Transvaal (long an independent state, and from 1884 till 1900 officially called the 'south African Republic'), a British crown colony in the highlands of South-east Africa, bounded on the N. by Rhodesia, on the E. by Portuguese East Africa and Zululand, SE. by Natal, S. by the Orange River Colony, and W. by Bechuanaland. Its length from the Vaal River on the S. to the Limpopo River on the N. is over 400 miles, while a line between the extreme southern and eastern points (25° to 32° E. long.) reaches 700 miles. Prior to 1830 the land was inhabited by several Bantu tribes under the Zulu chief Umziligase, and was noted for its abundance of game. In 1835 some Cape Colony 'boers' or farmers of Dutch descent, offended by official regulations, 'trekked' into what is now Natal. On its being annexed by Britain in 1856, they trekked into this wild region, and till 1870 received accessions from the south. After much bloodshed the natives were mostly subdued or driven out. The Boers were pioneers and pastoral farmers, who tilled but little of the soil, and had none of the trader's instinct. The little commerce was in British hands. In 1877, owing to an exhausted public treasury and accumulated debts brought about by chronic native wars, the republic was on the eve of dissolution, and the British government assumed the care of it, subjugated the rebellious natives, and put the finances in order. But promises made to the Boers as to self-governing institutions were not carried out; friction was created; and there followed the Transvaal war, the death of General Colley (see Majuba), and the conventions of 1880 and 1884 between England and the Transvaal. The first gave the Boers republican rights, but retained British control over boundaries, native affairs, and foreign relations; the 1884 convention modified the restrictions considerably. British 'suzerainty' was still recognised, and a diplomatic agent represents Britain at Pretoria. The rapid development of the gold industry greatly increased the financial prosperity, but introduced elements of difficulty into public life. The growing number of 'Uitlanders,' who brought prosperity to the republic, resented their exclusion from political privileges; and their discontent led first to the disastrous 'Jameson Raid' in 1895, and to the war of 1899-1902, in which the Orange Free State sided with the Transvaal. This ended in both states being taken over by Britain as crown colonies, till the resettlement permits the concession of self-government, as in Cape Colony. £3,000,000 was granted by the government to the Boer farmers, after the war, to aid in restocking their farms. In 1903 a tract of country of about 7000 sq. m. was transferred to the colony of Natal. The revenue in 1903-4 was £5,333,342, and the expenditure £4,598,204. The chief sources of revenue are customs, the mines, and stamps. The public debt under the South African Loan and War Contribution Act, 1903 (partly shared by the Orange River Colony), is £35,000,000, to be repaid within fifty years. The administration is carried on under the governor and lieutenant-governor by executive and legislative councils. The colony is specially favourable for agriculture and stock-rearing, and about 50,000 acres are under cultivation. Gold-mining is extensively carried on, principally in Witwatersrand and Barberton. In 1903,86,324 persons (12,702 whites) were employed at the gold-mines, and the output was 2,972,897 fine ounces. Coal-mining is on the increase; the output in 1901 was 797,144 tons, and in 1903, 2,253,677 tons, value £877,976. The diamond-mines output was in 1903,17,976 carats, value £238,752. There are also deposits of copper, iron, tin, and lead. In 1904 Chinese labour was introduced for mining purposes, with restrictive conditions. In 1905 there were about 30,000 Chinese in the Transvaal. The area of the colony is about 111,200 sq. m., and the population at the census of 1904 was 1,268,3S9, of whom 299,327 were whites and 969,339 native and other coloured races. In 1899 only about 30 per cent. of the whites were Boers, the others being mostly British-born or colonial. The Boers belong to the several divisions of the Dutch Reformed Church. The natural seaports of the Transvaal are Delagoa Bay and Durban, 348 and 441 miles from Pretoria respectively. Both are connected with Pretoria and Johannesburg by rail. The total length of the railways open in the colony is 1442 miles. Johannesburg is the largest town (pop. 158,580); Pretoria (white pop. 21,161) is the capital.
See, besides official publications and Jeppe's Almanac, works by Aylward (new ed. 1881), Lady Bellairs (1885), Nixon (1885), Mather (new ed. 1889), Alford (1891), and Distant (1892).