Orange Free State
The Republic of the Orange Free State (Afrikaans: Oranje-Vrystaat) was an independent Boer state in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a province in South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province. Extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, its borders were determined by the United Kingdom in 1848 when the region was proclaimed as the Orange River Sovereignty, with a seat of a British Resident in Bloemfontein.
In the northern part of the territory a Voortrekker Republic was established at Winburg in 1837. This state merged with the Republic of Potchefstroom which later formed part of the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic).
Following the granting of independence to the Transvaal Republic, the British recognized the independence of the Orange Free State on 17 February, 1854 and the country officially became independent on 23 February, 1854, with the signing of the Orange River Convention. The Republic immediately came into being effectively incorporating both the Orange River Sovereignty and the traditions of the Winburg-Potchefstroom Republic.
Although the Orange Free State developed into a politically and economically successful republic, it experienced chronic conflict with the British (see the Boer Wars) until it was finally annexed as the Orange River Colony in 1900. It ceased to exist as an independent Boer republic on 31 May 1902 with the signing of the Vereeniging Treaty at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Boer War. It joined the Union of South Africa in 1910 (which later became the Republic of South Africa in 1961) as a province along with the Cape, Natal, and the Transvaal — the other conquered Boer republic.
The republic's name derives partly from the Orange River (just as the Transvaal Republic was named after the Vaal River), but both names were bestowed by the Dutch Protestant settlers in honour of the Dutch ruling family, the House of Orange.