Welkom is the second-largest city in the Free State province. Welkom is known as "Circle City", "City within a Garden", "Mvela" and "Matjhabeng". The city's Sotho name, Matjhabeng, means 'where nations meet', derived from the migrant labour system, where people of various countries such as Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique met to work in the mines of the gold fields.
Welkom is an Afrikaans word, translated to English as welcome. Welkom, as a notable mining town, is also known as the Goldfields.
A settlement was laid out on a farm named "Welkom" (which is the Afrikaans and Dutch word for "welcome") after gold was discovered in the region. The town was founded in 1947.
Welkom's economy centres on the mining of gold and uranium and is the hub of the Free State Goldfields. Welkom has contributed 21% to the free world's gold sales. The city and immediate surroundings are dominated by the headgears and reduction plants of several gold and uranium mining companies. Due to the declining gold price in the nineties, the manufacturing industry was promoted as a further means to support the local economy. Heavy machinery support for mining can be found in the Voorspoed area. Various other maintenance industries and services are well founded in Welkom which include engineering, and mechanical repairs.
Welkom produces goods such as steel, lumber, dairy products, and beef. The city also hosts several major industries such as Coca-Cola and South African Breweries.
Welkom is well known for its efficient road traffic design mainly through the use of traffic circles, which has been the basis of worldwide studies. This is encouraged by flow design, the minimum of stop streets and the total absence of traffic lights and parking meters in the Central Business District. There are 33 large traffic circles.
Welkom is about 140 km (90 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein.
Welkom is connected to Kroonstad and the N1 north via the R34, a dual carriageway. Alternatively if driving south to Bloemfontein via the R30 through Brandfort.
Welkom is served by a small airport. There are no scheduled flights.
- Gold Museum – A complete history of gold and its mining and production was on display. St Helena Gold Mine is not a working mine any more.
- Museum of Welkom – The public library houses a display of the discovery of gold in Welkom, the town's history and bird and animal life indigenous to this region.
Welkom has several monuments including:
- Aandenk Monument – This borehole memorial is shaped in the form of a key and symbolises the unlocking of the Free State goldfields.(next to Allanridge)
- Afrikaans Language Monument
- Joanne Pim Monument
- World War II Monument
- Voortrekker Memorial
- Dog Monument
- Old Indaba Bluegum Tree
- MOTH Memorial
- Local Apartheid Memorial – commemorating local citizen's contribution to the struggle in the Apartheid years.
- 1 Phakisa Freeway (onnthe R70 between Welkom and Odendaalsrus), ☏ . An international standard, multi-purpose motor sport facility. The track features a 4.24-km road course and a 2.4-km banked oval track. It is one of the few oval speedways outside of the United States and the only one in Africa. The circuit hosted MotoGP's South African motorcycle Grand Prix from 1999 to 2004.
- Harmony F.C.'s homeground is the Zuka Baloyi Stadium, a multi-sport facility, that is mostly used for soccer. Another soccer stadium is Vuyo Charles Stadium (formerly Thabong Stadium).
- The Griffons Rugby Union
- Welkom's airport is also used on a regular basis for hang gliding championships on a national and international basis.
There is free WiFi at Goldfields Mall and at other shops like Pick'n'pay, and Woolworths.