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Northern Cape

Northern Cape, province (2011 pop. 1,145,861), 144,015 sq mi (372,889 sq km), NW South Africa. In 1994, under South Africa's post-apartheid constitution, Northern Cape was created from the northern portion of the former Cape Province. The province is bounded on the north by Botswana, on the east by North West and Free State, on the south by Eastern Cape, on the south and southwest by Western Cape, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the northwest by Namibia.

The largest province in South Africa, it is also the least populated, lying on an arid plateau that stretches into the Kalahari desert in the north. The Orange River, joined by the Vaal River, flows westward through the province and forms Northern Cape's border with Namibia before emptying into the Atlantic. The capital and largest city is Kimberley.

Sheep farming is important in the Karoo, a semidesert region that covers much of the province. Grapes and other fruit are grown in the Orange River valley. Iron ore and diamonds are mined; diamond mining, once the most important factor in the economy, has declined in recent years. The San people inhabit the Kalahari, and the area is rich in their rock engravings. The principal languages of Northern Cape are Afrikaans and Setswana.

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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