Port Elizabeth City Guide

2010-05-07 14:35
Named after one of the world's renowned statesman and South African icon, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth is one of the most sought-after destinations in South Africa.

Port Elizabeth is one of the largest cities in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province, 770 km east of Cape Town. Often shortened to PE and nicknamed "The Friendly City" or "The Windy City", the city stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in South Africa. It is also referred to as Africa's Watersport Capital, and will host the third and fourth place play-off.

PE 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.

The area was initially home to the hunter-gatherers, the Khoi and the San. The Xhosa then settled in the area, predominantly along the nearby Sundays River. The first British settlers arrived in Port Elizabeth in 1820. The port city would quickly become the gateway for British settlers into the frontier of South Africa, but not without resistance from the Xhosa. Before the gold rush in 1896, PE was a hub for wool, mohair and the ostrich feather trade.

On 6 June 1820, Sir Rufane named the city Port Elizabeth in honour of his wife Elizabeth, who had died in India. Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth was a core centre of resistance to the oppressive apartheid regime. In 2000, Port Elizabeth became part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. It was named in honour of Nelson Mandela and includes the cities of Dispatch and Uitenhage in its jurisdictional area.

Soccer, rugby and cricket are the most popular sports in this part of the world and it is therefore not surprising that some of the country's top cricketers, rugby and footballers have emerged from the Eastern Cape Province.

The now-relegated Bay United were the city's only top flight outfit. And with the team failing to preserve their spot in top flight football, it means the city once again finds itself without a professional club. Before Bay United, the city's last professional team was Michau Warriors, which was relegated in 1997.

PE Blackpool played in the top flight in 1991 after the unification of the segregated football leagues. Among other players who from the area are former Bafana Bafana defender Frank Schoeman, Patrick Mayo and Blackburn Rovers forward Elrio van Heerden.

The city was a host for the group and quarter-final stages of the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Most football games have been hosted at the Eastern Province Rugby Football Union stadium. South Africa beat Trinidad and Tobago in the 2003 edition of the Nelson Mandela. The city also hosted Senegal for the 2005 Nelson Mandela Challenge. South Africa lost 2-3 to Senegal.

Port Elizabeth’s Soccer World Cup Stadium
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the 48 000 seat stadium in Port Elizabeth. The five-tier, R2 billion (approximately US$270million) Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was built overlooking the North End Lake, at the heart of the city.

For full information on this stadium, click [here]

Top things to do
* Port Elizabeth has some stunning beach walks along the boardwalk, or on the white sands.
* Along the Boardwalk is also the Shopping and Casino complex where you can pick up great souvenirs or enjoy something to eat and drink.
* Take a day safari in Addo Elephant Park, or in the Kragga Kamma Game Park

Getting around
To get around the city, you can use trains, buses, minibus taxis and metered taxis. Park and ride facilities in Port Elizabeth are situated at the Greenacres Shopping Mall, St Georges Park, Andrew Rabie School, Kings Beach.

A park and walk will also be available at High School Cillié. Full transport information [here]

Useful links:
GoTravel24's comprehensive guide for getting to and staying in Port Elizabeth

It may be too cold to swim in winter - but the Port Elizabeth coastline is spectacular.(AFP)

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