Cape Town

Cape Town

Cape Town or Capetown, city (1991 pop. 854,616), legislative capital of South Africa and capital of Western Cape, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. It was the capital of Cape Province before that province's subdivision in 1994. The city lies at the foot of Table Mt. (c.3,570 ft/1,090 m) and on the shore of Table Bay. Cape Town is a commercial and industrial center; oil refining, food, chemical, and fertilizer processing, and the manufacture of automobiles, leather and plastic goods, and clothing are the chief industries. An important port, Cape Town exports mainly gold, diamonds, and fruits. With one of the world's largest drydocks, ship repairing is an important industry. Much of the former dock area is now a commercial and tourist waterfront area with museums, craft markets, and restaurants.

Cape Town was founded in 1652 by Governor Jan van Riebeeck as a supply station on the Dutch East India Company's sea route to the East. In 1795 the British occupied the city. It was returned to the Dutch in 1803 but recaptured in 1806 by the British, who established Cape of Good Hope Colony with Cape Town as capital. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, Cape Town became its legislative capital and Pretoria its administrative capital.

Cape Town's attractions include the Castle, a fortress dating from 1666; the Dutch Reformed church (begun 1699); Old Town House (1755), which contains a museum of 17th-century Flemish and Dutch paintings; and botanical gardens and an aquarium. Cape College for Advanced Technical Education is in Cape Town; nearby is the Groote Schuur estate, which includes the prime minister's residence and the Univ. of Cape Town. The city has an international airport. Robben Island, a former political prison, is offshore.

Afrikaans Kaapstad

City (pop., 2005 est., urban agglom.: 3,103,000), legislative capital of the Republic of South Africa. It is also the capital of Western Cape province. Located on Table Bay, Cape Town has long been an important regional port. The first settlement at Table Bay, it was founded in the 17th century by the Dutch navigator Jan van Riebeeck for the Dutch East India Company, and it soon served as a stopover for ships plying the Europe-to-India route. It was under Dutch rule intermittently until it was taken by the British in 1806. Today it is a commercial and cultural centre. Seealso Pretoria; Bloemfontein.

Learn more about Cape Town with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Search another word or see Cape Townon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature