Welkom in the Free State was founded in 1947 following a major gold discovery on a local farm. Although the name means 'welcome' in Afrikaans, the city was actually named after the Welkom farm where the discovery of gold was made. It is now the second largest city in the Free State and is still the hub of the Free State gold fields. In addition to mineral ore, Welkom produces goods such as steel, lumber and beef.
Welkom is served by a small airport and a branch of the main railway between Johannesburg and Cape Town. The city has a technical college and technological institute. It is internationally known for the Grand Prix racing circuit located at its edge.