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Origin and history
Middelburg was established as Nasareth, (root from dry land), in 1864 by the Voortrekkers on the banks of the Klein Olifants River. The name was changed in 1872 to Middelburg to mark its location between the Transvaal capital Pretoria, and the gold mining town of Lydenburg. A Dutch Reformed Church was built in 1890 and became a focal point in the area. The British built a large concentration camp in Middelburg during the Second Boer War. The Memorial Museum was built at the site next to the 1,381 graves of women and children.
Columbus Stainless, a large stainless steel plant, constructed in 1965, and Thos Begbie, a company established more than 120 years ago by Scotsman Thomas Begbie, are both situated here. For many years, the industrial activities of the steel plant and its peripheral activities, such as coal and transport, provided much of the employment and largely drove the economy of the town, although other sectors, such as agriculture, have gradually grown to be important.
Hundreds of expatriates and their families, mostly from the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, moved in to the town in the 1950s, 60's, and 70's to avoid the slump of the post WWII industrial and manufacturing sectors in those countries. These families were attracted by the need for industrial expertise in the plant, and were often rewarded with company sponsored housing and discounted education.
The children of those immigrant families have either moved to the larger nearby cities of Witbank, Pretoria, and Johannesburg, seeking employment, or have remained to form part of the growing alternative economic activities in the area.
Today the town faces many issues typical to smaller towns in South Africa. These include challenges such as the incorporation, upliftment, and appropriate addressing of former inequalities of service provision and infrastructure in the large nearby townships and suburbs, that were created for the black and Indian populations, under pre-1994 apartheid segregation laws. The cultural make up of the town is quite diverse, ranging from mainly Afrikaans speaking families, expatriates from the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as the historically oppressed African populations. Another challenge is addressing the general trend of the hastening migration of residents away from small towns to larger cities in search of greater economic opportunity.
Crime has reportedly been on the increase in past years as a result of increasingly high levels of unemployment and poverty, especially in the African community. The town has one of the largest police forces in the region, a government (public) hospital and clinic, as well as a private hospital, and several public and private .
Tourism and sport
The town is situated conveniently close to one of the main routes to the Kruger National Park, and has a small but growing tourism industry. Some landmarks and notable features in or around the town include the Middelburgdam, site of the annual Middelburg Mile swimming event , the Botshabelo  mission station museum and associated [Ndebele] tourist village, several hiking trails and the Dutch Reformed church in the town center. A well maintained country club provides facilities for tennis, bowls, a golf course and swimming pools, as well as a bar, hotel and dining room. Furthermore, you will find the Kees Taljaard Park Stadium, which is primarily a rugby stadium, but also has hockey fields. a Lot of the local festivals are hosted in this stadium as well. Within the town itself, several popular night spots and family restaurants entertain the locals and visiting tourists.
Town layout and suburbs
- Aerorand - The newest suburb in Middelburg
- CBD - The oldest part of the town
- Groenkol - Also the older part of the town
- Dennesig - Named after the Conifer trees scattered throughout the suburb
- Gholfsig - Upmarket suburb with a view of the golf course
- Clubville - Leafy suburb with a view of the golf course
- Industrial Area - Various industrial businesses
- Kanonkop - Translated as "Cannon Hill," referring to the days of the Anglo-Boer War, the site of the British Concentration Camp graveyard
- Mhluzi - The Black South African community suburb
- Minneralia - Suburb named after mineral deposits located in and around the town
- Nasareth - Coloured South African community suburb on the eastern side of Middelburg
- Eastdene - Indian South African community suburb
Religion and churches
Middelburg has a deep Christian origin, for the oldest Dutch Reformed Church is the one mentioned above which is better known as Die Witkerk.
Churches in the town are:
- The Dutch Reformed
- AFM-AGS Apostolic Faith Mission
- Full Gospel Church
- Zion Christian Church
- Independent Churches
- "Main Place Middelburg". Census 2001.