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Western Cape Information

 


The capital of the Western Cape is Cape Town which is home to the well known Table Mountain. Most of the Western Cape falls within the Cape Fold Belt, a range of sandstone folded mountains that range in height from 1000m to 2300m. The valleys between ranges are generally very fertile. The far interior of the Western Cape forms part of the Karoo Basin and is generally arid and hilly. The coastal areas of Western Cape range from sandy between capes, to rocky to steep and mountainous in places.

The Western Cape vegetation is diverse with more plant species occurring on Table Mountain than the entire United Kingdom. It is characterised by various types of shrubs, thousands of flowering plant species and some small trees. The arid interior of the Western Cape is dominated by drought-resistant shrubbery. The West Coast and Little Karoo areas are semi-arid regions and are typified by many species of succulents and drought-resistant shrubs and acacia trees. The Garden Route is extremely lush, with temperate rainforest covering many areas adjacent to the coast and along the mountain ranges.

The Western Cape of South Africa is generally divided into the following regions: West Coast, Cape Town Metro, The Winelands, Breede River Valley, Karoo, Overberg and Garden Route.

 

History of the Western Cape

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Traces of the tools of early stone age hunter-gatherers found in the area of modern day Western Cape indicate that this area was inhabited by prehistoric people as much as 600 000 years ago. Most well known of these prehistoric hunter-gatherer is probably the the San (Bushmen) which relied almost solely on what the seashore had to offer for their food. About 2000 years ago the San was displaced by the Khoikhoi from the north, bringing with them their herds of cattle and sheep. By the time the first Europeans settled into the Table Bay area the Khoikhoi was the dominant tribe in the area.

The first European settlement in the Western Cape area was in the form of a supply station established in1652 by the Dutch East India Company at the newly christened Cape of Good Hope. This supply station quickly evolved into a colonial settlement. With the growth of the settlement the Khoi-San was driven away and slaves had to be imported from Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Malaya, and Indonesia to help build the colonial settlement.

By the early 18th century the Western Cape Khoikhoi population had completely disintegrated and the influx of German and French religious refugees swelled the European population. At that time slavery had become the economic backbone of the colony.

In order to secure this strategic sea route to the east, Britain quickly grabbed Western Cape in 1795. This was not welcomed by the Calvinist Dutch Burghers but for the substantial Muslim Slave population this was good news as the British soon ordered the abolition of slavery. The British also allowed freedom of religion resulting in the first Mosque built in Dorp Street in the Bo-Kaap.

By the 19th century Western Cape had a Seaport of major significance and department stores, banks and insurance company buildings became evident everywhere. Victoria road was built from City to Sea Point and a Suburban railway line to Wynberg laid. As slavery was abolished convict labor had to be imported from the colonial frontier in the Eastern Cape to build the city.

Western Cape became the legislative capital of the union in1910. By 1945 the increasing industrialization had attracted an influx of black workers which were housed in the locations of Guguletu and Nyanga. Three years later the National Party came to power and they introduced a policy that favored coloureds over blacks for employment.

The Langa township of Western Cape became a stronghold of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) . On April8,1960 the PAC organized a peaceful anti-pass demonstration in Western Cape. The police opposed the demonstration killing three demonstrators and wounding many. As a result of this incident the government declared a state of emergency and consequently anti-apartheid groups such as the PAC & ANC was banned. In 1966 the government introduced the group areas act. As a result of this act coloured communities were removed from district six to the desolate Cape Flats. Here gangsterism took root which is still prelevant today in the Cape Flats.

In 1986 the government scrapped influx control and blacks poured into Western Cape seeking work and erecting shanty towns. The influx was so great that Western Cape soon became one of the fasting growing cities in the world. In 1990 Mandela was released and soon a non-racial democracy was established in South Africa.

Western Cape Geography

 

The Western Cape is bordered on the north by the Northern Cape, on the east by the Eastern Cape, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The subantarctic dependency of the Prince Edward Islands is included within the province's administration. The Breede, Berg and Olifants Rivers are major rivers of the province. The capital is Cape Town and other major cities include Stellenbosch, Worcester, Paarl, and George. The Garden Route and the Overberg are popular coastal tourism areas.

The Western Cape is exceptionally topographically diverse. Most of the province falls within the Cape Fold Belt, a range of sandstone folded mountains of Permian to Carboniferous age that range in height from 1000m to 2300m. The valleys between ranges are generally very fertile and contains alluvial loamy to clay soils. The far interior forms part of the Karoo Basin and is generally arid and hilly with a sharp escarpment in the north. Coastal areas range from sandy between capes, to rocky to steep and mountainous in places. The Western Cape is also the southernmost region of the African continent with Cape Agulhas as its southernmost point, only 3800km from the Antarctic coastline.

The total land area is 129,370 km², about 10.6% of the country’s total. It is roughly the size of England or the US state of Louisiana.

Vegetation is also extremely diverse, with one of the world's seven floral kingdoms almost exclusively endemic to the province, namely the Cape Floral Kingdom, most of which is covered by Fynbos (Afrikaans: Fine Bush). It is extremely rich in species diversity, with more plant species occurring on Table Mountain than the entire United Kingdom. It is characterised by various types of shrubs, thousands of flowering plant species and some small trees.

The arid interior is dominated by Karoo drought-resistant shrubbery. The West Coast and Little Karoo are semi-arid regions and are typified by many species of succulents and drought-resistant shrubs and acacia trees. The Garden Route is extremely lush, with temperate rainforest (or Afromontane Forest) covering many areas adjacent to the coast and along the mountain ranges. Typical species are hardwoods of exceptional height, such as Yellowwood, Stinkwood and Ironwood trees.

 

Western Cape Climate

 

The Western Cape is also diverse climatologically, with many distinct micro- and macroclimates created by the varied topography and the influence of both the Indian (warm water) and Atlantic (cold water) oceans, thus climatic statistics can vary greatly over short distances. Most of the province is considered to have a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The interior Karoo has a semi-arid climate with cold, frosty winters and hot summers with occasional thunderstorms. The Garden Route and the Overberg on the south coast have a maritime climate with cool, moist winters and mild, moist summers. Mossel Bay in the Garden Route is considered to have the second mildest climate worldwide after Hawaii.

Thunderstorms are generally rare in the province, except in the Karoo interior, with most precipitation being of a frontal or orographic nature. Extremes of heat and cold are common inland, but rare near the coast. Snow is a common winter occurrence on the higher lying ground, however frost is relatively rare in coastal areas and many of the heavily cultivated valleys.

The dependency of the Prince Edward Islands are subantarctic islands, which experience year-round cool to cold temperatures with high precipitation and little annual deviation on both accounts

Western Cape Economy

 

The Western Cape's total GDP is the third-highest contribution to the country’s total, at 14.6%. The largest industry is the clothing and textile industry, which employs over 170,000 people. The textile industry is presently declining in importance, due to competition with cheaper Eastern producers, such as China. High-tech industries, international call centres, fashion design, advertising and TV production are niche industries rapidly gaining in importance. The province also has a substantially lower unemployment rate than the other provinces; 17.1% of the working population is unemployed.

The province has recently grown a massive tourism industry, with the majority of international tourist arrivals visiting the province, with Cape Town, Garden Route and the Winelands being popular tourist destinations. There were 1,535,903 international arrivals in 2004 with continued growth annually. Domestic tourism is also on the rise, as low-cost air carriers such as Kulula and 1Time making travel more affordable to more South Africans

 

Cape Metro

West Coast

Winelands

Breede River Valley

Overberg

Karoo

Garden Route

Milnerton
Muizenberg
Newlands
Noordhoek
Observatory
Parow
Pinelands
Rondebosch
Sea Point
Simon's Town
Sir Lowry's Pass
Somerset West
Strand
Table View
Tokai


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