The major industries in this high-rainfall area are maize, potatoes, beans, wool, sunflower seeds, lucerne, sorghum, cattle and pigs.
South Africa's principal sources of anthracite and torbanite are found in the area.
In 1871 the Reverend Frans Lion Catchet founded a parish in the then Eastern Transvaal and named it Ermelo, after a town in Holland and in honour of a friend who lived there. The parish developed as a centre for farming and communications in the fertile area at the headwaters of the Vaal River.
There are vast tree plantations, of which Pin Oaks is the largest. There are stone huts built by the Leghoya or Tlokoa tribes and San paintings can be viewed on Welgelegen farm. Along the shores of its irrigation dams are many recreational areas which provide fishing and water sports.
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