Africa / South Africa

Cape Town

A city with a diverse range of attractions, sights and activities to offer. From lavish and luxurious to back-packing on a budget, Cape Town has something for everyone. From the landmark beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay to the vibrant V&A Waterfront and Cape Town city centre and the award winning wine farms of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek - time spent in CapeTown will not be forgotten.

Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality. The city is famous for its harbour as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, including such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is also Africa's most popular tourist destination.

Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a victualling (supply) station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East. Jan van Riebeeck's arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa.

Today it is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates to South Africa. As of 2007 the city had an estimated population of 3.5 million. Cape Town's land area of 2,455 square kilometres (948 sq mi) is larger than other South African cities, resulting in a comparatively lower population density of 1,425 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,690 /sq mi).

The city was named the World Design Capital for 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

The Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate (Koppen Csa), with mild, wet winters, and dry and very warm summers. In winter time, which lasts from the beginning of June to end of August, large cold fronts come across from the Atlantic Ocean with heavy precipitation and strong north-westerly winds. The winter months are cool, with an average minimum of 7.0 °C (45 °F) and maximum of 17.5 °C (63 °F). Most of the city's annual rainfall occurs in wintertime, but due to the mountainous topography, rainfall amounts for specific areas can vary dramatically. Newlands, to the south of the city, is the wettest suburb in South Africa. The valleys and coastal plains average 515 millimetres (20.3 in) of rain per annum, while mountain areas can average as much as 1,500 millimetres (59 in) per annum.

Summer, which lasts from November to March, is warm and dry. The Peninsula gets frequent strong winds from the south-east, known locally as the Cape Doctor, because it blows away pollution and cleans the air. The south-easterly wind is caused by a high-pressure system which sits in the South Atlantic to the west of Cape Town, known as the South-Atlantic High. Summer temperatures are mild, with an average maximum of 26.5 °C (80 °F). Cape Town can be uncomfortably hot when the Berg Wind, meaning "mountain wind" blows from the Karoo interior for a couple of weeks in February or early March.

Cape Town's weather is remarkably similar to that of San Francisco, with temperature being the conspicuous exception. Cape Town receives slightly more hours of sunlight than San Francisco (3,090 to 3,030 hours), somewhat less rainfall (515mm to 518mm)  and marginally less wind (a mid-range 3 on the Beaufort scale with just under 50% wind probability, compared to an average low Beaufort 4 at barely over 50% wind probability). Cape Town is, however, noticeably warmer, with an average annual ambient air temperature of 19 °C (66 °F) versus San Francisco's 13 °C (55 °F). On a much smaller, national scale compared to other large South African cities, Cape Town receives a nearly identical annual amount of precipatation as Pretoria 517 millimetres (20.4 in), and considerably less than Durban 828 millimetres (32.6 in). Remarkably, given that its 3,094 hours of sunshine is extremely high by international standards, Cape Town in fact receives slightly less sunshine than the South African national average for sunshine. It is the least sunny of South Africa's three capital cities (Bloemfontein receives 3,470 hours of sun a year, and Pretoria receives 3300), and also less sunny than the country’s financial centre of Johannesburg (3,250 hours), Kimberly (3,500 hours), Calvinia (3590 hours) or Upington (3,840 hours). However, Cape Town surpasses subtropical Durban (2,354 hours) by a great deal in terms of sunshine, though it is far cooler.

As a matter of fact, Cape Town receives even more annual sunshine hours than almost all locations in the tropical zones of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as do many Mediterranean climate areas due to their dry summers. Compared to other Mediterranean climates, Cape Town is rather warm but it is not hot. As an annual average, Cape Town (19 °C (66 °F)) is significantly warmer than Barcelona (16 °C (61 °F)), barely warmer than Rome (18 °C (64 °F)), fractionally cooler than Palermo, or Athens (20 °C (68 °F)), and the same as Naples. The city receives very much more sunlight than any major city in the Mediterranean however (e.g. Athens (2800 hours per year)  and Madrid (2830 hours per year)).

Water temperatures range greatly, between 10 °C (50 °F) on the Atlantic Seaboard, to 22 °C (72 °F) in False Bay. Average annual Ocean temperatures are between 13 °C (55 °F) on the Atlantic Seaboard (similar to Californian waters, such as San Francisco or Big Sur), and 17 °C (63 °F) in False Bay (similar to Northern Mediterranean temperatures, such as Nice or Monte Carlo).

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