The Cape of Good Hope and South Africa

The Cape of Good Hope is a peninsula located a little northwest of the southern tip of Africa, but it is a critical spot for ships that travel around Africa as they enter or leave the Indian Ocean. The first name for the Cape was “Cape of Storms,” given by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. It was later renamed “Cape of Good Hope” because it offered a way to access India and the East. Hundreds of large ships sail around the Cape every day. Many are oil tankers leaving the Persian Gulf.

South Africa

Back on the mainland, we arrive in the Republic of South Africa. The South African coast is 1,739 miles long, bordering both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Cape Town was founded in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company as a rest stop along the way around Africa. South Africa's population is very racially diverse, made up of Caucasians, Indians, and racially mixed communities. The main ethnic groups include the Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho, Bapedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, and Ndebele, all of which speak Bantu languages.

South Africa is surrounded on three sides by oceans, and it is located in the mild southern hemisphere, which causes the climate to be mostly temperate. But there are also several climactic zones in this region, from the hot Namib Desert to the subtropical area near the Mozambique border. The southwestern climate has wet winters and hot, dry summers, making it the perfect place to make wine. This area also has very strong winds that make it challenging to sail around the southern tip of Africa. The southeastern coast, on the other hand, is green and lush, giving it the name Garden Route. The wetlands in the Garden Route are visited by hundreds of species of birds.

Fun Fact

Rhinos

Both black and white rhinoceroses are actually gray, but their different lip shapes set them apart and are related to what they eat. The black rhino's upper lip is pointed, because black rhinos use their lips to remove leaves and fruit from trees and bushes. A white rhino's upper lip is more square, because they munch on grass with their heads pointed at the ground.

ALL ABOUT

All about South Africa

Capitals: Pretoria (administrative), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)

Largest city: Johannesburg

Official languages: There are 11 official languages.

Area: 470,462 square miles

Population: 47.9 million (2007 estimate)

ALL ABOUT

Madagascar

Capital and largest city: Antananarivo

Official languages: Malagasy, French, English

Area: 228,880 square miles

Population: 20 million (2008 estimate)

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