Cape Town, South-Africa
Statsraad Lehmkuhl visits Cape Town, South Africa, January 13-20 2023
Cape Town is the southernmost city in South Africa, just a few kilometers from the Cape of Good Hope. The steep cliff is not the southernmost point in Africa as many believe, the southernmost point is Cape Agulhas, 150 kilometers further east.
Cape Town is a beautiful city, which originally lay in the bay surrounded by the 1,000 meter high plateau Table Mountain, and the ridge with the characteristic peak Lion's Head at one end and Signal Hill at the other. The city has grown, and now stretches far inland and along the coast both north and east.
Traces of humans have been found in caves in the area, dated to be between 12,000 and 15,000 years old. In the middle of the 17th century, the Dutch established a settlement here, which they called Fort de Goede Hoop. It served as a supply station for merchant ships on their way to East Africa, India and Asia, and with the help of slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar, the city grew throughout the 18th century.
In 1795, the British took control of Cape Town, and after a few years of unrest, the city and surrounding areas became a British colony in 1814. Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa until Johannesburg overtook it after the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Transvaal - area in the 1890s.
The descendants of the first Dutch immigrants, the Boers, disagreed with the policies of the British, especially after the British banned slavery in 1833. The conflict caused many Boers to move north, and ended up in wars between the Boers and the British between 1880 and 1902, a conflict which the British won.
In 1910, the Union of South Africa was formed, a self-governing area within the British Commonwealth. The original population was kept out, and in 1930 a special Landact was decided, which prohibited blacks from owning land except in small reserves, bantustans. In 1948, the Boer-dominated Nationalist Party came to power, and introduced apartheid, a systematic oppression of the black population.
South Africa became a republic in 1961, and throughout the 1960s opposition to the apartheid regime grew. The government responded by banning the black opposition parties. It was during this period that Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town.
1990 marked the beginning of the end. The political prisoners were released, the opposition parties allowed, and despite much violence and unrest, Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994.
In South Africa, the administration is divided. The National Assembly is based in Cape Town, the government in Pretoria. Cape Town now has 2.8 million inhabitants, and is the center of finance and economy in the south-western part of the country. It is an important port city, and a popular city to visit as a tourist.
The location under Table Mountain is spectacular, the beaches are great and the town has many beautiful old colonial buildings.
The Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas. The warm water coming south with the Agulhas Current mixes with the cold Atlantic water in the Benguela Current. The eddies that form will be investigated especially during the One Ocean Expedition.
Like the Mediterranean
The climate is also pleasant. The city is so far south that the climate corresponds to that found in the Mediterranean, but with winter between May and August and summer between November and February. In winter, the temperature drops below ten degrees, and this is also the wettest part of the year. The summer is dry, with temperatures around 25-26 degrees.
The vegetation is also reminiscent of what we find around the Mediterranean, low brushes dominate. But many of the plants and wildlife here are found nowhere else, they are endemic.
Table Mountain is one of the areas in the world with the greatest biodiversity; many different species in a small area. Cape penguins, a separate species found only in this part of Africa, nests on the beaches outside Cape Town.
Normal maximum temperature in January: 26.1 ℃
Normal rainfall in January: 15 mm