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East London History, South Africa

Located along the southeastern coast of the Eastern Cape Province, East London, South Africa became a port in the mid-1800s along the coast of the Buffalo River. Eventually it was expanded and later became a city in the year 1914. Prior to being considered a city, it was simply a British supply port, of which there were many along this particular river, providing supplies to the military headquarters located in one of its sister cities. The British quickly built multiple ports along the river and across from one another on the river, which eventually molded together to become part of what is now East London.

After the Frontier wars came to an end, the port was inhabited by settlers from all over the world. Over time, the settlers installed a railway in 1876, adding yet another avenue for more settlers and more support. Following the addition of the railway came the conception and building of a bridge to cross the Buffalo River. This bridge was completed in 1935, and is unique in its double-decker style. It is the only bridge of such unique architecture in South Africa.

In the last fifty years, development and acceptance of this city has grown tremendously, allowing East London to host multiple sporting events. However, the small city was isolated for a while by other tribes claiming the territory surrounding the city on all sides in the early sixties.  Fortunately, many large companies have invested in further developing the port, including prominent automobile manufacturer, Daimler Chrysler, and other corporations intrested in building manufacturing plants in the area. 

Since the foundation of the city, its population has grown to nearly 900,000 people, with more than 700,000 living in the innermost part of East London. In the year 2000, East London joined the Buffalo City Local Municipality, which includes four other towns and cities in its jurisdiction. The mayor of the five towns and cities is Ntombentle Peter, the first female elected to the mayoral office in 2006. With all of the settlers mixing together within the city, there are three primary languages spoken: English, Xhosa, and Afrikaans.

Today, East London is often referred to by its nickname, Buffalo City, and is home to a growing tourist industry. The dozens of beaches along the coast of the Indian Ocean are often sought out for their surfing opportunities. With the growing tourism come many new hotels and bed and breakfast investors to the city, further developing the already grand city.

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East London City Ratings

  • Rating71%
    City Rank217
  • History & Culture: rated for 90%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 30%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 100%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 90%
  • Food: rated for 60%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 90%
  • Shopping: rated for 60%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 50%
  • Must visit this place: not rated
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