The Free State is one of the nine provinces of South Africa and is centrally located. It represents 10.6% of the total land area of the country. It boasts wide horizons, blue skies, mountains and goldfields. The province covers an area of 129 464 km2 and is roughly the size of Nicaragua. In 2011, the province had a population of 2.7 million with four district municipalities and one metropolitan municipality. The Free State is situated on the flat, boundless plains in the centre of South Africa. It borders most of the other provinces, the exceptions being Limpopo and the Western Cape. To the east, it has an international boundary with Lesotho nestling in the hollow of its beanlike shape, and the escarpment separates it from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.