King William's Town

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King William's Town
Street in King William's Town
Street in King William's Town
King William's Town is located in Eastern Cape
King William's Town
King William's Town
 King William's Town shown within Eastern Cape
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Country South Africa
Province Eastern Cape
Municipality Buffalo City
Established 1835[1]
 • Total 65.52 km2 (25.30 sq mi)
Elevation 398 m (1,306 ft)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 34,019
 • Density 520/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
 • Black African 65.3%
 • Coloured 25.6%
 • Indian/Asian 2.5%
 • White 5.6%
 • Other 0.9%
First languages (2011)[2]
 • Xhosa 54.5%
 • Afrikaans 27.3%
 • English 13.7%
 • Other 4.4%
Postal code (street) 5601
PO box 5600
Area code 043

King William's Town is a town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa along the banks of the Buffalo River. The town is about 30 minutes' motorway drive WNW of the Indian Ocean port of East London. The town is part of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

King, as the town is locally called, stands 389 m above the sea at the foot of the Amatola Mountains and in the midst of a densely populated agricultural district. King William's Town is the second most populous city in the Buffalo City Municipality, with a population near 100,000 inhabitants.

The town has one of the oldest post offices in the country developed by missionaries led by Brownlee.


Founded by Sir Benjamin d'Urban in May 1835 during the Xhosa War of that year, the town is named after William IV. It was abandoned in December 1836, but was reoccupied in 1846 and was the capital of British Kaffraria from its creation in 1847 to its incorporation in 1865 with the Cape Colony. Many of the colonists in the neighboring districts are descendants of members of the British German Legion disbanded after the Crimean War and provided with homes in Cape Colony; hence such names as Berlin, Braunschweig, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Potsdam and Stutterheim given to settlements in this part of the country.

King William's Town was originally declared the provincial capital of the surrounding Adelaide District in the 1830s. On 5 May 1877, the Cape Government of Prime Minister John Molteno opened the first railway, connecting the town to East London on the coast and to the Xhosa lands inland and further east.[3] With its direct railway communication, the town became an important entrepot for trade with the Xhosa people throughout "Kaffraria".

The area's economy depended on cattle and sheep ranching, and the town itself has a large industrial base producing textiles, soap, candles, sweets, cartons and clothing. In recent years, its proximity to the new provincial capital city of Bhisho has brought much development to the area since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The provincial government recently announced that they plan to rename the town with a traditional African name, as the current name bears colonial connotations.

The town is also home to "Huberta," one of the farthest-travelling hippopotami in South Africa. It is preserved in the Amathole Museum in the King Williams Town CBD.

Notable people


  1. "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Main Place King William's Town". Census 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Burman, Jose (1984), Early Railways at the Cape. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, p.83. ISBN 0-7981-1760-5
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links