Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad; Xhosa: eKapa or SaseKapa) is the third most populous city in South Africa. It is the legislative capital of South Africa, as well as capital of the Western Cape province. Cape Town is famous for its natural harbour, as well as its location near the Cape of Good Hope. Its central area is dominated by Table Mountain, so named after its flat top.
Cape Town is the tourism capital of South Africa, receiving the largest number of tourists of any South African city.
The area is also famous for its unique plant life: fynbos (an Afrikaans word meaning "fine bush"), a shrubby vegetation type similar to other winter rainfall shrublands, in which proteas are prominent and characteristic and which occurs nowhere else but the Cape coastal belt, the adjacent mountains and some isolated inland mountain tops. Fire is a necessary stage in the lives of almost all fynbos plants. In readiness for fire, most proteas retain their seeds on the bush for at least one year, a habit known as serotiny . They do this in structures which resemble the original flowerheads. In some species these structures are strikingly beautiful and long-lasting, which accounts for their use in dried floral arrangements.
Lastly, it is famous for the fine wines produced in the area of Stellenbosch.
When leaving Cape Town, you first pass the suburbs and Cape Town International Airport. After getting over the mountains you enter the Karoo in the north-east or the coast regions in the north and east.
The area today known as Cape Town was settled by the San and Khoikhoi, collectively known as the Khoisan, long before the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; VOC) established a supply depot in Cape Town in 1652. By and large the indigenous people refused to deal with the Dutch, so the VOC imported slaves from Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Malaya, and Indonesia to deal with the colony's chronic labour shortage. There was also a shortage of women in the colony, so the Europeans exploited the female slaves for both labour and sex. In time the slaves also mixed with the Khoisan. The offpsirng of these unions formed the basis of sections of today's Cape Coloured population and also helps explain the unique character of the city's Cape Malay population.
During 150-odd years of Dutch rule, Kaapstad, as the Cape settlement became known, thrived and gained a wider reputation as the "Tavern of the Seas", a riotous port used by every sailor travelling between Europe and the Orient. But, by the end of the 18th century, the VOC was nearly bankrupt, making Cape Town an easy target for British imperialist interests in the region. Following the British defeat of the Dutch in 1806 at Bloubergstrand , 25 kilometres north of Cape Town, the colony was ceded to the Crown on 13 August 1814. The slave trade was abolished in 1808, and all slaves were emancipated in 1833.
The discovery and exploitation of diamonds and gold in the Highveld region of South Africa in the 1870s and 1880s led to rapid changes. Cape Town was soon no longer the single dominant metropolis in the country, but as a major port it too was a beneficiary of the mineral wealth that laid the foundation for an industrial society. The same wealth led to imperialist dreams of grandeur on the part of Cecil John Rhodes, the premier of the Cape Colony in 1890, who had made his million at the head of De Beers Consolidated Mines.
Bubonic plague in 1901 gave the government an excuse to introduce racial segregation: Africans were moved to two locations, one near the docks and the other at Ndabeni on the western flank of Table Mountain. This was the start of what would later develop into the townships of the Cape Flats. In 1948, the National Party stood for election on its policy of apartheid and won. In a series of bitter court and constitutional battles, the limited rights of blacks and coloureds to vote in the Cape were removed, and the apparatus of apartheid was erected. This resulted in whole communities being uprooted and cast out to the Cape Flats.
The government tried for decades to eradicate squatter towns , such as Crossroads, which were the focal point for black resistance to the apartheid regime. In the last attempt between May and June 1986, an estimated 70,000 people were driven from their homes and hundreds were killed. Even this brutal attack was unsuccessful in eradicating the towns, and the government accepted the inevitable and began to upgrade conditions.
Hours after being released from prison on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech in decades from the balcony of Cape Town's City Hall , heralding the beginning of a new era for South Africa. Much has improved in Cape Town since; property prices are increasing greatly and the city centre is becoming safer, with the development of loft-style apartments in grand old structures such as the Old Mutual Building and the Board of Executors building. Full integration of Cape Town's mixed population, however, remains a long way off, if it is achievable at all. The African National Congress (ANC) and the New National Party (NNP) are working together on the City Council , which is headed up by mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo , a black woman. Meanwhile the vast majority of Capetonians who live in the Cape Flats are still split along race lines and suffer horrendous economic, social, and health problems. Cape Town is dealing with the major problems like AIDS and violent drug-related crime in these areas.
Cape Town is governed by a 200-member city council. The current mayor is Namaindia Mfeketo .
As of the census of 2001, there are 2,893,251 people and 759,767 households residing in the city. The population density is 1,158/km². The household density is 304/km². The racial makeup of the city is 31.68% Black African, 48.13% Coloured, 1.43% Indian/Asian, and 18.75% White.
16.0% of all households are made up of individuals. The average household size is 3.81.
In the city the population is spread out with 26.6% under the age of 15, 20.0% from 15 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, and 5.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 26 years. For every 100 females there are 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 25 and over, there are 88.3 males.
In the city 41.4% of residents speak Afrikaans at home, 27.9% speak English, 0.0% speak Ndebele, 28.7% speak Xhosa, 0.3% speak Zulu, 0.0% speak Sepedi, 0.7% speak Sesotho, 0.1% speak Setswana, 0.0% speak SiSwati, 0.0% speak Tshivenda, and 0.0% speak Xitsonga . 0.7% of the population speaks a non-official language at home.
73.7% of residents are Christian, 2.9% are members of African Independent Churches , 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.
68.6% of housing units have a telephone and/or cell-phone in the dwelling, 29.5% have access to a phone nearby, and 1.9% have access that is not nearby or no access. 87.4% of households have a flush or chemical toilet. 94.4% have refuse removed by the municipality at least once a week and 1.4% have no rubbish disposal. 69.3% have running water inside their dwelling, 84.4% have running water on their property, and 98.7% have access to running water. 80.1% of households use electricity for cooking, 75.0% for heating, and 88.8% for lighting.
19.4% of the population aged 15-65 is unemployed. Of the unemployed persons, 58.3% are Black African, 38.1% are Coloured, 0.5% are Indian/Asian, and 3.1% are White. 34.8% of Black Africans are unemployed, 15.8% of Coloureds, 7.1% of Indians/Asians, and 3.1% of Whites.
The median annual income of working adults aged 15-65 is R 25,774 ($4,341). Males have a median annual income of R 28,406 ($4,589) versus R 22,265 ($3,596) for females. The median annual income by race is R 13,471 ($2,176) for Black Africans, R 23,012 ($3,718) for Coloureds, R 44,233 ($7,146) for Indians/Asians, and R 70,380 ($11,370) for Whites. The annual income distribution in Cape Town is:
- No income 2.0%
- R 12 R 4,800 ($2 - $801) 4.4%
- R 4,812 R 9,600 ($803 - $1,603) 10.0%
- R 9,612 R 19,200 ($1,605 $3,205) 25.7%
- R 19,212 R 38,400 ($3,207 - $6,411) 23.1%
- R 38,412 R 76,800 ($6,412 - $12,821) 18.1%
- R 76,812 R 153,600 ($12,823 - $25,643) 10.1%
- R 153,612 R 307,200 ($25,645 - $51,285) 4.4%
- R 307,212 R 614,400 ($51,287 - $102,570) 1.4%
- R 614,412 or more ($102,572+) 0.8%
Source: Statistics South Africa Census 2001
Cape Town is a popular tourist destination, offering the visitor a wide variety of activities such as water sports (including diving, surfing and sailing), angling, wine-tasting , shopping, scenic drives, mountaineering, hiking, kite-flying, hang-gliding and parasailing, and bird- and whale-watching.
The most popular time for visitors is the summer from October to March, though some visitors from more temperate climates might find the height of summer (December and January) uncomfortably hot. The city also becomes very crowded then as the local holidaymakers descend on the city for their summer school holidays. The most popular tourist attractions are, in order of popularity: The Victoria & Alfred waterfront, a popular shopping venue with thousands of shops, fine hotels, a world-class marina and an aquarium; Table Mountain, which can be accessed either by walking or a cable car; Signal Hill with the Noon gun, Cape Point; and Boulders Beach , home to a colony of penguins. The Cape Peninsula and the region around Cape Town offer wonderful walking and hiking opportunities from right in the middle of the city where the mountains can be accessed very easily (such as Lion's Head and Devil's Peak ) to further afield in the surrounding mountain ranges.
Boat trips can be undertaken from the Victoria & Alfred marina to visit Robben Island. It is a well known spot for windsurfers/kitesurfing, mainly in the summer seasons (September to February).
Other boat trips can be undertaken from Simonstown (the main South African naval base)on the False Bay (Indian Ocean) coast to Seal Island and Cape Point and from Hout Bay, a fishing harbour on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, to Duiker Island which has a population of 6000 seals in breeding season dropping to 1500 seals in the off season.
One of the world's largest population of whales in the breeding season (August to November) can be found off the coast of the Cape Peninsula and the surrounding coast of the Western Cape. Many local observation points allow sightings from close by.
Local wineries offer tastings and informative tours are available. August and September are the best time to visit the west coast, because the desert comes to life after the winter rains and the wild flowers bloom in profusion.
A cable car system takes visitors to the top of Table Mountain, though it only operates in good weather as gale-force winds can make it dangerous or clouds can obscure the view from the summit. The operating status (open or closed) of the cable car is posted on a signboard at Kloof Nek.
Sports teams and stadiums
Cape Town boasts two soccer teams in the Premier League, Santos (based in Athlone) and Ajax Cape Town (based in Newlands).
The Cape Town suburb of Newlands, besides being the home of Ajax Cape Town, is also the home of the Western Province rugby team, one of the powerhouses in South African rugby, as well as Western Province cricket. Newlands is also home to one of South Africa's four Super 12 rugby franchises, the Stormers.
The clement weather of the region allows open air sports all year round. Apart from team sports, golf and tennis are very popular and facilities for these exist all over the city. Conditions for scuba diving, surfing and both kite and board sailing are world class and attract many foreign tourists.
Cape Town International Airport is the second biggest airport in South Africa and a major gateway for travellers to the Cape Region. It offers a number of International flights to destinations in Africa, Europe, Asia and America. Nearly all commercial airports in South Africa are served from here.
Further education in Cape Town
Both the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape are located within the Cape Town metropole, while Stellenbosch University is within a 50 km reach. There is also the Cape Peninsula University of Technology , formed after the merging of the Cape Technikon and the Peninsula Technikon.