City of Cape Town Information
Cape Town is not only the most popular international tourist destination in South Africa, but also one of Africa's most popular international tourist destinations. The city has several well-known natural features that attract tourists, most notably Table Mountain, Cape Point, the ocean, white beaches, the Cape Winelands and many other top tourist attractions. Reaching the top of the mountain can be achieved either by hiking up or by taking the Table Mountain Cableway.
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. Part of the charm of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is that the Port continues to operate and visitors can watch ships enter and leave. It is possible to take a boats from the Waterfront 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.
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 and France and is most visible in Constantia the old government buildings in the Central Business District.
For a index of some of the most popular tourism attractions in Cape Town click on Cape Town Tourist Attractions.
Art and Design
Coloured people account for 48.13% of the population, followed by Black Africans at 31%, Whites at 18.75%, and Asians at 1.43%. 46.6% of the population is under the age of 24, whilst 5% are over the age of 65. The median age in the city is 26 years old, and for every 100 females, there are 92.4 males.
Of Cape Town residents 41.4% speak Afrikaans at home, 28.7% speak Xhosa, 27.9% speak English, 0.7% speak Sotho, 0.3% speak Zulu, 0.1% speak Tswana and 0.7% of the population speaks a non-official language at home. Many foreigners from Europe and Africa now also calls Cape Town home.
Cape Town is the economic centre of the Western Cape Province, South Africa's second main economic centre and even Africa's third main economic hub city. It serves as the regional manufacturing centre in the Western Cape. It also has the primary harbour and airport in the province.
Cape Town has a well-developed higher education 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 Centre.
Both the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are leading universities in South Africa.
The Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate, this climate type means the city has well-defined seasons. In winter time, which lasts from May to September, large cold fronts come across from the Atlantic Ocean with heavy precipitation and strong north-westerly winds. The winter months are cool, with an average minimum temperature of 7 °C (45 °F) and an average maximum of around 17 °C (63 °F). Most of the city's annual rainfall occurs in wintertime, but due to the mountainous topography of the city, rainfall amounts for specific areas can vary dramatically. Newlands, to the south of the city, is the wettest suburb in South Africa. The valleys and coastal plains average 515 millimetres (20 in) of rain per annum, while mountain areas can average as much as 1,500 millimetres (60 in) per annum.
Summer, which lasts from November to March, is warm and dry. The Peninsula gets frequent strong winds from the south-east, known locally as the Cape Doctor, because it blows away pollution and cleans the air. The south-easterly 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. Summer temperatures are mild, with an average maximum of 26 °C (79 °F). Cape Town can be uncomfortably hot when the Berg Wind, meaning "mountain wind" blows from the Karoo interior for a couple of weeks in February or early March.
Little is known of the history of Cape Town'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, and the area did not have regular contact with Europeans until 1652, when 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 Redout Duijnhoop (later replaced by the Castle of Good Hope).
The city of Cpe Town grew slowly during this period, as it was hard to find adequate labour. This labour shortage prompted the city to import slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar. Many of these became ancestors of the first Cape Coloured communities. The French Huguenots also arrived in Cape Town around 1688 and the Wine industry are still apart of their legacy. Many Afrikaners also still cary French names and surnames although the French language were lost through strict legislation by the Dutch. French street names and farm names can also be found in town and cities like Franschhoek and Paarl and other areas in the Cape Town area.
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.
Cape Town was home to many leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. On Robben Island, a former penitentiary island 10 kilometres 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 in decades on 11 February 1990 from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall hours after being released. 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.