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Western Cape

Western Cape, province (2011 pop. 5,822,734), 49,986 sq mi (129,462 sq km), SW South Africa, on the Atlantic and Indian oceans. In 1994, under South Africa's post-apartheid constitution, Western Cape was created from the southwest portion of the former Cape Province. The province borders Northern Cape on the north and Eastern Cape on the east.

The capital and largest city is Cape Town. The diverse topography of Western Cape stretches north and east from the Cape of Good Hope. There are mountains and fertile valleys along the coast; much of the interior is arid and hilly. Along the south coast there is a mild climate and diverse vegetation, and many botanical and marine reserves.

Finance, real estate, retail, and tourism are the main contributors to the area's economy, but agriculture and fisheries also are important. The province produces much of South Africa's wine, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. Sheep and cattle are raised in the inland Karoo region, and wool, mutton, dairy products, beef, and pork are among the animal products. The west coast of the province has rich fishing grounds. Cape Town is an important port as well as a commercial and industrial center, with petroleum companies, printing, and publishing. The principal languages are Afrikaans, Xhosa, and English.

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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