For many years, Nelspruit was known as a far-flung north-eastern outpost of South Africa, offering not much more than easy access for visitors to the world-famous Kruger National Park.
In those days, it was a frontier town. Times have changed. Political change and economic development of the N4 Maputo Corridor have transformed the city into a gateway for neighbouring markets, a business centre and a provincial capital.
The town was essentially created on 28 August 1884, when the Republican Volksraad approved plans to build a railway from the newly discovered Lowveld goldfields to Johannesburg.
The line was finally opened in 1895 and growth followed as people quickly rushed to buy land in and around the Nelspruit area.
Today, property prices are soaring again. The city's economy obviously benefits from its proximity to Mozambique and Swaziland, but tourism has also been identified as a growth area.
Nelspruit offers easy access to many of the world's finest game parks and is close to the Eastern Escarpment, a 1 200-metre wall of jagged mountain towering above the African bush.
The city is also home to the National Botanical Gardens, set in 154 hectares of land along the eastern bank of the Crocodile River, containing no fewer than 512 plant species indigenous to the area.
Indeed, spurred by an ambitious local municipality, Nelspruit has stepped forward as a prospective host venue for a 2010 Fifa World Cup, offering to build a new stadium and, significantly, giving easy access to the event from Mozambique and Swaziland.
The Dangerous Stars soccer club has recently won promotion to South Africa's Premier League and will fly the Nelspruit banner in circles where it has not always been prominent.
Indeed, the city's existing sporting facilities are modest, even if the Nelspruit rugby Stadium and the soccer, hockey and cricket stadiums at the Valencia club have served their purpose.
Now, plans are well advanced to construct a multi-purpose sports complex, incorporating a 40 000-seater stadium, an academy of sport and an event and exhibition centre.
As in other fields, it seems as though Nelspruit's best sporting days lie ahead.
The Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, is to be specially built, with a capacity of 30 000. It will host four first-round matches.
Quick Links to Accommodation and Car Hire in this region:
» Nelspriut City Guide
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» Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit
The Final 10 Stadiums for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa:
- Green Point Stadium in Cape Town - Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth
- King Senzangakhona Stadium in Durban - Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein
- Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg - Soccer City in Johannesburg
- Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg - Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria
- Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit - Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane