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South Africa - Place Names Over Time, MAIN PAGE

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South African Place Names Over Time


The object of this project is to assemble information about South African Towns and Cities, the dates they were established and where possible record information about the founders and origins of the place names. Where those who were instrumental in establishing the place have a GENi profile please link them to the project in bold.

NB When adding place names to events in profile information please use the place name as it was at the time of the event. If you use the "start typing ..." for place name it will fill in the modern place name. The solution is to - manually fill the place name in reading from your original source. The lists gathered in the pages linked to this project can help establish the names of place at the time events took place Historical Province and Post 1994 Provinces are added under each place name in the listings.

Gratitude and thanks to June Barnes for compiling this project -- Phillipp


// South Africa - Towns and Cities A-C// South Africa - Towns and Cities D-G// South Africa - Towns and Cities H-K// South Africa - Towns and Cities L-P// Africa - Towns and Cities Q-S// South Africa - Towns and Cities T-Z


  • Kingdom of Mapungubwe (1050–1270)
  • Kingdom of Mutapa (1430–1760)
  • de Caep de Goede Hoop /Cape of Good Hope (1652–1795) (The Cape Colony (Dutch: Kaapkolonie) was a Dutch United East India Company (VOC) Colony in Southern Africa, centered on the Cape of Good Hope, whence it derived its name.)
  • Dutch Cape Colony (1802–1806)
  • Cape Colony (1806–1910)
  • South African Republic (1852–1902)
  • Union of South Africa (1910–1961)
  • Republic of South Africa (1961–present)

// The Union of South Africa was established in

1910 by combining four British colonies: the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal Colony and the Orange River Colony (the latter two were, before the Second Boer War, independent republics known as the South African Republic and the Orange Free State). These colonies became the four original provinces of the Union: Cape Province, Transvaal Province, Natal Province and Orange Free State Province.

In the 1950s "homelands", also called "bantustans" were consolidated. Four of these homelands were established as quasi-independent nation states of the black population during the apartheid era. In 1976, the homeland of Transkei was the first to accept independence from South Africa, and although this independence was never acknowledged by any other country, three other homelands – Bophuthatswana (1977), Venda (1979) and Ciskei (1981) – followed suit.

In 1961 formal na became been the Republic of South Africa, Republiek van Suid-Afrika in Afrikaans. Since 1994, the country has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages.


  • Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Suid-Africa)
  • English Republic of South Africa (South Africa)
  • Northern Sotho Repabliki ya Afrika-Borwa (Afrika Borwa)
  • Southern Ndebele iRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika (iSewula Afrika)
  • Southern Sotho Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa (Afrika Borwa)
  • Swazi iRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Afrika (iNingizimu Afrika)
  • Tsonga Riphabliki ra Afrika Dzonga (Afrika-Dzonga)
  • Tswana Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa (Aforika Borwa)
  • Venda Riphabuḽiki ya Afurika Tshipembe (Afurika Tshipembe)
  • Xhosa iRiphabliki yomZantsi Afrika (uMzantsi Afrika)
  • Zulu iRiphabhuliki yaseNingizimu Afrika (iNingizimu Afrika)

On 27 April 1994, the date of the first non-racial elections and of the adoption of the Interim Constitution, all of the provinces (Cape Province, Transvaal Province, Natal Province and Orange Free State Province), and homelands, (Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei) were dissolved, and nine new provinces were established.

A major change was the redivision of the country into eight provinces:

  • Cape Province divided into
    • Western Cape,
    • Eastern Cape,

  • *Northern Cape and
    • part of Northwest Province
  • Orange Free State
    • became the Free State,
  • Natal
    • renamed KwaZulu-Natal,
  • Transvaal divided into
    • Gauteng,
    • Mpumalanga (initially Eastern Transvaal),
    • Northwest Province, (made up of part of old Transvaal and old Cape Province) and
    • Limpopo Province (initially Northern Transvaal then Northern Province ).


1488 "Cape of Storms" later "Cape of Good Hope"

Bartolomeu Dias on 12 March 1488, named it the "Cape of Storms" (Cabo das Tormentas). It was later renamed by John II of Portugal as "Cape of Good Hope" (Cabo da Boa Esperança).


// British Kaffraria - The British Empire

1795 Cape of Good Hope districts


The eastern regions of the Cape were attacked by the Xhosa in 1834, followed by Xhosa territory being invaded by the British. The result was a new territory named the Province of Queen Adelaide, which was rescinded in 1836.


Frontier war - the Cape colony's borders were pushed eastwards. On 23 December 1847 the lands between the Keiskamma and Great Kei Rivers were annexed to the Cape Colony. The new territory, known as British Kaffraria, which was divided into seven counties

  • Bedfordshire,
  • Cambridgeshire,
  • Lincolnshire,
  • Middlesex,
  • Yorkshire,
  • Sussex and
  • Northumberland. The port of East London, as well as the land immediately about it, was annexed to the Cape in 1848

1850 - 1853

Frontier war - the Governor of the Cape, Sir George Grey, established missionary training institutions at

  • Lovedale,
  • Healdtown,
  • Salem and
  • Lesseyton.

In 1857 veterans of the British German Legion were brought out as military settlers to Kaffraria, resulting in the establishment of a number of new settlements, such as Berlin, Stutterheim and Hamburg.

1859 - 1860

In 1859 East London was incorporated into British Kaffraria, and in 1860 the territory was proclaimed a Crown Colony with divisions at

  • East London,
  • King William's Town,
  • Stutterheim,
  • Gonube,
  • Keiskammahoek and
  • Middledrift.


British Kaffraria was annexed to the Cape Colony and divided into two divisions,

  • King William's Town and
  • East London.


British Kaffraria was further fragmented into the divisions of

  • Komgha,
  • Cathcart and
  • Stutterheim.

At the end of the 19th century, the area known as British Kaffraria between the Fish and Kei rivers had been set aside for the "Bantu," and was known as the Ciskei from then on. Europeans gave the name Ciskei to the area to distinguish it from the Transkei, the area north of the Kei. Ciskei had self-government in 1972, Nominal independance in 1981 and was re-integrated into South Africa in 1994.

After 1910 British Kaffraria became known as the Border Region.

// Africa 1885

1850 Cape Colony

1885/1899 Cape Colony

Note provinces on map.
Anyone have more information perhaps ?

Pre 1910 - Cape Colony

...which Included

  • British Bechuanaland (not to be confused with the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now Botswana),
  • Griqualand East (the area around Kokstad) and
  • Griqualand West

1910 - Cape Province

(When the Union of South Africa was formed).
The following regions were set up as homelandsdeclared independent of South Africa

Transkei on 1885 map as are east of Gret Kei River

  • 1976 Transkei

1959 - Transkei became the first region to be established as a Territorial Authority; in 1963 it became the first Bantustan to be granted 'self-government'. dissolution 1990. See more at SA History Online Transkei Independence in 1976 and reintegrated 1994 as part of part of the new Eastern Cape province.

  • 1981 Ciskei

See more at SA Africa Online Ciskei Self governing in 1972, nominal independence 1981 and reintegrated 1994 as part of part of the new Eastern Cape province.

1994 Cape Province

...split into three smaller provinces:

Western Cape

Eastern Cape

Northern Cape.

● Parts of it were also absorbed into the North West Province.



// 1870s

Image right -By Johnston, Alexander Keith, 1804-1871;Keane, A. H. (Augustus Henry), 1833-1912

Meaning area beyond (or "trans") the Vaal River,

1853 - South African Republic

Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek

See Original Map of the Transvaal or South-African Republic.

1877 - Transvaal Colony

1881 - Transvaal State

1884 - South African Republic

Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek

1900 - Transvaal

1902 - Transvaal Colony

1910 - Transvaal Province

formed out of the bulk of the old South African Republic after the Second Boer War.

1994 - Transvaal Province

(When the Union of South Africa was formed) split as follows

● Gauteng

The south-central portion (including (Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging) became

● Limpopo

The northern portion

● Mpumalanga

The south eastern portion

● North West

Mostly came from the southwestern portion of the old Transvaal

● A segment of the Transvaal joined KwaZulu-Natal.

See Map of South Africa during the South African War (1899-1902), showing British South Africa, the South African Republic, the Orange Free State, Portuguese and German territory



1823 to 1848 region known as Transorangia

The Griquas were the first people from the Cape to settle in the Transorangia area, beyond the Orange River 1820's .
Known as Soutern Transorangia around Philipolis mission station

The Voortrekker Republic of Natalia, founded in 1837, administered the northern part of the territory through a landdrost based at Winburg. This northern area was later in federation with the Republic of Potchefstroom which eventually formed part of the South African Republic (Transvaal).

Winburg part of Republiek Natalia before 1848

1848 - Orange River Sovereignty

1853 - Orange Free State

Recognised as an independent territory under the Bloemfontein Convention in 1854.

...Boer Republic

1902 Orange River Colony

1910 - Orange Free State

1994 Free State'



1497 - Natalia

Discovered by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama Christmas 1497, and named Terra Natalis (later the name Natália). Natal means Christmas in Portuguese.

1837 Boer Republic of Natalia

Founded in 1837 after a Voortrekker victory against the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River.

1843 - Colony of Natal

Pre 1910 Colony of Natal

1910 Natal

1994 KwaZulu-Natal Africa 1899

Image from PICRYL - Public Domain Media Source


References -

Getting Involved

To join the project use the request link under "actions" at the top right of the page.


  • Add the profiles of the founders of places in South Africa to the project. If the person is on Geni please add the link to their profile, and make this a bold entry. If the person is not on Geni add a link to an external source but do not make the link bold. This will help us to see who still needs to be added/found on Geni.
  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.
  • How to add a link is explained in the attached document - Adding links to Geni profiles in projects.


Postal Codes of South African Town See documents attached provided by C Barry


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