PORT ELIZABETH | NELSON MANDELA BAY | EASTERN CAPE
Port Elizabeth is one of the largest cities in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province, 770 km east of Cape Town. The city 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. It is also referred to as South Africa's Watersport Capital. 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.
Port Elizabeth History
The area around what is now called Algoa Bay was first settled by indigenous tribes countless centuries ago. It is said that the San and Khoisan people were amongst the first inhabitants, and the Xhosa came later. However, little is known as no written records are believed to exist from that time.
The first Europeans to have visited the area were Portuguese explorers Bartolomeu Dias, who landed on St Croix Island in Algoa Bay in 1488, 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".
In 1799, during the first British occupation of the Colony during the Napoleonic Wars, a stone Fort was built, named Fort Frederick after the then 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. 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.
Port Elizabeth Industry
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.
Port Elizabeth Airport is the fourth busiest airport in South Africa.