Cape Colony, officially Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, is a British colony situated at the southern extremity of the African continent. It is bounded on the N. by German South-west Africa, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, the Orange River Colony, and British Basutoland; on the S. by the Southern Ocean; on the E. by Natal; and on the W. by the Atlantic Ocean. Neither Basutoland (q.v.), the Bechuana Protectorate, nor the territories of the South Africa Company (see Matabeleland, Mashonaland, Zambesia) are part of the colony. All sections are under the authority of the High Commissioner for British South Africa, who is distinct from the governor of Cape Colony. Pondoland was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1894, and in 1895 the crown colony of British Bechuanaland was also incorporated. The total area of the Cape Colony is now estimated at over 277,000 square miles.

The Cape Colony is deficient in navigable rivers, and in gulfs or arms of the sea stretching inland. The best natural harbour, Saldanha Bay, is unused, on account of the aridity of the land around it. Table Bay, the principal harbour, is naturally much exposed on the north-west; but has been protected by a breakwater (see Capetown). False Bay, lying to the east of the Cape of Good Hope, includes Simon's Bay, which is the imperial navai station. Algoa Bay has Port Elizabeth on its western shore. Running parallel to the coast-line of the Cape Colony, and at an average distance from it of about 150 miles, there is a range of mountains which forms the watershed of the country, and is known as the Stormberg, the Sneeuberg, the Nieuwveld Mountains, the Rogge-veld Mountains, and Kamiesberg. The Eastern Province, along with the Cape peninsula, is on the whole better watered than the interior . portion of the Western Province, which is largely covered with the Karroo or steppe, dreary-looking, but of great value to the sheep-farmer. Beyond the belt of country skirting the sea-coast agriculture can only be successful where there is a suppy of water for irrigation. The climate of the Cape Colony and of the interior of Southern Africa generally is one of the finest in the world, and eminently suited for Europeans. As a health-resort the Cape has long been favourably known. The climate on the coast is superior to that of England. But it is after the traveller leaves this well-watered belt that he finds himself in a rare and yet balmy atmosphere which is exhilarating to the healthy, and most beneficial to those subject to lung-complaints, especially if they have arrived in the country at a sufficiently early stage. At Wynberg, near Capetown, the mean temperature in winter is 55°, in summer 63°, the summer maximum being 96°. On the elevated plateau at Aliwal North, the winter mean is 48.8°, summer mean 67.4°, summer maximum 102°. In 1891 the area and population were as follows:

Area, sq. m.


Colony proper.......



Griqualand West......



East Griqualand.......









Walfish Bay......






In 1904 the census (delayed by the war) showed 579,741 whites and 1,830,074 coloured, a total of 2,409,815. Griqualand West, Pondoland (annexed in 1894), and British Bechuanaland (annexed 1895) are now part of the Colony proper. The natives of the Cape Colony are steadily increasing. There are two main groups of natives - the yellow-coloured and oblique-eyed Gariepine people (named from the Gariep or Orange River); and the darker, and far more numerous Bantu family. The Gariepine family includes Hottentots, Korannas, Nainaquas, and Bushmen. The Bantus are subdivided into numerous tribes, Kaffirs, Zulus, Basuto, Bechuana, Matebele, Mashona, etc. The earliest settlers were from various countries in North Europe, being the servants of the Dutch East India Company; to these were added 150 Huguenot refugees in 1688. In 1820 English and Scotch settlers were placed by government on land in the Eastern Province; and after the Crimean war the German Legion was settled in King Williamstown district. The discovery of diamonds caused a rush to Griqualand West. The Eastern Province of the colony is, roughly speaking, an English country. The western part is mainly occupied by Dutch-speaking descendants of the early settlers. There are 8000 miles of road in the Colony proper. The railway system extended in 1893 to 2300 miles of government line (besides 177 miles of private lines), belonging to three main systems, Western, Midland, and Eastern. Capetown is now connected with Mafeking and Palapwe in British Bechuanaland, and, by the line running through the Orange Free State, with Johannesburg in the Transvaal, which again will soon be connected with the east coast at Delagoa Bay. There are over 5000 miles of telegraph line.

A few elephants and buffaloes are still 'preserved' in the Knysna and Zitzikama forests, but the hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, eland, quagga, gnu, and other large game, are, with the lion, no longer to be seen within the Cape Colony. Smaller antelopes are still found, with baboons, monkeys, wild cats, porcupines, jerboas, conies, ant-eaters; as also tiger-cats, leopards, jackals, and wild dogs. The variety of birds is also great, and some are peculiar, such as the secretary-bird, the honey-bird, the weaver-bird, and the ostrich. Reptiles still abound; the alligator is chiefly found beyond the colony, but the iguana, the cobra di capello, puff-adder, and other snakes are found in the colony. Insect life is also abundant. It is probable that no single country in the world has contributed so largely to European conservatories and gardens as the Cape of Good Hope - sending such handsome flowering shrubs as the pelargoniums, heaths, proteas, and the lovely bulbous plants of irideAe, amaryllideAe, and liliaceAe.

The chief exports from the colony are diamonds and wool. Cattle are also extensively raised, especially in the grassy districts of the Eastern Province. Pneumonia, known as ' lung-sickness,' was introduced from Holland in 1857, and has never since been eradicated. In the northern parts of the colony, and more especially in the countries beyond the colony, horses are subject during the summer months to a climatic disease known as 'the horse-sickness.' Ostrich-feathers have long been an article of export from the Cape, and in 1864 ostrich-farming was commenced at the Cape, and is now one of the leading industries. Viticulture was introduced by Dutch settlers in 1653, and developed by the Huguenot refugees. In 1900 there were about 83,000,000 vines in the Cape Colony, producing nearly 5,000,000 gallons of wine and over 1,100,000 gallons of brandy. The climate of the south-western part of the colony is said to excel that of any other country for viticulture. Tobacco is extensively grown in certain districts. The climate of the colony is favourable to the growth of fruit In great variety.

Woollen fabrics, leather, furniture, and soap are produced. Fishing is carried on in all the bays which indent the coast. Guano deposits are found on the small islands along the west coast. The diamond-fields of Kimberley, and its huge mines, have (since 1867) become the most important centre of the industry in the world. The finest South African diamond is the ' Porter-Rhodes diamond,' found in 1880, and valued at 60,000. Diamonds are far the largest single item of export from the colony, having nearly three times the value of the wool exported. Gold is found in various districts. Copper is found throughout the district of Namaqualand. Coal is at present worked only in two or three spots. Iron ores are abundant in several places; and lead, zincblende, manganese, as well as valuable stones, such as garnets, agates, crocidolites, jaspers, chalcedonies, amethysts, etc, are found, as well as fine marbles and granite.

From 1887 to 1902 the revenue of the colony rose from 3,352,000 to 11,285,697; the expenditure from 3,333,000 to 11,950,745. The public debt in 1903 was over 36,970,000. In the same years the imports varied in value from 5,771,000 to 34,220,500; the exports, of which the principal items were diamonds and wool, with hides, ostrich-feathers, angora goats' hair, copper ore, and wine, rose in value from 7,719,000 to 17,456,151. The total value of diamonds exported from 1867 to 1902 was 105,804,863.

The colonial government consists of a governor, nominated by the crown, whose term of office usually extends to six years. He is assisted by an executive council, practically the ministry. There are five offices in the Cape ministry - the colonial secretary, the treasurer of the colony, the attorney-general, the commissioner of crown-lands and public works, and the secretary for native affairs. The Lower House, or House of Assembly, at the Cape, consists of ninety-five members. The Upper House, or Legislative Council, consists of twenty-three members. The House of Assembly is purely elective; in the Upper House the single exception is the chairman or president of the council, who is the chief-justice of the colony, ex officio. Members of both Houses receive a guinea a day while the House is sitting, and, if residing over 15 miles from Capetown, 15s. per day for not more than 90 days. The Cape Colony is divided into eighty-one divisions or counties, in each of which there is a divisional council elected every three years, which is empowered to levy rates and manage the business of the division. The chairman is the civil commissioner of the division, who is usually also the resident magistrate. The large towns are under mayors and town councils; smaller towns have municipal councils; and villages have management boards. There is an appeal from the colonial courts of justice to the House of Lords. Education is provided for by 2438 state-aided schools, the enrolled pupils numbering over 150,000, besides many private and mission schools. The University of the Cape of Good Hope was founded in 1873, and received a royal charter in 1877.

The Cape of Good Hope was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Diaz in 1486. It was not till 1652 that the Dutch East India Company took possession of Table Bay and fortified it, not at first with purposes of colonisation, but for the supply of the Company's vessels on their way to and from the East Indies. Colonisation soon began; and when in the 18th-century wars the French conquered Holland, an English fleet was sent to hold the Cape for the allies. It was restored to Holland at the peace of Amiens in 1801, but was retaken by Britain in 1805, after some fighting. Since 1814 it has been definitively British. In 1S25 an executive council, and in 1835 a legislative council, were established; in 1853 a regular colonial parliament came into being. Responsible government was conceded in 1872; and the chief difficulties of the Cape government have been, besides Kaffir wars, the harmonising of the interests of Dutch and British elements, especially before, during, and after the Transvaal war of 1899-1902.

See Theal's History of South Africa (5 vols. 4th ed. 1899); and books by Froude (1880), Anthony Trollope (1878), Mackenzie (1887), Keane (1895), Mockler-Ferryman (1898), Worsfold (1898), Young-husband (1898), Lucas (1899), Johnston (1899), and Burton (1902).