently use the Gelvandale Stadium and play in the Telkom League.

The Algoa Bay Yacht Club operated out of Port Elizabeth harbour.


Port Elizabeth forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, and serves as the seat for the surrounding Cacadu District Municipality. It has a Magistrate's Court, a local seat of the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court, and a branch of the Labour Court. As a result of the presence of a High Court, several other related organs of state such as a Masters Office and a Director of Public Prosecutions are present in the city. All Government (mostly provincial) departments maintain branches or other offices in Port Elizabeth.


The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was formed in 2005 by the amalgamation of the University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth Technikon, and the Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University. It is the largest university in the Eastern and Southern Cape, with around 24,000 students in seven faculties spread over five campuses.

The city has a number of top government-funded and private schools, including Alexander Road High School,[16] Collegiate Girls' High School, Victoria Park High School, Grey High School,[16][17] Pearson High School,[16] Woodridge College, Andrew Rabie High School and Lawson Brown High School.[citation needed]




Port Elizabeth lies on the N2 road. To the west the road travels the picturesque Garden Route to George and Cape Town; to the east, the road runs through the so-called Border Country through Grahamstown, to East London then on to Durban, finally terminating in Ermelo in Mpumalanga. The major routes within the city are numbered as metropolitan or M routes.

The city's main bus station is in Market Square. The public bus service is run by The Algoa Bus Company. Between 1881 and 1948, there was a Port Elizabeth tramway network, powered initially by horses, and later by electricity.

The city is in the process of building a bus rapid transit system which was intended for the 2010 FIFA world cup. This has been suspended due to mismanagement which lead to the project missing its May 2010 deadline. Calls for the project, which has left many parts of the city in a permanent state of construction have been made recently, and it is expected that the government will make a decision on the matter soon.


Port Elizabeth railway station is served by South Africa's rail network. Local commuter services are operated by Metrorail, while the Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger service links PE with Johannesburg via Bloemfontein where it is possible to connect with other long-distance routes.[18]

The Apple Express narrow-gauge tourist train to Avontuur operated from the separate station in Humewood Road near King's Beach. It departed regularly for Thornhill Village via Van Stadens River bridge, the highest narrow-gauge rail bridge in the world. The Apple Express was launched to provide a service to transport fresh produce and wood from the farms along the line to Avontuur. The line was completed in 1914 and the train delivered produce directly from the farms to ships in the Port Elizabeth Harbour. Service has now ceased.

In preparation for the 2010 World Cup Soccer event the Humerail Station was extensively upgraded. Several disused narrow gauge goods wagons were scrapped and removed from the site, several buildings in the area have also been renovated and revamped.

Due to modern transport methods and containerisation and refrigerated containers and trucks the Apple Express and its services became redundant.


Port Elizabeth Airport (IATA airport code PLZ, ICAO airport code FAPE) serves the city for both passenger and cargo traffic. It is the fourth busiest airport in South Africa after Johannesburg International Airport, King Shaka International Airport in Durban, and Cape Town International Airport.

International visitors to the city must currently fly to either Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban and then take a domestic flight to Port Elizabeth. An upgrade to the terminal building, completed in 2004, created the necessary facilities to handle international flights[19] although none are scheduled as yet.

The general aviation sector is well represented in PE, with a number of facilities on-field able to provide aircraft charter and rental, handling, maintenance and training to commercial level. There are also a few smaller airfields in the vicinity. Port Elizabeth has one of the best flight schools in Africa.


Main article: Algoa Bay

Port Elizabeth has a harbour in Algoa Bay, and construction of a second seaport was completed recently. The newer international harbour at Coega supports an increase in the size of the city's industries and the addition of new industries.

Health care

The city has a number of top government-funded and private hospitals,[20] including:

  • Aurora Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Dora Nginza Hospital
  • Elizabeth Donkin Hospital
  • Empilweni Hospital
  • Hunterscraig Private Hospital
  • Jose Pearson TB Hospital
  • Livingstone Hospital
  • Mercantile Private Hospital
  • Netcare Greenacres Hospital
  • Nightingale Subacute Hospital
  • Oasim Private Hospital
  • Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital
  • St George's Hospital
  • Westways Private Hospital

The three larger provincial hospitals, namely Dora Nginza, Livingstone and Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital are managed together as a Hospital Complex, also fulfilling the role of tertiary or teaching hospitals. These are used as practical training ground for entry-level nursing staff as well as higher qualified medical registrars, furthering their field of specialisation.[citation needed]

Notable people

International Relations

City Country
25px Göteborg 23x15px Sweden

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Main Place Port Elizabeth". Census 2011. 
  2. ^ Pettman, Charles (1913). Africanderisms; a glossary of South African colloquial words and phrases and of place and other names. Longmans, Green and Co. p. 51. 
  3. ^ "1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica article". Love To Know. 
  4. ^ a b c "Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism – Historical information". Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. 
  5. ^ Sellick, W.S.J. (1904). Uitenhage, past and present : souvenir of the Centenary, 1804–1904. p. 10. 
  6. ^ a b c Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 388. 
  7. ^ Burman, Jose (1984). Early Railways at the Cape. Cape Town. Human & Rousseau, p.66. ISBN 0-7981-1760-5
  8. ^ "Info Please article". Info Please. 
  9. ^ "Biography of Steve Biko". African History. 
  10. ^ a b "Climate data for Port Elizabeth". South African Weather Service. June 2011. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Rainfall". Falling Rain. 
  12. ^ "Port Elizabeth Climate Normals 1961−1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ [1], Census 2001 – Main Place "Port Elizabeth"
  14. ^ [2], Nelson Mandela Bay: Metropolitan Municipality & Main Places – Statistics & Maps on City Population
  15. ^ Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 391. 
  16. ^ a b c SA's Top Schools 17 Oct 2009
  17. ^ "The 100 best high schools in Africa, 2003." Africa Almanac. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  18. ^ "Shosholoza Meyl". Spoornet. 
  19. ^ "Introduction and History of Port Elizabeth Airport". Airports Company of South Africa. 
  20. ^ List of hospitals in South Africa

External links

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