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The term Veld (sometimes Veldt) refers primarily (but not exclusively) to the wide open rural spaces of South Africa or southern Africa and in particular to certain flatter areas or districts covered in grass or low scrub. The word veld (velt in Middle High German, and feld in Old High German) is preserved also in the Afrikaans and Dutch, literally meaning 'field'. However, this simple translation does not convey the subtleties of the many idiomatic nuances of the term. Veld can be compared to the Australian terms "outback" or "bush," to "the prairie" of North America, or to the "pampasmarker" of South America but the comparisons are not exact. A Yorkshireman might equate "wandering across the moors" to "walking through the veld."

By extension, the veld can be compared to 'the boondocks' or those places 'beyond the black stump' in Australia. There is a sense in which it refers in essence to unimproved land (and is therefore not the equivalent of the English "paddock") but in other senses the veld can include areas used both for pastoral activities and the planting of crops. The word is less appropriate for land that is heavily forested, mountainous, or urban. (On the other hand, a carefully-husbanded sports field on which the game of Rugby is played in the middle of cities such as Cape Town or Johannesburg is referred to as a "rugbyveld"). Whereas mountainous peaks and forests are not really welcome on the veld, bushes are acceptable. The area then becomes "bosveld." There are minor examples of bosveld here and there but the term is used mainly to describe Die Bosveld ("The Bushveld"), which is both a loose botanical classification and a specific geographical part of what used to be know as The Transvaalmarker (see, for example, Jock of the Bushveld).

The word "veld" also carries military connotations. The word "field" in English has a strong association with "war," as evidenced by the expression "the first foe in the field" and the lines of the ballad 'Lord Marlborough' (see John Churchill): "You generals all and champions bold, that takes delight in field, that knocks down churches and castle walls but now to death must yield". The same relationship is paralleled in Afrikaans. Just as the English Army has its Field Marshals, the Boer armies had their Veldkornets and Veldkommandos.

Highveldmarker and Lowveld

Much of the interior of southern Africa consists of a high plateau known as the Highveld, starting east of the Johannesburg centre. These higher, cooler areas (generally more than 5000 ft [1524m] above sea level) are characterised by flat or gently undulating terrain, grasslands and a modified tropical or subtropical climate. In some areas there is a distinct escarpment bordering the plateau, while in others the boundary is not obvious.

Some surrounding, lower areas are known as Lowveld and are generally hotter and less intensely cultivated. Before the middle of the 20th century, much of the Lowveld was home to the tsetse fly, which transmits sleeping sickness. These areas used to be known as "fever country" and were avoided by mounted travellers, owing to the susceptibility of horses to a form of the disease. Malaria was in the past also a major problem in the hotter parts of the Lowveld.This disease is caused by mosqitoes.


Alternative meanings

  • The Veldt is a short story by Ray Bradbury.
  • "The Veldt" was the name of a North Carolina alternative rock/ shoegaze band active during the 1990s[38487].
  • "Veldt" is the name of a band from England[38488].
  • "Veldt" is the name of a song from Simple Minds' 1979 Album Real to Real Cacophony.
  • In the video game Final Fantasy VI, the Veldt is a large flatland in which the characters can fight most previously encountered enemies, including several bosses.

  • "Veldt" is a Dutch surname

See also

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