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Deep Waters at East London

Aug 17, 2007
East London is South Africans only river port, situated on the mouth of the Buffalo River, so called by the Khoi San because of the large number of these animals roaming the area.

It was set up by the British in the year 1836 as a military post and served them as a base during the Xhosa Wars. The arrival of German settlers, who had been serving as mercenaries in the British German Legion, gave the place at the mouth of the Buffalo River an economic boost. In 1873 East London was given town rights.

It was eventually settled as a means of providing supplies to the garrisons, who were protecting the white settlers from the Xhosas. In the late 1850s the population of East London was boosted by the introduction of some German settlers, most of whom were bachelors. In 1857 the British Government took pity on them and a cargo of 157 Irish girls arrived to help lift morale.

The unusual double Decker Bridge over the Buffalo River was completed in 1935 and to this day is the only bridge of its kind in South Africa. Modern day attractions include the East London Museum, which houses the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish thought to be extinct and numerous memorial statues.

A visit to the East London Museum in Oxford Street is highly recommended. It boasts a large natural science collection and collections ranging from the prehistoric times of South Africa to early history of the Xhosa people.

The ancient fish species is estimated to be about 350 million years old and was believed to be extinct for more than 65 million years, until a fisherman from East London caught such a specimen in 1938. In the following years more catches were made in the extremely deep waters at East London.

Today, East London counts about half a million citizens, including the people living in the surrounding townships. The biggest employer is the Daimler Chrysler AG, which manufactures here Mercedes cars and trucks for the South African market and for export. East London has the forth biggest port of South Africa. It is the only harbour in South Africa that lies on a river. A modern airport links the town to the South African Airways net.

It enjoys a moderate climate, with few extremes in temperature and is generally sunny and pleasant. Winters usually mild, although snow falls on the mountain ranges of the Cape and Natal and occasionally in the lower lying areas, when a brief cold spell can be expected throughout the country. Since South Africa lies south of the Equator, these seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works for The Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Rental Site
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