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Eastern Cape

Eastern Cape, province (2011 pop. 6,562,053), 65,238 sq mi (168,966 sq km), S central South Africa, on the Indian Ocean. In 1994, under South Africa's post-apartheid constitution, Eastern Cape was created from the eastern portion of the former Cape Province and the former Xhosa "homelands" of Transkei and Ciskei. Eastern Cape is bounded by Free State and Lesotho (N), KwaZulu-Natal (NE), Western Cape (SW), and Northern Cape (NW).

Bhisho is the capital. Port Elizabeth, East London, and Uitenhage are the largest cities. Eastern Cape has a diverse climate, ranging from the semidesert Great Karoo on the west to lush forests on the east. Part of the Drakensberg Range is in the province. A section of coastline stretching from East London to the border of KwaZulu-Natal is an area of rugged beauty known as the Wild Coast.

Much of the population has traditionally relied on subsistence farming, and commercial agriculture now plays an important role in the province's economy; sheep and cattle are raised and fruit, coffee, tea, maize, and sorghum are cultivated. There is fishing, especially for squid, and forestry. Port Elizabeth and East London are important rail hubs and seaports and, along with Uitenhage, have sizable automotive industries. Ecotourism is a growing sector of the economy. The majority of the people speak the Xhosa language.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: South African Political Geography

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