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Definition: Cape Town from Philip's Encyclopedia

City and seaport at the foot of Table Mountain, South Africa. It is South Africa's legislative capital and the capital of Western Cape province. Founded in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company, it came under British rule in 1795. Places of interest include the Union Parliament, a 17th-century castle, the National Historic Museum, and the University of Cape Town (founded 1829). It is an important industrial and commercial centre. Industries: clothing, engineering equipment, motor vehicles, wine. Pop. (2000) 2,930,000.


Summary Article: Cape Town
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Port and oldest city (founded in 1652) in South Africa, situated at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula, on Table Bay; population (2005) 3,103,000. Industries include oil-refining, shipbuilding, diamond-cutting, food processing, and the manufacture of plastics and clothing. The port is the second-largest in the country after Durban and there is considerable trade in wool, wine, fruit, grain, and oil. Tourism is important. It is the legislative capital of the Republic of South Africa and capital of Western Cape province.

History The city dates from 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck established a settlement for the Dutch East India Company. He started construction of the Castle of Good Hope, and also established the gardens at Kirstenbosch in order to provide fresh vegetables and fruit for Dutch East India Company ships. The Dutch controlled the settlement (with the help of a French garrison) from 1781 to 1795, when it was captured by the British during the Napoleonic Wars. It reverted to Dutch control from 1803 to 1806, when it was once again occupied by British troops. In 1814 it became the capital of the British Cape Colony. From 1904 to 1961 it was the legislative capital of the Union of South Africa, and subsequently of the Republic of South Africa.

Features The old part of the city is situated between Table Bay and Table Mountain. Newer suburbs sprawl around the mountain, with extensive shantytowns to the south. The city includes the Houses of Parliament, the City Hall, the Castle of Good Hope (1679), Groote Schuur (‘great barn’), the estate of Cecil Rhodes (now the home of the premier), the University of Cape Town (1829), and the University of the Western Cape (1960) in the nearby city of Bellville. The National Botanical Gardens are at Kirstenbosch. There are also many old Dutch-style buildings. The naval base of Simonstown is to the southeast. The UK discontinued its use of the base in 1975 in disapproval of South Africa's apartheid policies; use of the base restarted on the ending of apartheid.

Economy Cape Town is South Africa's second commercial and manufacturing city and many light industries are established in its suburbs. The harbour and docks are modern and well equipped with ship repairing facilities. Cape Town's beautiful situation, excellent beaches, and impressive hinterland have made it South Africa's leading holiday centre; it is the most visited city in the country. The Victoria and Alfred waterfront complex (developed from the city's Victorian harbour in the 1990s), comprising shopping malls, restaurants and other attractions, is the city's most popular tourist destination. Nearby is the 68,000-seat Cape Town Stadium at Green Point, built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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City Hall, Cape Town

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