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Western Cape

The Western Capes natural beauty, complemented by its hospitality, cultural diversity, excellent wine and colourful cuisine, make the province one of the worlds greatest tourist attractions. The cold Atlantic Ocean along the West Coast is a rich fishing area, while the warmer Indian Ocean skirts the provinces southern beaches. The Western Cape lies on the southern tip of Africa. The most southern point is not, as some maps suggest, at Cape Point; it is in fact at Cape Agulhas, some 200 km east of Cape Town.

Cape Town houses Parliament and is the countrys legislative capital. Visitors to the Western Cape can disembark at Cape Town International Airport, George Airport or at the ports of Cape Town, Mossel Bay or Saldanha. A network of roads also leads to Cape Town, fondly known as the Mother City. Covering an area of more than 553 000 ha, the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site comprises eight separate protected areas stretching from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape.

The people

More than 5,2 million people live in the Western Cape on 129 370 km2 of land (Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2011). Afrikaans is spoken by the majority, with isiXhosa and English being the other main languages.

Agriculture and marine fisheries

Agriculture brings in 40% of all export revenue and employs 200 000 people in the Western Cape. The Western Cape is rich in agriculture and fisheries. The sheltered valleys between the mountains provide ideal conditions for the cultivation of top-grade fruits, such as apples, table grapes, olives, peaches and oranges. In the eastern part of the Western Cape, a great variety of vegetables is cultivated. The area around the Cape Peninsula and the Boland, further inland, is a winter-rainfall region with sunny, dry summers. The Western Cape is known as one of the worlds finest grape-growing regions. Many of its wines have received the highest accolades at international shows.

The inland Karoo region (around Beaufort West) and the Overberg district (around Bredasdorp) produce wool and mutton, and pedigree Merino breeding stock. Other animal products include broiler chickens, eggs, dairy products, beef and pork. The Western Cape is the only province with an outlet for the export of horses. This earns the country millions of rand in foreign revenue. In addition to meat and fine leatherware, the province is also a leader in the export of ostrich meat to Europe, with its abattoirs turning out R1 billion in export products every year.

The West Coast is considered one of the worlds richest fishing grounds and is protected from overfishing by foreign vessels by means of a 200-km commercial fishing zone and a strict quota system. A local environmental and new-energy technology fund, Inspired Evolution, invested R52,5 million in a Western Cape-based abalone farm, Abagold. The Hermanus farm is the countrys largest exporter and international competitor in the hatching, rearing, processing and exporting of local abalone.


The Western Cape economy contributes roughly 14,5% to South Africas GDP, growing at an average of 3,2% a year. More sophisticated sectors such as finance, real estate, ICT, retail and tourism have shown substantial growth, and are the main contributors to the regional economy. The value of residential property has increased significantly. Many of South Africas major insurance companies and banks are based in the Western Cape. Most of the countrys petroleum companies and the largest segment of the printing and publishing industry are found in Cape Town.

After Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Capes manufacturing sector is the third-largest contributor to the national manufacturing sector. The clothing and textile industry remains the most significant industrial source of employment in the province. Cape Town remains the economic hub of the province, encompassing industrial areas such as Epping, Montague Gardens, Parow and Retreat.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2012 19:13:01 ZULU