Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Siam to The Growth And Con >> Transvaal


british, gold, south, boers, plateau, war, chiefly and east

TRANSVAAL, trans-val (now included in the UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA), a British colony in South Africa, bounded on the north by Mata beleland, on the east by Portuguese East Africa and Swaziland, on the south by Natal and the Orange River Colony and on the west by Griqualand West, British Bechuanaland and the Bechuanaland protectorate. The area, pre vious to 1903, was 119,139 square miles but was in that year reduced to 110,426 square miles by the transfer of some of the southeastern districts to Natal. The land consists in the main of a plateau lying between 3,500 and 5,000 feet above the sea. On the east this plateau is bounded by a northern extension of the Draken berg, rising to an altitude of 8,725 feet. East of this the land falls rapidly toward the coastal regions of the Portuguese territory. Two main mountain ranges traverse the interior of the plateau; the Witwatersrand forms the divide between the Vaal River, flowing on the south ern, and the Limpopo River on the northern boundary. The geological structure consists of granite and slate covered by the Cape forma tion of standstone, slates and conglomerates, and in some parts by coal-bearing strata.

The climate is dry, nearly all of the scant rainfall being in the summer months, October to March. The mean maximum temperature is 73° and mean minimum 48°, mean annual 67° F. The western territory has a rainfall of 12 inches, which increases eastward, being 40 inches on the eastern border. Over 2,000, 000 acres of land are under cultivation, and 30,000,000 acres are devoted to grazing. There are over 5,000,000 sheep and over 2,000,000 goats. The plateau and mountains are ex ceedingly rich in minerals, including gold., dia monds, coal, lead, silver, sulphur, cobalt, salt petre, copper and iron. The gold deposits are foremost in the world. (See TRANSVAAL, GOLD MINING IN THE). In 1916 the produc tion of diamonds, found chiefly near Pretoria, amounted to $28,000,000, and the coal to $6,000, 000, copper $3,000,000 and tin $1,650,000. The diamond output in 1913 was valued at $57,000, 000, but most of the mines shut down when the war of 1914 began. The climate in the eastern and northern lowlands is tropical; on the plateau it is cooler and very agreeable, but the rainfall is deficient. Forests, chiefly of acacias, are but of small extent. With irriga tion the soil would be suitable for all European and sub-tropical agicultural products, but up to the present time there has been very little agriculture, the Boers being chiefly occupied in cattle raising. Railways have been built from

Johannesburg to Delagoa Bay, Durban and the Cape ports. The mileage, about 2,500, is being extended. The principal exports are gold, dia monds, copper, wool, cattle, hides, ostrich feathers, ivory and minerals. The chief imports are provisions, machinery, carriages, automo biles, shoes and clothing. The government is vested in an administrator, an executive com mittee of four and a provincial council of 36 members. Good schools are maintained; there were 892 in 1916, with an average attendance of 73,000. There are also three normal col leges and 298 native schools, with 20,000 pupils. The capital is Pretoria, and the largest city is Johannesburg (q.v.), with a population of about 120,000. The total population was given as about 1,688,212. Of these 1,219,845 were natives, Kaffirs, Basutos and Bechuanas. Only one-third of the white population were Boers (q.v.), the rest being, previous to the war, termed "Uitlanders? Transvaal was settled by Boers from Cape Colony in 1833-37. In 1856 they adopted a republican constitution, but in ternal disagreements, unwise administration and troubles with the natives forced the republic in 1877 to consent to annexation by Great Britain. In 1880, however, the Boers rose in arms, with the result that their independence was re-established, subject to British control over external affairs. The discovery of gold brought in large numbers of foreigners, chiefly English, who demanded a voice in the govern ment. After fruitless appeals to Pretoria, and a disastrous attempt at insurrection in 1896 (known as the "Jameson Raidp), the Uitlanders appealed to the British government. After three years of negotiations England, in October 1899, rejected an ultimatum addressed to it by the Transvaal government, which thereupon invaded British territory. The war, in which the Orange Free State threw in its lot with the South African republic, lasted nearly three years. After a series of remarkable initial successes had been gained by the Boers, the two republics were finally occupied by British troops, and their annexation to the British dominions was proclaimed 1 Sept. 1900, al though hostilities continued until June 1902. The War of 1914 stimulated manufacturing in the Transvaal, and they now tan their own leather, produce their own cement, beer and matches, besides manufacturing explosives, rope, brooms, brick and earthenware. See Soma AFRICAN WAR; TRANSVAAL, GOLD MINING IN THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA.