Geography of Cape Town, South Africa

Learn Ten Geographic Facts about Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa. Tom Brakefield/Getty Images

Cape Town is a large city located in South Africa. It is the second largest city in that country based on population and is the largest in land area (at 948 square miles or 2,455 square kilometers). As of 2007, the Cape Town's population was 3,497,097. It is also the legislative capital of South Africa and is the provincial capital for its region. As the legislative capital of South Africa, many of the city's functions are related to government operations.



Cape Town is well known as one of Africa's most popular tourist destinations and it is famous for its harbor, biodiversity and various landmarks. The city is located within the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa and as a result, ecotourism is popular in the city as well. In June 2010, Cape Town was also one of several South African cities to host World Cup games.

The following is a list of ten geographic facts to know about Cape Town:

1) Cape Town was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for its ships. The first permanent settlement at Cape Town was established by 1652 by Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch controlled the area until 1795 when the English took control of the area. In 1803, the Dutch regained control of Cape Town via treaty.

2) In 1867, diamonds were discovered and immigration to South Africa greatly increased. This caused the Second Boer War of 1889-1902 when conflicts between the Dutch Boer republics and the British arose.

Britain won the war and in 1910 it established the Union of South Africa. Cape Town then became the legislative capital of the union and later of the country of South Africa.

3) During the anti-apartheid movement, Cape Town was home to many of its leaders. Robben Island, located 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from the city, was where many of these leaders were imprisoned.

Following his release from prison, Nelson Mandela gave a speech at the Cape Town City Hall on February 11, 1990.

4) Today, Cape Town is divided into its main City Bowl- an area surrounded by Signal Hill, Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak- as well as its northern and southern suburbs and the Atlantic Seaboard and the South Peninsula. The City Bowl includes Cape Town's main business district and its world famous harbor. In addition, Cape Town has a region called Cape Flats. This area is a flat, low-lying area to the southeast of the city center.

5) As of 2007, Cape Town had population of 3,497,097 and a population density of 3,689.9 persons per square mile (1,424.6 persons per square kilometer). The ethnic breakdown of the city's population is 48% Colored (the South African term for ethnically mixed race peoples with ancestry in Sub-Saharan Africa), 31% Black African, 19% white and 1.43% Asian.

6) Cape Town is considered the main economic center of the Western Cape Province. As such, it is the regional manufacturing center for the Western Cape and it is the main harbor and airport in the area. The city also recently experienced growth due to the 2010 World Cup. Cape Town hosted nine of the games which spurred construction, rehabilitation of run-down parts of the city and a population boom.



7) The city center of Cape Town is located on the Cape Peninsula. The famous Table Mountain forms the backdrop of the city and rises to an elevation of 3,300 feet (1,000 meters). The rest of the city is situated on the Cape Peninsula between the various peaks jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.

8) Most of Cape Town's suburbs are within the Cape Flats neighborhood- a large flat plain that joins the Cape Peninsula with the main land. The geology of the region consists of a rising marine plain.

9) The climate of Cape Town is considered Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and dry, hot summers. The average July low temperature is 45°F (7°C) while the average January high is 79°F (26°C).

10) Cape Town is one of Africa's most popular international tourist destinations. This is because it has a favorable climate, beaches, a well developed infrastructure and a beautiful natural setting.

Cape Town is also located within the Cape Floristic Region which means it has high plant biodiversity and animals such as humpback whales, Orca whales and African penguins live in the area.

To learn more about Cape Town, visit the Cape Town Travel Guide from Africa Travel at About.com.

References

Wikipedia. (20 June, 2010). Cape Town - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Town