Port Elizabeth is a city in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province. The city often shortened to PE and nicknamed "The Friendly City" or "The Windy City", stretches 16km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in South Africa.
Algoa Bay was discovered by Bartholomew Diaz in 1488, and named Bahia da Roca. The bay was later called by the Portuguese Bahia da Lagoa in the 16th century, whence its modern designation. In 1754 the Dutch settlements at the Cape were extended eastwards as far as Algoa Bay. The convenience of reaching the eastern district by boat was then recognized and advantage taken of the roadstead sheltered by Cape Recife. In 1799, during the first occupation of Cape Colony by the British, Colonel Vandeleur built a small fort on the hill west of the Baaken's River to guard the roadstead. It was named Fort Frederick in honour of the then duke of York, and is still preserved.
In April 1820, 4000 British immigrants arrived in the bay and settled in the eastern district of the colony. They became the first permanent British residents in the country. Under the supervision of Sir Rufane Donkin, acting governor of the Cape, a town was laid out at the base of the hills. The city got its name when the acting governor of the colony at that time, Sir Rufane Donkin, named the city after his late wife, Elizabeth.
In 1836 it was made a free warehousing port, and in 1837 the capital of a small adjacent district. The prosperity of the port which was followed by the construction of railways to the interior earned for the port the designation of "the Liverpool of South Africa." The port is now in direct communication with all other parts of South Africa.
The port is home of South Africa's motor vehicle industry. It hosts General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Continental Tyres and many more automotive companies. It is also a major seaport, with the most significant are loading facilities in the southern hemisphere.
Some major tourists attractions at Port Elizabeth are: The Seaview Lion Park that has made playing with lion cubs of varying ages, an experience open to the public; Humewood Golf Club, one of South Africas top-rated golf clubs; Bay world Museum Complex that comprises the Museum, Oceanarium, Snake Park as well as Number 7 Castle Hill Museum; and the 40 km magnificent beaches which provide a sheltered environment for swimming, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing and boardsailing among others.
The city hosts The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) that was formed in 2005 by amalgamating of the University of Port Elizabeth, Vista University and the Port Elizabeth Technikon. It is the largest university in the Eastern and Southern Cape. The city also hosts a number of government-funded schools and private schools.
By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer
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