Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa and the second-most populous city in the country, after Johannesburg. The city lies at the southern end of the Cape Peninsula, in the bowl of Table Mountain, and it is colloquially called the Mother City due to the fact that it was the site of the first European settlement in South Africa.
Cape Town is the largest city of the Western Cape province and forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality. The other two capitals of the country are located in Pretoria and Bloemfontein but it is in Cape Town where the Parliament of South Africa sits.
The origin of the city goes back to 1652 when the Dutch East India Company established a refreshment station for its ships on their trade route to the Far East. The location was magnificent, between mountain and sea, fertile and well-watered so the company started to release men from its employees so that they could become free burghers (citizens), who then with the introduction of political exiles from the Dutch East Indies (Asia Peninsular), and marriage, cohabitation with indigenous Khoekhoe (whom the Dutch called Hottentots) and imported slaves increased the population and its culture. A larger number of French refugees, fleeing religious persecution, began to arrive in the Cape after leaving their country as a result of the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685), which revoked the Edict of Nantes (1598) that had granted religious toleration to Protestants. Many of these settlers were allocated farms in an area later called Franschhoek, Dutch for "French corner” which has grown into the Capes renowned wineries. By the beginning of the 18th century, the town became known as De Kaap (“The Cape”). The British force occupied the Cape in 1795 briefly and reoccupied the Cape in 1806, and its title was confirmed in 1814 by being permanently ceded to the United Kingdom. With significant expansion came calls for greater independence from the UK, with the Cape attaining its own parliament (1854) and a locally accountable Prime Minister (1872). Where Suffrage was established according to the non-racial, but sexist Cape Qualified Franchise.
Today Cape Town is a modern city with high rise office buildings and malls. It is a major cosmopolitan, political and economic centre.
The climate of Cape Town is Mediterranean in type. The average high temperature is 21° C, in January and February, and the average low is 13° C in July, but temperatures are cooler on the mountain slopes and on the coast.
Data and Facts
- Cape Town is home to 64% of the Western Cape's population
- There are 11 official languages including English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda and Zulu. English, however is the language of commerce, banking, government and official documents.
- The town had Jews among its early settlers but the rules of the company, however, allowed only Protestants as settlers so nowadays the population is mainly Christian.
- The GDP this year is US$78.7billion and US$ 19,656 per capita.
- In 2014, Cape Town was named the best place in the world to visit by both The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph
- Head of state: President Cyril Ramaphosa, since 2018
- Currency: South African Rand
- Country motto: Diverse people unite
- Median age: 27.4 years
- Life Expectancy: 64.1 years
Cape Town is governed by a city council composed by 231 members, elected in a system of mixed-member proportional representation. The city is divided into 116 wards, each of which elects a councillor. The remaining 115 councillors are elected from party lists so that the total number of councillors for each party is proportional to the number of votes received by that party.
The mayor of the city, currently Dan Plato, has largely ceremonial duties, and an executive committee of council members is directly responsible for the administration of the city. During the 1990s was established a transitional provincial committee for the local government.
Historically, Cape Town was the hub of South Africa economy until the discovery and explotation of minerals in the interior of the county. Today, however, is considered South Africa's second main economic centre and the third main economic hub city in Africa. Its industry and seaport, Table Bay, produce and distribute about nine-tenths of the fish eaten in the country. A petroleum and chemical refinery, fertilizer, cement, and automobile-assembly factories are situated in the metropolitan area.
The basic industries are connected with ship repair and maintenance, food processing, wine making and with the manufacture of clothing, plastics, and leather goods. Finance and business services are industries in which also Cape Town's economy has the largest comparative advantage.
Finally, the Tourism in the city is of growing importance. Cape Town has recently enjoyed a booming in real estate and construction, mostly because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Many people is buying summer homes in the city or relocating there permanently. In 2010, over 1.5 million tourists visited the area and nowadays the tourism industry accounts 9.8% of the GDP of the province and employs 9.6% of the province's workforce.
Cape Town has four major commercial nodes, with Cape Town Central Business District containing the majority of job opportunities and office space. Said district is currently under an extensive urban renewal program, with numerous new buildings and renovations taking place under the guidance of the Cape Town Partnership.
Most companies headquartered in the city are insurance companies, retail groups, publishers, shipping companies, petrochemicals, architects and advertising agencies but the most notable companies headquartered in the city are food and fashion retailer.
In 2011 the city's GDP was US$56.8 billion with a GDP per Capita of US$15,721. In the five years preceding 2014 Cape Town GDP grew at an average of 3.7% a year. As a proportion of GDP, the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, business services, transport and logistics have grown considerably.
Most of Cape Town’s electricity is produced at the national Electricity Supply Commission’s nuclear power station at Koeberg, north of the city. Cape Town has its own coal-fired power station and two gas turbines to assist in emergencies and at peak periods. A hydroelectric facility at Steenbras also generates power when needed. The city’s water comes from Riviersonderend, Voëlvlei, and Wemmershoek.
Cape Town has a long tradition as a port city. Its port, situated in Table Bay, is a major transport node in South Africa and handles about five million tons of cargo annually. In addition, it also serves as a repair site for ships and oil rings.
The Ben Schoeman Dock also accommodates container traffic.
Cape Town International Airport serves both domestic and international flights. It is the second-largest airport in South Africa. Although the bulk of its flights are domestic, Cape Town has regularly scheduled services to Southern Africa, East Africa, Mauritius, Middle East, Far East, Europe and EE.UU.
The airport recently opened a new terminal to handled the expected increase of air traffic due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The airport's cargo facilities are also being expanded and several large empty lots are being developed into office space and hotels.
Cape Town is the terminus of a railway network that extends northward to Zimbabwe and beyond. Two main radial freeways lead southward to False Bay and two national routes circle the central business district.
A Metro rail also operates as a commuter rail service in Cape Town and the surrounding area. The Metro-rail network consists of 96 stations throughout the suburbs and outskirts of Cape Town.
Cape Town suffers from the worst traffic congestion in South Africa. The city is the origin of three national roads. The N1 that runs East-North-East and connects Cape Town to major cities like Pretoria or Johannesburg; the N2 that runs East-South-Ease through and the N7 that runs north, initially as a highway.
Buses and Taxis
Golden Arrow Bus Services operates scheduled bus services in the Cape Town metropolitan area. Several companies run long-distance bus services from Cape Town to the other cities in South Africa.
In regards the Taxis,Cape Town has two kinds: metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city to solicit fares and instead must be called to a specific location.
Minibus taxis are the standard form of transport for the majority of the population who cannot afford private vehicles.
With the highest number of successful Information Technology companies in Africa, Cape Town is an important centre for the industry on the continent. Growing at an annual rate of 8.5% and an estimated worth of R77 billion in 2010, nationwide the IT industry in Cape Town is becoming increasingly important to the city's economy.
In addition, the city was recently named as the most entrepreneurial city in South Africa, with the percentage of Capetonians pursuing business opportunities almost three times higher than the national average. Those aged between 18 and 64 were 190% more likely to pursue new business, whilst in Johannesburg, the same demographic group was only 60% more likely than the national average to pursue a new business. Cape Town has become the Silicon Valley of South Africa, hosting innovative tech startups such as Jumo, Yoco, Aerobotics, Luno and The Sun Exchange.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Public primary and secondary schools in Cape Town are run by the Western Cape Education Department. This provincial department is divided into seven districts. There are also many private schools, both religious and secular, in Cape Town. The most renowned institution of higher learning is Diocesan College, founded in 1849, and located in Rondebosch.
Cape Town is served by three public universities: the University of Cape Town, also in Rondebosch, has always demanded the right to admit students of all races, based on academic merit, and an increasing number of nonwhites are being accepted, the University of the Western Cape, originally built to serve the coloured community and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Many residents of the city also study by correspondence courses offered by the University of South Africa.
The city’s Health Department offers comprehensive health services and runs a system of polyclinics and specialized clinics. Public hospitals are the responsibility of the broader provincial administration. Groote Schuur Hospital, where the world’s first heart transplant took place, is one of South Africa’s largest hospitals. There are other smaller provincial hospitals and an increasing number of private hospitals in the city.
There are several newspapers, magazines and printing facilities in the city. Independent News and Media publishes the major English language papers in the city, the Cape Argus and the Cape Times.
Naspers, the largest media conglomerate in South Africa, publishes Die Burger, the major Afrikaans language paper.
Cape Town has also many local community newspapers and is also a centre for broadcast media with several radio stations.
Cape Town music scene is very rich and creative. It is considered a music lover paradise as you can find a cosmopolitan variation of world – class jazz, folk, rock, hip hop, afro-funk, indie and electronic stiles. In general, the music in South Africa includes both popular and folk forms like Zuku Isicathamiya singing and harmonic mbaqanga.
Recognized as the World Design Capital in 2014, the art and design scene in Cape Town is flourishing. There are big museums like Zeitz MOCAA and small galleries such as Southern Guild. But Cape Town it’s not only about the art, the city has a number of unmissable historic and cultural museums that showcase the country’s deep and complex cultural history—from sites such as Nelson Mandela’s former cell to a less-expected museum that showcases the country’s Jewish heritage.
Cape Town's most popular sports are cricket, football, swimming and rugby.
In rugby union, Cape Town is the home of the Western Province side, who play at Newlands Stadium and compete in the Currie Cup.
Association football, which is also known as soccer in South Africa, is also very popular. There are two clubs in the town that play in the Premiere Soccer League, the Ajax Cape Town and the Cape Town Spurs.
In cricket, the Cape Cobras represent Cape Town at the Newlands Cricket Ground.