Nelspruit is a city of 221,474 people (2000) situated in northeastern South Africa. It is the capital of the Mpumalanga province (formerly Eastern Transvaal). Located on the Crocodile River (known as the Krokodil in Afrikaans), Nelspruit lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the Mozambique border and 330 kilometres (205 miles) east of Johannesburg. The nearest township is KaNyamazane, a few kilometres east of Nelspruit. Nelspruit was founded in 1905 by three brothers of the Nel family who grazed their cattle around the site of Nelspruit during the winter months. It is a key manufacturing and agricultural hub for northeastern South Africa. Major industries include the canning of citrus fruit, paper production, furniture manufacture and timbermills. Fertile soils and subtropical climate provide perfect conditions for the growing of citrus and tropical fruits, mainly mango, banana, avocado and Macadamia nuts. There are many orange farms in the area around Nelspruit. The city has two airports, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to the north east, and the general aviation Nelspruit Airport to the south west. Kruger Mpumalanga is used for scheduled flights to Johannesburg and, less frequently, to Cape Town and other cities. It is also home to the Government Research Institute for Citrus and Subtropical Fruits, and the Lowveld Botanical Gardens. Nelspruit is a major stopover point for tourists travelling to the Kruger National Park and to Mozambique. Tourists from Mozambique also stimulate the economy of the city significantly. During the Boer War, Nelspruit served briefly as the seat of government for the South African Republic (not to be confused with the Republic of South Africa), an independent Boer republic. (...)
Nelspruit has excellent road links to Mpumalanga’s major tourist attractions. The nearest entrance gates to Kruger are less than 80 km away on the N4 (east), and the R40 through White River (north), and a day trip to see the southern sector of the park is quite feasible. The gold rush town of Barberton is 43 km to the south on the R40, and a visit here could be combined with a day trip over the border to Swaziland. The mountain villages of Sabie and Graskop are equally accessible and make a pleasant change from the heat of the Lowveld. All these places have an excellent range of accommodation and there is little reason to stay in the centre of town. The shopping centres in town are convenient for stocking up on food and equipment before setting off to stay in self-catering accommodation in Kruger.
Nelspruit has good transport links, with an important international airport and good train and bus links. There are great facilities here for tourists planning trips to Swaziland, the Panorama region and Kruger National Park, as well as across the border to Mozambique (there is a daily train service between Tshwane (Pretoria)/Johannesburg and Komatipoort, the border post with Mozambique). The Baz Bus runs from Johannesburg, Tshwane (Pretoria) and Swaziland. Greyhound, Intercape and Translux all operate services from Johannesburg and Tshwane (Pretoria) to Maputo in Mozambique, which stop in Nelspruit.
Nelspruit has grown rapidly in recent years and it has a prosperous air with a new sprawl of well-off suburbs surrounding the city centre. New business parks and a number of shopping malls have been built in the area, especially along the road to White River. As a consequence, Nelspruit has extended its municipality by joining with neighbouring White River and Hazyview to form the Mbombela Municipal Region (meaning, appropriately, ‘a lot of people put together in a small space’). Mbombela is now the provincial capital of Mpumalanga Province. The new Mbombela Stadium is 8 km northwest of Nelspruit (follow the N4 out of town) for the 2010 FIFA World CupTM. The signature feature is the 18 tall roof supports that resemble giraffes.