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The Western Cape - Cape Town

Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape, part of the area formally known as the Cape Colony, then Cape of Good Hope Province (usually shortened to the Cape Province).


Map of South African Provinces before 1994
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMap of South African Provinces before 1994 - Credit: Htonl
Map of South African Provinces since 1994
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMap of South African Provinces since 1994 - Credit: Htonl
Location of Cape Town in the Western Cape
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLocation of Cape Town in the Western Cape - Credit: Htonl










Cape Town
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCape Town - Credit: Andreas Tusche

Originally a supply hub for Dutch ships sailing through to Eastern Africa, India and beyond, Cape Town was the first permanent European colony in South Africa. After various British conflicts with the Dutch, it finally came under the total jurisdiction of the British in 1814 and in 1910, when Britain formed the Union of South Africa, Cape Town became its legislative capital.


The photograph was taken from the top of Table Mountain. Due to its natural amphitheatre shape, the area at the heart of the city is known as City Bowl.








Cape Flats area, Cape Town
Creative Commons AttributionCape Flats area, Cape Town - Credit: Thomas Sly

Like everywhere else in South Africa, Cape Town was affected by the victory of the National party in 1948 and the introduction of apartheid. Due to the new government's policy of creating separate living areas according to race, many black and coloured people were forced out if their homes and were subject to forced removals to townships. A particularly notorious instance of this, occurred in District Six, after it was officially designated a whites only area. Many of the people forced out from there were re-located to the area north of the city known as 'apartheid's dumping ground': Cape Flats. 




View over Cape Town from Robben Island
Public DomainView over Cape Town from Robben Island - Credit: Matthias Kniese

While Cape Town draws in plenty of tourists due to its attractive harbour area and its scenic panorama, including Table Mountain and Devil's Peak, in these post-apartheid days people are also able to visit one of the places that became synonymous with opposition to apartheid: Robben Island.   


Entrance to Robben Island
Creative Commons AttributionEntrance to Robben Island - Credit: Brian Burger








Prison on Robben Island



Although Robben Island has had many incarnations during its lifetime, including army training ground and hospital, in 1961 it reverted to one of its main previous uses and became a prison housing political prisoners. Many notable anti-apartheid actvisits were imprisoned there including, most famously, Nelson Mandela. His release, after twenty seven years, on 11 February 1990, marked the beginning of the end for the apartheid state.