Cape Town HistoryCape Town is not known as the "Mother City" for nothing. It is here that one comes across a 600 000 000 year old mountain, it is here one can find fossil remains dating back 5 000 000 years, it is here that some of the earliest ever recorded communities lived in sight of Table Mountain 27 000 years ago, it is here that the first Europeans landed searching for a sea route from Europe to Asia.
Cape Town in many ways is where the history of Southern Africa was forged. Today Cape Town is a thriving modern city where most inhabitants have forgotten her rich history, join us here in Cape Town for a walk back in time.
Below is our very brief history tour of Cape Town and surrounding areas. If you feel we have left something out or something needs changing, please get hold of us and let us see what we can do.
Brief history of Cape Town
The rocks of Table Mountain are approximately 600 000 000 years old (6 times older than the Himalayas). Table Mountain was named in 1503 by a explorer named António de Saldanha, he called it "Taboa da Caba" (Table of the Cape), the Khoi people called her was "Hoerikwaggo" (The Sea Mountain).
Khoi people some of the first inhabitants of the Cape, it is believed that Khoi migrated towards the Cape Peninsula around 2000 years ago with their large herds of Nguni cattle. The San people where also in the Cape around the same time but with no written history it is impossible to say who was here first.
Bartholomeu Dias a Portuguese explorer was the first known European to have sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488. Vasco da Gama was the next recorded visitor to the Cape in 1497. It was not until around 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck arrived that the Cape was first inhabited by Europeans.
Jan van Riebeeck established the first permanent European settlement in the Cape on the 6 April 1652, this was to supply the passing Dutch East India Company ships with fresh water, vegetables and meat. Simon van der Stel arrived in 1679 to replace Van Riebeeck as governor of the Cape.
Asian immigration from current day Indonesia to the Cape started back in 1654, these Asians help form the current populations of Cape coloureds and Cape Malay as well as bringing in Islam to the Cape. They were brought to the Cape as slaves by the Dutch East India Company.
In 1688 the first non-Dutch immigrants arrived in the Cape and they were the French Huguenots who were fleeing anti-Protestant persecution in Catholic France. They fled to the Netherlands and were then sent to the Cape. They brought with them experience in wine making and formed the town of Franschhoek.
The English military successfully invaded the Dutch held Cape Colony in 1795 with the "Battle of Muizenberg". In 1802 a peace agreement saw the Cape being returned to Dutch rule, however in 1806 at the Battle of Blaauwberg the British took the Cape back. The British took permanent control of Cape Town in 1814 and held it until 1960.
Cape Town Municipality
In 1839 a due to further political developments the Cape Town Municipality was formed, at this stage in Cape Town short history it had a total population of 20 016. Currently (2011 Census) the population stands at 3 750 000 inhabitants with a municipal area covering over 2 455 square kilometres.
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa was established by Britain in 1910 which saw the Cape Colony being merged with the Colony of Natal and the two defeated Boer Republics. This would later in history become the current South Africa that we have in front of us today with Cape Town as the legislative capital.
In 1948 South Africa introduced the world the Apartheid, a political platform that divided South Africans in 4 racial groupings as well as the Group Areas Act", a law that grouped areas of residence by race. All multi-racial suburbs of Cape Town were either purged of unlawful residents or demolished by the Government.
Robben Island translated in to Dutch is "Seal Island". First inhabited way back in the Stone-age and since the 1600's Robben Island was used as a prison by the Dutch, English and Apartheid Government. Robben Island is were Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners where held, the island is now a museum.
The Rainbow Nation
Nelson Mandela made his first public speech in decades from the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall in 1990. On the 27th April 1994 South Africa had her first ever free and fair elections in which over 20 000 000 South Africans cast their votes, many for the first time in their lives.
Current Cape Town
Cape Town today is the top international tourist destination in the whole of Africa with visitors taking in all of her majestic beauty 364 days a year. Yes Cape Town has her fair share of issues but as Capetonians we are working hard together to help this one of the best cities in the World.