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Cape Town

Cape Town
Kaapstad (Afrikaans)
iKapa (Xhosa)
Clockwise from top: Cape Town waterfront, Cape Town CBD, Bo-Kaap, Table Mountain, Simon's Town, Cape Town City Hall
Clockwise from top: Cape Town waterfront, Cape Town CBD, Bo-Kaap, Table Mountain, Simon's Town, Cape Town City Hall
Coat of arms of Cape Town
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Mother City, Tavern of the Seas
Motto: Spes Bona (Latin for "Good Hope")
Cape Town is located in South Africa
Cape Town
Cape Town
 Cape Town shown within South Africa
Country South Africa
Province Western Cape
Municipality City of Cape Town
Founded 1652
 • Type Metropolitan municipality
 • Mayor Patricia de Lille (DA)
 • Council Cape Town City Council
 • City manager Achmat Ebrahim
 • City 400.28 km2 (154.55 sq mi)
 • Metro 2,444.97 km2 (944.01 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,590.4 m (5,217.8 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)
 • City 433,688
 • Density 1,100/km2 (2,800/sq mi)
 • Metro[2] 3,740,026
 • Metro density 1,500/km2 (4,000/sq mi)
Demonym Capetonian
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
 • Black African 15.8%
 • Coloured 44.6%
 • Indian/Asian 3.4%
 • White 32.3%
 • Other 3.9%
First languages (2011)[2]
 • Afrikaans 35.7%
 • Xhosa language 29.8%
 • English 28.4%
 • Other 6.1%
Postal code (street) 7700 to 8099
PO box 8000
Area code +27 (0)21
HDI Increase 0.74 Medium (2010)[3]
GDP US$ 56.8 billion [4]
GDP per capita US$ 15,721[4]

Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad ; Xhosa: iKapa) is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg,[5] and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality. The city is famous for its harbour, for its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, as well as for such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. As of 2014 it is the 10th most populous city in Africa and home to 64% of the Western Cape's population.[6] It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates[7] to South Africa. The city was named the World Design Capital for 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.[8] In 2014, Cape Town was named the best place in the world to visit by The New York Times.[9]

Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was first developed by the Dutch East India Company as a victualling (supply) station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. 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, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
    • Flora and fauna 2.2
  • Suburbs 3
    • City Bowl 3.1
    • Atlantic Seaboard 3.2
    • West Coast 3.3
    • Northern Suburbs 3.4
    • Southern Suburbs 3.5
    • South Peninsula 3.6
    • Eastern Suburbs 3.7
    • Cape Flats 3.8
  • Government 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Economy 6
  • Tourism 7
  • Communications and media 8
  • Sport 9
    • Sports events 9.1
  • Education 10
    • Tertiary education 10.1
    • Primary education 10.2
    • Secondary education 10.3
  • Transport 11
    • Air 11.1
    • Sea 11.2
    • Rail 11.3
    • Road 11.4
    • Buses 11.5
    • Integrated Rapid Transit 11.6
    • Taxis 11.7
  • Twin towns – sister cities 12
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15


The earliest known remnants in the region were found at Peers cave in Fish Hoek and date to between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago.[10] 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. In the late 16th century, Portuguese, French, Danish, Dutch and English ships regularly stopped over in Table Bay en route to the Indies. They traded tobacco, copper and iron with the Khoikhoi in exchange for fresh meat. In 1652, 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, and the Fort de Goede Hoop (later replaced by the Castle of Good Hope). The settlement grew slowly during this period, as it was hard to find adequate labour. This labour shortage prompted the authorities to import slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar. Many of these became ancestors of the first Cape Coloured communities.[11][12] Under Van Riebeeck and his successors as VOC commanders and later governors at the Cape, an impressive range of useful plants were introduced to the Cape – in the process changing the natural environment forever. Some of these, including grapes, cereals, ground nuts, potatoes, apples and citrus, had an important and lasting influence on the societies and economies of the region.[13]

During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, the Netherlands was repeatedly occupied by France, and Great Britain moved to take control of Dutch colonies. Britain captured Cape Town in 1795, but the Cape was returned to the Netherlands by treaty in 1803. British forces occupied the Cape again in 1806 following the battle of Bloubergstrand. In the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, Cape Town was permanently ceded to Britain. It became the capital of the newly formed Cape Colony, whose territory expanded very substantially through the 1800s. With expansion, came calls for greater independence from Britain, with the Cape attaining its own parliament in 1854, and a locally accountable Prime Minister in 1872. Suffrage was established according to the non-racial, but sexist Cape Qualified Franchise.[14][15]

The discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West in 1867, and the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in 1886, prompted a flood of immigrants to South Africa.[16] Conflicts between the Boer republics in the interior and the British colonial government resulted in the Second Boer War of 1899–1902, which Britain won. 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.

In the 1948 national elections, the National Party won on a platform of apartheid (racial segregation) under the slogan of "swart gevaar". This led to the erosion and eventual abolition of the Cape's multiracial franchise, as well as 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.[17] Many of these residents were relocated to the Cape Flats and Lavender Hill. Under apartheid, the Cape was considered a "Coloured labour preference area", to the exclusion of "Bantus", i.e. blacks.

School students from Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga in Cape Town reacted to the news of protests against

  • Official Cape Town Tourism website
  • Cape Town Routes Unlimited (official Western Cape Tourism website)
  • Official website of the City of Cape Town
  • Official website of the Western Cape

External links

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See also

Country City Established
Germany Aachen[97] 2000
Israel Haifa[98] 1975
China Hangzhou[99] 2005
Mozambique Maputo 1994
France Nice[100] 1974
Russia Saint Petersburg[101] 2001
Portugal Funchal 1995
Angola Luanda 1997
Belgium Antwerp 1996
: twin towns and sister citiesCape Town has nine

Twin towns – sister cities

Minibus taxis are the standard form of transport for the majority of the population who cannot afford private vehicles.[93] Although essential, these taxis are often poorly maintained and are frequently not road-worthy. These taxis make frequent unscheduled stops to pick up passengers, which can cause accidents.[94][95] With the high demand for transport by the working class of South Africa, minibus taxis are often filled over their legal passenger allowance. Minibuses are generally owned and operated in fleets.[96]

Cape Town metered taxi cabs mostly operate in the city bowl, suburbs and Cape Town International Airport areas. Large companies that operate fleets of cabs can be reached by phone and are cheaper than the single operators that apply for hire from taxi ranks and Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. There are about a thousand meter taxis in Cape Town. Their rates vary from R8 per kilometre to about R15 per kilometre. The larger taxi companies in Cape Town are Excite Taxis, Cabnet and Intercab and single operators are reachable by cellular phone. The seven seated Toyota Avanza are the most popular with larger Taxi companies. Meter cabs are mostly used by tourists and are safer to use than minibus taxis.

Cape Town has two kinds of taxis: 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.


Cape Town has embarked on Phase 1 of the IRT system with a total investment of close to R5 billion. Phase 1 will include a West Coast Service, Inner City Service and Airport Link. A 2010 Starter service to meet the requirements for the FIFA World Cup will include an Inner City Service, Stadium Shuttle and Airport Service. A total of 43 IRT Volvo buses have been ordered and are expected to be delivered during April and May. The IRT system has also being extended to the cape flats in Khayelitsha/Mitchells Plain district, part of the city's plan to develop its transport infrastrucuture.

Integrated Rapid Transit

Golden Arrow Bus Services operates scheduled bus services throughout the Cape Town metropolitan area. Several companies run long-distance bus services from Cape Town to the other cities in South Africa.


Cape Town also has a system of freeway and dual carriageway M-roads, which connect different parts of the city. The M3 splits from the N2 and runs to the south along the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, connecting the City Bowl with Muizenberg. The M5 splits from the N1 further east than the M3, and links the Cape Flats to the CBD. The R300, which is informally known as the Cape Flats Freeway, links Mitchells Plain with Bellville, the N1 and the N2.

Three national roads start in Cape Town: the N1 which links Cape Town with Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Zimbabwe; the N2 which links Cape Town with Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban; and the N7 which links Cape Town with the Northern Cape Province and Namibia. The N1 and N2 both start in the Central Business District, and split to the east of the CBD, with the N1 continuing to the north east and the N2 heading south east past Cape Town International Airport. The N7 starts in Mitchells Plain and runs north, intersecting with the N1 and the N2 before leaving the city.


Metrorail operates a commuter rail service in Cape Town and the surrounding area. The Metrorail network consists of 96 stations throughout the suburbs and outskirts of Cape Town.

The Shosholoza Meyl is the passenger rail operations of Spoornet and operates two long-distance passenger rail services from Cape Town: a daily service to and from Johannesburg via Kimberley and a weekly service to and from Durban via Kimberley, Bloemfontein and Pietermaritzburg. These trains terminate at Cape Town railway station and make a brief stop at Bellville. Cape Town is also one terminus of the luxury tourist-oriented Blue Train as well as the five-star Rovos Rail.


Simon's Town Harbour on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula is the main operational base of the South African Navy.

Cape Town has a long tradition as a port city. The Port of Cape Town, the city's main port, is in Table Bay directly to the north of the central business district. The port is a hub for ships in the southern Atlantic: it is located along one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world. It is also a busy container port, second in South Africa only to Durban. In 2004, it handled 3,161 ships and 9.2 million tonnes of cargo.[92]


The Cape Town International Airport was among the winners of the World Travel Awards for being Africa's leading airport.[91]

Cape Town International Airport recently opened a brand new central terminal building that was developed to handle an expected increase in air traffic as tourism numbers will increase in the lead-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[90] Other renovations include several large new parking garages, a revamped domestic departure terminal, a new Bus Rapid Transit system station and a new double-decker road system. The airport's cargo facilities are also being expanded and several large empty lots are being developed into office space and hotels.

Cape Town International Airport serves both domestic and international flights. It is the second-largest airport in South Africa and serves as a major gateway for travellers to the Cape region. Cape Town has direct flights to most cities in South Africa as well as a number of international destinations.[89]



Secondary education

Primary education

Cape Town has also become a popular study abroad providers offer semester, summer, short-term, and internship programs in partnership with Cape Town universities as a chance for international students to gain intercultural understanding.

The public Cape Peninsula University of Technology was formed on 1 January 2005, when two separate institutions – Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon – were merged. The new university offers education primarily in English, although one may take courses in any of South Africa's official languages. The institution generally awards the National Diploma.

Both the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are leading universities in South Africa. This is due in large part to substantial financial contributions made to these institutions by both the public and private sector. UCT is an English-speaking institution. It has over 21,000 students and has an MBA programme that is ranked 51st by the Financial Times in 2006.[85] It is also the top-ranked university in Africa, being the only African university to make the world's Top 200 university list at number 146.[86] Since the African National Congress has come into governmental power, some restructuring of Western Cape universities has taken place and as such, traditionally non-white universities have seen increased financing, which has benefitted the University of the Western Cape.[87][88]

Cape Town has a well-developed higher system of public universities. Cape Town is served by three public universities: the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Stellenbosch University, while not in the city itself, is 50 kilometres from the City Bowl and has additional campuses, such as the Tygerberg Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Bellville Business Park closer to the City.

University of Cape Town's main campus

Tertiary education

Public primary and secondary schools in Cape Town are run by the Western Cape Education Department. This provincial department is divided into seven districts; four of these are "Metropole" districts – Metropole Central, North, South, and East – which cover various areas of the city.[84] There are also many private schools, both religious and secular, in Cape Town.


Cape Town was also a host city to the 2010 FIFA World Cup from 11 June to 11 July 2010, further enhancing its profile as a major events city. It was also one of the host cities of the 2009 Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

Some notable events hosted by Cape Town have included the 2010 FIFA World Cup 1995 Rugby World Cup, 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, and World Championships in various sports such as athletics, fencing, weightlifting, hockey, cycling, canoeing, gymnastics and others.

The Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour is the world's largest individually timed cycle race – and the first event outside Europe to be included in the International Cycling Union's Golden Bike Series. It sees over 35,000 cyclists tackling a 109 km (68 mi) route around Cape Town. The Absa Cape Epic is the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world.

The city of Cape Town has vast experience in hosting major national and international sports events.

Sports events

Cape Town has Olympic aspirations: in 1996, Cape Town was one of the five candidate cities shortlisted by the IOC to launch official candidatures to host the 2004 Summer Olympics. Although the games ultimately went to Athens, Cape Town came in third place. There has been some speculation that Cape Town is seeking the South African Olympic Committee's nomination to be South Africa's bid city for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.[83]

In cricket, the Cape Cobras represent Cape Town at the Newlands Cricket Ground. The team is the result of an amalgamation of the Western Province Cricket and Boland Cricket teams. They take part in the Supersport and Standard Bank Cup Series. The Newlands Cricket Ground regularly hosts international matches.

Association football, which is better known as soccer in South Africa, is also popular. Two clubs from Cape Town play in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), South Africa's premier league. These teams are Ajax Cape Town, which formed as a result of the 1999 amalgamation of the Seven Stars and the Cape Town Spurs and newly promoted Chippa United. Cape Town was also the location of several of the matches of the FIFA 2010 World Cup including a semi-final,[82] held in South Africa. The Mother City built a new 70,000 seat stadium (Cape Town Stadium) in the Green Point area.

Cape Town's most popular sports by participation are cricket, association football, swimming, and rugby union.[81] In rugby union, Cape Town is the home of the Western Province side, who play at Newlands Stadium and compete in the Currie Cup. In addition, Western Province players (along with some from Wellington's Boland Cavaliers) comprise the Stormers in the Southern Hemisphere's Super Rugby competition. Cape Town also regularly hosts the national team, the Springboks, and hosted matches during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, including the opening ceremony and game, as well as the semi-final between New Zealand and England that saw Jonah Lomu run in four tries.

Venue Sport Capacity Club(s)
Cape Town Stadium Association football/Rugby 69,070 Ajax CT
Newlands Cricket Ground Cricket 25,000 Cape Cobras, Western Province Cricket
Newlands Rugby Stadium Rugby 47,000 Stormers, Western Province
Athlone Stadium Association football 24,000 Santos Football Club
Philippi Stadium Association football 5,000
Bellville Velodrome Cycling track 3,000 Western Province Cycling
Hartleyvale Hockey Centre Field Hockey 2,000 Western Province Hockey
Turfhall Stadium Softball 3,000 Western Province Softball
Good Hope Centre Various indoor sports 6,000 Various
Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing N/A Royal Cape Yacht Club
Grand West Arena Various 6,000 N/A
Green Point Athletics Stadium Athletics, Association football 5,000 N/A
Newlands Swimming Pool Swimming/water polo/diving 2,000 WP Aquatics
Autshumato/Berg River Dam Rowing/Canoe-Kayak N/A N/A]
Khayelitsha canal Rowing/Canoe
Khayelitsha Rugby & Soccer stadium 6,000


The local media infrastructure remains primarily in Johannesburg. [80] The

Cape Town is a centre for major broadcast media with several radio stations that only broadcast within the city. 94.5 Kfm (94.5 MHz FM) and Good Hope FM (94–97 MHz FM) mostly play pop music. Heart FM (104.9 MHz FM), the former P4 Radio, plays Jazz and R&B, while Fine Music Radio (101.3 FM) plays classical music and jazz. Bush Radio is a community radio station (89.5 MHz FM). The Voice of the Cape (95.8 MHz FM) and Cape Talk (567 kHz MW) are the major talk radio stations in the city.[78] Bokradio (98.9 MHz FM) is an Afrikaans music station.[79] The University of Cape Town also runs its own radio station, UCT Radio (104.5 MHz FM).

Cape Town has many local community newspapers. Some of the largest community newspapers in English are the Athlone News from Athlone, the Atlantic Sun, the Constantiaberg Bulletin from Constantiaberg, the City Vision from Bellville, the False Bay Echo from False Bay, the Helderberg Sun from Helderberg, the Plainsman from Michells Plain, the Sentinel News from Hout Bay, the Southern Mail from the Southern Peninsula, the Southern Suburbs Tatler from the Southern Suburbs, Table Talk from Table View and Tygertalk from Tygervalley/Durbanville. Afrikaans language community newspapers include the Landbou-Burger and the Tygerburger. Vukani, based in the Cape Flats, is published in Xhosa.[77]

Several newspapers, magazines and printing facilities have their offices 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.[76]

Communications and media

In November 2013, Cape Town was voted the best global city in The Daily Telegraph's annual Travel Awards.[75]

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.[74]

The only complete windmill in South Africa is Mostert's Mill, Mowbray. It was built in 1796 and restored in 1935 and again in 1995.

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.[71][72] Whale watching is popular amongst tourists: southern right whales and humpback whales are seen off the coast during the breeding season (August to November) and Bryde's whales and killer whale can be seen any time of the year.[73] The nearby town of Hermanus is known for its Whale Festival, but whales can also be seen in False Bay.[73] 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.[73]

The city also encloses the 36 hectare Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden that contains protected natural forest and fynbos along with a variety of animals and birds. There are over 7,000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened species of the Cape Floristic Region. In 2004 this Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[70]

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, France and Indonesia, is most visible in Constantia, the old government buildings in the Central Business District, and along Long Street.[68][69] The annual Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, also known by its Afrikaans name of Kaapse Klopse, is a large minstrel festival held annually on 2 January or "Tweede Nuwe Jaar" (Afrikaans: Second New Year). Competing teams of minstrels parade in brightly coloured costumes, performing Cape Jazz, either carrying colourful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments. The Artscape Theatre Centre is the main performing arts venue in Cape Town.

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 the city's most visited tourist attraction. It is also one of the city's most popular shopping venues, with several hundred shops and the Two Oceans Aquarium.[64][65] The V&A also hosts the Nelson Mandela Gateway, through which ferries depart for Robben Island.[66] 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.[67]

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 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.[63] Surfing is popular and the city hosts the Red Bull Big Wave Africa surfing competition every year.

Many tourists also visit Cape Town's beaches, which are popular with local residents.[62] 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. Though the Cape's water ranges from cold to mild, the difference between the two sides of the city is dramatic. While the Atlantic Seaboard averages annual water temperatures barely above that of coastal California around 13 °C (55 °F), the False Bay coast is very much warmer, averaging between 16 and 17 °C (61 and 63 °F) annually. This is similar to water temperatures in much of the Northern Mediterranean (for example Nice). In summer, False Bay water averages slightly over 20 °C (68 °F), with 22 °C (72 °F) a common high. Beaches located on the Atlantic Coast tend to have very cold water due to the Benguela current which originates from the Southern Ocean, whilst the water at False Bay beaches may be warmer by up to 10 °C (18 °F) at the same moment due to the influence of the warm Agulhas current, and the surface warming effects of the South Easter wind.[62]

Cape Town is not only the most popular international tourist destination in South Africa, but Africa as a whole. This is due to its good climate, natural setting, and well-developed infrastructure. The city has several well-known natural features that attract tourists, most notably Table Mountain,[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]


Panorama of the Cape Town city centre

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 18–64 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.[58]

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.[57]

The Western Cape is an important tourist region in South Africa; the tourism industry accounts for 9.8% of the GDP of the province and employs 9.6% of the province's workforce. In 2010, over 1.5 million international tourists visited the area.[56]

Much of the produce is handled through the Port of Cape Town or Cape Town International Airport. Most major shipbuilding companies have offices and manufacturing locations in Cape Town.[55] The Province is also a centre of energy development for the country, with the existing Koeberg nuclear power station providing energy for the Western Cape's needs.

Cape Town has four major commercial nodes, with Cape Town Central Business District containing the majority of job opportunities and office space. Century City, the Bellville/TygerValley strip and Claremont commercial nodes are well established and contain many offices and corporate headquarters as well. Most companies headquartered in the city are insurance companies, retail groups, publishers, design houses, fashion designers, shipping companies, petrochemical companies, architects and advertising agencies.[50] The most notable companies headquartered in the city are food and fashion retailer Woolworths,[51] supermarket chain Pick n Pay Stores and Shoprite,[52] fashion retailer Foschini Group,[53] multi-national mass media giant Naspers, and financial services giant Sanlam.[54] Other notable companies include Belron (vehicle glass repair and replacement group operating worldwide), CapeRay (develops, manufactures and supplies medical imaging equipment for the diagnosis of breast cancer), Ceres Fruit Juices (produces fruit juice and other fruit based products), Coronation Fund Managers (third-party fund management company), ICS (was one of the largest meat processing and distribution companies in the world), Vida e Caffe (chain of coffee retailers), Capitec Bank (commercial bank in the Republic of South Africa) The city is a manufacturing base for several multi-national companies including, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Levi Strauss & Co., Adidas, Bokomo Foods, and Nampak.

Cape Town has recently enjoyed a booming real estate and construction market, because of the 2010 World Cup as well as many people buying summer homes in the city or relocating there permanently. Cape Town hosted 9 World Cup matches: Six 1st round matches, one second round, one quarter final and a semifinal. The central business district is under an extensive urban renewal programme, with numerous new buildings and renovations taking place under the guidance of the Cape Town Partnership.[49]

Between 2001 to 2010 the city's Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, improved by dropping from 0.59 in 2007 to 0.57 in 2010 only to increase to 0.67 by 2011/12. Although the Gini coefficient increased greatly from 2010 to 2012 representing an increase in inequality making it one of the most unequal cities in the world Cape Town's Gini coefficient is the lowest of any large city in South Africa.[6]

Cape Town is the economic hub of the Western Cape Province, South Africa's second main economic centre and Africa's third main economic hub city. It serves as the regional manufacturing centre in the Western Cape. In 2011 the city's GDP was US$56.8 billion with a GDP per capita of US$15,721.[4] 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 have declined whilst finance, business services, transport and logistics have grown reflecting the growth in specialised services sectors of the local economy. Fishing, clothing and textiles, wood product manufacturing, electronics, furniture, hospitality, finance and business services are industries in with Cape Town's economy has the largest comparative advantage in.[6]

Foreshore with the CBD in the near-background


There are 1,068,573 households in the municipality, giving an average household size of 3.3 people.[48]:80 Of those households, 78.4% are in formal structures (houses or flats), while 20.5% are in informal structures (shacks).[48]:81 94.0% of households use electricity for lighting.[48]:84 87.3% of households have piped water to the dwelling, while 12.0% have piped water through a communal tap.[48]:85 94.9% of households have regular refuse collection service.[48]:86 91.4% of households have a flush toilet or chemical toilet, while 4.5% still use a bucket toilet.[48]:87 82.1% of households have a refrigerator, 87.3% have a television and 70.1% have a radio. Only 34.0% have a landline telephone, but 91.3% have a cellphone. 37.9% have a computer, and 49.3% have access to the Internet (either through a computer or a cellphone).[48]:83

Of those residents aged 20 or older, 1.8% have no schooling, 8.1% have some schooling but did not finish primary school, 4.6% finished primary school but have no secondary schooling, 38.9% have some secondary schooling but did not finish Grade 12, 29.9% finished Grade 12 but have no higher education, and 16.7% have higher education. Overall, 46.6% have at least a Grade 12 education.[48]:74 Of those aged between 5 and 25, 67.8% are attending an educational institution.[48]:78 Amongst those aged between 15 and 65 the unemployment rate is 23.7%.[48]:79 The average annual household income is R161,762.[48]:88

According to the South African National Census of 2011, the population of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality – an area that includes suburbs and exurbs not always considered as part of Cape Town – is 3,740,026 people. This represents an annual growth rate of 2.6% compared to the result of the previous census in 2001 which found a population of 2,892,243 people.[48]:54 The sex ratio is 96, meaning that there are slightly more women than men.[48]:55 42.4% of the population described themselves as "Coloured", 38.6% as "Black African", 15.7% as "White", and 1.4% as "Indian or Asian".[48]:56–59 Of those residents who were asked about their first language, 35.7% spoke Afrikaans, 29.8% spoke Xhosa and 28.4% spoke English. 24.8% of the population is under the age of 15, while 5.5% is 65 or older.[48]:64

Geographical distribution of home languages in Cape Town (2001)
  No language dominant
Population density in Cape Town


In the local government elections of 18 May 2011, the Democratic Alliance (DA) won an outright majority, taking 135 of the 221 council seats. The African National Congress, the national ruling party, received 73 seats.[41] As a result of this victory Patricia de Lille, the DA mayoral candidate, was inaugurated as Executive Mayor on 1 June.

Cape Town's local government is the City of Cape Town, which is a metropolitan municipality. Cape Town is governed by a 221-member city council. The city is divided into 111 electoral wards; each ward directly elects one member of the council, whilst the other 110 councillors are elected by a system of party-list proportional representation. The Executive Mayor and Executive Deputy Mayor are chosen by the city council.


Since then the Flats have been home to much of the population of Greater Cape Town. This area includes the neighbourhoods of Mitchell's Plain, Elsie's River, Hanover Park, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg, Strandfontein, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Langa, and Khayelitsha.

The Cape Flats (or the Flats) is an expansive, low-lying, flat area situated to the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town. From the 1950s the area became home to people the apartheid government designated as non-White and has been described by some as 'Apartheid's dumping ground'. Race-based legislation such as the Group Areas Act and pass laws either forced non-white people out of more central urban areas designated for white people and into government-built townships in the Flats or made living in the area illegal, forcing many people designated as Black into informal settlements elsewhere in the Flats.

Cape Flats

The Eastern Suburbs lie southeast of the Afrikaans-speaking neighbourhoods in the Northern Suburbs, beyond the airport, and notably are the site of several new subsidized housing projects. Communities include Fairdale, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein, Kuils River, Blue Downs, Belhar, Delft, Mfuleni and Protea Hoogte.

Eastern Suburbs

The South Peninsula is generally regarded as the area south of Muizenberg on False Bay and Noordhoek on the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Cape Point. Until recently quite rural, the population of the area is growing quickly as new coastal developments proliferate and larger plots are subdivided to provide more compact housing. It includes Capri Village, Clovelly, Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Masiphumelele, Muizenberg, Noordhoek, Ocean View, Scarborough, Simon's Town, St James, Sunnydale, Sun Valley, and Steenberg. South Africa's largest naval base is located at Simon's Town harbour as well as Boulders Beach, the site of a large colony of African penguins[40]

South Peninsula

The Southern Suburbs hug along the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, southeast of the city centre. This area has mixed languages but is predominantly English-speaking, and includes, from north to south, Rondebosch, Pinelands, Newlands, Mowbray, Observatory, Bishopscourt, Claremont, Wynberg, Plumstead, Ottery, and Bergvliet. West of Wynberg lies Constantia which, in addition to being a wealthy neighbourhood, is a notable wine-growing region within the City of Cape Town.

Southern Suburbs

The Northern Suburbs are mostly Afrikaans-speaking, and include Bellville, Bothasig, Brooklyn, Burgundy Estate, Durbanville, Edgemead, Elsie's River, Factreton, Goodwood, Kensington, Maitland, Monte Vista, Panorama, Parow, Richwood, Thornton, Table View, and Welgemoed. Much of the northern suburbs is colloquially known as Tygerberg and is home to Tygerberg Hospital, the largest hospital in the Western Cape and second largest in South Africa[39]

Northern Suburbs

The West Coast suburbs lie along the beach to the north of the Cape Town city centre, and include Bloubergstrand, Milnerton, Tableview, West Beach, Big Bay, Sunset Beach, Sunningdale and Parklands, as well as the exurbs of Atlantis and Melkbosstrand. The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is located within this area and maximum housing density regulations are enforced in much of the area surrounding the nuclear plant.

West Coast

The Atlantic Seaboard lies west of Cape Town and Table Mountain, and is characterised by its beaches, cliffs, promenade and hillside communities. The area includes, from north to south, the neighbourhoods of Green Point, Mouille Point, Three Anchor Bay, Sea Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandudno, and Hout Bay. The Atlantic Seaboard has some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa particularly on Nettleton and Clifton Roads in Clifton, Ocean View Drive and St Leon Avenue in Bantry Bay, Theresa Avenue in Bakoven and Fishermans Bend in Llandudno. Camps Bay is home to the highest concentration of multimillionaires in Cape Town and has the highest number of high-priced mansions in South Africa with more than 155 residential units exceeding R20 million (or $US1.8 million).[38]

Panoramic view of Hout Bay from Chapman's Peak, with Chapman's Peak Drive visible at the base of the mountain
Camps Bay viewed from Lion's Head

Atlantic Seaboard

The area includes the central business district of Cape Town, the harbour, the Company's Garden, and the residential suburbs of De Waterkant, Devil's Peak, District Six, Zonnebloem, Gardens, Bo-Kaap, Higgovale, Oranjezicht, Schotsche Kloof, Tamboerskloof, University Estate, Vredehoek, Walmer Estate and Woodstock.

The City Bowl is a natural amphitheatre-shaped area bordered by Table Bay and defined by the mountains of Signal Hill, Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.

City Bowl viewed from Lion's Head

City Bowl

Cape Town's urban geography is influenced by the contours of Table Mountain, its surrounding peaks, the Durbanville Hills, and the expansive lowland region known as the Cape Flats. These geographic features in part divide the city into several commonly known groupings of suburbs (equivalent to districts outside South Africa), many of which developed historically together and share common attributes of language and culture.


Unfortunately, rapid population growth and urban sprawl has covered much of these ecosystems with development. Consequently Cape Town now has over 300 threatened plant species and 13 which are now extinct. The Cape Peninsula, which lies entirely within the city of Cape Town, has the highest concentration of threatened species of any continental area of equivalent size in the world.[36] Tiny remnants of critically endangered or near extinct plants often survive on road sides, pavements and sports fields.[37] The remaining ecosystems are partially protected through a system of over 30 nature reserves – including the massive Table Mountain National Park.

Table Mountain has an unusually rich biodiversity. Its vegetation consists predominantly of several different types of the unique and rich Cape Fynbos. The main vegetation type is endangered Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos, but critically endangered Peninsula Granite Fynbos, Peninsula Shale Renosterveld and Afromontane forest occur in smaller portions on the mountain.

It is home to a total of 19 different vegetation types, of which several are completely endemic to the city and occur nowhere else in the world.[34] It is also the only habitat of hundreds of endemic species,[35] and hundreds of others which are severely restricted or threatened. This enormous species diversity is mainly because the city is uniquely located at the convergence point of several different soil types and micro-climates.

Located in a CI Biodiversity hotspot as well as the unique Cape Floristic Region, the city of Cape Town has one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any equivalent area in the world.[29] These protected areas are a World Heritage Site, and an estimated 2,200 species of plants are confined to Table Mountain – more than exist in the whole of the United Kingdom which has 1200 plant species and 67 endemic plant species.[30][31][32] Many of these species, including a great many types of proteas, are endemic to the mountain and can be found nowhere else.[33]

Flora and fauna

Climate data for Cape Town (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 39.3
Average high °C (°F) 26.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 20.4
Average low °C (°F) 15.7
Record low °C (°F) 7.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 15
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 5.5 4.6 4.8 8.3 11.4 13.3 11.8 13.7 10.4 8.7 4.9 6.3 103.7
% humidity 71 72 74 78 81 81 81 80 77 74 71 71 76
Mean monthly sunshine hours 337.9 297.4 292.9 233.5 205.3 175.4 193.1 212.1 224.7 277.7 309.8 334.2 3,094
Source #1: [27]NOAA [24]
Source #2: South African weather service[28]
). Monte Carlo or Nice), and 17 °C (63 °F) in False Bay (similar to Northern Mediterranean temperatures, such as Big Sur or San FranciscoWater temperatures range greatly, between 10 °C (50 °F) on the Atlantic Seaboard, to 22 °C (72 °F) in False Bay. Average annual Ocean temperatures are between 13 °C (55 °F) on the Atlantic Seaboard (similar to Californian waters, such as

Cape Town has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb),[21][22][23] with mild, moderately wet winters and dry, warm summers. Winter, which lasts from the beginning of June to the end of August, may see large cold fronts entering for limited periods from the Atlantic Ocean with significant precipitation and strong north-westerly winds. Winter months in the city average a maximum of 18.0 °C (64 °F) and minimum of 8.5 °C (47 °F) [24] Total annual rainfall in the city averages 515 millimetres (20.3 in). Summer, which lasts from early December to March, is warm and dry with an average maximum of 26.0 °C (79 °F) and minimum of 16.0 °C (61 °F). The region can get uncomfortably hot when the Berg Wind, meaning "mountain wind", blows from the Karoo interior for a couple of weeks in February or early March. Late spring and early summer may sometimes feature a strong wind from the south-east, known locally as the Cape Doctor, so called because it blows air pollution away. This 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. Cape Town's average amount of sunshine per year (3,100 hours) compares favourably with that of Los Angeles (3,300 hours) [25] and exceeds that of Athens and Madrid (2,900 hours).[26]


Cape Town is located at latitude 33.55° S (approx. the same as Sydney and Buenos Aires and equivalent to Casablanca and Los Angeles in the northern hemisphere) and longitude 18.25° E. Table Mountain, with its near vertical cliffs and flat-topped summit over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) high, and with Devil's Peak and Lion's Head on either side, together form a dramatic mountainous backdrop enclosing the central area of Cape Town, the so-called City Bowl. A thin strip of cloud, known colloquially as the "tablecloth", sometimes forms on top of the mountain. To the immediate south, the Cape Peninsula is a scenic mountainous spine jutting 40 kilometres (25 mi) southwards into the Atlantic Ocean and terminating at Cape Point. There are over 70 peaks above 300 m (980 ft) within Cape Town's official city limits. Many of the city's suburbs lie on the large plain called the Cape Flats, which extends over 50 kilometres (30 mi) to the east and joins the peninsula to the mainland. The Cape Flats is situated on what is known as a rising marine plain, consisting mostly of sandy geology and confirming that at one point Table Mountain was itself an island.. The Cape Town region generally, with its Mediterranean climate, extensive coastline, rugged mountain ranges, coastal plains, inland valleys and semi-desert fringes, has much in common with Southern California.

Cape Town's "City Bowl" viewed from Table Mountain


Cape Town was home to many leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. On Robben Island, a former penitentiary island 10 kilometres (6 miles) 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 since his imprisonment, from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall hours after being released on 11 February 1990. 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 drugs, a surge in violent drug-related crime and more recently gang violence. At the same time, the economy has surged to unprecedented levels due to the boom in the tourism and the real estate industries. With a Gini coefficient of 0.67, Cape Town has the highest rate of equality in South Africa.[20]


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