Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope (Afrikaans: "Kaap die Goeie Hoop", _nl. Kaap de Goede Hoop, _pt. Cabo da Boa Esperança, Persian Language: "دماغه امید نیک") is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of South Africa. There is a very common misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, but in fact the southernmost point is Cape Agulhas, about 150 kilometres (90 mi) to the southeast. However, when following the coastline from the equator, the Cape of Good Hope marks the psychologically important point where one begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus the rounding of the cape in 1488 was a major milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East.

As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has been of special significance to sailors for many years and is widely referred to by them simply as The Cape. ["Along the Clipper Way", Francis Chichester; page 78. Hodder & Stoughton, 1966. ISBN 0-340-00191-7] It is a major milestone on the clipper route followed by clipper ships to the Far East and Australia, and still followed by several offshore yacht races.

The term "Cape of Good Hope" was also used to indicate the early Cape Colony established in 1652, in the vicinity of the Cape Peninsula. Just prior to the formation of the Union of South Africa, the term referred to the entire region that was to become the Cape Province in 1910.


The Cape of Good Hope is located at coord|34|21|29|S|18|28|19|E|. [ [|18471944|20000&buttonCommand=ZoomOut&mapFromApp= Topo map of the Cape of Good Hope] , from the South African Geographical Names System] It is at the south-west corner of the Cape Peninsula, about 2.3 kilometres (1.4 mi) west and a little south of Cape Point on the south-east corner. The peninsula forms the western boundary of False Bay. Geologically, the rocks found at the two capes- and indeed over much of the peninsula- are part of the Table Mountain Group, and are formed of the same type of sandstones as those exposed in the faces of Table Mountain itself.

The Cape of Good Hope is often thought of as being the southernmost point in Africa, and the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans; however, this is actually Cape Agulhas, which lies about 150 kilometres (90 mi) east-south-east. Cape Town is about 50 kilometres to the north of the Cape, in Table Bay at the north end of the peninsula.

Both the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point offer spectacular scenery. Indeed, the whole of the southernmost portion of the Cape Peninsula is a wild, rugged, scenic and generally unspoiled national park.

The term "Cape of Good Hope" has also been used in a wider sense, to indicate the area of the early European colony in the vicinity of the cape. [ [ "Historic Cape of Good Hope Land Grants and related histories"] ]


Some speculate that before European explorers reached the Cape of Good Hope, Chinese, Arabian, or Indian explorers/merchants may already have visited it, and kept records of these visits. The Old World maps like Kangnido and Fra Mauro map made before 1488 may be evidence of this.

The first European to reach the cape was the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, who named it the "Cape of Storms" ("Cabo das Tormentas"). It was later renamed by John II of Portugal as "Cape of Good Hope" ("Cabo da Boa Esperança") because of the great optimism engendered by the opening of a sea route to India and the East.

The land around the cape was home to the Khoikhoi (Hottentot) people when the Dutch first settled there in 1652. The Khoikhoi had arrived in these parts about fifteen hundred years before.Fact|date=November 2007

Dutch colonial administrator Jan van Riebeeck established a resupply camp for the Dutch East India Company some 50 km north of the cape in Table Bay on April 6, 1652 and this eventually developed into Cape Town. Supplies of fresh food were vital on the long journey around Africa and Cape Town became known as "The Tavern of the Seas".

On December 31, 1687 a community of Huguenots arrived at the Cape from the Netherlands. They had escaped to the Netherlands from France in order to flee religious persecution there, examples of these are Pierre Joubert who came from La Motte-d'Aigues for religious reasons. The Dutch East India Company needed skilled farmers at the Cape of Good Hope and the Dutch Government saw opportunities for the Huguenots at the Cape and sent them over. The colony gradually grew over the next 150 years or so until it stretched for hundreds of kilometres to the north and north-east.

The United Kingdom invaded and occupied the Cape Colony in 1795 ("The First Occupation") but relinquished control of the territory in 1803. However, British forces returned on January 19, 1806 and occupied the Cape once again ("The Second Occupation"). The territory was ceded to the UK in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 and was henceforth administered as the Cape Colony. It remained a British colony until incorporated into the independent Union of South Africa in 1910 (now known as the Republic of South Africa).

The Portuguese government erected two navigational beacons, Dias Cross and Da Gama Cross, to commemorate Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Dias as explorers. When lined up, the crosses point to Whittle Rock (coord|34|14.8|S|18|33.6|E), a large, permanently submerged shipping hazard in False Bay. Two other beacons in Simonstown provide the intersection.


The Cape of Good Hope is the legendary home of "The Flying Dutchman". Crewed by tormented and damned ghostly sailors, it is doomed forever to beat its way through the adjacent waters without ever succeeding in rounding the headland.

Adamastor is a Greek-type mythological character invented by the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões in his epic poem "Os Lusíadas" (first printed in 1572), as a symbol of the forces of nature Portuguese navigators had to overcome during their discoveries, and more specifically of the dangers Portuguese sailors faced when trying to round the Cape of Storms.

Local fauna

With its diverse habitat, ranging from rocky mountain tops to beaches and open sea, the Cape of Good Hope is home to at least 250 species of birds.

"Bush birds" tend to be rather scarce because of the coarse, scrubby nature of fynbos vegetation. When flowering, however, proteas and ericas attract sunbirds, sugarbirds, and other species in search of nectar. For most of the year, there are more small birds in coastal thicket than in fynbos.

Large animals are a rare sight in the Cape of Good Hope, but there are a wealth of small animals such as lizards, snakes, tortoises and insects. There are some herds of zebra, eland and a variety of other antelope. Small mammals include rock hyrax ("dassie"), striped mouse, water mongoose, Cape clawless otter and white deer.

The area offers excellent vantage points for whale watching. The Southern right whale is the species most likely to be seen in False Bay between June and November. Other species are the Humpback whale and Bryde's whale. Seals and Dusky Dolphins or Orca, the Killer Whales may also be seen.

The strategic position of the Cape of Good Hope between two major ocean currents, ensures a rich diversity of marine life. There is a difference between the sea life West of Cape Point and that to the East due to the markedly differing sea temperatures.

The South African Marine Living Resources Act is strictly enforced throughout the Table Mountain National Park, and especially in marine protected areas. Disturbance or removal of any marine organisms is strictly prohibited between Schusters Bay and Hoek van Bobbejaan, but is allowed in other areas during season and with relevant permits.

Local flora

The Cape of Good Hope is an integral part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom, the smallest but richest of the world's six floral kingdoms.

This comprises a treasure trove of 1100 species of indigenous plants, of which a number are endemic (occur naturally nowhere else on earth). Two types of fynbos ("fine bush"), coastal fynbos on alkaline sands and inland fynbos on acid soils, are found.

Characteristic fynbos plants include proteas, ericas (heath), and restios (reeds). Some of the most striking and well-known members belong to the Proteacae family, of which up to 24 species occur. These include King Protea, Sugarbush, Tree Pincushion and Golden Cone Bush.

Many popular horticultural plants like pelargoniums, freesias, daisies, lilies and irises also have their origins in fynbos.

See also

* Cape Horn, its South American counterpart
* Western Cape
* History of Cape Colony


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cape of Good Hope — the Cape of Good Hope a ↑peninsula (=a piece of land surrounded on three sides by water) at the southwestern end of South Africa, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Cape of Good Hope — Cape′ of Good Hope′ n. 1) geg a cape in S Africa, in the SW Republic of South Africa 2) geg Also called Cape′ Prov ince Formerly, Cape Colony a province in the Republic of South Africa. 7,443,500; 277,169 sq. mi. (717,868 sq. km). Cap.:Cape Town …   From formal English to slang

  • Cape of Good Hope — (spr. kehp ŏf gudd hohp), engl. Name des Kaps der Guten Hoffnung …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Cape of Good Hope —   [keɪp ɔv gʊd həʊp, englisch], das Kap der Guten Hoffnung.   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Cape of Good Hope — geographical name 1. see good hope (Cape of) 2. (or Cape Province) (or Kaapland) (or earlier Cape Colony) former province S Republic of South Africa capital Cape Town area 278,465 square miles (724,009 square kilometers) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Cape of Good Hope — noun 1. a point of land in southwestern South Africa (south of Cape Town) • Instance Hypernyms: ↑cape, ↑ness 2. a province of western South Africa • Instance Hypernyms: ↑state, ↑province * * * 1. a cape in S Africa, in the SW Republic of South… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cape of Good Hope — 1. a cape in S Africa, in the SW Republic of South Africa. 2. Also called Cape Province. Formerly, Cape Colony. a province in the Republic of South Africa. 6,731,820; 277,169 sq. mi. (717,868 sq. km). Cap.: Cape Town. * * * …   Universalium

  • Cape of Good Hope — noun a cape in southwestern South Africa, near Cape Town …   Wiktionary

  • CAPE OF GOOD HOPE —    a cape in South Africa, discovered by Diaz in 1486; called at first Cape of Storms, from the experience of the first navigators; altered in consideration of the promised land reached beyond …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • cape of Good Hope — I Australian Slang soap II Cockney Rhyming Slang Soap Go wash yourself and use the cape …   English dialects glossary

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