General facts

Sunset in the Cape Peninsula. Photo courtesy Dietmar Temps

Languages

South Africa has 11 official languages, though most people can speak English. Afrikaans and Xhosa are also widely spoken in Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Population

About 3.5-million people live in Cape Town, South Africa's second most-populated city.

Climate 

Cape Town has a climate similar to that of California and the Mediterranean. Winter starts in May and ends in September and is generally a wet and windy season. Temperatures are cool and end to range between 7°C (45°F) and 17°C (63°F). Summer lasts from November to March and temperatures range between 19°C (66°F) and 35°C (95°F). The summer season is usually hot and sunny. It can be windy, but it doesn’t bring much rain.

Coordinates

33°55′31′′S, 18°25′26′′E

Time

Traditional dancers with Table Mountain in the background. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town lies in the GMT +2 time zone and does not have daylight saving time.

Monetary information

The currency is the rand (ZAR). The South African exchange rate is favourable to most currencies, including the pound, euro and dollar. Most restaurants, shops and hotels accept international credit cards. Value added tax, or VAT, is 14% and is included in the price of all items, but can be claimed by foreign visitors when leaving the country.

Area 

South Africa is a large country, of 2 455km2 (948mi2).

Government

  • Mayor of Cape Town: Patricia de Lille (Democratic Alliance)
     
  • Premier of the Western Cape: Helen Zille (Democratic Alliance) 
     
  • Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa 
     
  • South Africa's Parliament sits in Cape Town

History 

Cape Town was officially founded in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company based in The Netherlands arrived to set up a halfway point for ships travelling to the East. Portuguese explorers arrived in the Cape in the 15th Century and Khoisan people inhabited the area prior to European arrival.

Electricity 

South Africa operates on a 220/230V AC system and plugs have three round prongs.

Telephone

Country code: 0027

City code: 021

Entrance

Visa requirements depend on nationality, but all foreign visitors are required to hold a valid passport. South Africa requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all foreign visitors and citizens over 1 year of age travelling from an infected area or having been in transit hrough infected areas.

For visa requirements, please contact your nearest South African diplomatic mission.

Fast facts

  • Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape.
     
  • The city’s motto is “Spes Bona”, which is Latin for “good hope”.
     
  • Cape Town is twinned with London, Buenos Aires, Nice, San Francisco and several other international cities.
     
  • The Cape Town Stadium was built ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and hosted eight soccer matches during the tournament, including the semi-final between Uruguay and The Netherlands. (The Netherlands won the game 3-2.)
     
  • The world’s first heart transplant was performed by Dr Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town in 1967.
     
  • Famous Capetonians include Nobel literature laureate JM Coetzee, singer Brenda Fassie, swimmer Natalie du Toit and entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.
     
  • Cape Town is home to the world’s largest individually timed cycle race, the Cape Argus Cycle Tour.
     
  • Cape Town is sometimes called the “Tavern of the seas".

Inside the Cape Town Stadium. Photo courtesy warrenski