Cape Town is the second largest city of South-Africa, and the capital of the Western Cape Province, where most of the country's wines are produced. It is also the oldest city of South-Africa. It was here that the Dutchmen came ashore to explore the interior. Cape Town is a very popular holiday destination: the city has a modern look and feel combined with historical buildings, beautiful wildlife, a pleasant climate, magnificent beaches and a vibrant nightlife.
The city has three million inhabitants, 75% of whom are black Africans and "colored", an Apartheid term for people of mixed race. In the past, these groups were banned to the Cape plains behind Table Mountain, to the south-east of the center. Whites make up 20% of the population.
Cape Town is located in the south-west of South-Africa, near the Cape of Good Hope. The center of the city lies between Table Bay and the north face of Table Mountain.
Cape Town is the economic center of the Western Cape Province. Agricultural products from the province are exported via the port of Cape Town or the airport. The services sector plays an important role, including government services, because the national parliament is located in Cape Town.
Tourism contributes 10% to the economy of the Cape province. Most of the one and a half million tourists that visit the province every year spend a number of days in Cape Town. Near the city there are many beaches, each with its own atmosphere. In the city itself, there are many historical buildings from Dutch and British times.
Cape Town Airport, the international airport of Cape Town, is located at 20 kilometers to the east of the city center. It is considered the best airport in Africa, with connections to all continents. At the moment, the airport is being completely renovated, in preparation for the World Football Championships in 2010 in South-Africa.
Public transport in Cape Town is of a mediocre quality. In addition, the buses and trains are often jam packed. The local bus network is operated by Golden Arrow Bus Services, which also operates a line to the waterfront.
Also, there are many minibuses that stop anywhere. Although they are very cheap, they are sometimes old and in poor condition, with the exception of the buses operating under the name Rikkis Taxi.
Especially for tourists, there is the Cape Town Explorer, a bus that leaves between 10 am and 3 pm from the Bureau of Tourism, and that visits all the top attractions. You can get out at every attraction and take a later bus to the next attraction. Official taxis (with a meter) are excellent and reliable, although relatively expensive. You can only order them by telephone.
For destinations outside of Cape Town, there are various companies that provide rapid bus services. Some of the better companies are Greyhoud Cityliner, Translux Intercity and Mainliner Intercape.
Traffic and Parking
Cape Town is a car-friendly city with relatively few traffic jams. Like in other major South-African cities, be aware of so-called 'carjackers'. Although the media sometimes tend to exaggerate the risk, it certainly exists. As a precaution, you should always keep your windows closed and the doors locked. Carjackers usually strike in places where cars need to stop: near traffic lights and in front of the entrance to car parks.
There are many indoor car parks in the center of Cape Town. The center isn't very big, so it is easy to explore it on foot. For reasons of safety, it is not advisable to park in the street. Also, it may be difficult to find a place. If you do decide to park in the street, never leave your car unattended. There are many registered 'car guards'.
There are many hotels in Cape Town, from very simple guest houses to luxurious hotels and resorts. Cape Town is an economic, administrative and tourist center, which means that many hotel rooms have been booked well in advance.
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