Nelspruit is the provincial capital of Mpumalanga Province. It is situated in the heart of the lushly beautiful Lowveld, on the banks of the Crocodile River. The place Nelspruit, which means literally Nels stream, attracted traders and farmers in high profile because of the natural richness of the soil, adequate water for irrigation and a level valley floor.
Nelspruit was named after the owners of the original farm - the three brothers Nel. It began with the construction of a station up the Crocodile river valley, built on their farm. Nelspruit was established as a railhead of the first section of construction on the railway from Mozambique to Pretoria. A time lapse in the Railway construction contract allowed the rail company to raise finance for continued construction of the railway, and during this time Nelspruit became the focal point of the Lowveld - goods still had to be transported to the interior by oxwagon from Nelspruit.
Hugh Lanion Hall (1858-1940) arrived in the area in 1890 and established one of the greatest citrus and subtropical fruit estates in the country, which today is know by the name of Hall and Sons Limited.
The bridge over the Komati River was completed at the end of May 1891 and the railhead reached Komatipoort Station on 1 July 1892. On 1 October it reached Hectorspruit Station; on 28 December it had arrived in Malelane, and it eventually reached Krokidilpoort Station in April 1892. The railhead reached Nelspruit and was put into commission on 20 June 1892. Construction continued and by 1 June 1893 it was at Alkmaar, and on 20 January 1894 at Waterval Onder. Wateval Boven was reached on 20 June 1894 and the line was completed when the last bolt was driven by President Kruger in November 1894.
Though the line was in commission by 1st January 1895 it was not formally opened until 27 June, when the Volksraad adjourned for the officicial opening and proclaimed 8,9, and 10 July as public holidays in Pretoria. Every burgher was eligible for a free ticket to and from Lourenco Marques (Maputo).
The penetration of the Lowveld by settlement was for many years stifled by two natural barriers - Malaria, transmitted to man by the Anopheles Mosquito, and Nagana, transmitted to cattle, horses and dogs by the Tsetse-fly., Only once the two had been defeated was it possible for large-scale immigration into the area.
In 1896 the rinderpest swept through the country killing almost all the cattle. However this would turn out to be a blessing in disguise in that it also rid the country of the tsetse-fly. The link between the disappearance of the rinderpest and the fly is not known. It was only after the the Anglo-Boer War, when cattle first re-entered the Lowveld, that the disappearance of the fly was discovered.
The theory by Sir Patrick Mansonand others, and the proof by Major Roland Ross of the link between Malarial Fever and mosquitos allowed researchers to develop ways to combat Malaraia.
In the 1930's the Government of the day decided that the time had come to fight an all-out battle against Malaria.The results of this all-out attack on the disease were little short of miraculous and when, at a later date, D.D.T became available, the victory was won. In the comparatively short space of 8 years Malaria cases admitted to hospitals dropped from some 2000 per annum to 200.
Effective control of this deadly disease helped the community in this valley to surge ahead and Nelspruit grew to be one of the largest producers of tobacco, litchis , mangoes , avocados etc.
Nespruit is now a flourishing town with beautiful streets shaded by flowering trees. The town itself, its rich history, and the many attractions in the surrounding areas close by, make it a major tourist attraction.Perhaps most attractive of all, is its proximity to the famous Kruger National Park.
Mpumalanga means 'Place where the sun rises', and is bordered by Mozambique and Swaziland in the east, and Gauteng in the west. It is situated mainly on the high plateau grasslands of the Middleveld, which roll eastwards for hundreds of kilometres. In the north-east it rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense and breathtaking escarpment. In places this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld.
Mpumalanga is located on the South of Northern Province, East of Gauteng, North West of KwaZulu Natal, West of Swaziland and Mozambique.
Mpumalanga falls mainly within the Grassland Biome. The Escarprnent and the Lowveld form a transitional zone between this grassland area and the Savannah Biome. Long sweeps of undulating grasslands abruptly change to the thickly forested ravines and thun- dering waterfalls of the escarpment, only to change again to present the subtropical wildlife splendour of the Lowveld. The escarpment and the Lowveld have always been popular tourist attractions. Now that new borders have been drawn for this province, only the southern, albeit most popular, part of the Kruger National Park is within this province. The Kruger National Park will, however, remain an untouched unit, a province for wildlife on its own.
The area is crisscrossed by a network of excellent roads and railway connections, making it highly accessible to the tourist. Because of its popularity as a tourist heartland, Mpumalanga is also well served by a number of small airports.
Nelspruit is the legislative capital of the province. This town is the administrative and business centre of the Lowveld and provides a perfect base from which to explore the province. Witbank is the centre of the local coal-mining industry; Standerton, in the south, is renowned for its large dairy industry; Piet Retief in the south-east is a production area for tropical fruit and sugar; while a large sugar industry is also found at Malelane in the east. Ermelo is the district in South Africa which produces the most wool; Barberton is one of the oldest gold-mining towns in South Africa; and Sabie is situated in the forestry heartland of the country. The green gold of Sabie and Graskop provides a large part of the country's total requirement for forestry products.
These forestry plantations are also an ideal backdrop for ecotourism opportunities, with a variety of popular hiking trails, myriad water-falls, patches of indigenous forest and a variety of nature reserves. The biggest of these is the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, where God's Window provides unforgettable vistas of the Lowveld. An oasis is provided by the mineral springs at Badplaas. Chrissiesmeer is the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa. It is famous for its large variety of aquatic birds, especially flamingos. The Sudwala Caves, deep in the dolomite rocks of the surrounding mountains, is a worth- while tourist stop. This evergreen comer of the country has enormous tourism potential.