Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Transvaal, THE, or, SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC, an independent state of South Africa, situated between lat. 22° 15' and 28° S., and long. 25° and 32° 10' E. It occupies an elevated plateau, with an average altitude of 3,000 feet, the configuration of which bas been compared to a saucer. The adjoining regions are - British Bechuanaland on the W.; the British possessions administered by the South Africa Company on the N.; Portuguese East Africa, Swaziland, and Zuluhland on the E.; Natal on the S.E; and the Orange Free state on the S. The plateau is drained by two great rivers - the Vaal, which skirts the state on the S., and the Limpopo, or Crocodile, which, flowing N.W. from Pretoria, sweeps round so as to form the boundary on the N.W. and N., after which it trends away in a S.E. direction. Owing to its elevated position the climate is, on the whole, more salubrious and bracing than is usually the case in the neighbourbood of the tropics. The Transvaal is a famous hunting-ground, but the big game, including the leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, and giraffe, which attracted the earliest European visitors, have, to a great extent, been driven further inland. The mineral wealth of the country is very great. The original founders of the state were Boers, who migrated from Cape Colony between 1833 and 1837 in consequence of the policy of the British Government. The independence of the new settlement was practically acknowledged by the British authorities in 1852. Owing to the financial embarrassment and general disorder, produced mainly by constant wars with the natives, the country was annexed by the English in 1877. The Boers, however, were dissatisfied with British rule, and in 1880 a revolt broke out, which was terminated in the following year by a treaty restoring self-government in internal affairs, but leaving the control of foreign relations to the British Crown. Further concessions were made in 1884, when the British Resident was replaced by a Diplomatic Agent. Numbers of foreigners (or Uitlanders) settled in Johannesburg in connection with the gold-mining, and in 1896 great discontent was manifested among them owing to their being debarred from the franchise. This finally resulted in the Jameson raid (1896) (q.v.). Since then matters became more strained between the Transvaal and the British Government, and in 1899 war finally broke out. The Boers invaded Natal and Cape Colony, and invested Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking. Very large numbers of British troops were drafted to S. Africa, and by February, 1900, there were nearly 200,000 in the field. Three attempts by Buller to relieve Ladysmith failed, and in February the Boers were still holding their own against the British. There are two legislative bodies called Volksraden, each containing 24 members. The executive power is in the hands of a President, assisted by a Council of 8 members. The greater part of the inhabitants belong to the United Dutch Reformed Church. Pretoria is the principal town, while Johannesburg has the largest population.