What You Need To Know
East London is a city on the southeast coast of South Africa in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality of the Eastern Cape province. The city lies on the Indian Ocean coast, largely between the Buffalo River and the Nahoon River, and hosts the country’s only river port. East London today has a population of over 267,000 with over 755,000 in the metropolitan area.
Area: 156.7 km²
East London is the second largest industrial centre in the province. The motor industry is the dominant employer. A major Daimler plant is located next to the harbour, manufacturing Mercedes-Benz and other vehicles for the local market, as well asEXPORTING to the United States and Brazil. Other industries include clothing, textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing. From the 1960s until the 1990s, the apartheid government created tax and wage incentives to attract industries to the then black “independent states”, including nearby Ciskei. Investment thus flowed into surrounding areas such as Fort Jackson and Dimbaza, leaving East London in relative isolation. The militant labour union activity of the time was not conducive to productivity or good labour relations. Transport infrastructure deteriorated and port activity wound down. To encourage investment in East London, the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) was established on the West Bank in 2004, close to both the port and airport. 1500ha of land has been made available, and the site is one of four duty-free development areas in South Africa. East London has good transport links with the rest of South Africa. The N2 highway connecting Cape Town and Durban bypasses the city, while the N6 highway joins East London with the inland city of Bloemfontein (as well as, via the N1, Johannesburg). East London Airport, 10 km from the city centre, has daily flights to all major South African cities.
East London is serviced by two national roads: the coastal N2 highway connects it to King William’s Town, Port Elizabeth and Cape Townto the west and Mthatha and Durban to the east. It is the southern end of the N6, which runs north via Queenstown and Aliwal North to Bloemfontein. Older sections of the N2 have been renumbered the R102. The R72 is an alternative route to Port Elizabeth, via Port Alfred. The R346 is an alternative route to King William’s Town. East London, like South Africa’s other major cities, uses Metropolitan (or M) routes as a third tier for its major intra-city roads. East London Airport is a commercial airport with service to other large South African metropolitan areas.
East London has a borderline humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa/Cfb), with the warm temperatures and moderation typical of the South African coastline. Although it has no true dry season, there is a drying trend in the winter, with the wettest times of year being “spring” and “autumn”. There is also a shorter and lesser dry period in December and January. The all-time record low is 3 °C (37.4 °F), and the all-time record high is 42 °C (107.6 °F). The hottest temperatures have been recorded in springtime, rather than the summer months. Temperatures above 38 °C (100 °F) have only been recorded early in the season, from August to December. Although temperatures have never dropped below freezing since records began, East London has recorded snowfall in 1985 and 1989.