At the point where the main tarmac road from Gauteng to Harrismith crosses the Vaal River into the Free State, the town of Villiers was established in 1891 on portions of the farms Grootdraai and Pearson Valley and named after Lourens de Villiers, who owned the land. It became a municipality in 1917.

The district produces maize and cattle.

A boating, swimming and fishing recreational area has been created on the southern bank of the Vaal River, with bungalows and a caravan park.

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