Cape Town

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Cape Town

Cape Town or Capetown, city, legislative capital of South Africa, capital of Western Cape prov., and seat of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality; 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 (notably the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa), craft markets, and restaurants.

Cape Town was founded in 1652 by Gov. 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. The Univ. of Cape Town and a technical college are in the city; nearby is the Groote Schuur estate, the former prime minister's and president's residence, now a museum and the Univ. of the Western Cape. The city has an international airport. Robben Island, a former political prison, is offshore.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cape Town


(Kaapstad), a city in the southwest of the Republic of South Africa near the Cape of Good Hope; the administrative center of the Cape of Good Hope Province (Cape Province) and the seat of the country’s parliament. It is the second-largest city in South Africa, with a population of 1,100,000 (1970), of whom 50 percent are Coloureds, 10 percent black Africans, and 40 percent of European extraction. The non-European population in Cape Town is subjected to severe racial discrimination.

Cape Town was founded in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company and served as the administrative center of Cape Colony. In 1806 it was captured by the British, and when the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, it became part of Cape Province.

Cape Town is South Africa’s second most important industrial center. Enterprises for metalworking, shipbuilding and repair, railroad-car construction, oil refining, and automobile assembly are located there; the manufacture of cement, textiles, and canned food is extensively developed, as are diamond-cutting, lumbering, and wine-making. Cape Town is a base for foreign whaling flotillas and is a major railroad and highway junction. It is also one of Africa’s largest ports, located on a shipping route from Europe to Southeast Asia and the Far East. The port has oil tanks, grain elevators, and cold stores. Wool, raw hides, fruit, corn, diamonds, and gold are exported; oil products, lumber, and fertilizers are imported.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cape Town

the legislative capital of South Africa and capital of Western Cape province, situated in the southwest on Table Bay: founded in 1652, the first White settlement in southern Africa; important port. Pop.: 827 219 (2001)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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