Clever city in a garden
REPUTED to have grown at much the same rate as the major metropolis of Johannesburg, Welkom, South Africa's youngest town, received city status only in 1955. The city is the hub of Free State's gold fields and is about 160km northeast of Bloemfontein.
Directly translated from Afrikaans or Dutch, Welkom means "welcome". The town emerged after the discovery of gold in the area. The late Ernest Oppenheimer, the then chairman of Anglo American, played a significant role in its development.
It is one of only a few cities worldwide that was completely pre-planned. As a result it has no traffic woes and functions well. The suburbs all have their own shopping and commercial centres and residents seldom have to walk more than 10 minutes to reach them.
The traffic flow in the city has attracted much attention and experts from all over the world come to study the clever use of traffic circles and stop streets in instead of traffic lights in the city centre.
This effortless flow of traffic is the envy of many cities and the reason why Welkom is known as "circle city".
Welkom has also earned itself the reputation of a "city in a garden" due to its many parks and cleverly designed gardens. The extraordinary number of shady trees and pretty surrounds make it a more than welcome place to visit. - www.freestatetourism.org