Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad; Xhosa: iKapa) is the second most populous city in South Africa, forming part of the metropolitan municipality of the City of Cape Town. It is the provincial capital of the Western Cape, as well as the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. Cape Town is famous for its harbour as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, including such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is one of the most popular South African destinations for tourism.
Cape Town was originally developed as a victualling (supply) station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East more than 200 years before the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869. Jan van Riebeeck's arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope. It was the largest city in South Africa until the growth of Johannesburg.
According to the 2007 Community Survey, the city has a population of 3.5 million.Cape Town's land area of 2,455 square kilometres (948 sq mi) is larger than other South African cities, resulting in a comparatively lower population density of 1,425 people per square kilometre (3,689/sq mi).Cape Town is twinned with Nice in France and Haifa in Israel.
There is no certainty as to when humans first occupied the area prior to the first visits of Europeans in the 15th century. The earliest known remnants in the region were found at Peers cave in Fish Hoek and date to around 12,000 years ago. Little is known of the history of the region's first residents, since there is no written history from the area before it was first mentioned by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1486. Vasco da Gama recorded a sighting of the Cape of Good Hope in 1497, and the area did not have regular contact with Europeans until 1652, when the Netherlands' Jan van Riebeeck and other employees of the Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie, VOC) were sent to the Cape to establish a way-station for ships travelling to the Dutch East Indies. The city grew slowly during this period, as it was hard to find adequate labour. This labour shortage prompted the city to import slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar. Many of these became ancestors of the first Cape Coloured communities
The discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West in 1869, and the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in 1886, prompted a flood of immigrants to South Africa. Conflicts between the Boer republics in the interior and the British colonial government resulted in the Second Boer War of 1899-1901. Britain won the war. In 1910, Britain established the Union of South Africa, which unified the Cape Colony with the two defeated Boer Republics and the British colony of Natal. Cape Town became the legislative capital of the Union, and later of the Republic of South Africa.
Nobel Square at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.In the 1948 elections, the National Party won on a platform of apartheid (racial segregation) under the slogan of swart gevaar. This led to the Group Areas Act, which classified all areas according to race. Formerly multi-racial suburbs of Cape Town were either purged of unlawful residents or demolished. The most infamous example of this in Cape Town was District Six. After it was declared a whites-only region in 1965, all housing there was demolished and over 60,000 residents were forcibly removed. Many of these residents were relocated to the Cape Flats and Lavendar Hill. Under apartheid, the Cape was considered a "Coloured labour preference area", to the exclusion of "Bantus", i.e. blacks.
Cape Town was home to many leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. On Robben Island, a penitentiary island 10 kilometres out to sea from the city, many famous political prisoners were held for years. In one of the most famous moments marking the end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech in decades on 11 February 1990 from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall hours after being released. His speech heralded the beginning of a new era for the country, and the first democratic election was held four years later, on 27 April 1994. Nobel Square in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront features statues of South Africa's four Nobel Peace Prize winners - Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. Since 1994, the city has struggled with problems such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, a surge in violent drug-related crime and more recent xenophobic violence. At the same time, the economy has surged to unprecedented levels due to the boom in the tourism and the real estate industries.
Cape Town seen from Spot satelliteThe centre of Cape Town is located at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula. Table Mountain forms a dramatic backdrop to the city bowl, with its plateau over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) high; it is surrounded by near-vertical cliffs, Devil's Peak and Lion's Head. Sometimes a thin strip of cloud forms over the mountain, and owing to its appearance, it is colloquially known as the "tablecloth". The peninsula consists of a dramatic mountainous spine jutting southwards into the Atlantic Ocean, ending at Cape Point. There are over 70 peaks above 1,000 feet (300 m) (the American definition of a mountain) within Cape Town's official city limits. Many of the suburbs of Cape Town are on the large plain of the Cape Flats, which joins the peninsula to the mainland. The Cape Flats lie on what is known as a rising marine plain, consisting mostly of sandy geology which shows that at one point Table Mountain itself was an island.
The Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate with well-defined seasons. In winter, which lasts from May to September, large cold fronts come across from the Atlantic Ocean with heavy precipitation and strong north-westerly winds. The winter months are cool, with an average minimum temperature of 7 °C (45 °F). Most of the city's annual rainfall occurs in wintertime, but due to the mountainous topography of the city, rainfall amounts for specific areas can vary dramatically. The suburb of Newlands which is to the south of the city is the wettest place in South Africa. The valleys and coastal plains average 515 millimetres (20 in) of rain per annum, while mountain areas can average as much as 1,500 millimetres (60 in) per annum. Summer, which lasts from November to March, is warm and dry. The Peninsula gets frequent strong winds from the south-east, known locally as the Cape Doctor, because it blows away pollution and cleans the air. The south-easterly wind is caused by a high-pressure system which sits in the South Atlantic to the west of Cape Town, known as the South-Atlantic High. Summer temperatures are mild, with an average maximum of 26 °C (79 °F). The only times when Cape Town can be uncomfortably hot is when the Berg Wind, meaning "mountain wind" blows from the Karoo interior for a couple weeks in February or early March
According to the South African National Census of 2001, the population of Cape Town is 2,893,251 people. There are 759,767 formal households, of which 87.4% have a flush or chemical toilet, and 94.4% have refuse removed by the municipality at least once a week. 80.1% of households use electricity as the main source of energy. 16.1% of households are headed by one person.
Coloured people account for 48.13% of the population, followed by Black Africans at 31%, Whites at 18.75%, and Asians at 1.43%. 46.6% of the population is under the age of 24, whilst 5% are over the age of 65. The median age in the city is 26 years old, and for every 100 females, there are 92.4 males. 19.4% of city residents are unemployed; 58.3% of the unemployed are black, 38.1% are Coloured, 3.1% are White and 0.5% are Asian. 41.4% of Cape Town residents speak Afrikaans at home, 28.7% speak Xhosa, 27.9% speak English, 0.7% speak Sotho, 0.3% speak Zulu, 0.1% speak Tswana and 0.7% of the population speaks a non-official language at home. 76.6% of residents are Christian, 10.7% have no religion, 9.7% are Muslim, 0.5% are Jewish and 0.2% are Hindu. 2.3% have other or undetermined beliefs. 4.2% of residents aged 20 and over have received no schooling; 11.8% have had some primary school; 7.1% have completed only primary school; 38.9% have had some high school education; 25.4% have finished only high school and 12.6% have an education higher than the high school level. Overall, 38.0% of residents have completed high school. The median annual income of working adults aged 20–65 is ZAR 25 774. Males have a median annual income of ZAR 28 406 versus ZAR 22 265 for females
The distinctive Cape Malay Bo-Kaap is one of the most visited areas in Cape Town.Cape Town is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa due to its good climate, natural setting, and relatively well-developed infrastructure.The city has several well-known natural features that attract tourists, most notably Table Mountain, which forms a large part of the Table Mountain National Park and is the back end of the City Bowl. Reaching the top of the mountain can be achieved either by hiking up, or by taking the Table Mountain Cableway. Cape Point is recognised as the dramatic headland at the end of the Cape Peninsula. Many tourists also drive along Chapman's Peak Drive, a narrow road that links Noordhoek with Hout Bay, for the views of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby mountains. It is possible to either drive or hike up Signal Hill for closer views of the City Bowl and Table Mountain.
Many tourists also visit Cape Town's beaches, which are popular with local residents. Due to the city's unique geography, it is possible to visit several different beaches in the same day, each with a different setting and atmosphere. Beaches located on the Atlantic Coast tend to have very cold water as the water is mostly glacial melt from Antarctica. The water at False Bay beaches is often warmer by up to 10 °C (18 °F)."Cape Town Beaches". Both coasts are equally popular, although the beaches in affluent Clifton and elsewhere on the Atlantic Coast are better developed with restaurants and cafés, with a particularly vibrant strip of restaurants and bars accessible to the beach at Camps Bay. Boulders Beach near Simon's Town is known for its colony of African penguins. Surfing is popular and the city hosts the Red Bull Big Wave Africa surfing competition every year.
The city has several notable cultural attractions. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, built on top of part of the docks of the Port of Cape Town, is one of the city's most popular shopping venues, with several hundred shops and the Two Oceans Aquarium. Part of the charm of the V&A, as it is locally known, is that the Port continues to operate and visitors can watch ships enter and leave. The V&A also hosts the Nelson Mandela Gateway, through which ferries depart for Robben Island. It is possible to take a ferry from the V&A to Hout Bay, Simon's Town and the Cape Fur Seal colonies on Seal and Duiker Islands. Several companies offer tours of the Cape Flats, a mostly Coloured township, and Khayelitsha, a mostly black township. An option is to sleep overnight in Cape Town's townships. There are several B&Bs where you can spend a safe and real African night.
Cape Town is noted for its architectural heritage, with the highest density of Cape Dutch style buildings in the world. Cape Dutch style, which combines the architectural traditions of the Netherlands, Germany and France, is most visible in Constantia, the old government buildings in the Central Business District, and along Long Street. The annual Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, also known by its Afrikaans name of Kaapse Klopse, is a large minstrel festival held annually on January 2 or "Tweede Nuwe Jaar" (Afrikaans: Second New Year). Competing teams of minstrels parade in brightly coloured costumes, either carrying colourful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments. The Artscape Theatre Centre is the main performing arts venue in Cape Town.
Night life in the city caters for all tastes and preferences, with a range of restaurants and cafes that are generally recognised as including some of the finest eateries in South Africa (both in food quality and decor terms). Night clubs and bars abound with popular areas including the top end of Long Street and its immediate surrounds, as well as the redeveloped Cape Malay quarter, De Waterkant. Varied accommodation for tourists is also abundant, ranging from well located backpackers hostels to hotels that have been rated at the top of their class in world terms.
Cape Town's transport system links it to the rest of South Africa; it serves as the gateway to other destinations within the province. The Cape Winelands and in particular the towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek are popular day trips from the city for sightseeing and wine tasting. Whale watching is popular amongst tourists: Southern Right Whales are seen off the coast during the breeding season (August to November) and Bryde's Whales can be seen any time of the year.The nearby town of Hermanus is known for its Whale Festival, but whales can also be seen in False Bay. Heaviside's dolphins are endemic to the area and can be seen from the coast north of Cape Town; dusky dolphins live along the same coast and can occasionally be seen from the ferry to Robben Island.
Approximately 1.5 million tourists visited in Cape Town during 2004, bringing in a total of R10 billion in revenue. The forecasts for 2006 anticipate 1.6 million tourists spending a total of R12 billion.The most popular areas for visitors to stay include Camps Bay, Sea Point, the V&A Waterfront, the City Bowl, Hout Bay, Constantia, Rondebosch, Newlands, Somerset West, Hermanus and Stellenbosch, as well.
- Total 3,497,097
- Density 1,425/km² (3,690.7/sq mi)
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