Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. I recently spent 7 days in December in Cape Town in 2009. If you’re thinking of visiting South Africa from a foreign country this city should definately be on your list of destinations.
Here are 10 facts about Cape Town:
- The area was first mentioned by Bartolomeu Dias in 1486 and a sighting was recorded of the Cape of the Good Hope by Vasco Da Gama in 1497. Both were Portuguese explorers.
- It was founded in 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck (an employee of the Dutch East India company) arrived to established a way-station for ships travelling to the Dutch East Indies.
- The city became the capital of the Cape Colony in 1815 and today it’s the legislative capital of South Africa. It’s also the capital of the Western Cape province and the seat of the South African National Parliament.
- Table Mountain’s peak, Lion’s Head has not seen a lion for over 200 years. After once thriving in the area, and no doubt giving their name to the smallest peak at the western tip of the mountain, the last lion was shot in 1802. Leopards followed in the 1820s, but the area is still home to some incredible nocturnal cats. These include the small Lynx-type Caracal, and the far rarer African Wild Cat.
- African Penguins are more common. Following the fauna theme, surprisingly South Africa is home to many colonies of penguins. Nearby Boulders Beach is home to its own colony that established itself in 1982. They are quite small, at only 68 – 70 centimetres tall, but have endured a significant comeback in recent years. However in comparison to the numbers of African penguins in at the beginning of the 20th Century, only about 10 percent remained by 2000.
- The Port of Cape Town is deemed to be one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world.
- The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town is the oldest building in South Africa. It was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India company.
- Kirstenbosch was founded in 1913 to preserve South Africa’s unique flora. At the time it was the first botanical garden in the world with this ethos. Only indigenous plants are cultivated (with minor exceptions).
- Cape Town has a population of +/- 3.5 million people and its the 2nd biggest city in South Africa.
- Canal Walk (in the Cape Town Northern suburbs) is the 3rd largest shopping center in Africa (behind Sandton City in Johannesburg & Gateway Shopping Center in Durban).
Watch this space for more 10 facts updates. Hopefully these topics don’t bore you all and you find them interesting.