Port Elizabeth or The Bay is one of the largest cities in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province, 770 km (478 miles) east of Cape Town. The city, often shortened to PE and nicknamed "The Windy City", stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in South Africa.
Port Elizabeth was founded as a town in 1820 to house British settlers as a way of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa people. It now forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality which has a population of over 1.3 million.
What is special or unique about your city?
Located at the end of the picturesque Garden Route along the Cape coast, the city is one of South Africa's major destinations for tourists, many of whom come simply to enjoy the many fine beaches in and near the city.
The area surrounding the CBD has a number of historic attractions, many of which are linked by the Donkin Heritage Trail. These include the Campanile (bell tower), built in 1923 to commemorate the arrival of the 1820 Settlers and offering a great viewpoint over the city, the city hall (1862), the Donkin Reserve park and monument and the old stone Fort Frederick itself (1799).
Other attractions include the gardens at St George's Park, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum (formerly known as the King George VI Art Gallery), the museum and oceanography room at Humewood and the new Boardwalk waterfront complex. The famous Addo Elephant Park, 72 kilometers (45 miles) to the north, near the Zuurberg mountain range and National Park is also well worth a visit.
Port Elizabeth is well-known as the watersports capital of South Africa and home of Ironman Africa. Algoa bay is home to scuba diving, game fishing charters, surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding, to name but a few. There are many cruises offered from the harbor from sunset cruises to viewing dolphins to whale watching tours.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Often referred to simply as PE, Port Elizabeth is also known as “the Friendly City” or “The Windy City”. Both of these names are particularly apt descriptions given the warmth and friendliness of the local residents that more than make up for the city’s propensity for the occasional stiff breeze.
While most people think of safaris and wild animals when they contemplate Africa, there is much more to living in South Africa than these. The cities in South Africa are not unlike other cities around the world with sprawling skyscrapers, cosmopolitan dining and bar areas and shopping malls to suit all budgets.
Are these impressions likely to change?
No, the city will continue to woo the visitors with its beach-side charm of sea, surf and breeze coupled with friendly and warm people.
What is the local language?
English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Very easily. It is very multicultural.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
It is advisable not to attract unwanted attention or do anything that is loud or may be considered vulgar in the eyes of other residents or neighbors. Also, do not engage into any unlawful activity.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Port Elizabeth has a subtropical climate with light rain throughout the year. The area lies between the winter rainfall, Mediterranean climate zones of the Western Cape and the summer rainfall regions of eastern South Africa. Winters are cool but mild and summers are warm but considerably less humid and hot than more northerly parts of South Africa's east coast.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
The city being primarily viewed as a tourist destination, there will be months of high traffic followed by periods of lull. To a resident, it is enjoyable to experience these “high and lows” as they quickly start to associate themselves with the landscape.