was one of the four provinces of South Africa
. The name means "on the far side of the vaal
". Vaal being the name of a river
, also an afrikaans
word meaning dusty
, which is a fairly accurate description of the river.
This makes sense historically, as the Transvaal is in the North of South Africa, and the settlers arrived from the south.
Before the Transvaal was a province, i.e. before South africa was a union, the Transvaal was a republic, called the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (South African Republic) or ZAR. Paul Kruger was the best-known leader. The Traansvaal and Orange Free state were the Boer republics, ruled by and for the Afrikaaners who lived there. Black people lived there too, but that's another story.
Then Gold was discovered in what is today Johannesburg. The British desired to rule the lands that produced the Gold. Hence, in 1899, The Anglo-Boer War.
Today (2000AD), South Africa has nine provinces. What was Transvaal is split into Gauteng (place of Gold), consisting of the urban area around Johannesburg; Mpumalanga, Limpopo; and the North-West Province, who haven't thought up a catchy Africanised name yet.
Here in Cape Town, we used to refer to the December (ie summer) holiday-makers from inland as Vaalies. Now we call then Gauties.