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Things you did not know about Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the significant cities of South Africa. It holds an important place as it plays a vital role administratively and culturally. Though the city has a soaring population, its population density is still low, as it has a fairly large area. Cape Town is famous for its natural and scenic beauty. Apart from the famous landmarks, it also houses a number of picturesque beaches perfect for frolicking on days when you are not volunteering.

Here are some interesting facts about Cape Town:

The area was first mentioned by Bartolomeu Dias in 1486 and a sighting was recorded of the Cape of the Good Hope by Vasco Da Gama in 1497. Both were Portuguese explorers. Cape Town was founded in 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck (an employee of the Dutch East India company) arrived to established a way-station for ships travelling to the Dutch East Indies. Today the Port of Cape Town is deemed to be one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world.

Table Mountain’s peak, Lion’s Head has not seen a lion for over 200 years. After once thriving in the area, and no doubt giving their name to the smallest peak at the western tip of the mountain, the last lion was shot in 1802. Leopards followed in the 1820s, but the area is still home to some incredible nocturnal cats. These include the small Lynx-type Caracal, and the far rarer African Wild Cat.

Cape Town became the capital of the Cape Colony in 1815 and today it’s the legislative capital of South Africa. It’s also the capital of the Western Cape province and the seat of the South African National Parliament.

Kirstenbosch was founded in 1913 to preserve South Africa’s unique flora. At the time it was the first botanical garden in the world with this ethos. Only indigenous plants are cultivated (with minor exceptions).

The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town is the oldest building in South Africa. It was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India company.

Today Cape Town has an estimated population of 3.5 million people and its the 2nd biggest city in South Africa (behind Johannesburg and ahead of Durban).

Canal Walk (in the Cape Town Northern suburbs) is the 3rd largest shopping center in Africa (behind Sandton City in Johannesburg & Gateway Shopping Center in Durban).

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in the historic heart of Cape Town’s working harbour is the most-visited destination in South Africa (ahead of Table Mountain). The V&A Waterfront has the highest rate of foreign tourists in the country. Construction on the V&A Waterfront started in 1860.

The Greenpoint lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in South Africa. It’s also the Lighthouse services head office in the country. The lighthouse was built in 1824. In 1929 an electric light that was visible 25 miles out to sea was installed in the Greenpoint Lighthouse. Since thick winter fog regularly obscures the land it was also outfitted with a booming foghorn that could be heard for miles. This earned the lighthouse the nickname “Moaning Minnie”.

The city is a perfect combination of metropolitan and piece of paradise worth discovering while you embark on your volunteer experience.

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