Port Elizabeth, fondly known as the Friendly City, was founded as a town in 1820 and is now one of the major seaports in South Africa, stretching for 16 kilometres along Algoa Bay.
The effect of apartheid was not lost within Port Elizabeth. Under the Group Areas Act prime real estate location was forcibly depopulated and flattened in 1965. Relocations continued until 1975 and in 1977 Steve Biko, the vociferous anti-apartheid activist, was interrogated and tortured by the security police.
Port Elizabeth has faced the same problems as the rest of South Africa: a failing economy, HIV/AIDS and a general increase in crime but with the establishment of the Coega Industrial Development Zone (CIDZ) investment has increased substantially in the region. This is significant for the sustainability of Nelson Mandela Bay and the economy of the Eastern Cape as a whole.
In 2001, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality was formed as an administrative area covering Port Elizabeth, the neighbouring towns of Uitenhage and Despatch and the surrounding agricultural areas. The name was chosen to honour the one and only Nelson Mandela.
Home of South Africa's motor vehicle industry, Port Elizabeth boasts most vehicle assembly plants such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Continental Tyres and many more. Other industries in the area manufacture parts pertaining to the industry such as wiring harnesses, catalytic converters, batteries and tyres.
Port Elizabeth is also a major seaport, with the most significant ore loading facilities in the southern hemisphere. As part of the ongoing development, a new Industrial Development Zone with expanded port facilities is being built at Coega.
Port Elizabeth nestles at the end of the picturesque Garden Route along the Cape coast and is, therefore, one of South Africa's major tourist destinations many of whom come simply to enjoy the many pristine, uncrowded beaches or the historic attractions including 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 circa 1862; the Donkin Reserve park and monument; and the old stone Fort Frederick itself circa 1799. Other attractions include the gardens at St George's Park, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, the museum and oceanography room at Humewood, and the new Boardwalk waterfront complex. The wider surrounding area features the famous Addo Elephant Park
Port Elizabeth is the water sports capital of South Africa and home of scuba diving, game fishing charters, surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Perhaps one of the most exquisite activities in which one can indulge is whale and dolphin viewing and cruises are tailored made for these. Humpbacks, southern rights and brydes are sighted year-round and this is an activity that allows one to reassess reality and realise how magnificent the world is.
Port Elizabeth Airport is the fourth busiest airport in South Africa after OR Tambo International, King Shaka International and Cape Town International and has recently been upgraded in order to service international flights, although this exercise is still in the planning phase.
SA Express flies to Port Elizabeth from OR Tambo International Airport 6 days a week excluding Saturdays.