Cape Town

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t Visitors exploring the exhibition space of the District Six Museum


Cape Town came into being in 1652, when Commander Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company landed at Table Bay to found a victualling station for merchant ships travelling to India. The central park known as the Company’s Garden started life under van Riebeeck, as did the rudimentary precursor of the imposing Castle of Good Hope. A century later, Cape Town was home to 5,500 European settlers, plus 7,000 slaves of local and Asian origin. In 1814, Cape Town was ceded to the British, who freed all slaves in 1834, a legislation that led to the inland exodus known as the Great Trek. Historically, with a demographic dominated by European settlers and mixed-race inhabitants, referred to then as “Coloureds”, Cape Town was more liberal than other parts of South Africa. Under apartheid, however, many civil rights enjoyed by mixed-race people were revoked, and integrated suburbs such as District Six were rezoned as “White” only. Apartheid was abolished in the 1990s, and Cape Town today is a gracious and progressive city with a vibrant economy in which tourism plays a significant role.

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